THIS is a story for all of us who have ever boarded a plane and had to turn right to make our way down the back to row 60, or worse. We are now going to dream.
You step on the plane and are graciously escorted by an immaculately-tailored butler to a place so sumptuous you thought it was the realm of only billionaires and movie stars. Welcome to The Residence by Etihad on the airline's new Airbus A380.
The Residence - all 125 square feet of it in the forward upper deck - is your space alone: living room, shower room, double bedroom. And, it goes without saying, that beautifully-attired butler is also yours alone.
From tomorrow Etihad will deploy the new A380 on one of its two daily flights from Sydney, with The Residence boasting innovations and features normally associated with private jets and luxury yachts.
Think two-seater reclining sofa, electronic seat controls and in-seat massage, a retractable upholstered ottoman, a chilled mini bar. Think custom-designed carpets, a large dining table with custom marquetry, a 32-inch TV monitor. And that's just the living room.
In the bedroom it's all about stretching out on an upholstered double bed with luxurious linen while you watch your 27-inch television after your butler has stored your clothes in a full-length wardrobe once you have emerged fragrant with luxury products from the ensuite shower room in your sleepwear. At this point the butler might ask if your personal in-flight chef can create something five-star gourmet just for you.
Although a return trip to London with Etihad in this gorgeous space will cost $86,000, it is relatively good value compared with chartering your own private jet. And the $86,000 is for two of you.
The skilled butlers who look after The Residence have completed a challenging program undergoing specialist training at the Savoy Butler Academy in London, part of the world-famous Savoy Hotel, which has provided them with the knowledge and tools necessary to ensure they bring to reality Etihad's vision of providing a totally reimagined travel experience for discerning guests.
We can but dream. However, there is other excellent Etihad news. Etihad will fly its new 787-9 Dreamliner into Brisbane from June 2 with First Class Suites, Business Class Studios and Economy Smart Seats.
There is something good for all of us. See the side-bar for more details of the June 2 Dreamliner Brisbane launch.
Etihad Airways commences daily non-stop flights between Brisbane and Abu Dhabi on June 1 (arriving in Brisbane on June 2) on the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Passengers on the 787 Dreamliner will enjoy features such as the industry's largest windows; air that is cleaner, more humid and at a higher pressure for better comfort; large overhead bins with room for everyone's bag; soothing LED lighting; and technology to sense and counter turbulence for a smoother ride.
The Dreamliner will offer First Class on the Brisbane-Abu Dhabi route for the first time ever.
The introduction of First Class offers a new luxury travel option from Brisbane and provides a significant opportunity to attract high income international travellers to Queensland.
Etihad Airways offers convenient connections between Brisbane and 13 towns and cities throughout Queensland through a partnership with Virgin Australia.
Etihad Airways codeshares with Virgin Australia flights from Brisbane to Bundaberg, Cloncurry, Cairns, Emerald, Gladstone, Hervey Bay, Mount Isa, Mackay, Moranbah, Hamilton Island, Proserpine, Rockhampton and Townsville.
The non-stop flights will offer two-way connectivity beyond Abu Dhabi to more than 30 destinations in the GCC, Africa, Europe and United Kingdom.
The non-stop flights replace the daily one-stop services which currently operate via Singapore with a two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
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