Etihad Ups The Bar On Luxury With New Products

The national airline of the UAE, Etihad Airways, has raised the stakes in the intense competition of luxury air travel with the unveiling of its next-generation of cabin products. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier introduced new First, Business and Economy Class seats for its upcoming fleet of Airbus A380 jets and Boeing 787 Dreamliners today, promising greater comfort, privacy and luxury for travellers as it works to stay abreast of rivals Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways.


First Class – The Residence, The Apartments and The Suites

Taking advantage of the A380’s larger floor area, Etihad will offer The Residence – a 3-room private VIP cabin comprising a lounge room with a 32-inch television, 2 dining tables, enclosed bedroom with 82-inch long double bed topped with a custom-made mattress and 27-inch television, as well as a private shower suite with a 4-minute water supply.


Available for single or double occupancy, the cabin is fully Wi-Fi enabled and equipped with the latest Panasonic eX3 inflight entertainment system controlled by a touchscreen handset. Taking care of well-heeled guests will be a dedicated butler trained at London’s legendary The Savoy.


For a less ostentatious journey, the aircraft also sports 9 suites dubbed The Apartments. Offering 74 percent more space than the current product, guests will find a 30.3-inch reclining lounge chair and separate full length ottoman which opens into an 80.5-inch long flat bed. Each will also include a chilled minibar, personal wardrobe and a separate vanity unit with lit make-up mirrors and stocked with luxury branded amenities.


Taking design cues from boutique hotels on the ground, 6 First Apartments feature connecting doors for guests travelling together. The cabin will have an exclusive shower room and The Lobby, a communal gathering space with leather sofas, marquetry table and large-screen television.


On the Boeing 787, Etihad offers guests an enhanced First Suite boasting a 26-inch wide Poltrona Frau seat that flight attendants will turn down into a 80.5-inch long flat bed with a luxury Coco-mat bedding. Sliding doors ensure utmost privacy to enjoy the in-seat massage function or meetings with a companion on the ottoman, while other amenities include a chilled mini-bar, large dining table and a personal wardrobe.


Business Class – Studios

Building on the airline’s already impressive Pearl Business Class seat, the new Business Studios are arranged in a 1-2-1 ‘dovetail’ configuration for direct aisle access for every passenger. The product will be installed on both the A380s and B787s, as well as being progressively refitted to Etihad’s Boeing 777 fleet.


The design’s suite-style ensures improved privacy for solo travellers, while the centre studios are ideal for guests travelling together (although a full height divider screen between the seats is available). The 22-inch wide seat and its accompanying ottoman form a 80.5-inch flat bed, with each passenger having a sturdy dining table and a side table for laptops, tablets, books and personal belongings. Storage space is also given a boost with plenty of nooks and compartments, together with a top-loading cupboard for water bottles and headphones.


Economy Class – Smart Seats

Upholstered in locally-sourced camel leather, the new Economy Smart Seats capture attention with its ‘fixed wing’ headrest designed to provide a firm surface for guests to lean on while sleeping. On the A380, seats will be nearly 19 inches wide with a 32-inch seat pitch, while the Boeing 787 version will be slightly narrower at 17.2 inches and a 33-inch seat pitch to compensate. Both versions will offer a 6-inch recline and adjustable lumbar support, with inflight entertainment delivered via a 11.1-inch touchscreen monitor and connectivity hub in the seatback.


Guests eager to experience the new products will be able to do so from December 2014. Etihad will take delivery of its first Airbus A380 later this year, debuting the double-deck aircraft on the Abu Dhabi – London (Heathrow) route with Sydney and Melbourne to follow in 2015. The airline’s B787s will initially serve Dusseldorf and Washington DC, with Mumbai, Brisbane and Perth amongst the cities planned for Dreamliner service.


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