Skift Take

It takes a elevated breed of aviation geek to roll like this.

If you’ve wondered just what a person would have to do to pay the kind of money it takes to fly in the Etihad new multi-room The Residence suite, the answer is: sell Italian toothpaste. ‘Pasta del Capitano,’ to be exact, which is appropriate when you think about it.

But the first person to fly in The Residence really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Etihad Airways revealed that aviation enthusiast and Miami businessman, Gino Bertuccio, holds the golden ticket–which the airline dubs as “the most exclusive ticket in aviation history”–for the December 27 Abu Dhabi to London first flight of Etihad’s new A380.

Bertuccio makes a habit of firsts and lasts in aviation. He won the competition to be onboard the first commercial flight of the ANA Boeing Dreamliner in 2011 because he inadvertently “added an extra digit onto his bid,” but was reportedly happy with the error. He also enjoyed Suite 1F on the first flight of the Singapore Airlines A380, though Julian Hayward from Sydney Australia beat Bertuccio to first place by flying suite 1A, and Julian’s mate, Adam McLeod, took suite 2A. Bertuccio was also onboard when Singapore Airlines last flew the world’s longest flight from Newark to Singapore in 2013.

In all, Bertuccio has flown 22 inaugural and final flights in premium class cabins since he began this expensive hobby 25 years ago. He also collects airline memorabilia, with nearly 2,000 model airplanes, and has collected albums-full of boarding passes, certificates and photos from his luxury adventures in the skies.

“I have followed Etihad Airways and I have always admired the products the airline has launched,” said Bertuccio, who runs Ligi Import Corp, distributor of Italian personal care and hygiene products to the US, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

“There are going to be many firsts on this inaugural flight—new amenities, services and other innovations to try,” he said. “For the first time in my flying experience, I really don’t know what to expect but I do know that flying in the Residence by Etihad will be a truly unique adventure, the top of luxury. I have huge expectations. My only wish is that the flight was longer.”

Bertuccio could have had a longer flight, were he willing to wait for Etihad to introduce the Residence on routes from Abu Dhabi to New York or Sydney in 2015.

What he can expect is well known thanks to Etihad’s many announcements and videos about The Residence travel experience.

Bertuccio will enjoy a three-room private cabin, with Living Room, Double Bedroom and Ensuite Shower Room, his every need catered to by a Savoy Academy-trained butler for the duration. “I am excited to experience them all, though I am particularly fascinated by the butler concept,” said Bertuccio.

Etihad reports that “a dedicated Concierge team will ensure all aspects of Mr. Bertuccio’s experience are handled with the utmost personal attention, dedication and care” long before he gets onboard.


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Tags: etihad

Photo credit: Miami entrepreneur and aviation enthusiast, Gino Bertuccio. Etihad Airways

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