Etihad A380 first class is back: What to know

The first class upgrade of your dreams awaits.

Etihad Airways passengers can once again secure a seat in The Residence, one of the most sought after upgrades in the sky.

Etihad is about to reintroduce four of its A380s, after previously grounding the entire superjumbo fleet at the beginning of the pandemic.

So far, Etihad only has plans to once again operate its superjumbo between Abu Dhabi and London, meaning Australia will still have to patiently wait to welcome back the famous double-decker aircraft.

However, the wait is over for those with London in their sights.

Safe to say we’re expecting the return of one of the most remarkable commercial flying experiences to see a surge in demand for air travel across the airline’s network.

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Antonoaldo Neves, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said the move to bring back the A380 and its award-winning cabins will be welcomed by Etihad guests.

“We have decided the time is right to return some of our A380s into 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,” Mr Neves said.

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Flight schedule

Travelling to London? We’re now seeing reports of first class travellers securing an all-time upgrade to The Residence.

The flight numbers below could unlock a chance to fly in first class comfort onboard the Etihad Airbus A380 from July.

RouteCommencesFlight numberDeparture timeArrival time
Abu Dhabi to London15 July 2023 / 1 August 2023EY11 EY192:05 am / 8:30 am6:45 am / 1:05 pm
London to Abu Dhabi15 July 2023 / 1 August 2023EY12 EY209:30 am / 2:50 pm7:40 pm / 12:55 am

Why Etihad first class lives up to the hype

Passengers onboard the Etihad A380 can expect lofty things from its premium cabins, including the multi-room Residence, the Apartment and a solid business class offering.

First Apartments

Hailed as one of the greatest first class products in the world, the A380 features nine First Apartments set across a single aisle.

The First Apartments offer a truly luxe experience, including a private living space with a large leather lounge chair and an ottoman that opens to become a long fully-flat bed – bliss!

Those travelling with a special someone can share in the fun too. Selected First Apartments can even be combined, meaning passengers can meander between adjoining rooms without walking through the aisle.

One of the most spacious offerings of its kind, the First Apartment also boasts a large swiveling LCD TV monitor and the spoils of a personal vanity unit.

If that’s not enough, an onboard shower promises a whole new level of novelty at cruising altitude – Etihad and Emirates are the only airlines to offer this extraordinary feature.

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The Residence: A step above

This dreamy upgrade offering sits between first class and private jet-like luxury, with a secluded three-room suite at the pointy end of the upper deck housing a two-person sofa, dining room and lockable bedroom – it truly is a step above anything else.

For the first time, Etihad is now offering The Residence as an optional extra for premium guests to further enhance their first class experience (previously, this has only been bookable as a very pricey separate cabin class).

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Guests in The Residence will also have access to a spacious private bathroom, complete with a shower (of course)!

The Lobby

All those flying on the upper deck (including business) will have access to the Lobby, where guests can stretch their legs, work, relax, mingle and indulge in a drink.

How to upgrade to The Residence

You’ll need an existing first class fare to be able to upgrade to The Residence.

Simply visit Etihad’s website and head to ‘manage my booking’ before proceeding to seat selection.

If available, you should then be able to see the option to upgrade to The Residence.

Etihad has a handy Miles Calculator that will let you know how many points you need for your redemption, with business to first costing 3,900 Guest miles.

Without points, the upgrade comes at an eye-watering cost!

We suspect redemption bookings will be possible soon, and will be sure to update you of any news.

Booking Etihad A380 first class

This all sounds very inviting, but it certainly comes at a cost. Indeed, the only thing standing between most travellers and this unparalleled in-flight luxury could be a bank (or points!) balance.

Here’s how many points you’ll need to experience this Etihad’s First Apartment.

Booking revenue seats

At the time of writing, Etihad is selling seats from 15 July 2023 via

A one-way flight can currently be purchased from 140,000 Guest miles or 29,600 AED (around $12,000 AUD), or return from 280,000 Guest miles or 43,200 AED (about $17,500 AUD).

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Booking with points

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, no reward seats appear to have been released, either on Etihad’s website, or with partners.

When award seats become available, Australians can look to lock in a one-way jaunt in Etihad’s A380 First Apartment between London and Abu Dhabi in the following ways:

  • Etihad: 88,011 miles (plus carrier charges/taxes)
  • Velocity Frequent Flyer: 78,000 pts (plus carrier charges/taxes)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan: 65,000 Aeroplan miles each way (plus minor taxes only)
  • American Airlines: 62,500 American AAdvantage miles each way (plus carrier charges/taxes)

It’s worth noting that although the cost in Velocity Points cost is reasonable, passengers will be slugged notoriously high carrier charges (which can be in excess of $400) effectively putting a huge dampener on the redemption value.

Air Canada Aeroplan on the other hand, doesn’t offer any carrier charges (rather, only passing on applicable taxes), which represents far better value for travellers who have access to a stash of Aeroplan miles.

Prefer to book with Etihad Guest? It’s well worth noting that the airline program is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards.

American Express card members can transfer points at a rate of 2:1, which means the minimum transfer amount of 1,000 Membership Rewards points would convert to 500 Etihad Guest miles.

As such, travellers would need 176,022 Membership Rewards points to secure a one way award seat in Etihad’s First Apartment on a flight between London and Abu Dhabi.

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Bottom line: Etihad’s Airbus A380 is back

There you have it! Etihad Airways will finally bring back their Airbus A380 planes to the sky in mid 2023.

Along with the superjumbo comes The Residence, Etihad’s first class product long-revered amongst frequent flyers and aviation geeks alike.

Although it looks as though there will be some more waiting for award availability, we can assume the A380’s return are already giving frequent flyers some particularly lofty upgrade redemption goals to aspire to.

The airline plans to fly an Airbus A380 exclusively between its home base in Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow for now, with more routes hopefully to follow.

While this is exciting news in the sense that it offers us the opportunity to experience one of the world’s best first class offerings, the prospect of the Etihad A380 returning to other routes, including in Australia, is still quite uncertain.

Are you saving your points for one of the remarkable first class offerings onboard Etihad’s Airbus A380?

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