Back in May, Etihad pulled the cover off a groundbreaking new product that far surpasses even the most lavish First Class in the sky — the Etihad Residence. More than just a big chair, or a lie-flat bed, it features three rooms! And on Monday, Etihad said the suites are selling better than anticipated.
The Residence costs $20,000 per flight, and allows double occupancy. Etihad CEO James Hogan shared that the first 10 flights were already sold out, and that future bookings were already exceeding the normal 50 percent booking rate for First Class. The airline is expecting their industry-leading product to lure travelers away from competitors like Emirates, Qatar and Singapore. The Gulf region carriers are meeting some challenges with their expansion plans, however, as U.S. and European regulators are becoming more stubborn on new route approvals and code-sharing agreements.
Bloomberg reports that Emirates is working on a First Class upgrade of their own, and given the tendency of one-upmanship in the Gulf region, I expect Emirates' offering to be pretty amazing.
The Residence can only be found on Etihad's Airbus A380s, the first of which will enter service this December 27th between Dubai and London. Etihad has 10 A380s on order, and plans to expand service to New York and Sydney in 2015, after more of the planes are delivered.