A grey car park in Manchester doesn’t usually conjure images of world-class flights but recently all that changed at Travel Counsellors HQ.
The enormous lorry which transports ‘The Etihad Experience’ around the country to educate travel agents and potential customers was like a haven of luxury. Sliding glass doors open the Etihad world to the public and from the moment you set foot inside, you can feel the service is something special. We were welcomed warmly by the staff who are the real-life cabin crew (it doesn’t get more authentic than that!) Their genuine smiles were from people who were proud to showcase their place of work to excited new eyes. The soft and luxurious plane-like interior even absorbed sound in a strange way, and it all added to the effect of stepping on a real Etihad aircraft.
The lorry was divided into sections to suit the budgets of the guests they receive on board from Economy right through to First Class and beyond…where you’ll reach something called The Residence.
Unparalleled on commercial airlines, The Residence offers a service like no other, going above and beyond the ‘typical’ 5 star. It epitomises the very essence of the Etihad Experience. It’s the only three room suite in the sky, truly your own apartment on a plane, and really is worth talking about. There’s only one aboard each of the Etihad fleet and is the ultimate in discretion – only three people on the whole plane know who is travelling in this section and there’s little danger of anyone else finding out thanks to private lounges and separate embarkation entrances.
Many aspects of your journey can be personalised to your taste too, from the flowers in the suite, the Champagne on offer and even which butler you have. This can be as specific as you like; you can specify their gender or which language they speak or – for the more particular – you can request your favourite by name. We were shown around by Michael who repeatedly serves his loyal customers.
From exclusive, 18ct gold cutlery, to cut crystal glasses in the lounge area, Christian Lacroix loungewear and 800 count thread Egyptian cotton sheets in the bedroom and luxury toiletries and bathrobes in the shower room, it’s “the world’s most luxurious living space in the air”. And in terms of concierge service, it’s simply the best. Starting from the moment your private chauffeur collects you from home and takes you to one of the lounges where your beauty treatments (and everything else for that matter) are fully complimentary, it continues in earnest when you step on board. Forgotten to book your hotel? Your butler will sort it. Want your carry-on baggage unpacking? It’ll be laid out on your bed. When it’s repacked, it will be done according to climate too – the Abu Dhabi heat demands a different wardrobe to destinations such as London, so whatever isn’t needed will be squirrelled away. Even last minute whims are catered for – seen a Lamborghini on one of your two HD TVs? Your butler will ensure there’s one waiting on the airfield when you land.
The Residence shows Etihad at its best and gives many travellers something to aspire to. It shows the real top end of Etihad service but if The Residence isn’t in your reach just yet, you can rest assured their service across the whole aircraft is never compromised. Even passengers flying in Economy seats are rewarded with a high standard which makes you feel valued and indulged. And as you progress up the scale to Business Class and First, comfort levels progress too. Flat beds, lounges to unwind or work in, vanity units and showers in the bathroom are all available for your use, meaning you arrive in a better state than when you set off, whether you are travelling for work or pleasure.
This insight into the Etihad Experience was brilliant. It made me see just what I could expect on board and I know that even flying Economy, it would be world class.