Flight of Fantasy: ‘The Residence’ of Etihad A380

by Kamiya Jani
Flight of Fantasy: ‘The Residence’ of Etihad A380

Wouldn’t it be a dream-come-true to lounge in a luxurious living room, dine on an elegant dining table and stretch out on a comfortable bed, the next time you take a long flight to London? Come December, this will be for real as Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, promises the passengers of its Airbus A380 aircraft a luxurious suite to travel in.

Sneak Peak

‘The Residence’ by Etihad will be a landmark in the aviation industry, being the only three-room private suite in the sky available on a public passenger aircraft. The suite consists of a living room, separate bedroom and an en suite shower room. Spanning over an area of 125 square feet, the suite is designed to accommodate one or two passengers.

Etihad A380

Influenced by the modern Arabian design, The Residence is decorated in a contemporary style. The living room is equipped with a Poltrona Frau leather double-seat sofa with ottoman and a dining table. Unique décor elements such as custom carpets, table marquetry and soft furnishings create exclusivity. A full-height sliding door can be drawn for some privacy.

Etihad A380

Adorned with delicate fabrics and furnished with a natural fibre mattress, the bedroom is outfitted with a large double bed, along with some under-bed stowage. The side table has an integrated drawer, and the headboard is fitted with reading and ambient lights. There’s even a full length wardrobe to ensure that those stylish suits stay uncreased! A shower set for a 4-minute cycle in the compact en suite-bathroom, and a vanity unit with magnifying make-up mirror completes the in-air grooming experience.


“To put anything new in the aircraft, there are a lot of challenges. You need certifications and approvals before installing anything. What we did with A380 was to use the upper deck of the A380 for the premium cabins. The curved portion in the front of the aircraft, which is usually used as a lounge or a bar, we made that a part of The Residence. So that portion is as luxurious as a hotel room,” says Fiona Morrison, VP Guest Experience, Etihad Airways.

Etihad A380

The Planning Team

The concept of the Residence is certainly a notch above current standards in luxury air travel, and to interpret this concept,  Etihad Design Consortium (ECD) brought together three leading UK designers – Acumen, Factorydesign and Honour Branding. From unique configurations to revolutionary seat designs, from innovative custom galleys and lavatories to the dedicated spaces and zones, this team has come up with groundbreaking designs for this special brief.

The Planning Team

The onboard seating across First Class, Business and Economy has been designed by Acumen. The cabin interior elements were undertaken by Factorydesign.  To coordinate the project across the EDC and manage the interface with Etihad, Honour Branding took the lead. In close partnership with the EDC and Poltrona Frau, ‘The Residence’ has been built by B/E Aerospace in the United Kingdom.

“We plan to launch ten A380s in a few years. Of the ten, the living room will be styled in three different designs,” says Morrison. Talking about the colours, she adds, “We have used warm tones, pulling from the brown with the golden touches. We have also used coffee colour that has a tinge of ruby and cashmere colour with a jade accent.”

A Class Apart

It is not just the suite that gets incorporated into the Etihad’s luxury range; its first class section also gets an upgrade on Etihad A380 with the First Apartment. Upholstered with the Poltrona Frau leather, the ottoman in the first class opens out into an 81-inch long bed. When travelling with a partner, the divider between apartments can be lowered to join the rooms. Airbus B787, another new airbus by Etihad, comes with a similar First Suite to enjoy uncompromised privacy behind closed doors.

First class

In keeping with its upgrade initiative, the next-generation Etihad Airways Business Studio will be introduced later in the year – 70 Business Studios will be located on the upper deck of the A380, while the B787 will have 28 Business Studios, all offering aisle access and a fully flat bed.

Designing with the challenges of space, what the designers have achieved at Etihad is worth a standing.. or should we say, a flying ovation!

The above article was published in the well renowned Interior Magazine: CW Interiors India