Etihad’s Airbus A380s: What Were The Planes Like?

With even Etihad’s CEO unsure if his airline will operate the Airbus A380 again, the aircraft type’s last regular commercial flights may have already taken place almost a year ago. Etihad was one of the most creative carriers when it came to utilizing the aircraft’s spacious interior. As hope slowly fades that we’ll get to fly on the jets ever again, let’s take a look back at what Etihad’s A380s were like for passengers.

It was back in 2014 that Etihad welcomed its very first Airbus A380. It would ultimately be the first of 10 superjumbos operated by the airline. Photo: Airbus

Before we go deep into the passenger experience, let’s look at the basics of the jet in the Etihad fleet.

Currently, the airline has in its possession 10 Airbus A380s. In terms of regular passenger services, the jets haven’t flown since March 2020. While they were in passenger service, the jets would fly to the major cities of London, New York, Sydney, Paris, and Seoul.

However, some of them were flying as recently as January 2021. Sadly, these more recent flights took the jets into long-term storage in Tabes, France (LDE). At this time, four of the jets are listed as being stored in Tarbes. The remainder are parked at the airline’s home airport, Abu Dhabi International (AUH).

The jets are uniformly configured and offer the following arrangement:

  • One “Residence” Suite (which accommodates up to two passengers)
  • Nine first class “Apartments”
  • 70 Business Studios
  • and 417 economy class seats
At full capacity, Etihad’s A380 would seat 498 passengers. Photo: Etihad

Extreme luxury and comfort

The crown jewel of Etihad’s A380 offering was its extra-large private suite for two named “The Residence.” The airline called this “a luxury three-room apartment in the sky.”

Here were some of the key features included in the three-room Residence:

  • An ensuite shower room (featuring luxury bath linens, soft robes, and stocked with high-end toiletries)
  • Private bedroom
  • Separate living area
  • A VIP Travel Concierge and dedicated team (including an ‘Etihad Butler’ during the flight)
  • Outside of the aircraft, Etihad also offered a private airport lounge for Residence ticket holders
Etihad’s Residence was a unique offering among A380 operators. Photo: Etihad

This large multi-room suite was located on the top deck at the front-left corner of the aircraft.

“The hallway from your living room leads to your bedroom. Sink into a double bed with a natural fibre, custom-made mattress, premium bedding and luxury sleepwear. You can close your bedroom door for complete privacy and even have breakfast in bed.” – Etihad website

First class “Apartments”

Almost as luxurious as The Residence, Etihad also offered nine private first class suites on its A380s. These were called “Apartments.”

With the seat in these enclosed suites converting to a lie-flat bed, first class offers amenities similar to the Residence, but with less space. The nine first class ticket holders onboard were permitted access to the A380s second shower facility.

For socializing and hosting fellow travelers, the first class suites also had a bench opposite of the main chair. Photo: Etihad

The airline also has a small lounge on its superjumbo named “The Lobby.” This lounge features a round table surrounded by seats on either side, with a bar on the wall behind. Made available to first class and business class customers, seating is limited to only a handful of people due to this design.

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The rest of the aircraft

While it might seem strange to write about the aircraft’s “Business Studio” and economy class in the same section, these cabins were quite in-line with its competitors in terms of offerings and features.

Located on the upper-deck, Etihad’s A380 business class seats are fully-lie flat and somewhat enclosed, although not fully private. These seats also offered fairly large IFE screens.

The A380’s 417 economy class seats are located on the lower deck of the superjumbo and were configured in a 3-4-3 layout.

In the end, what really set Etihad’s A380s apart was the type’s Residence and Apartment suites. Combined with the onboard lounge and shower facilities, the airline opted to offer more space and luxury to its premium customers instead of packing the A380s interior with more economy seats.

While not very accessible for the majority of travelers, these spacious offerings will be missed – if only as a point of interest and unique aspect of commercial aviation.

Have you ever flown onboard an Etihad A380? Please share your experience with us in the comments.

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