What’s it like living it up in Etihad’s in-flight apartment called ‘The Residence’? With a $20,000 price-tag, not many (especially in the travel industry) could answer that question first-hand.

Except for one. Flight Centre’s Ben Monaghan.

The Brisbane-based First & Business Class Travel Expert recently had the rare chance of spreading out (literally) mid-flight after winning a free trip in The Residence from Etihad.

Totally for free.

In case you missed the news, Flight Centre hired an entire Etihad A380 for Global Gathering this year and gave Flighties the opportunity to win one of four tickets to fly in the ultra-high-end cabin.

To be in the running, Agents needed to sell as much Etihad as possible within a period. Ben did just that and found himself flying like Middle Eastern royalty while his mates slugged it out back of the plane post-Global.

Curious (and a little envious) about the experience, KARRYON hunted Ben down on Instagram to find out what it was REALLY like flying in The Residence. Here’s what he said:


Which leg of the trip did you get to fly in The Residence?


Berlin – Abu Dhabi (5.5 hours).


How did your fellow Travel Agents respond to your win?

Everyone was ecstatic for me. When you have a plane full of colleagues who are all pretty aware of this cabin, they know how special it is. I even got to meet the Captain in the cockpit once the plane had landed.


Were you allowed to take anyone in with you or was it a solo adventure?


I was allowed one friend to come up after take off and hang out in the lounge. I was so happy one of my close friends was onboard and suffice to say; she was over the moon.


Tell us a bit about what was inside?


Well when you walk in, it’s a living room (that could comfortably fit three people) with an enormous TV. Then you walk down the hallway to a bathroom with a shower and then down into the bedroom.

Being such a short flight I wanted to experience everything. The food, the bed and the shower. I was already pretty hungover and tired from the most amazing weekend and when my head hit that pillow in THAT bed… I was out like a light. Lucky I had my butler to wake me up with enough time to have a shower.


Were there any perks in The Residence that surprised you & you thought clients might appreciate?


I knew there was a Private Butler but having him at your beck and call for whenever you want was pretty special.Β I really felt like royalty!


Now that you’ve experienced The Residence, do you think you’ll ever be able to go back to Economy?


I’ve had a taste of Business Class and that definitely wet the appetite but this takes it to a whole new level. I’m definitely ruined. It just makes me want to work harder to be able to experience the pointy end of the plane everytime.


Is it worth $20,000 – if so, why?

I’m not gonna lie, it’s a lot of money! If I was a multi-millionaire then hell yeah, I would. It certainly is the most special cabin on any aircraft of any airline.


Which Class did you fly on the other legs of the trip? How did it compare to The Residence?


After my amazing experience I was lucky enough to be travelling in Business Class, which is an amazing product in itself. This made the fall from the top less painful!


How will this experience benefit you as an Agent?

I manage Flight Centre First and Business – so these kind of experiences are invaluable for both my clients and my team. I definitely feel privileged to have had this once in a lifetime experience.


Have you flown in The Residence? Tell us about your experience below.