I don’t know about you, but if I’m paying $38,000 for the world’s most expensive in-flight suite, I expect the entire experience to be positively slathered in luxury, dripping from every gold-plated surface like sweat should be dripping from the temples of my cadre of hustling servants.

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To this end, the unveiling of Etihad Airways’ new “Residence,” a three-room air hotel now available to passengers traveling between New York and Mumbai, is just a crushing disappointment.

Arrival at the terminal is painless enough: Passengers are greeted at a private entrance by their personal, Savoy-trained butler, but things nosedive sharply after that. The lounge area is little more than a hard-looking sofa with a TV so close you could lick it, which you’ll probably be tempted to do: The only nibbles available upon entering are a pathetic cup of mixed nuts and but one flute of champagne. (True class is a chilled bottle, or better yet, three.)

Vera Wang glassware: Fine, whatever.

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Bernardaud porcelain china: Ditto.

Finally, some food. Oh, it’s a microscopic amuse-bouche, followed by a trio of seared scallops. The tarantulas could easily carry the entire meal away without straining themselves.

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Now that you’re blind from watching your super-close TV, it’s cognac time! You’re going to need it, too, because guess what? Your bed is a double. You haven’t slept in a bed so small since your Bryn Mawr days when you hooked up with the pool boy. Man... the pool boy. Drift asleep bathed in the memory of his sun-kissed arms, but don’t get too comfortable: There’s a stop-over in Abu Dhabi.

Total: One empty stomach, two strained eye balls, one cramped night’s sleep and one lifetime’s worth of wondering whatever happened to that pool boy. For all that, you may as well just share a private jet with Donald Trump. Ha, just kidding: Death first.


Image via Etihad Airways.