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Castle in the Clouds

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Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has unveiled the world’s first private multi-room cabin on a commercial passenger aircraft.

The latest jumbo jets from Airbus and Boeing herald a myriad of new and exciting additions to luxury flying. We’ve seen full-length beds, 32-inch TVs and even dedicated chefs on board these new planes. However, Etihad is redefining flying in luxury by offering an entire section of its brand-new A380 to passengers with the cash to spare.

The ultra-luxurious three-room suite from Etihad airlines is called “The Residence”, and it includes 125 square feet of space divided between a living room, dining area, bedroom and private bathroom (yes, it has a shower!). You can have the suite all to yourself, or you can share the double bed with a companion. 

As for on-board technology, there’s a 32-inch TV in the living room, a 27-inch screen near the bed, HDMI inputs (fancy playing PS4 at 30,000 feet?), power outlets, USB ports and a top-of-the-line Panasonic entertainment system.

The airline aims to set itself apart from the competition by raising the bar of luxury far, far higher. According to Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, “The Residence will set Etihad Airways apart from the rest of the industry and allow us to provide the complete range of world-class products and services to cater for the individual tastes of every VIP traveller. This is the culmination of five years of intensive effort and research into how Etihad Airways can provide an unparalleled VIP experience. Without doubt, we are ushering in a new era of luxury travel in commercial aviation.” 

For the first time ever, passengers – or guests, shall we say – staying at The Residence will have a dedicated butler on call throughout the flight, offering the type of discrete personal service and attention to detail akin to those found in the world’s most exclusive hotels.

These hospitality professionals have been selected by Etihad Airways and are undergoing specialist training at the Savoy Butler Academy in London, part of the world-famous Savoy Hotel. The butler’s role is multi-faceted, including that of a Concierge and Maitred’hotel. Their uniform has been designed by Rome-based fashion designer, EttoreBilotta, to reflect the superior levels of professionalism and style associated with this unique role. 

A dedicated VIP concierge team will ensure all aspects of the experience, including booking luxury limousine transfers, check-in and custom menu planning are handled with the utmost discretion.

The living room in The Residence is furnished with a two-seat reclining sofa upholstered in Poltrona Frau leather, dual marquetry dining tables and a chilled mini-bar. A touchscreen control unit operates the retractable ottoman, the ambient and mood lighting, window shading, adjusts seat position and firmness, and activates the in-seat massage functions. 

A door and passageway separate the living room from the master bedroom and the adjoining shower room. The bedroom features a Poltrona Frau upholstered 82-inch long double bed with custom-made mattress, bedside unit, wardrobe, and under-bed stowage for hand luggage.

The living room features a large 32-inch LCD TV, whilst the bedroom boasts its own 27-inch LCD TV. The communications suite features broadband internet connection with mobile and data capability, live TV, HDMI, AC outlets and USB ports. 

The Residence is fully Wi-Fi enabled and equipped with the latest Panasonic eX3 entertainment system, controlled by a video touch screen and handset. 

In keeping with the cabin interiors in the rest of the aircraft, The Residence is decorated in a contemporary style influenced by modern Arabian design. 

It also has unique décor elements such as custom carpets, table marquetry and soft furnishings, creating individuality and exclusivity. The Residence on each Etihad Airways A380 aircraft will feature a unique design inspired by best-in-class boutique hospitality. 

Certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for dual occupancy, The Residence has been built by B/E Aerospace in the United Kingdom in close partnership with the Etihad Design Consortium (EDC) and Poltrona Frau. 

The Residence is now available for bookings for flights between Abu Dhabi and London, New York and Sydney and is bound for takeoff around March 2015. This gives you a reasonable time to save up for the whopping ticket cost of £25,456, or about $43,000 roundtrip for the roughly seven-hour trip between London and Abu Dhabi.