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A Quick OpenSkies Review

I’m back from my quick trip on OpenSkies and I thought I’d post a very quick review:

The airline, which is a corporate cousin to British Airways (so you can get BA miles), flies 757s outfitted with 82 seats from New York to Paris (Orly). The plane is divided into Economy (nothing special there), Prem+ (a product that is probably a quarter step below most international business class and blows away domestic business), and Biz (a product that is probably half a step above most international business class, and it’s the only flat bed business class seat to Paris).

Here’s my take: You can get a roundtrip ticket in Prem+ right now for about $1700. The product is at least as good as business in Continental (about $2300 round trip over the summer) or Delta (about $4800 round trip over the summer). 52″ of pitch and a nice amount of recline make it very comfortable. With only 82 people on board, getting on and off is a snap, and there’s no worries about overhead space. Plus you can clear customs quickly without fighting 250 other people getting off your plane.

Business is, from what we could tell, the forward/backwards facing British Airways flat-bad business seats. They are very comfortable lying down and pretty comfortable sitting up. Oddly, there’s nowhere to put your stuff. I generally don’t care about food on planes, as I can survive a 7 hour flight without a 14 course meal and on the eastbound, I really just want to sleep. That said, the food was perfectly fine and offered some lighter and healthier choices than you often find.

Both Prem+ and Biz had their own minicabins, with the Biz cabins only having 12 seats in them, giving it a private jet feel. Which was quite nice.

Economy was just like coach, though with only 30 seats in a mini-cabin, it looked cramped and sad. And at less than $200 more each way, you can fly in Prem+. It’s more than worth it.

My take? All of us were blown away by the value of the Prem+ product. Seriously, it is a steal for what you get. I cannot overstate how much better it is to fly with so few people on board – the whole process (even if you were in economy) is so laid back and leisurely, without the insanity of boarding 250 other people.

The big question, of course, is whether they can survive given the fuel situation. A 757 is the right plane, and they’ve got a solid product (seriously, you should check it out), but whether they can make it work with sub-$4k business fares and sub $2k premium economy fares, it seems like a questionmark to me given the fuel situation.

Go grab a flight before the fares go up.

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  1. Excellent summary, Jared. Ultimately Prem+ is an amazing value, and I agree that it’s at least as good as business on most US carriers. I’m finsihing up my 20 page, 200 picture report, but ultimately my impression was the same.

  2. ira greenberg

    So, now that Eos, Maxjet and Silverjet are gone, does OpenSkies need to exist? That is, does BA strategically need it, does the market need it?

  3. onlinetravelreview

    British Airways (Openskies’ parent) sees an opportunity – they have a decent sized customer base in Paris, and they’re offering a superior product at a lower price. Sure, that was Eos’ argument as well and look how that turned out, but the reasons Eos failed are, in many ways, Eos-specific. I think Openskies definitely has a shot if fuel prices come down, and if they can convince people of the value of that Prem+ cabin.

  4. Just a note to say that while the flight is fine, and the seats are sufficiently comfortable, the service is totally lacking.

    In Paris Orly, the check in is obscured by a magazine store and there are no permanent signs on the wall to let you know you’re in the right place. I ended up being 20 minutes late for check in because no one seemed to know the airline.

    When I did get to the counter? No offer of standby on the next flight, just a $1600 new ticket which drained the money I had set aside for accommodations in New York. If I hadn’t had that, I would have been completely stranded in Paris.

    Open Skies Review

    A full review from August 2010 is here.

  5. well open skies is ok for comfort etc but i am very unstisfied by the way they deal with downgrading my return – i had paid a semi flexible and found out that it became non flexible – yes it is written in VERY SMALL LETTERS in the conditions! still this for me is a bad trick

  6. The truth about l’avion…
    Recently flown on l’avion Airlines and would like to share my expérience

    ORY – EWR / Nov. 30 2008

    a) Check in ORLY Airport
    .Quick, efficient and smiles
    .Security check, easy and fast but no fast lane

    b) Departure lounge
    .ICARE lounge is NOT a business class lounge, it is dirty, over crowded, and bad maintained. Poor choice of nuts, juices and wine. Small and unconfortable, with so small sofas that they look designed for children only
    .No private restroom, no free wifi access

    c) On board
    .New surprise security check, same as the first one, just before the plane door
    .Welcome smiles from the only 4 crew member.
    .No one hang up your coat, so don’t wait for…
    .No preflight drink
    .Poor amenities case, bottle of water, pillow and blanket on your seat
    .New carpets, and overhead bins repainted in purple, but still a feelling of an old 757 (18y ?)
    .Old lavatories, no cup,

    d) The seat
    .All is manual,
    .More relax style than a true business class seat
    .Just 2y old, and already broken or tired,
    .Support lombar deflate but never inflate,
    .48″ pitch is ok for seating position but unacceptable when the seat in front of you is in full recline position
    .The only row shown on pictures is the 11 (exit row) with the best pitch in plane

    e) The VOD
    .After take off, the crew offer you a 12″ screen digital player
    .Easy to use, but the linux boot take a while
    .No battery, you must plug the AC/DC power inside the arm, then the wide of the seat is reduced and really unconfortable
    .No noise reduction heaset, but cheap earplug
    .Decent choice of movies, some in french, all in english
    .The main problem is you have no area to put the screen ; handled, on the tray, or fix on the seat pocket behind you is an unacceptable position. No remote control.

    f) The meal
    .No preflight drink
    .After VOD, the crew begins drink service
    .Limited choice, Champagne ok but cheap juices still presented in their low cost bottle
    .Bretzels bag, colored for children
    .Only one offer

    .No menu, no linen, but a sheet of gray paper
    .Tray comes with appetizer (good salmon), butter and cheese, no china but plastic, steel forks and knifes
    .Only one offer for bread
    .The entree, when you’re seated at the end of the plane, is the usual beef or chicken of economy class, no more choice
    .Small portions, not enough for a decent meal
    .No expresso, but cafe or tea and chocolate box on a small tray with a brownie is your dessert
    .After dinner drink choice is limited to cognac and grand marnier

    .The snack before landing is a small tray with 2 toasts and a drink… near a joke

    .Of course nobody offer you more bread, drinks or ask you about your comfort during the flight
    .No open bar at the galley

    EWR – ORY / Dec 13 2008

    a) Check in Newark Airport
    .Slow and unfriendly, 30 min wait just for 10 people before us
    .Security check point, easy and fast, fast lane available

    b) Departure lounge
    .JET AIRWAYS lounge is maybe a small business class lounge for JET AIRWAYS, but not designed to host both airlines
    .Located in a dark side of terminal B, before fast lane check point
    .Maybe a good buffet, but the lounge is so over crowded, that you can’t find a free seat, and the only solution to snack is to visit the terminal food court…
    .No private restrooms, no free wifi access
    .The only choice is to bypass this “no-lounge”

    c) On board
    .Welcome smiles from the only 4 crew member.
    .No one hang up your coat, so don’t wait for…
    .A surprise pre flight drink

    d) The seat
    .Same old plane

    e) The VOD
    .New decent choice of movies, some in french, all in english
    .Same useless video system player, still no correct position to place it

    f) The meal
    .NO aperitif service or nuts before dinner (remember the pre flight drink…)
    .No menu, no linen, but a sheet of gray paper
    .Tray comes with all your diner from appetizer to dessert
    .The choice is the usual beef or chicken of economy class
    .If you don’t ask for coffee or tea of course don’t expect the chocolate box…

    .The breakfast before landing is a small tray with croissant, bread, jam, fruits, yogourt and… same cheap orange juice

    g) Arrival
    .Just before landing the crew offer you a small mint candies box
    .No arrival lounge as you know…


    .Before all, i’d like them to stop call this product “business class”. It’s a good well packaged premium economy but no more.
    .On many aspects, the description you read on l’avion website and the reality is different and will disappoint you
    .Consider what you expect for ; a seat better than economy class with more leg room, if you find a good price it could be a smart choice. A promotionnal rate of 900 euros (all taxes included) the maximum you should pay for.

    .If you are frequent business class flyer you should bypass this experience. Or maybe not, because, after a flight on l’avion any other true business class carrier seems you perfect…

    .If you fly from europe to US, and use l’avion as the first segment of your trip, be carefull. Correspondance is not guarantee because different airlines, and the one night stop over in Newark plus the domestic flight ticket will rise the bill above a promotional true business class ticket.

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