July 1, 2006
A Better Way to Fly (to London)
Eos Airlines is a new airline that has a single route, and but one flight per day (each direction) — London-New York. And boy, did it do the trick. I was able to get a complimentary ticket, but let me tell you, even at $3,250 (about their normal fare), it’s worth the price if you have the money for it. And a spot check of BA and American’s sites shows that a first class or even business class ticket on those carriers can run as much as $5,000-$7,000 if you’re not using miles to purchase or upgrade.
It’s a new concept in airlines. Their marketing materials call it “what Starbucks did for the coffee experience, we’re doing the airline experience” (or something like that). But the reality is that it’s more properly expressed as “what a massage did for a sharp poke in the ribs, we did for the airline experience.”
All seats are SERIOUSLY first class. 48 passengers per plane in a plane that normally has 220 seats. 21 square feet per passenger (think about that one for a minute). Private pods. Full reclining beds everywhere.
The rest of the experience is MORE THAN first class. People who whisk you through security and to the plane at the last minute, without that “please show up at Kennedy four hours before your flight” warning. Great airport lounges. Airplane personnel who aren’t airplane personnel but more like customer service representatives. Fantastic food and drink. Bose noise-cancellation headsets and comparable personal entertainment centers. Regular power outlets at each seat. Fancy pillows with good lumbar support. Landing at Stansted in England instead of the beastly Heathrow is great — we were, no lie, 10 minutes from touchdown to car, including taxi, immigration, customs, baggage and walking time.
The one element of the experience that cuts both ways is Stansted. Countering the benefits above — it’s further away from London than Heathrow or Gatwick. I’d say at a busy time, take the Stansted Express train instead of fighting traffic with the admittedly great Brooklands limo service unless you have LOADS of time to spare.
I hope the folks at Eos open more routes (and of course, that they lower their prices for my next paid fare!).