If you're doing any traveling by air this holiday season, you probably don't need to be reminded that for most of us, air travel is an experience that at is best is miserable, and at its worst, dehumanizing. But for the wealthiest fliers in the world, luxury airline Etihad has a couple of options for their international flights that redefine what it means to travel in comfort.
The most opulent of the two is The Residence, which, as its name suggests, is a full "penthouse in the sky" experience, complete with a personal butler and chef. The Residence boasts its own living room, bedroom, and shower-equipped bathroom. Free WiFi and a 32-inch HDTV complete the feeling of being in a fully furnished residence while traveling from city to city, and the whole thing costs almost $64,000 for two travelers to fly from New York City to Abu Dhabi.
While not as over-the-top luxurious as The Residence, a First Apartment might as well be a giant flying mansion, compared to the usual coach seat. Each First Apartment capsule is equipped with its own Poltrona Frau leather ottoman that can be folded out to an 81-inch lay-flat bed, as well as a TV and vanity mirror (the TV is only 24 inches, though, compared to The Residence's 31 –you have to make sacrifices somewhere, after all).
Another way these travelers can enjoy the luxury of a First Apartment and still pay a bit less, is that they might actually have to interact with other passengers, provided they travel from their apartments into the common lounge, which also services the first class and business class areas of the plane. But the lounges are so swanky and luxurious, it's unlikely going to be an issue.
For travelers lucky enough to be able to afford either of these luxury flight options from Etihad, it will probably be a relief to know that before your flight, you won't have to wait around at your gate with the rest of the common rabble if they're flying out of JFK, thanks to the "First and Business Class Lounge" recently built by the airline. There, passengers can prepare for their flights with upscale bathrooms (with showers), a library, luggage storage, and even prayer rooms.
But if you're flying anywhere in the next couple of weeks, it might be best just not to think about it too much.