An elite group of Etihad Airways cabin crew are set to become the aviation world’s first flying butlers, having completed a tailored three-week training course in London, UK.
The team of 13 men and women – all based in the airline’s home in Abu Dhabi, UAE – demonstrated their outstanding hospitality skills during training at the world-renowned Savoy Hotel.
A series of master classes given by the hotel’s Head Butler, Sean Davoren, focused on etiquette and protocol, valet skills and concierge services, to boost the cabin crew’s existing high level customer service experience.
The role of the world’s first flying butler is to look after VIP guests booked in Etihad Airways’ ground-breaking three-room cabin, The Residence by Etihad, which features a living room, private shower room and double bedroom.
The Residence will take to the air in December on board the airline’s first Airbus A380 aircraft. The A380 will be deployed on Etihad Airways’ premium Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow route.
The newly qualified flying butlers, who all currently work as in-flight chefs or food and beverage managers on board Etihad Airways’ long-haul fleet of aircraft, were given the special training at the London School of Hospitality and Tourism at the University of West London, as well as on-the-job training at the Savoy Hotel.
The Savoy was chosen by Etihad Airways’ management as the premier location for the tailored training course, as the hotel was the first in the world to establish its own academy to teach professional butlers.
Aubrey Tiedt, Etihad Airways’ Vice President Guest Services, says: “I am extremely proud of the team’s achievements and they all qualified with flying colours to become the world’s first ever butlers in the sky. They are really enthusiastic and cannot wait to board the A380 aircraft and put into practice all that they have learned.
“Etihad Airways aims to be the best in everything we set out to do and the flying butlers will provide a level of service that no traveller has ever experienced in commercial aviation.”
Davoren, the Savoy’s Head Butler, said: “The trainees have been an absolute joy to work with and they all now possess the skills required to provide the highest standard of hospitality for the airline’s premium guests, by blending the discretion of a traditional English butler with the efficiency of a 21st century personal assistant.”
The first Etihad Airways A380 service will fly from the UAE capital to Heathrow on December 27. The airline will receive three more of the superjumbo aircraft in 2015 and the new planes will fly from Abu Dhabi to London and Abu Dhabi to Sydney (Australia). New York (US) will follow as the next destination for the A380.
The 13 flying butlers are from Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Mexico, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa, Tunisia and three from the UK.