After much speculation, Etihad has confirmed it is bringing back part of its A380 fleet next year.
It is further evidence of just how well travel is recovering from the pandemic, as Etihad initially grounded all 10 super-jumbos at the start of the pandemic. The company line back in 2020 was that this was permanent, and they would not be returning.
Fortunately, this has proven not to be the case. Etihad will bring back at least four next year to fly, exclusively, the London to Abu Dhabi route. The first is expected to be bookable from March for travel from mid July.
The news also means that Etihad is bringing back its First Class product. Whilst Etihad has unveiled a number of new business class seats recently, none are a match for The Residence and First Apartments you can find on the A380s.
There is one Residence on each A380 plus nine First Apartments. 70 Business Studios and 485 economy seats make up the remainder of the double-decker aircraft. Our last review of the First Apartment was in 2017.
Intriguingly, the press release implies that The Residence – which is effectively a living room and bedroom – will not be sold separately but will be offered as an ‘add on’ to First Class passengers. There is no indication of how this would work but it would solve the problem of having to rebuild Etihad’s booking system to accommodate The Residence as a stand-alone product.
(Virgin Atlantic has done something similar with the two larger seats on its new A330neo Upper Class. Instead of selling them separately, Upper Class customers will be emailed before departure and offered a paid upgrade for – I believe – around £200 each way.)
The A380s also feature The Lobby, an onboard bar/lounge for First and Business Class customers.
Hopefully we can take another look at this magnificent aircraft in 2023.
How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards (January 2023)
Etihad Guest does not have a UK credit card. However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.
Cards earning Membership Rewards points include:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 20,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with four free airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Etihad Guest miles.
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 10,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for life.
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles which is an attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.