Emirates vs Etihad: Battle of the Showers
When it comes to First Class products, we’ll have to agree that no one does it better – or at least not as luxurious – as the Middle Eastern carriers, and their A380 services are far superior in comfort and amenities that any of their competitors serving similar routes.
But when it comes to on-board showers, how do they stack up? This is Emirates vs Etihad: Battle of the Showers!
Emirates Shower Spa
Emirates offers their Shower Spa on all their A380 flights with a First Class service. As the product name clearly states, this is more than a shower. The service is only available to those flying First Class, as one would expect, and passengers need to reserve their allotted time with a crew member to secure availability (although we’ve flown them twice and we got whatever time we wanted without issues. The appointments run about 30 minutes, and that gives the two Shower Spa attendants to prepare the area for the next passenger after one is done. There are two Shower Spas in the front area of the A380 upper deck which are shared with the other 11 passengers in the First Class suites.
What makes this an awesome service? Well, other than being the first commercially available product offering on-board showers, the Spa itself is equipped with a rather spacious stand in shower, a full size sink with an actual faucet, hair dryer, a TV screen, hangers, more toiletries than you could ever need (shampoo, conditioner, razors, toothbrush, hairbrush, skincare products, Q-tips, perfume, eau de toilette, and even a loofah…), floor to ceiling mirror, and a full size toilet, all of which would cause most of the other 400 + passengers in that plane to riot if they knew what they were missing. Passengers in First are provided a stylish fabric bag for their pajamas and amenities where you can also pack your change of clothes and bring them into the Spa.
The shower itself must be kept to under 5 minutes of continuous water usage, although it can be paused and resumed to extend, and much to my surprise, those five minutes were enough for me to shower normally including shampooing and conditioning my long hair. There is a water consumption indicator to let us know how much water there is left. Water pressure is not unlike my shower at home, and it probably releases human-approved warm water virtually a second after activating the shower, which is a hand held shower head that can be detached from the wall to reach your otherwise harder to get to parts. Water can be activated while standing outside the stall – which is what I did the first time in fear that I’d be blasted with freezing water. Inside the spacious shower stall, there is a bench for people who are too tall to fit in the space provided – I can only assume – although I had the pleasure of spending some time there when the flight got too bumpy for me to continue showering. I was in fact surprised that none of the Spa attendants burst in to pull me out during the turbulence. The shower floor is textured to prevent slips and falls, and the Spa flooring is heated, in keeping with what one would expect from an extremely over the top experience.
Here’s a 360 view of the Shower Spa:
Just like on the Emirates A380, Etihad’s have two lavatories with showers in the upper deck, but unlike before, one of them is strictly reserved for their passengers aboard their extremely luxurious The Residence product which I hope to one day get to try myself. This leaves two other lavatories reserved for passengers in the First Class Apartments, one of them is spacious and really classy, with wood paneling all throughout and an above the counter glass sink, and the other one, with the shower, is small and rather dark, with a small toilet and even smaller sink to go with.
I had a hard time figuring out why the shower would be banished from the gorgeous and spacious lav-only washroom and destined to be crammed in a tiny-yet-practical lavatory in a First Class product. These two lavatories are shared with the other 8 passengers in the Apartments, and once again, it is suggested that you book your preferred time with the crew. This lavatory is equipped with a full-on hair dryer, high quality products and amenities, and the softest towels 40,000 ft in the air (I wouldn’t be offended if Etihad chose to send me some home, ahem). Passengers receive their pajamas in a nice cardboard bag in their brown palette that I used to bring my change of clothes inside the shower, and had to rest on top of the toilet for lack of space.
Once inside the shower, I discovered that the shower head is directly above your head and has no movement, so one has to rotate and adjust to the stream of water for full coverage. It also meant that there was no escaping the initial cold water blast once I activated the water as one needs to be directly under the shower head to press the button. My second discovery was that, in order to activate your five minutes of continuous water supply, the shower stall door must be closed and latched properly. This sounds like the right thing to do, but I had issues getting the door to properly shut and spent five minutes trying to make this happen, and once I did, the door would spring open mid-shower and cause water to shut off. Once I was wet, it made it impossible for me to pull from the incredibly flat and tiny door handle to close again and re-start my shower. This was rather frustrating.
Once I was done with the shower, I exited the stall, and maneuvered inside the small space to try to both dry myself and not get my fresh clothes wet; as you’re trying to perform all your tasks it is hard not to drop things on the floor, or get things wet since the only storage area is the top of the toilet, which serves as a seat for yourself as well.
Emirates vs Etihad Showers
While showering 40,000 ft in the air is really awesome, especially on those 12+ hour flights, and I wouldn’t hesitate to book a flight on either Emirates or Etihad any day of the week over any of the American carriers covering the same routes, I did feel like one of the products was vastly superior to the other. Emirates Shower Spa seems to have been much better designed to feel luxurious and spacious. Heck, it’s probably much better than our bathroom at home. The shower on Etihad seems to have been merely an afterthought, and in my mind, it was a mistake to include the shower on the smaller lavatory as opposed to the spacious lav-only washroom – or at least I would have expected a much smaller lav-only space to make room for the shower on the other lavatory.
In my opinion, the clear winner on this match is the Emirates Shower Spa, although at the end of the day, anyone who can experience either of these services is a clear winner!