What's better than first class? Until recently, there was nothing, unless you hopped on a private jet. Filthy rich people everywhere have had to settle for "just" first class, and our tiny violins reverberated with their despair over having to mix with the "merely" rich. But fear not! Etihad, the Abu Dhabi based airline, has created the "Residence Class" aboard its new Airbus A380. Now people can reserve three-room apartment on the top level of the aircraft for a mere $21,000 (and that's only one-way). With this revolutionary upgrade, first class has become business class, business class has become economy, and economy might as well be in the plane baggage area caged with the dogs.
Join me now for an up close and personal (read: as close as 99.9999...% of us will ever get) virtual tour of this less-than-modest mode of transportation.
Here she is, kids. Here she is, world. Here's the Airbus A380.
You'll be welcomed aboard by beaming flight attendants sporting uniforms designed by Italian haute couturier, Ettore Bilotta.
If you didn't catch it before, there are TWO floors. And no shortage of beautiful attendants.
Before we head upstairs to the real magic, let's take a quick stop here. Not too bad for servants' quarters-- I mean, economy class. Those pillows are not only good looking, they are a huge step up from the usual cotton ball airplane pillow. The A380 economy class features rich people directly above you, allowing you to almost feel what it's like to be them.
Fancy TVs in the exit row. Are YOU willing and able?
Let's go upstairs.
This is business class. Each business person has their own partitioned-off cubicle. The seat turns into a bed with the push of a button.
Here's a closeup of the goody bag. Socks, earplugs, toothbrush, comb and headphones are among the treasures.
Now, as we walk by business class with a scoff and disdainful eyebrow, we come to first class (a mere $9,000 for a one-way ticket...)
Each first class suite is about five square meters and sports a sliding door for privacy. The seats are made from Poltrona Frau leather. I'm not rich enough to know what that means, but I'm sure those who do appreciate not having to settle for plain old regular leather.
The separate chaise lounge (that's right, a chaise lounge) turns into a bed, and a wall between conjoining suites can be lowered to create a sort of double bed for couples (but alas, the walls don't go to the ceiling, so the frisky business will have to wait). And don't forget about the television, minibar and vanity unit--all the luxuries of home!
Welcome to the first class bathroom. Once you have enjoyed a refreshing shower in this palace that makes my own bathroom look like a third world country, you can return to your first class suite and enjoy a meal prepared by a talented high-flying on board chef.
Now for the crème de la crème of air travel. Take a deep breath and prepare yourself for "The Residence."
"The Residence" can accommodate one or two people. It is 12 square meters and consists of three rooms: the bedroom, the dining room and the washroom, complete with private shower and toilet. Before you board, personalized music, movies and games will be preloaded onto the apartment's devices. A made-to-order menu and wine list will also be prepared to suit your tastes. At the airport, a Savoy Hotel-trained (read: fancy-as-f***) butler will welcome you to arrange your preflight meals, drinks and spa treatments in the first class lounge. This butler will stay with you throughout the flight to tend to your needs.
Here is the dining room (also adorned with Poltrona Frau leather--obviously) which can be converted into a mini cinema. Note the fruit bowl in the corner.
Welcome to the bedroom. Unlike first class, these walls go allllllllllll the way up to the ceiling. So get as down and dirty as you want in this luxury double bed. Just be careful when turbulence hits.
Here is the bar shared by business class, first-class and The Residence (if for any reason, you would want to leave that $21,000 oasis). This picture is a wonderful example of how to look totally chill while outrageously rich.
Currently, the A380 makes multiple daily trips between Abu Dhabi and New York as well as Abu Dhabi and London. With Etihad stepping up the luxury game, many other airlines are planning ways to compete within the industry.
Here's to someday booking The Residence on Etihad's A380! In the meantime, I need to go book my next trip on MegaBus. I hope the WiFi works this time.