Just imagine. I’m getting ready to board a 16 hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles and I’m actually looking forward it; not just getting home to Anne, but actually to the inflight experience on Etihad Airlines, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates. It’s one of the best in-flight services now, especially in Business Class, but it is soon going to take flying to entirely new heights: Etihad is bringing the glamor, along with the comfort, back to the skies with their new aircraft and enhanced in-flight services.
I traveled to Abu Dahbi with the head of the North American sales office for Etihad, Patrick Dunne, who took me to the Etihad Innovation Center, a full size, walk-through reconstruction of the new A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft cabins, including mock-ups of The Residence by Etihad™ and the new First Apartments and First Suites.
Our walk-through also featured the Business Class cabins, as well as Economy Class with the Economy Smart Seat.
The full scale cabin sections were fully-dressed for the unveiling to enable guests to touch and feel the new cabin interiors, and absorb the atmosphere of all-encompassing hospitality offered when flying with Etihad Airways. We can only hope that what I saw from this aviation leader will influence other airlines to up their game as well. Will American carriers ever catch up?
Economy Class is better for sure with nicer upholstery, leather head rest, and most importantly a wider birth and more extended pitch. But Business and First Class are absolutely stunning: they have created representations of a hotel experience in the sky, and the "Resident Class”, at around $20K per apartment from London to Abu Dhabi, is beyond most leisure travelers, but is meant to feel like you are on your own private charter. It's like a NY studio apt with a butler trained at The Savvoy.
But Business and First Class fares are expected to remain competitive with the same class of service on other carriers. Just take a look at these hotel rooms in the skies.
Like other Gulf carriers expanding routes and creating hubs in the United Arab Emirates, you’re likely to find yourself flying through Abu Dhabi and Dubai en route on your Wildland Adventure African safari, India, Turkey and elsewhere. The difference with Etihad is that they are not just creating alliances with other carriers, but are aggressively pursuing their global expansion by actually investing in eight airlines around the world, including Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Virgin Australia and, most recently, Alitalia. This will lead to better reservations systems, connecting flights, customer service and combined fares.
It’s a new era in air travel at Etihad Airways. Ask our friends at Exito Travel the next time you travel overseas.
Keeping it wild,