Can an airline “democratize” business-class? New French boutique carrier La Compagnie is going to try. While they’re at it, lie-flat premium seats to Europe are yours for economy prices. This is not a drill.
Kicking off with five weekly flights between Newark Liberty and Charles de Gaulle in July, La Compagnie is advertising fares to Europe starting at around $1,600; that’s before any introductory promotions, which I’ll get to in a minute. The carrier is operating a Boeing 757-200 aircraft entirely equipped with business-class seating: a single-class cabin that has 74 seats that recline flat in a two-by-two configuration. Each seat is positioned in a private shell, passengers receive pre-loaded Samsung entertainment tablets, and the entire plane has free Wi-Fi. Here’s how it will look:
I tested fares on the airline website, which isn’t yet available in English. My rudimentary college-level French got me through most of the booking process. I found weekday flights from New York to Paris in August for 1,011 euros, or $1,376.95 roundtrip (based on today’s exchange rate on xe.com). Comparatively, nonstop economy fares from Newark to Paris in August will run you roughly $1,400 on American Airlines, and about $1,500 on United or Lufthansa, according to a search on Kayak. This is a fantastic deal.
La Compagnie is also offering a two-person summer flight deal: two roundtrip tickets between Paris and New York for 1,776 euros (a nod to the United States’ Declaration of Independence) or about $1,209.22 per person. This deal covers travel from July 11 through September 5, and bookings must be made by mid-August.
There’s a catch, though. You knew it was coming. Fares aren’t available for purchase in the U.S. yet. The company is waiting on government approval. I spoke with a representative for the airline, who told me that La Compagnie expects tickets to be available in the States within “a few days.” La Compagnie’s English-language site appears to be still in the works.
In the meantime, I’m on the edge of my seat. Will affordable and comfortable across-the-pond flights become a reality for leisure travelers? Since La Compagnie has just the one plane, tickets could sell out rather quickly. (The company has plans to acquire a second jet later in the year.) Moreover, there’s certainly no guarantee that this business-model will thrive over the long term. Open Skies, Silverjet, and Eos are some of the transatlantic-flying boutique airlines that have come and gone over the years. The business-class-only model isn’t typically gangbusters.
I asked consumer-advocate Ed Perkins what he thought about the new carrier. Perkins told me, “Frankly, I wouldn’t bet on long-term success, but I suspect that, at least for a few months, vacation travelers from the New York-area to Paris will find a really great deal.” Perkins also told me that he knows of only one airline that has had success with an all-business-class transatlantic service; that would be British Airways A319 flights, which conveniently fly to tiny London City Airport.
We’ll let you know when tickets go on sale in the U.S.
You Might Also Like:
- Best Airlines for Free Stopovers
- What to Know About In-Flight Connectivity
- 10 Things We Hate About First Class
(Photos: La Compagnie)
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