There’s so much more to flying first class than you’d expect.
If you’ve ever wanted to know why first class is the ultimate way to fly, we’ve got the insider goss about all the extras you receive as a premium cabin guest that catapults the flying experience from great to is-this-even-real-life?
Actually, it’s not real life, it’s better – it’s first class.
As Flight Centre’s marketing automation manager, Cameron Robert knows all about creating a personalised travel journey for customers.
He recently shared his firsthand experience flying from Sydney to London in Etihad Airways First Class on an A380 airplane with a stop in Abu Dhabi.
Now Cam gives us the lowdown on this rarefied world of top-shelf Champagne and showers in the sky that starts from the ride to the airport (in a limousine, of course) to exclusive lounge access and settling into your very own cabin.
Strap in, high flyers, as Cam reveals the perks of flying first class that nobody knows about (except for first class passengers).
Before the flight
The luxe journey starts with the pre-flight experience. An Etihad chauffeur will escort you in luxury to the airport where first class passengers have access to Etihad Airways concierge services in Abu Dhabi Airport, and can use the Etihad First line at priority check-in. While the lounge access is standard in Sydney for The House – Home of Etihad Airways, First passengers can enjoy more luggage allowance and variety. For flights to London, the baggage allowance for Etihad First travellers includes 2 x 12kg carry-on, one handbag or personal item and 50kg of checked baggage.
Etihad First passengers are able to board the A380 plane first via a separate boarding ramp. But note you may be waiting between 45-60 minutes before departure, which Cam says is not a bad thing when you receive a personal greeting from the senior cabin staff (cabin manager, supervisor, chef and up to three cabin crew).
Guests are treated to Emirati hospitality with Champagne, Arabian coffee and dates at your seat. But when we say ‘seat’, it’s really a centre-partitioned joined apartment with seat and separate fully flat bed. And your own personal (fully stocked) minibar fridge.
During your flight, you have a chef who will make anything you want to eat to order. This is a huge perk! There’s no set meal times or menu, you can dine whenever you want on whatever you want to eat. Etihad First guests have free Wi-Fi (limited MBs), massive TV screens and a shower.
As someone who tests for optimal customer experiences in his day job, Cam trialled the response time of the cabin crew in Etihad First. His findings? The instant response was just eight seconds from pressing the attendant button. Talk about beck and call!
During your layover in Abu Dhabi
Only Etihad First and The Residence passengers and Etihad Guest Platinum members are granted free access to the First Lounge & Spa in Abu Dhabi. The lounge is truly next level with a staff-to-guest ratio of 3:1. Cam reports that the staff are literally waiting to serve you!
A secret perk is complimentary 15-minute massages for guests in the Six Senses Spa area. Other exclusive amenities include multiple bars with an extensive range and top-shelf beverages, a wide range of a la carte dining, fitness room and a dedicated concierge. For the real high-flyer treatment, there’s the VIP Room that hosts a really discerning clientele.
All images: Cameron Robert