Skip to content Skip to footer navigation
Etihad cabin


Reimagining the way to fly

In 2014 Etihad Airways launched the world’s most customised cabin interiors for their A380, B787 and A350 fleets raising the benchmark for airline travel. As part of a consortium of design agencies Acumen took responsibility for the design and development of all classes of seats, winning multiple awards with designs that have revolutionised the airline’s onboard experience.






  • Crystal Cabin
  • SBID Awards

Design Objective

Etihad set an ambitious target to become the best airline in the world

In 2008, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, was just five years old when it placed the biggest aircraft order in history. Etihad set an ambitious target to become the best airline in the world, and started its search for a strategic design partner to create their future cabin interiors. The brief was simple: to create an innovative and inspirational new customer experience for all cabins to be showcased on the airline’s new fleet of aircraft.

Acumen has been an integral part of the Etihad Design Consortium, playing a crucial role in bringing to reality Etihad Airways’ vision of sophisticated flying.

Pete BaumgartnerChief Commercial OfficerEtihad Airways
Etihad material

Inspired by its nation’s fast growth and prosperity Etihad wanted new cabin interior products and services that were truly ground-breaking. Acumen were chosen to work as major part of a tri-partite consortium to help bring that vision alive.

The Challenge

Every aspect of the customer experience had to be redesigned

Etihad requested that their future cabin design to be inspired by customers and looked to the consortium to lead the innovation process. Acumen and the consortium (CDC) worked with a customer research agency called C-Space who put the customer at the heart of a co-creation process. The global co-creation process generated insights that were used to inspire many of the cabin innovations.

The vision and ambition that Etihad set meant that every aspect of the customer experience had to be redesigned leading to five years of intensive design and development with Airbus, Boeing and a vast array of suppliers and manufacturers. The work led to the most significant cabin development in twenty years, and five new patents. Acumen worked alongside the CDC and Etihad through every stage of the programme to aircraft delivery, with some complex certification design challenges.

The Result

Etihad is now one of the leading airlines of the world

In 2014 Etihad launched its new products and services to the world introducing a new identity and aircraft livery to coincide with the launch. The campaign was named – ‘Flying Reimagined’ – capturing the level of innovation and change that Etihad had introduced. As one of the fastest growing airlines in history, the innovative cabin interiors have helped Etihad reposition itself as a true innovator in a crowded market place.

2014 – Overall winner award at the SBID International Design Awards for The First Apartment.

2015 – Crystal Cabin Award for Premium Class and VIP category for its design work on the A380 - The Residence, First Apartments and Business Studios.

2016 – Crystal cabin award for the second year running for the B787 First Suites patented cabin layout.

The Residence

The invention of a commercial VIP product

A class above First Class. The first new class of travel since the introduction of Premium Economy in 1991 and the world’s first private 3 room VIP suite on a commercial aircraft. With over 125 square feet of space offering a lounge, bathroom with en-suite shower, and a separate double bedroom.

Etihad front carriage

Single aisle First Class Cabin Layout – A380

An industry first on a commercial wide body

Giving back significant real-estate to the passenger. The single central aisle is a breakthrough in cabin layout design relinquishing significant space for the passenger by unlocking the potential for wider suites and a unique seat configuration.

First Apartments – A380

The largest First Class suites in the world

The First Apartments are an un-compromised passenger environment which challenge the status quo of the First Class sector. Re-setting the industry benchmark with room-like proportions and real cabinetry furniture. First to market with a separate sofa-seat and dedicated divan-style convertible ottoman-bed, a truly dynamic environment with freedom to move around more akin to a boutique hotel suite.

Etihad first class a380 day view

The First Suite – B787

The first joggled aisle concept seen on an any aircraft

The first fore and aft layout for First Class B787, and the first joggled aisle concept seen on an any aircraft. The joggled aisle with a fore and aft seating configuration maximises the available shoulder width of adjacent passengers to significantly improve the guest experience.

The Business Studios

A class leading Business Class suite

A passenger offer to rival many airlines’ First Class seats. Interlocking forward and aft facing ottomans provide a super-efficient passenger layout and vast table surfaces for each guest.

Etihad business

The Smart Economy Seat

A class leading Economy Class experience

Delivering high levels of comfort and luxury. With a unique single fixed wing headrest providing privacy and the ability to lean into and relax for an undisturbed sleep.

Etihad economy