THE BLOG
05/08/2014 02:17 pm ET Updated Jul 08, 2014

This Is What A $21K 'Flying Apartment' Looks Like

By Barbara Peterson, CNTraveler.com

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Etihad revealed plans for a new class of service for those who find first class a tad confining: a three-room suite, to be installed on the carrier's new Airbus A380s, that will include a double bedroom, a private bath with shower, and a lounge area. Oh, and a personal butler trained at London's Savoy hotel to wait on you.

The cabins will be available starting in December with the delivery of the first of ten double decker planes the airline has on order. At about 125 square feet, this "residence", as the airline insists on calling it, is likely the largest piece of airborne real estate you could book short of chartering a private jet. Fares will be around $21,000, one-way, on a typical flight from Abu Dhabi to London, the carrier's executives said at an event last weekend. That may be cheaper than a private plane, which would set you back six figures on the same route, they claimed--but if you're in the market for this kind of service you're probably not worrying about the price anyway.

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Each A380 will have one of these outsize cribs in the front section of the upper deck, but regular first class passengers on the new jetliners will also get more space: 74 percent more space, to be precise, than in current accommodations. There will be nine first class suites on the A380s (called "first apartments" so you don't confuse this with your average airline seat). They come with a fully flat bed 80 inches long and a separate seating area with an armchair and ottoman. It also includes a "chilled" minibar, a swiveling TV monitor, and other atypical airline touches. When they're tired of their suites, first and business fliers can use a lounge that can double as a sports bar, with a large screen TV airing live broadcasts of sporting and news events.

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Etihad is in the midst of an ambitious expansion; it has also ordered 71 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which will have eight first-class suites with both a bed and a seat, arrayed in 1-2-1 layout so the center seats can be joined to make a double bed. Business class--on both new models of aircraft--will also get roomier seats.
Of course, none of this is going unnoticed by Etihad's rival, Emirates Airline, which pushed the envelope a few years back by installing showers in first class when it started flying the A380s. The Dubai-based airline dropped hints over the weekend that it too will be installing fully enclosed bedrooms that will offer 'room service,' with a personal attendant.

Photos: Courtesy of Etihad

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