In some very surprising, but fantastic news, Etihad announced yesterday that its Airbus A380 superjumbo jet will return to the skies again in 2023!
In March 2021, Etihad’s previous CEO Tony Douglas said that the airline had decided to park all its A380s, and also commented at the time that it was “very likely that we won’t see them with Etihad [ever] again.”
But, as of October of this year, Etihad has a new CEO, Antonoaldo Neves. And according to Neves, “the time is right to return some of our A380s into the fleet to satisfy the demand which has made them financially viable once more.”
For context, even before the challenges of 2020, Etihad was scrambling to become a profitable airline, so this makes Etihad’s decision to return the A380 to service even that much more interesting and exciting. Singapore Airlines may have the most over the top first class, but Etihad has something a step above, with “The Residence”…
Four Etihad A380s will fly between Abu Dhabi and London in 2023
Beginning in Summer 2023, the first of Etihad’s A380s will rejoin the fleet. In total, Etihad will be taking four A380s out of storage, and they will all fly exclusively on the Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow route.
Early snooping by GSTP indicates that July 15th, may see the first return to service on the flagship route. Of course, this is always subject to change.
According to Etihad’s press release, the move is not only because of the surge in travel demand, but is also due to the fact that Etihad has received “customer feedback to return one of the most remarkable commercial flying experiences to the sky.”
All about Etihad’s A380
Etihad’s A380 features the crème-de-la-crème of commercial air travel “The Residence,” as well as three additional cabin classes on the double-decker aircraft, including 9 First Class Apartments, 70 Business Class Studios and 405 Economy seats.
There’s nothing that compares to “The Residence” in commercial air travel. It puts First Class to shame, and The Residence experience is like flying on your own mini private jet.
The Residence features a living room, a separate bedroom and en-suite shower room. In addition, The Residence also includes unique amenities such as dedicated, private butler service, customized menu options, and access to the most exclusive airline lounge in the world. It is, hands down, the very best commercial airline product in the sky!
According to the press release, “for the first time, Etihad plans to eventually offer The Residence as an optional extra for guests to further enhance their First experience.”
This is super intriguing and surprising news, and it must mean that if The Residence is not booked for a particular flight, that Etihad will then offer access to The Residence as an upcharge for First Class Apartment passengers.
Time will tell, but this could certainly be a game-changer, and make experiencing The Residence a much more attainable feat than the typical $20K+ ticket price!
First Class Apartments and Business Class Studios
The return of the A380 means we’ll also see the reintroduction of the Etihad First Class Apartments, which Mr. GSTP himself flew himself a few years back. There are 9 Apartments total on the A380 in the single-aisle first class cabin.
Each Apartment includes a wide armchair, as well as a separate couch that converts into an almost 7 foot bed. And of course, don’t forget about the Etihad A380 first class shower suite. Like Emirates’ famous shower spa, Etihad’s A380 also offers first class passengers the unique and glorious privilege of being able to shower at 40,000 feet.
There are also a whopping 70 Etihad Business Studios on the A380, which is also a fantastic hard product — aka a great private seat.
Featuring just four seats across, and a variety of seating arrangements – forward, backward, two seats in the middle together, two seats in the middle far apart – those hoping not to break the bank can enjoy this top-notch offering if the price for the Apartment is too eye-watering. Business Studio seats convert into a fully-flat bed, and Studio passengers also get access to a swanky onboard bar and lounge.
Dubbed “The Lobby,” Etihad’s A380 onboard bar is available to guests in both First and Business class, is a serviced lounge and bar area featuring plush leather sofas, refreshments and a large TV with a USB connection.
How to book the Etihad A380 with points and miles
The best way to book an Etihad award flight is with its partners Air Canada Aeroplan and American AAdvantage.
You can transfer miles to Aeroplan from Amex, Bilt, Chase, Citi and Capital One, which makes it the easier option over AAdvantage, unless you have an AA cobrand card. It’s also possible to book Etihad flights with points and miles via Etihad’s own loyalty program Etihad Guest, and also via Asiana Club.
With the 747 on last legs, and the final ever 747 aircraft being rolled off the assembly line this week, it’s hard times for four engine aircraft. The A380 was a big “what if” in 2020 as the world of air travel crumbled.
But Emirates showed early faith that it would return to full glory, British Airways quickly followed and now Etihad is bringing back their A380, with the most over the top cabins you’ll ever find. The question is, where else will we find it next summer?