Etihad "raises bar" with new-look cabins

Etihad "raises bar" with new-look cabins
By admin

Etihad Airways has claimed to have redefined the standard of premium air travel after unveiling new product for its Boeing 787 Dreamliner and A380, both of which will join the airline’s fleet later this year.

The carrier said the first and business class cabins, which have been five years in the making, represent the “next phase of flying” in the battle to woo the premium traveller.

The quality of its economy cabin, and the travelling experience of less affluent passengers, has also been lifted, the airline said, as senior executives insisted the 787 and A380 enhancements “were for the comfort and enjoyment of all”.

Chief executive James Hogan, unveiling the product in Abu Dhabi yesterday to media from around the world, said the developments across all three cabins will “raise inflight product and service standards to their highest level yet in commercial aviation”.

“We have a very clear focus on exceeding the expectations of our guests,” he declared. “Quite frankly, it is a process of continuous improvement. That is what business is all about. With the arrivals of the 787 and A380 we saw an opportunity to have a major step change in our offering.”

Hogan declined to disclose the airline’s investment.

The A380 will include a three-room, 125-sq foot private cabin called The Residence that will feature a living area, ensuite shower room and a double bedroom. It will be serviced by a dedicated Savoy-trained Butler and cater for the “super VIP”.

The superjumbo will also offer nine First Apartments – configured either side of a single aisle – six of which will have “connecting doors” designed for people travelling together. The private suites have a separate reclining seat in addition to an ottoman which coverts into an 80.5 inch lie flat bed.

The First Apartments offer 74% more space than the existing first class product, Etihad said.

On the 787, Etihad will have eight First Suites in a 1-2-1 configuration across two curved aisles to maximise space. On the centre seats, the armrests retract so the suites can create, in effect, a double bed.

In business class, Etihad has created Business Studios that are 20% larger than its existing Pearl class seats. There will be 70 Business Studios on the A380 and 28 on the 787.

Separating first and business on the A380 will be a lobby; a lounge and bar area with a six-seat circular sofa and 32 inch flat screen TV.

Etihad stressed its economy passengers had not been overlooked during the painstaking research and design process, highlighting the introduction of Smart Seats for more price conscious travellers.

They will offer ergonomic fixed-wing headrests which the airline said will offer “greater comfort and relaxation” and provide more privacy between seats. The headrests are proven to provide a more comfortable experience, chief commercial officer Paul Baumgartner claimed.

Each seat will have a fleece blanket and pillow and a seatback entertainment and connectivity hub.

A larger area for economy passengers to stretch out has also been created, without getting under the feet of cabin crew in the galley.

While the spotlight fell largely on the premium product, Baumgartner denied suggestions the developments were, in the main, all about premium passengers.

“Equal focus has been given during the innovation process to economy as for the premium cabin,” he said. “We are talking a lot about the premium cabins but it’s absolutely important and appropriate to talk about economy

“Etihad has always understood the importance of providing a travel experience that cannot be matched by others and we have spent the past five years creating an economy class product that will be favoured by millions around the world.”

Hogan said the ultra-luxury Residence cabin has been designed to replicate a private jet or super yacht. A door and passageway separate the living room from the bedroom with both rooms featuring flat screen TVs. The living room has a two seat leather sofa and a chilled mini bar, the latter of which is also a feature of its first class product on both the 787 and A380.

Baumgartner said a one way flight in The Residence from Abu Dhabi to London will cost around US$20,000 for single or double occupancy. Fares in first and business class will be “in the range and pricing levels as today”, he said.

Etihad has also sought to transform the boarding experience across all cabins with the aim of making it “more akin to stepping into the lobby of a boutique hotel”.

Galley equipment will be concealed behind custom Arabic fretwork screens and blinds while trolleys will be covered by wood-finish doors.

Etihad will retrofit its fleet with the new product over the next four years.

The product developments have put together by the Etihad Design Consortium, a body set up by the airline in 2008 comprising three UK design agencies; Acumen, Factorydesign and Honour Branding.

Consumer focus groups were also held in London, Sydney, New York and Abu Dhabi.

The Residence bed


The living area in The Residence


The First Apartment, nine of which will feature on the A380


Business Studio


The Lobby, located between first and business class on the A380 where premium passengers can "relax and socialise"


A380 First Class aisle


A380 galley


Airbus A380


Boeing 787-9


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