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Haven't we already worked out that All-Business-Class Flights just don't span out? Just look at the track record for these flights: Silverjet, Eos, and MaxJet all died in early 2008, ailing L'Avion was bought by British Airways shortly after that, and BA's own all-business OpenSkies took to their blog to beg passengers to book with them.
So why is British Airways making an additional attempt at the all-business, transatlantic route? Of course it's all about money, and the reasoning is that they think it'll be profitable in its first yearno word on further years. The newest route runs from London's City Airport (LCY) to JFK, but has to make a refueling pitstop in Shannon, Ireland because The Telegraph UK explains that "City Airport's runway is too short to handle an A318 with a full fuel payload." Bummer.
Every so often we feature a first person flight review from one of our readers that we feel should be shared with the rest of you dear fliers. These reviews are full of details and pertinent info and are relatively level-headed. Think you can submit one just like this? Send it in.
It looks like people are still flying those all business class carriers. A passenger recently flew Open Skies from JFK to Amsterdam and called it one of the best travel bargains around.
Sadly, we're not so sure even this positive review can save Open Skies from getting grounded later this year due to the financial difficulties its parent company, British Airways, has been having in the recession.
Yet, there's a glimmer of hope as passenger numbers are expected to increase this summer and everyone is still hoping that the economy could turn around later this fall. Until then, here's a look at what you get on-board Open Skies.
One of the best travel bargains available! Business class JFK to Amsterdam or Paris for an average coach fare--less than half the normal business class rate. My daughter & I flew the Amsterdam route in mid-June '09 for $900 round trip. (Their "first class" rate is more than double, differing largely in the flat, fold-down beds & 1st class lounge @ JFK.)
Last all business class carrier standing OpenSkies seems to be in an unenviable position. Its competitors have all gone bust, business travel budgets are shrinking and its acquisition of L'Avion seems to have been, shall we say, ill-timed. So the airline took to its official blog to remind everyone that, yes, times are tough, but you should still book flights with us!
We are in a fortunate position to have the strong support of an airline that has seen global economic dips and flips before: British Airways. But even though we fall under the umbrella of BA, we are still responsible for making careful and prudent decisions to ensure a superior experience. ...
[We] want to make careful, prudent, sensible decisions moving forward, moving up the items we need now, and de-emphasizing the items that can wait.
Unsurprisingly, a commenter went ahead and asked the obvious: If I buy a ticket for May 2009, what are the odds my flight will actually operate? OpenSkies' answer? Haven't seen one yet!
· Navigating the Ups and Downs [OpenSkies Blog]
· First-Person Flight Reviews: OpenSkies Is More Than Lounge Showers [Jaunted]
Flight Reviews / OpenSkies / Open Skies / All Business Class Carriers / British Airways / → All Tags
So now that it's a verifiable all-business-class carrier, what's it like? Blogger Will Allen was on a recent flight--but seemed more interested in the shower situation on the ground than the in-flight service:
One hour later my cell phone buzzed, and I received my answer: No showers in the OpenSkies Amsterdam lounge. However, they hastened to add, public showers are available free of charge at Schiphol, so long as one brings one's own towel and soap.
But business travel obsessive Joe Brancatelli has more scoop:
Starting September 21, Singapore Airlines will be flying all business class across the Pacific from Singapore to both Newark and Los Angeles. And to make that 19-hour flight a little easier, your seat will be about the size of a Honda.
Each of the 100 super-recliners on this specially outfitted A340-500 is 30 inches wide and lays flat to six feet, four inches. You'll find AC power and a USB plug at every seat to complement a 15.4-inch video screen that delivers more than 900 movies, TV shows and music tracks. Singapore says they'll have 130 different games to help you pass the time, too.
So how much does it cost? We found seats in early October for "just" $7,290 all-in.
· A345 All Business Class [Official Site]
· Singapore Airlines Announces Asia-US Business Class Service [PSFK]
All Business Class Carriers / OpenSkies / L'Avion / British Airways / Open Skies / JFK / AMS / New Routes / → All Tags
OpenSkies, the premium transatlantic airline launched by British Airways, recently announced it would start Amsterdam-New York service. But the bigger news from the airline is that it's about to rip out all its economy class seats.
Yep, now that Eos, MaxJet and Silverjet have left the market, OpenSkies is going all business class, removing the 30-passenger economy cabin and filling the space with 12 "Prem+" seats with 52 inches of pitch and 140-degree recline. With the existing premium seats and first class, the carrier's one 757 will only carry 64 passengers at a time.
Why the change? The managing director of the carrier, Dale Moss, told Cranky Flier Brett Snyder that those economy seats were "a distraction." Seems he'd rather focus on new destinations instead: Boston and Washington are candidates for future service, as are Barcelona, Brussels and Milan.
What's it like to fly all business class across the Atlantic? A Jaunted tipster sent us this report about L'Avion.
Leaving Newark, there were only three people working at the counter. The line was a little long (and slow) which surprised me since this was supposed to be a business class flight. The gate area at Newark was on a very small concourse which meant security was quick but there weren't many services available after passing through.
Boarding was also very fast since there were fewer people getting on compared to a normal flight. Because there were fewer passengers, most of the overhead space was empty, which made it easy to stow carry-on luggage.
All Business Class Carriers / OpenSkies / L'Avion / British Airways / Open Skies / JFK / ORY / EWR / → All Tags
L'Avion, the last independent transatlantic all business class carrier, just got bought up by British Airways. The backer of the new premium airline OpenSkies directly competed with L'Avion for Paris to New York passengers--until today.
The deal cost BA 68 million ($108 million), though L'Avion had 33 million in cash in the bank. More importantly than eliminating the competition and getting two 757s, OpenSkies will also get L'Avion's landing slots at ORY.
We have two big questions. First, where will the newly-expanded OpenSkies fly? L'Avion served Newark, while the BA offshoot lands at JFK. A company press release mentions "up to three daily flights between Paris Orly and the New York area." The second question: Will OpenSkies make a dime off this deal?
We won't pretend to understand all the business-side stuff, other than to say that clearly not enough people were flying. Surprisingly, airline officials didn't blame fuel prices, instead saying the deal fell apart:
As a result of the unusually complex negotiations with third parties.
The entire 420-person staff of Silverjet has been laid off.
But spokesman Greg Maliczyszyn--who's probably been having two really rough weeks--just emailed us to announce that a preliminary deal has been made to re-launch Silverjet. But don't pop those corks just yet: A contract making the deal official still hasn't been signed. (The airline says things should be official by June 13.)
While there might be some folks cheering the airline's (potential) rebirth, we have to wonder how many passengers will rush back to the brand. What's that they say about fooling us twice?
It wasn't too surprising to learn that Silverjet was the latest all business class carrier to ground its planes. After all, we've seen all business class carriers go down before. Unfortunately, some travelers had tickets on Silverjet.
Passenger Grant Godwin had his sweet Dubai birthday party ruined:
Twelve of us were supposed to be flying out to Dubai this evening for my 40th--disappointed is not the word.
Passenger Allan Cabridge was planning a trip to the States:
I'm a businessman and regularly use Silverjet to fly to America. I'm shocked and disappointed to learn of its closure ... I'm just glad I'm flying with another airline today.
At least when you travel on a ticket that costs upwards of £1,000, you can probably afford some alternate transportation. The most unfortunate population in the recent string of closures is employees.
Silverjet has gone the way of Maxjet and Eos, grounding its planes after running out of cash. The all business class carrier was the last to fly the NYC to London route, but despite promises of financing, the money just never materialized.
CEO Lawrence Hunt put out a statement on Silverjet's website:
Your belief in us was shared by our investors--but regrettably, due to unforeseen circumstances, they were unable to unlock the finance that we needed. As a result, we are very sad to announce that from May 30, 2008, we will cease operations and we are no longer able to honor flight reservations.
That leaves L'Avion, which has a deal with British Airways' new spin-off OpenSkies, as the last transatlantic biz class carrier. An industry analyst gave Bloomberg one last--surprisingly sweet--comment on Silverjet:
It's sad in a way because they did make a lot of customers happy over the time they were operating.
· Silverjet Stops Flights as Oil Costs Cripple Industry [Bloomberg]
· Silverjet Ceases Operations [Travel Weekly UK]
· All Business Class Carriers coverage [Jaunted]