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Flying In Etihad First Apartment When The Residence Is Empty

a brown leather chair with a pillow and a suitcase

So this is probably the last thing on most people’s minds when they’re flying Etihad’s First Apartment, but I was quite curious to see how my experience would differ my second time round when it turned out no one was in The Residence on this flight.

Obviously I wouldn’t be having Thanksgiving dinner, but I wondered how else the flight would differ and if there would still be the same buzz.

I wound up being the first to board my 3:25AM flight from Abu Dhabi to JFK, once again in 2A directly behind The Residence.

a person upside down on a long hallway

I happened to overhear some of the other passengers asking the Flight Attendant if they could go look inside and they were pleasantly but definitively denied. The doors were open for takeoff and landing but otherwise stayed closed.

On the innaugural flight the flight attendants had always had a slightly rushed attitude as if they were slightly understaffed, but I had chalked that up to the pressure of that first flight. However I got the same feeling on this flight even with 2-3 attendants for 7 passengers. Which wasn’t a big deal, just translated into long delays between requests being fulfilled and sometimes just completely forgotten, like refills on water. And an interesting contrast to my previous Etihad experiences on non-A380 aircraft.

a woman sitting on a bench with a glass of champagne

It was the same great large seat, and this time I noticed more of the details and features, like the second entertainment system controller conveniently located on the bench so you could change the TV from bed. And all the various reading light options around the cabin.

a rectangular object with buttons and lights

After I had been served the champagne, cold towel, and welcome note the chef came by to take my order. Nothing had really caught my fancy on the menu (not to mention I was still over fed from Al Maha) so I decided to go with the chef special and settled in to enjoy the flight.

After takeoff I was served the rose champagne and the amuse bouche of olives, dried veggies, and nuts and started checking out some of the TV show options.

a glass of wine and food on a tray

Dinner started about an hour afterwards.

a plate with a folded napkin on it

First the amuse bouche.

a piece of green food on a plate

Then a spinach and lentil soup with the appropriate wine pairing.

a glass of wine next to a bowl of soup

A light palate cleanser (coconut lime I think).

a glass of liquid on a plate

And then the chef’s special which was overcooked steak (I did ask for medium rare), mashed potatoes, and a salad served in a martini glass. I was pretty underwhelmed, especially since it was the special.

a plate of meat and wine glasses on a table

I was full at this point so skipped dessert and asked them to make up my bed. Apparently the whole first class cabin was showering so I wanted to get some sleep before it was my turn.

a bed with a pillow and a lamp

When I woke up 6-7 hours later it turned out they’d forgotten about me, but fortunately I was able to squeeze in shortly after. This time there was no problem with the shower door so they didn’t have to have the flight attendant come back in to shut you in.

a black and silver object with a black handle

And I just had to say, even though Etihad’s onboard shower is not as elaborate as other’s I’ve seen, it’s still a totally surreal and awesome experience to be showering on a plane. And blow drying my hair!

At this point I was hungry again so I decided to try the famous Etihad steak sandwich to compare it to my previous flights. Unfortunately there were no roasted potatoes or fries, just chips. The fruit smoothie and fruit were an interesting addition but made me feel healthier.

a table with a plate of fruit and a fork

It was  little different than described, lacking the lettuce and tomato and having more of a barbecue beef feel than a steak sandwich. Ok, but not great.

a sandwich on a plate

So I decided to try the cheese plate which was quite good and had all the trimmings.

a plate of food on a table

A little before landing they came by with a slightly sweet bread and yogurt parfait which fit our 9AM arrival.

a plate of dessert and a glass of orange juice on a tray

A perfectly fine flight, and better than my Etihad Jet Airways experience, but still not as awesome as previous experiences.

More from this trip

Etihad First Class Checkin & the New Etihad Lounge at JFK
Flying in the First Apartment on the Inaugural Etihad A380 JFK to Abu Dhabi
Thanksgiving Dinner 40,000 Feet Above the Atlantic
First Impressions of Dubai in Pictures
Hotel Review: Al Maha Desert Resort
Sunset Camel Treks & Champagne Toasts
Riding Arabians and Dune Bashing in the Desert
Not the Usual Etihad First Class Check In & Lounge Experience

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  1. When I was on that flight a couple of weeks ago the butler actually offered to give me a tour of The Residence. I declined as I didn’t want to take away from my Apartment experience. 🙂

  2. I never understand why americans do not get out of their shoes. they put the shoes on the couch, on chairs, on seats, on table, on beachbeds…

    disgusting! i guess you like sitting on dog poo

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