Airline industry has come a long way from the lows. Etihad Airlines based in Abu Dhabi has been striving hard to capture the top end of travelers by offering truly luxurious flying experience to affluent passengers. Their latest offering called the ‘Residence’ raises the bar that other airlines will find difficult to follow. Priced at about $43,000 for a journey the Residence is practically a hotel room with ensuite bathroom and a personal butler. There is a significant growth at the lower end for no frills fliers on a budget along with top end from luxury travel.
Etihad clearly wants to stay ahead of the competition and has created one 125 square feet Residence on their wide bodied A380 jets. It is a tree room configuration that mimics a hotel room. The first class suite boasts of a double bed, ensuite bathroom, minibar, wardrobe, television and the personal services of a chef and butler. The first jet featuring the Residence will fly on the Abu Dhabi to London sector. As more jets with the unique feature are delivered they will be deployed on other long haul routes. The first such jet is expected to be launched in December later this year.
It has become possible to spare this kind of space in front of the top deck of A380 because of its enormous size. The layout seems to be extravagant for a commercial airline but there is a market for luxury travel experiences and these initiatives turn out to be profitable. And more importantly it is this segment which is least affected by any economic slowdown. However there are skeptics in the industry who doubt if there will be enough passengers who would be willing to pay this kind of price to fly commercial. According to recent trends it is seen that the very top end of luxury travelers prefer to fly private. The private jets are also becoming more and more luxurious providing the ultimate flying experience.