Eti­had Air­ways A380-800 The Res­i­dence Abu Dhabi-Mum­bai

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Tried & Tested -

Eti­had launched The Res­i­dence two years ago, to much fan­fare, and it re­mains the only three-room suite on a com­mer­cial air­line (de­signed for two peo­ple trav­el­ling to­gether) con­tain­ing a liv­ing room, sep­a­rate bed­room and en­suite shower. While it re­mains an ex­clu­sive of­fer­ing, rates have come down from launch. Note the sec­ond com­pan­ion was free but now costs 2540% of the first per­son’s fare.

Af­ter two hours of my book­ing, the VIP Concierge of Eti­had called and greeted me. My pref­er­ence of but­ler (male or fe­male), di­etary pref­er­ence and ar­rival de­tails were noted. There was a small de­lay on the day of de­par­ture, but the VIP Concierge kept me in­formed and up­dated. My day started with two cars to col­lect me; a white up­graded Audi A8 limou­sine and a Toy­ota Pre­via for my lug­gage. I was sur­prised that no check-in was re­quired; Eti­had had al­ready is­sued my board­ing pass and es­corted me through the im­mi­gra­tion and se­cu­rity screen­ing.

We headed straight to The Res­i­dence Lounge, which is hid­den in­side the First Class Lounge. When I ar­rive at the lounge, my lounge but­ler, Mr Salah, is al­ready wait­ing to wel­come me. Apart from a gen­er­ous loung­ing area, it of­fers pri­vate din­ing up to four pas­sen­gers. It also has its own bar on the side ta­ble with cof­fee ma­chine. Other ameni­ties in­clude a bath­room with shower and pri­vate prayer room with clean­ing area.

Eti­had printed me three sets of board­ing passes so I could keep two as sou­venirs, which was a nice touch. I was trans­ported to Gate 61 by a golf buggy with my driver and a bell boy. My Savoy hotel­trained but­ler, the im­pec­ca­bly dressed Leanne, greeted me warmly at the gate and es­corted me onto the Up­per Deck air­bridge for premium pas­sen­gers.

The Res­i­dence is a unique three-room pri­vate cabin lo­cated at the very front of the A380 up­per deck. The ‘liv­ing room’ brown leather seat­ing area (with ot­toman op­po­site) is so wide it could com­fort­ably seat four peo­ple. Leanne asked me to feel com­fort­able and took my bev­er­age choice (Ara­bic cof­fee/date) be­fore clos­ing the door. Straight away I felt the pri­vacy and re­alised why this oa­sis, within a plane that car­ries 500 pas­sen­gers, com­mands such a premium price point. I re­ceived a wel­come let­ter with my name printed in gold, and my name was also on the menu.

The hall­way leads to a bed­room with a 6-foot 10-inch dou­ble bed, with de­signer Ital­ian bed linen. I was given Chrisi­tan Lacroix sleep­wear, the most com­fort­able I’ve worn out of all first class py­ja­mas. The bed has proper firm mat­tress with very soft and com­fort­able pil­low.

I en­joyed the meal on a wooden tray in bed, watch­ing the cam­era show­ing the A380 chas­ing the set­ting sun. The toi­letries in the bath­room are pro­vided by Ac­qua di Parma from Italy and even the toi­let pa­per has the Res­i­dence logo.

On this short flight to Mum­bai, the food choices were four ap­pe­tis­ers (more Abu Dhab­i­farmed Caviar served with bli­nis, toast and brioche; truf­fle chicken with ar­ti­choke and rocket leaf jelly; hot and cold Gulf mezze; and Pu­d­ina Mut­ter Shorba) and six mains (I en­joyed the large lob­ster tail with pur­ple potato, as­para­gus, pink pep­per­corn and cit­rus but­ter).

My but­ler, purser, chef, food and bev­er­age man­ager came to bid me farewell and I couldn’t re­sist tak­ing some photos to­gether. Upon de-plane, Eti­had ground crew in Mum­bai es­corted me di­rect through tran­sit onto my on­ward flight. Sam Chui

The Res­i­dence is a truly unique and be­spoke travel ex­pe­ri­ence – every part of the travel ex­pe­ri­ence is seam­less and dis­creet. Pri­vate travel on a com­mer­cial plane is a pos­si­bil­ity now.

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