From a concierge plumping your pillows to a chauffer whisking you away from the airport, Etihad’s luxury three-room “apartment in the sky” had a lot going for it.
The Residence is now looking like being retired from service, however, with Etihad CEO Tony Douglas recently telling The National that the 10 Etihad A380 double deckers The Residence is exclusively built into will probably never return to service.
“We have now taken the strategic decision to park the A380s, I’m sure it’s very likely that we won’t see them operating with Etihad again,” Douglas told The National, of the aircraft, all of which have been grounded since March 2020.
Arguably the pinnacle of luxury travel (on a non-private aircraft), The Residence fares regularly exceeded $US 20,000 (AU $25,871) for a one-way journey, and scoring this ‘better than first class’ experience used to be a holy grail goal for many points hackers and frequent flyers.
Now, with Etihad now prioritising smaller jets in the wake of 2020’s devastating impact on the travel industry, and with the 787 Dreamliner reportedly set to take over as the backbone of its fleet, those who are yet to fly it may never get the chance.
As Douglas told Bloomberg, “The double-decker jets would have a role only on the very busiest routes to cities such as London and New York in the event of a strong rebound.”
Many frequent pointy end passengers have taken to Instagram in recent days to mourn the likely loss of this jet, and The Residence experience it used to facilitate.
One among them is Jarvis Marcos, a luxury travel blogger who offers high end travel reviews and advice, and who can often be seen swanning around locations like the Maldives.
Marcos took to Instagram yesterday with the following post.
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“Is the golden era of aviation well and truly behind us?”, Marcos captioned the image.
“After this week’s announcement that Etihad is almost certainly scrapping the A380s forever, it feels like the passenger experience is in a state of irreversible decline.”
“@Euriental and I were lucky enough to fly Etihad Apartments together eight times and the experience never got old. The hard product overwhelmed us with its audacity every time we stepped on board.”
“Emirates will probably fly the A380 for at least another decade and hopefully SQ will too but nether airline offers a closed room in which two people can comfortably dine face to face like this.”
“When I look back over my old photos I can’t help but feel that experiences like this, or sitting in the nose of a Cathay 747 were the apex.”
Blogger @flylikelinz chimed in too, writing: “I’m so glad I got to fly apartments just before lockdown. It will be an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Instagram user @livefromtuscany expressed similar disappointment, writing, “I’m afraid you’re right, it will never be as it was before Covid.”
“Sadly, I missed out on EY A380. We’ll still have EK/SQ/LX/AF First and I can’t wait to fly on those again. Thankfully, biz is getting better and better, QR QSuites is a great product (and more affordable when you need 3 seats.”
Another user pointed out that there are a couple of airlines left in the sky that let you dine face to face in an enclosed space: “AF La Première and Swiss First.”
Marcos then took to Instagram again this morning, with a post outlining how breakfast in bed – crafted by onboard chefs – is another thing he will miss about The Residence (which inspired comments like, “STOP THIS! You’re making me feel sad” to roll in beneath).
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The only question now is: are we going back to normal, or back to the dark ages? Depends on your perspective, we guess.