So you think travelling first class is luxurious? Think again: for those that have the resources, travelling by plane can be as five star as a night in the very best hotel. Sure, there’s no accounting for turbulence, but a few bumps might be easier to handle whilst languishing in the uber-plush cabin now offered by an Etihad A380 aircraft.
Currently the only three room suite in the sky, Etihad’s ‘The Residence’ has a living room, ensuite bathroom and separate bedroom, designed for two guests with supremely sophisticated tastes. Travellers will also be assigned a personal butler to take care of in-flight and post-flight itineraries as well as an in-flight chef to prepare a bespoke menu. The VIP concierge service takes care of any other idiosyncratic requirements, and provides a chauffeur to and from a private check-in and lounge. The cost? A mere £12,500, though a long waiting list suggests that’s hardly a deterrent.
So far, so exclusive, though for Singapore airlines fans, the notion of higher-than-first-class travel is hardly new: the airline revealed their air suites class in 2008, offering private cabins with sliding doors and interiors developed by French luxury yacht designer, Jean-Jaques Coste for the tidy sum of US$18,400. These days however, upscale air travel is becoming something of a trend with other brands catching on, such as British Airways who last year launched their Boeing B787 Dreamliner. This is a new style of first class cabin complete with split-screen entertainment system, indulgent beds, sleek, innovative design and larger windows to (designers insist) reduce the effects of jet lag. On the plus side it’s less expensive than Etihad’s suite, starting from £2500 return to Abu Dhabi and Muscat, but on the downside you’ll have to share your comfort and delight with another seven people. Swings and roundabouts, we say, but one thing’s for certain: exclusive air travel looks set to fly high in 2016.