Airlines compete to become first in first class
Airlines battle to bring the most first-class experiences to high-paying customers.
There’s an arms race in the air fought with butlers, chefs, gold-plated cutlery, Chanel toiletries and private beds for couples.
The latest escalation: On Dec. 27, Etihad Airways is launching a 125-square-foot apartment called “The Residence” in the nose of its Airbus A380 superjumbo jets, staffed by a Savoy Hotel-trained personal butler. One person or a couple gets to order whatever they want to eat or drink, enjoy a living room with a 32-inch television, a private bathroom with a glass sink and shower and then retire to a bedroom, which also has a big-screen TV. They have complete privacy, never seen by other passengers or crew.
The ticket price for one or two people is $20,000 one-way for the eight-hour flight between London and Abu Dhabi, Etihad’s home in the United Arab Emirates. Half of the flights to London are already booked through the middle of January, Etihad Chief Executive James Hogan says.