The race between airlines to attract the world’s richest flyers just got kicked up a notch.
We’ve heard about flying bedrooms and entertainment centres right at your chair. But Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates is about to outdo them all — at least until the next airline announces the next over-the-top perk for the world’s wealthiest jetsetters.
The airline has just finished training a crew of 13 butlers at the Savoy Hotel in London. The 11 men and two women, who hail from 10 different countries, will serve first-class passengers aboard the airline’s new superjumbo Airbus A380 jets.
The first of these will take to the skies in December, flying the London to Abu Dhabi route. The plane will feature nine single-room “apartments” with full beds and reclining seats.
And if that’s not fancy enough for your tastes, the plane will also feature a “Residence by Etihad,” a three-room cabin with a bedroom, living room and bathroom.
And it pretty much is a residence. Look:
According to Bloomberg, one trip aboard The Residence will set you back GBP 12,000, or about $21,700 Canadian.
“The living room has a luxurious Poltrona Frau leather double-seat sofa with ottoman, two dining tables, chilled drinks cabinet and 32-inch flat screen TV,” Etihad boasts.
“A soft-carpeted hallway leads to the ensuite bathroom with shower, exclusive toiletries and bathrobes,” while the bedroom “is decorated with delicate fabrics and furnished with natural fibre mattress double bed, Egyptian cotton sheets and choice of pillows.”
The Airbus A380, by the way, is huge:
Etihad's over-the-top luxury is certainly a far cry from what most airline passengers experience these days. Before your full-body patdown, you may be surprised to learn your low-cost airline is now charging you a fee for your first checked bag. That’s what happened this year at Porter, WestJet and Air Canada’s low-cost carrier Tango.
Etihad’s move is part of a larger trend towards businesses catering increasingly to the very rich.
“With the rich getting richer, a growing number of businesses are seeking growth from those with money to spend and money to invest,” CIBC economist Benjamin Tal wrote recently, singling out banking and airlines as two areas where this is happening.
So what next in the never-ending war to cater to the world’s jet set? Could all-first-class airplanes (“flying mansions”) be far behind?
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