Etihad is defining what modern First Class is for commercial airlines.
In the skies, flyers who pony up the extremely pricy fare to fly in The Residence on Etihad Airways’ A380 vessels have access to three private rooms on the plane.
Now they’ll also have access to a private suite, featuring a living room, shower, and prayer room, at New York’s JFK airport in the company’s newly opened Terminal 4 lounge.
The space, concealed out of view behind the front reception desk of the lounge, is the airline’s next step towards providing a door-to-door luxury travel experience to its most wealthy customers. A ticket on the airline’s Abu Dhabi to New York flight in its Residence product runs around $32,000.
“Six years ago we decided we would use the arrival of the A380 and 787 Dreamliner as a major step change in service, product, design and comfort,” said James Hogan, CEO of Etihad, at the opening of the lounge. “Whether its first-class, business class or economy, the product meets and exceeds guest expectations.”
Etihad partnered with design house Gensler to tie the aesthetics of the lounge’s 500 square-foot residence suite to that of its aircraft aesthetic. Chefs on site will cook meals for suite guests and bartenders will prepare bespoke cocktails and beverages.
“We want to be a hospitality brand and environment, not an airline,” said Calum Laming, Etihad’s vice president of customer experience.
The butler and concierge service that Residence flyers experience onboard will expand to the airport, as well. Etihad plans to open a new lounge in Los Angeles next year, but it won’t feature a similar Residence suite because the airport won’t serve the airline’s A380s.
Etihad Airways, with its base in Abu Dhabi, hopes that a more comfortable and stylish experience on its flights will attract repeat international flyers from Asia and the U.S.
“We want to, in some way, bring style back to air transportation,” said Hogan.
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Photo credit: The private Residence by Etihad suite at the airline's JFK Airport lounge in New York. Skift