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Etihad Airways

Rumor: Etihad Looks to End First Class

Rumor: Etihad Looks to End First Class
Joe Cortez

Could Etihad Airways be the first among the “Middle East Three” to stop offering first-class seats to luxury flyers? Rumors suggest the carrier could eliminate the cabin by 2022, leaving the premium offering solely on their fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft.

Rumors are swirling that Etihad Airways may be slowly reducing their first-class cabin offerings to long-haul routes aboard the airline’s Airbus A380 superjumbo aircraft. The suggestion was first discovered on a forum thread on Airlines.net.

“In another move of cost-cutting for the airline, Etihad will remove first-class from the “majority” of its fleet from 2022,” the original poster writes. “Newer 777’s…will be reconfigured over the coming years with the new and improved business studio.”

Would first-class truly go away aboard one of the “Middle East Three?”

A rumor suggesting one of the “Middle East Three” is doing away with first-class should not be taken lightly. In 2014, Etihad lead the way in first-class offerings with “The Residence:” a two-room experience complete with an ensuite shower and butler service. While prices for this experience started at $20,000, FlyerTalkers say the experience is commensurate with the price.

Etihad’s luxury service fight came to a head in 2015, when the company sided with competitors Emirates and Qatar Airlines against America’s legacy carriers’ allegations of “Open Skies” law violations. The debate continues today, with the last meeting among airlines held in July 2019.

But if the rumors are to be believed, these over-the-top experiences could be coming to an end. On the Etihad website, the first-class page only references the Airbus superjumbo jet operated by the Abu Dhabi-based carrier: “Step into your private suite, unwind with a drink in your leather armchair or let us prepare your bed whilst you take a shower on board our A380.”

Will FlyerTalkers give up Etihad’s first-class experiences?

A search of the FlyerTalk forums shows flyers asking about the first-class experience, as well as giving advice to first-time flyers. However, at least one FlyerTalker thinks the front-of-cabin experience is destined to end.

“Normally I ignore rumors until we hear something concrete from the airline. In this instance, I do believe most of what has been said, but there is no way to be sure,” writes blogger Sam Chui – also known as UAL777 on the FlyerTalk forums. “I don’t anticipate Etihad coming out with a statement about it in the near future, especially considering how much of a point of pride some of their First Class products are.”

On the forums, flyers have not begun openly discussing the possibility just yet. Etihad has provided no response either: FlyerTalk sent a request for comment to the airline and have not received any correspondence as of press time.

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Etihad Airways

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