Short of flying on a private jet, The Residence is just about the most exclusive travel experience in the sky. And you’ll only find The Residence on Etihad’s Airbus A380 aircraft. Of course, this is literally a flying one bedroom apartment. There’s a loungeroom that doubles as a dining room, plus a separate bedroom and an ensuite bathroom. Oh, and its own shower as well.

But how can you book The Residence? For years, using miles for an outright reward booking just wasn’t an option. And even now, it’s not as straightforward as burning points on a First Class reward seat. When it comes to The Residence, you’ll need a strategy for the ultimate in high-flying upgrades. But for those with elite status via Etihad Guest, things are now a little easier.

If you don’t have a shiny Etihad Guest card, don’t fret. You could take advantage of the airline’s status match promotion to get yourself Etihad Guest Gold. Then, convert points into Etihad Guest miles from programs such as Amex Membership Rewards to secure the ultimate reward booking: The Residence.

Etihad’s Airbus A380 routes

Because The Residence is only on Etihad’s Airbus A380s, you can only fly it to the cities where these aircraft operate. As of March 2024, you’ll find Etihad’s superjumbos travelling from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow and New York JFK. You’ll also find them darting back to Abu Dhabi from the same cities.

While Etihad previously used its Airbus A380s on flights to Sydney and Melbourne, this isn’t currently the case. Instead, the airline uses a mix of Boeing 777s and Boeing 787s – and without a First Class cabin, let alone The Residence.

This means if your journey begins or ends in Australia, you won’t be able to fly The Residence the whole way. But you may be able to include it as a later part of your overseas adventure. You’ll just need to save those hard-earned Etihad Guest miles or Velocity Points for another day.

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How to book The Residence on Etihad

Planning to travel on an Etihad Airbus A380 flight? There’s a trick to booking The Residence. Previously, Etihad’s Residence appeared as a separate travel class when buying a ticket. You could choose to book Economy, Business Class, First Class or The Residence right from the booking screen.

Now though, it’s a little trickier. The Residence no longer shows as a standalone option. Instead, you have to search for a First Class flight. Then, if you follow the prompts for seat selection during the booking process, you may see this screen appear.

Upsell to Etihad's The Residence
If you try to select your seat on a First Class booking, you may see this prompt.

It’s not a bad way of doing things from Etihad’s perspective. Rather than relying on people to know what The Residence is, Etihad now targets this as an upsell for those most likely in a position to afford it. Of course, that’s by aiming the service at travellers purchasing full-fare First Class tickets.

Click The Residence on Etihad's seat map
On the regular First Class seat map, you can also select The Residence by choosing 1A or 1C.

And how much is that upgrade? It’s much more reasonable than it used to be, where a return fare from Sydney to London was $87,000 in The Residence. (And no, that’s not a typo). Now, travellers already flying First Class from Abu Dhabi to London may be able to upgrade for a little over AU$3,000 (7,310 AED).

Booked The Residence
If you go for the upsell, you’ll see an animation resembling a credit card throwing a party.

Now it goes without saying – pricing can vary. So too can availability. It may just happen that somebody else has beaten you to the punch. And that’d mean flying ‘normal’ First Class, or trying a different flight.

Depending on Etihad’s appetite to secure a paid upgrade, it may be possible to purchase a bump to The Residence on frequent flyer reward bookings. But this is never guaranteed – and pricing may be higher than on a paid First Class ticket.

A new Residence booking option for Etihad’s Gold, Platinum and Diamond members

Travellers with Gold status or above in Etihad Guest finally have a long-awaited feature. That is, being able to book The Residence outright as a mileage redemption.

Etihad is only teasing some of the redemption rates for these, not the full chart. But we’ve learned that a one-way ticket in The Residence from Abu Dhabi to London is 300,000 Etihad Guest miles. To bring a second passenger in the same suite, the joint ticket cost 500,000 Etihad Guest miles. In both cases, taxes and fees are payable, just like any other frequent flyer ticket.

In related news, Etihad is also tweaking some of its redemption rates in other cabins. On those same Abu Dhabi-London flights, a one-way First Class seat now costs 120,000 miles. That’s reduced from 140,000 miles before. Business Class remains at 70,000 miles, with Economy nudging down slightly from 32,000 to 30,000 miles.

There’s also been a couple of slight tweaks to the Business Class redemption rates on Etihad’s Australian routes. In February, these increased from 110,000 to 120,000 Etihad Guest miles, one-way. Etihad made some more recent revisions to its redemption rates, although these weren’t adjusted further and remain at 120,000 miles.

Also read: Etihad Guest revamps loyalty program

Summing up

The bottom line? If you’re booking Etihad First Class – especially with points – expect that you’ll fly in First Class, not The Residence. But hey, if you keep your eyes peeled and see what’s available via the seat selection tool, you never know. You might just turn an already-fabulous flight into something even more memorable.

And because we know you’ll ask – no, you can’t upgrade to The Residence using points or miles. You also can’t book a reward ticket in The Residence on Velocity Points, for that matter. As well, you can’t do an ‘upgrade bid’ to The Residence, in the same way as you can between Etihad’s other cabins.

Remember, this experience is designed to be one of the world’s most exclusive ways to travel. If everybody could jump in and easily book using points, it wouldn’t have quite the same allure. After all, we’re not talking about the comfort of Business Class or the sumptuousness of First Class. This is The Residence – the cabin that blows First Class out of the water.

But don’t forget, you could request a status match to Etihad Guest Gold, and transfer points to Etihad from programs like Amex Membership Rewards to make your travel dreams come true.

Have you ever managed to fly The Residence? Share your experience with fellow readers via the comments below!

Also read: Travel tip – Velocity Platinum gets you into Etihad’s new First Class Lounge

Feature image courtesy of Etihad, with screenshots generated by Point Hacks.

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You can now book The Residence using Etihad Guest miles was last modified: March 5th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin