There’s been a lot of chatter about whether Etihad Airways’ super-jumbo A380 aircraft would return to its fleet. Now the UAE-based airline has revealed that the storied planes are coming back to the skies, complete with their signature ultra-luxe first-class cabins.
After grounding all 10 A380 aircraft during the pandemic, it was unclear whether the airline would bring the planes back into service. But, ultimately, Etihad Airways decided to revive the luxury aircraft after customer feedback surveys and a new surge in travel as restrictions have relaxed.
For the affluent travelers, that means the return of “The Residences”—three spacious first-class cabins, each of which offers a three-section layout, with a private room, a ensuite bathroom with shower and a living room.
The Residence suites sit at the front of the upper deck, and their amenities are straight out of a five-star hotel. Think private butler service, customized dining menus and lounges just for Residence fliers. As you might expect, tickets for the opulent cabins don’t come cheap: They can run upwards of $20,000—just for one-way flights.
The planes also feature nine “First Apartments”—single rooms with 39 square feet of space across a one aisle. While these cabins may lack the sheer space of the Residences, they don’t compromise on luxury. Each has a private living space with an oversized leather lounge chair and an ottoman so you can kick up your feet. When you’re ready for some shuteye, the seat opens to an 80.5-inch-long fully flat bed with a 24-inch swiveling LCD TV screen and a personal vanity unit to freshen up. The plane also includes 70 Business Studios and 405 Economy Smart Seats—80 of which have extra legroom.
“We know this will be welcomed by our guests who love Etihad’s incredible A380 and award-winning cabins. We have decided the time is right to return some of our A380s to the fleet to satisfy the demand, which has made them financially viable once more. We look forward to welcoming our guests again on board this remarkable aircraft,” Antonoaldo Neves, Etihad’s CEO, said in a statement.
Four A380 planes will return to the airline’s fleet for its Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) route next summer. (The airline has not announced whether more will be introduced.) In addition to the A380, Etihad will also add five Airbus A320 narrow-body jets back into service, to offer more regional flights from its Abu Dhabi hub.