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Topic: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: SR 103
Posted 2010-09-12 08:18:48 and read 24002 times.



Beginning in 2005, a number of new carriers, classified as “boutique airlines”, entered the trans-Atlantic market hoping to capture some of the premium traffic served by the major legacy carriers. Of those, Eos was the first; launching on October 18, 2005 with a 757 in an all First Class suite configuration between New York JFK and London Stansted. Shortly thereafter, Maxjet launched service on November 1, 2005 offering a 767-200 equipped in an all business class layout once again between JFK and Stansted. A British airline named Silverjet joined the two airlines in January, 2007 with an all business class 767 between the same two city pairs, though they served London Luton. That same month, an airline called L’Avion joined the boutique airline ranks time connecting New York with Paris Orly.

By mid-summer 2008, the only airline left flying was the last one to enter the market, L’Avion. However, the future of the airline was in doubt as the carrier was still not performing as well as expected. That summer British Airways officially launched their own boutique airline called OpenSkies with service from Paris to New York. It took only a month (July, 2008) before OpenSkies announced they were to purchase L’Avion for £54 million.

OpenSkies has since continued trying to integrate both L’Avion and OpenSkies into one single operation. The airline tried operating Amsterdam - JFK in 2008 but has since not only dropped their Amsterdam operation but service to JFK as well. Currently the airlines flies twice a day between Newark and Paris Orly, and has recently launched a once a day service to Washington Dulles from Paris Orly. The airline has spent a lot of time advertising their service towards a market they call “Cityorkers” along with their “smart fares.”

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OpenSkies TV Commercial 1 - Lounge

OpenSkies TV Commercial 2 - Theater

I recently got the chance to sample the OpenSkies “BizSeat” on a round trip from Newark to Paris Orly. While there is a fantastic trip report written by Ronerone ( OpenSkies From British Airways: A New Era's End? ) his report focused on the “BizFlat” product. As many of you know, I am a big Skyteam flyer and while I may have moved a lot of my flying over to Star Alliance as of late, this flight would sadly yield nothing for me. So, for the first time in almost two decades, I set out on a long haul international trip that would leave my multiple frequent flyer accounts untouched!

About 24 hours before my flight, I received an e-mail from OpenSkies outlining some of the services for my upcoming flight, which I thought was a nice little touch. Notice the name of the crew and menu.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: SR 103
Posted 2010-09-12 08:20:11 and read 24305 times.

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OpenSkies 004
Newark – Paris Orly
Boeing 757-26D (F-HAVI) (Violette)
Seat: 14A
Scheduled Departure Time: 20:25
Actual Departure Time: 20:25
Scheduled Arrival Time: 10:10
Actual Arrival Time: 9:30


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Photo © Kevin Gutt


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Photo © Robert Jesus S.
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Check In: Once we arrived at Newark, it was not hard to locate the British Airways and OpenSkies check in area which are found on the lower level near baggage claim. As check in had just opened for OpenSkies, there were not a lot of people in line. After a quick five-minute wait, a rather friendly agent greeted me with a “good afternoon sir, will you be traveling with us to Paris this evening?” In no time our paperwork was sorted and the agent was explaining where we could find the Jet Airways/OpenSkies lounge. Boarding passes in hand we both ventured out in search of the lounge.

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Lounge: As I was walking towards the lounge, it occurred to me that we were not using the British Airways Terrace lounge, which was a slight bit of a surprise to me. Nonetheless, I was finally going to try out an International Jet Airways lounge for the first time.
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Upon entering the lounge, I was slightly taken aback by how small it was. The agent at the door welcomed us and informed us that she would let us know when boarding would begin for our flight. We found an empty pair of seats and as soon as we were seated I was beginning to entertain the idea of heading out to either the Lufthansa or SAS lounge but my traveling companion was adamant that we should stay put as she did not want to go lounge hoping. In retrospect, I probably should have just gone on my own, but I did not want to leave my companion alone.

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I headed over to see what snacks had been laid out for us. While there was a nice and varied selection of drinks, sadly, there was not a large selection of snacks. On offer today was:
- Salami and provolone sandwiches
- Turkey and pesto sandwiches
- Sliced cucumber and chive cream cheese sandwiches
- Eggplant and pesto pin wheels
- Various kinds of packaged chips
- Plain chips with the following dips
• Baba-ganoosh
• Spinach Artichoke
• Jalapeño Pepper
- Apples
- Crackers and Cheese

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I settled on some red wine to go along with some sandwiches and chips. Activity immediately started to pick up in the lounge and it began to get a little too crowded for my liking. While the lounge attendant had stated they would come and get us, we decided to venture out on our own around 19:15. Security was not too bad today and I was near gate 57 with plenty of time to spare.

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Boarding: Boarding was announced at 20:00 but without any row numbers, it was a free for all. Since the aircraft is equipped with less than 100 seats, it was not chaotic. The gate agent ripped our boarding pass and wished us a pleasant trip. A cheery flight attendant in her blue and grey uniform was greeting everyone at the boarding door as they entered the aircraft with a polite “Hello, welcome aboard”.

As I walked down the aisle of the aircraft a quick glance at the seats revealed that an amenity kit, blanket, bottle of water and a purple pillow had already been placed on each seat.

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Boarding was finished quickly and the cabin door was closed. Captain Dalgleish welcomed us onboard the Boeing 757 and mentioned that our flight time today would be a quick six hours and 30 minutes. He then repeated the same information in French. Shortly thereafter our purser Emille asked us to pay attention to the manual safety demo that was about to start which was performed in English and French. Pushback occurred right on time at 20:25 and we taxied to a rather busy Newark runway. After what seemed like an endless parade of Continental jets, and the (delayed) Jet Airways flight that preceded us, it was finally our turn.

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Flight: Around 20:45 the two powerful Pratt & Whitney’s began to hum as they were spooled up. Despite the Boeing 757 being my most flown aircraft, I still can not get over how powerful this bird feels on take off.



Once the seatbelt sign was turned off a flight attendant (lets call her Ashley) came down the aisle with a cart handing out the portable video player. First she plugged in my traveling companions and then handed me one with the wires and a pair of rather cheap headsets.

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There was a choice of 15 movies today along with a dozen or so short programs as well.

Movies:
Brothers
Dear John
Edge of Darkness
From Paris with Love
How to Train Your Dragon
I Love You Philip Morris
Invictus
Le Vilain
Nowhere Boy
RTT Day Off
Shutter Island
Ghost Writer
The Last Station
Tooth Fairy
Valentines Day

Short Features:
Big Bang Theory
David Hockney
Destination South Africa
Everybody Hates Chris
Forgotten
How I Met Your Mother
Legion of Superheroes
The Middle
The New Adventures of Old Christine
Robin Williams
Rules of Engagement
School of Satchi
The Simpsons
Supernatural
The Turn of the Screw
The Virtual Revolution
Till Death
Top Gear
White Collar
Worst Week

While the choices are not great, they are far from limited. One only needs to look at my Kingfisher trip report from earlier this year to see OpenSkies offers double the choice. I picked Invictus as my dinner movie. Ashley handed out scented hot towels just as the movie was starting. A few minutes later Ashely appeared in the aisle with a cart.
“What would you like to eat?”
“What do you have?”
“Pasta or steak.”
I picked the steak while my traveling companion chose the pasta. After handing my travel companion her meal, the aircraft started to sway from side to side. The ding was almost instantaneous and Ashley wheeled her cart right down the aisle just as fast as she could, leaving me with an empty tray table. However I completely understand as safety comes first!

Ten minutes later the crew were released and Ashley was instantly back in the aisle.
“What would you like?”
“Steak please?”
“What would you like to drink?”
“Red wine please.”
Ashley then proceeded to hold up two bottles of red wine to which I pointed to the Bordeaux. She also offered a breadbasket from which I picked a ciabatta roll.

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As I took my camera out to snap a picture of the meal, I realized my tray looked a little emptier than my traveling companions, I was missing my dessert. Thankfully Ashley was still in the aisle attending to the pair of seats across the aisle. I quickly grabbed her attention,
“Sorry, but I think I am missing a dessert.”
“Oh I am sorry about that, here you go.”

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The appetizer consisted of cold slices of salami and prosciutto with some salad leaves and a mozzarella ball. It tasted fresh and went well with the balsamic vinaigrette provided. The bread was also good, however it was served cold which could be an area for improvement. My main course consisted of steak, potatoes and some squash. The steak was tender and delicious despite being cooked through. The potatoes were ok and the squash was quite soggy, but it is one of my least favorite vegetables. As far as dessert goes, chocolate mousse is my absolute favorite desert in the world, so no complaints from me. Fat old me even ate my traveling companions.

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As far as my traveling companions main course goes, it was the total opposite of my experience. The pasta was dry and utterly lacking in any flavor or taste. The spinach and tomato mimicked the pasta making it a very unappetizing main course.

One interesting thing to note is the fact that the meal presented was completely different from the menu that had been e-mailed to me 24 hours before the flight. This left me a bit confused as to why the menu differed so much while the rest of the information was accurate. While the e-mail with the menu was a very nice touch, it is kind of pointless if the actual items served are going to differ so much.

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Nonetheless I put on some music on and reclined my seat as far back as it would go. Now a little bit about the seat, some of you may say it looks very familiar. That’s because it is Lufthansa’s old business class seats from the mid 90’s to early 2000’s. As I lived in Germany during that time, I spent many hours in these seats flying to various parts of the globe. While it was a decent enough seat back then, it has evolved into a pretty decent premium economy seat in my opinion. While I still can’t sleep well in the seat, I did manage to nap on and off every few minutes.

The flight attendants were nowhere to be seen after the dinner service which I found a little off putting. To their credit however, every call button was responded to promptly. As we neared the coast of Ireland, I decided to pull out my portable device and watch an episode of The Simpsons. This turned out to be perfect timing as the cabin crew were busy in the galley setting themselves up for breakfast.

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Around 90 minutes before landing, Ashley was back in the aisle with the cart.
“Breakfast?”
“Yes please.”

She poured a cup of coffee without even bothering to ask if I would like coffee or tea. I decided it was not worth asking for tea instead and just had the coffee.

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The continental breakfast consisted of some fruit, a strawberry-banana yogurt and croissant with butter and strawberry jam. The fruit was fresh and the yogurt filling. The croissant was pretty good, soft and flaky however it was served cold. I am in still in search of the perfect morning breakfast airplane croissant that Swissair used to serve back in the 90’s.

After watching an episode of “The Middle,” we began out descent into Paris Orly. Ashley was out in the aisle one last time to collect the portable devices, which signaled the flight was coming to an end.

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Arrival: We touched down at 9:30, 40 minutes ahead of schedule. As we taxied to the terminal, I was glued to my window taking in the scenery of Orly. While I have flown through Paris quite a bit, it has always been through Charles De Gaulle. There was not too much activity around the terminal at the moment, three Air Caraïbes A330’s, a Corsair 747-400 and the earlier OpenSkies flight from Newark.

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After exiting the aircraft we headed towards immigration, which was empty. My passport was stamped and we headed towards baggage claim.

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Bags started appearing on the belt a minute or two after we got there and our bags appeared shortly thereafter. Aircraft to curb in under twenty minutes, not bad at all. Next stop the ORLY Val train station and then the city of Paris!

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: SR 103
Posted 2010-09-12 08:22:10 and read 24230 times.

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OpenSkies 003
Paris Orly – Newark
Boeing 757-230 (F-HAVN) (Gloria)
Seat: 11F
Scheduled Departure Time: 13:40
Actual Departure Time: 13:50
Scheduled Arrival Time: 16:10
Actual Arrival Time: 16:20


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Check In: After a busy couple of days, I decided it would be easier to just head to the airport and vegetate in the lounge till boarding. We picked up the Les Cars Air France bus from downtown Paris Gare Montparnasse to Orly for a very reasonable 11,50 Euros per person. We both entered Orly South a little after 9am.

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There was not much of a crowd at the OpenSkies desks, mostly people from the early Washington Dulles flight, so it did not take long before we were at a counter. Because we were especially early and we were checking luggage, the ticket agent had to check with his supervisor if it was alright for us to check in. The manager promptly came by and examined my passport. After a few calls on her handheld radio she informed us that we were allowed to check in but I would have to endure additional security at the gate. I agreed, she placed a very bright red sticker on the back of my passport, and shortly thereafter. We were given our very purple boarding passes and told that we could use the Fast Track lane to get through security. Immigration and security were quick this morning and my traveling companion wanted to do some shopping first to which I obliged.

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A couple of minutes, later we headed towards the lounge called “Salon Icare.” After handing in our lounge invitation to the agent behind the desk, she once again reminded us that she would call out our flight when it was time to board. The lounge was completely full when we stepped in, however, we found a pair of seats by chance as a couple was leaving for their flight. Once the EWR and IAD OpenSkies flights were called, the crowd significantly thinned out.

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The lounge was very pleasant in my opinion, the décor was relaxing and reminded me of the SAS (aka. IKEA) lounges. Also, there were a variety of snacks on offer this morning including:

- Bread sticks
- Mints
- Prunes
- Raisin Bread
- La Paille D'ore Raspberry Wafers
- Chocolate Butter Cookies
- Ciabatta roles
- Butter Cookies
-Macaroons
- Croissants with butter and assorted jams

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In my opinion this was more than enough. I selected a croissant with some strawberry jam and a nice cappuccino from the coffee machine. There were no views of the apron from the lounge, which meant it was a rather boring stay for me. Thankfully, the lounge had free wi fi which helped pass the time. After a few more snacks and a couple of drinks, I decided it was time to head towards the gate as I was ready to see some planes.



It was a quick 30 second walk to gate A11 where the crew had just arrived and I could see out the window that a Boeing 757 was being towed in. Around 12:45, “Gloria” inched her way forward and the crew boarded her the moment the jetway was hooked up. A few minutes later an agent showed up and opened the gate area. After my quick pat down and a document check, my traveling companion and I were seated in the boarding area.

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Boarding: At 13:10, boarding was announced but just like in Newark it was a free for all. A minute passed before our boarding passes were ripped and we were being greeted at the boarding door by a very friendly and energetic chief purser in her British accent.
“Good afternoon, welcome onboard.”

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Thankfully this time round I had secured a pair or exit row seats just behind door 3R. As usual a blanket, pillow, amenity kit and a bottle of water had already been placed on each seat.

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Boarding finished up quickly and the door was closed. However, we continued to sit there for an additional ten minutes before pushing back at 13:50. The manual safety demo was once again conducted in English and in French. We approached the runway and just sat at the threshold for another ten minutes. A couple of planes landed and then we began to move, but to my horror we taxied on the active runway and took the first exit, making a full 180 degree turn back towards the terminal. Thankfully we did not stop and continued past the terminal where captain Rene came on the P/A to announce that the direction of the runway had to be changed due to thunderstorm activities in the area.

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Flight: At around 14:20, the engines were spooled up and we were airborne in no time. A few minutes after the seatbelt sign was turned off, a French flight attendant (lets call her Camille) went around handing out hot towels. In order to get comfortable for the flight I decided to pull out my blanket from the plastic casing only to discover it was wet and smelled like moldy cheese. I pressed the call button and Camille was by my side a few seconds later.
“Sorry but do you by chance have another blanket? This one is wet.”
“Let me check.”
She came back a few minutes later
“I am sorry, we don’t have any extra ones. We are only supplied with a limited amount.”

Camille was in the aisle moments later with a cart containing the portable digital players. Everything including the wires was handed to me without a single word being uttered by her.

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The movie choices were the same as on the way over to Paris and I settled on “Shutter Island.” Hot towels were passed out without Camille uttering a single word either.

Soon enough it was time for lunch to begin and Camille handed out some “Happy Mix” packets.
“What would you like to drink?”
“Wine please.”
“Red or white?”
“Red please.”
Camille proceeded to hold up a bottle of red in each hand with a “dis one or dis one?”
“The Bordeaux please.”

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Once we had finished our snack mix and drinks, everything was collected. Camille was back but this time she was holding some black paper mat for the tray table. Shortly there after Camille put down a tray of food in front of us which turned out to be some sort of fish appetizer.

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I am not sure if the fish was red snapper or something else but it tasted pretty decent. The lentils on the side were really good though, I could easily have asked for seconds. Sadly, the bread once again was not heated, but relatively fresh. The empty plates were collected and Camille was back out for the main course.
“Steak, duck or shrimp?”
“What do they come with?”
“Shrimp with pasta. The steak and duck with vegetables.”
“Shrimp for me please.”
“Drink?”
“Red wine please.”

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My pasta dish was put on my tray with another round of bread. The lemon butter sauce tasted really good and the shrimp were cooked perfectly. Neither the pasta nor the shrimp were overcooked or dried out. Overall I was very pleased the dish.

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010516.jpg

My traveling companion picked the steak, which also tasted excellent. The streak was still soft and accompanied the sauce and cooked vegetables perfectly. The appearance may be off putting, but it was one of those instances where you should not judge a book by its cover. The cheese was once again a bit on the dry side but was a nice little addition that many airlines are taking away from their meal service these days. Once Camille collected all the trays, she was back in the aisle
“Coffee?”
“Yes please.”
A tray containing a chocolate mousse and coffee were handed to me.

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010518.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010519.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010520.jpg

The chocolate mousse was absolutely amazing, but like I said earlier there is no chocolate mousse I won’t eat, as it is my favorite dessert. The caramel glaze and hazelnut crunch bottom added the perfect touch to an already amazing dessert. If I were not so full I probably would have asked for seconds.

Once the trays were collected, I put my seat in a slightly reclined position and continued to watch some comedies on the digital player. I should point out here that Camille was nowhere to be seen after the meal service, however she was more than willing to answer any call buttons that rang. While pleasantries and small talk may have been a foreign concept to her, she was still pleasant enough, smiled frequently, and was never rude with any passenger.

I need to point out something here, as I was in the exit row, I got to see the service being conducted a few rows ahead by a British F/A who was clearly from the original OpenSkies. She was in the aisle ever so often checking up on the passengers who were still awake. Even earlier during the meal service she handed out the meals followed by a couple of rounds with the wine bottles. She repeated this cycle ever so offering refills on drinks and bread. Something Camille our French (L’Avion) F/A never did for our section of the aircraft. I was just a little flabbergasted at such varying levels of service on the same flight.

A quick trip to the lavatory revealed nothing spectacular. There was still some German signage in the lavatory, which hinted at the previous operator of the aircraft.

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010521.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010522.jpg

I returned to my seat and decided to relax with some music. Thankfully there was some nice Armin Van Buuren on the digital player.

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010525.jpg

Soon enough the clanging and noise began from the galley so I gathered it was time for the snack before landing. Camille was back out in the aisle with her cart.
“Drink?”
“Coffee please.”

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010526.jpg

The tray consisted of an apricot yogurt with a plate of cold cuts containing:
- A slice of bread with some salami and a pickle
- A wrap containing pickles, bell peppers accompanied by a tzatziki sauce
- A egg casserole dish containing peppers

Not being a large fan of peppers, I had to carefully take out the offending matter. The salami and bread were pretty good if not a little dried out. The wrap was pretty tasteless and the egg casserole thing was so so. To add insult to injury the coffee was lukewarm. A very lack luster snack overall.

As we started to near Newark, Camille came by to collect the snack trays followed by the video players. For the first time, the British F/A serving the cabin in front of us approached me and handed a small box of mints. A nice little parting gift in my opinion.

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010715.jpg

Arrival: After a very smooth touch down at 16:24, we turned off the runway and taxied relatively quickly to the same gate I had departed from a week ago.

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010530.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010532.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010533.jpg

Upon reaching door 2L, the same cherry British F/A wished us a pleasant day and we were on our way towards immigration. Surprisingly the line was rather short and my immigration officer was in a very happy mood. Is it just me or does Newark have some of the friendliest immigration officers around? After a quick conversation about how Paris was her favorite destination to visit, she stamped my passport with a “welcome back.”

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010534.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010536.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010537.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010538.jpg

The baggage belt was not on when we reached, bit it started up two or three minutes later. Our bags took less than five minutes to come out which meant we were out by the curb in no time.

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010722.jpg
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010721.jpg

Verdict: I never got to try out Eos or Maxjet so I don’t really have a fair way to compare OpenSkies to any other boutique carriers. However for a premium economy product, it was not bad overall. Though I’m afraid I have more negative things to say than positive.

The lounge in Newark left a lot to be desired. The OpenSkies website mentioned, “Complimentary light dining, freshly made by one of our chefs,” thus I was expecting a British Airways Terrace lounge. What we got was very lack luster and would never be able to match the high standards set by British Airways. Passengers at Washington Dulles get all the comforts of a British Airways lounge, so why don’t Newark passengers? The “Icare” lounge in Paris Orly felt more comfortable, had more offerings on the catering front and seemed less crowded, but then again I was not expecting a British Airways Terrance Lounge so the expectations were lower.

One thing that really struck me was lack of consistency that OpenSkies has. For an airline that has a fleet of only four planes and flies to a mere three destinations, I was a bit awestruck as to how wildly different things can be. Take for instance the seat. The two former L’Avion planes feature the old Lufthansa seat, while the two original OpenSkies aircraft feature the brown leather seat. Nowhere on the OpenSkies website is there a picture of the L’Avion seat, only the brown leather ones used by the original OpenSkies.

The catering was again a mixed bag. Out of Newark there was a one-tray meal service while out of Paris there were three separate courses. I can understand that this may have been done due to the late departure hour out of Newark, but it conflicted with the menu that had been e-mailed to me 24 hours in advance. Thus my expectations differed from what was actually served. The quality of food was also much better out Paris than it was out of Newark.

However my biggest disappointment was the flight attendants. Ronerone in his trip report had mentioned that the two uniforms were still very much in use on his flight last year. While every F/A had the same OpenSkies uniform now, they may as well be working for their respective airlines. The original OpenSkies flight attendants were friendly, always smiling and had a little more finesse in their service. The original L’Avion flight attendants did not seem to share the same enthusiasm for the job. While they smiled and did their job, that’s where it ended. There was no above and beyond, they only did the necessary amount to get the job done. Truly genuine service was absent, especially from Camille on our flight back to Newark from Paris.

At the end of the day, would I recommend the BizSeat product on OpenSkies? I would, but it is not a product for everyone. I did not have a choice in carriers this time around as someone else paid for my ticket. If I had to pay for my ticket, I would definitely be looking for alternatives I am afraid. In my honest opinion, the original L’Avion “BizSeat” is not worth the hype associated with the OpenSkies brand. As far as I am concerned, I did not fly OpenSkies, I flew L’Avion and I can fully see why they did not last long on their own.

Maybe in the future when the product is streamlined (all brown leather OpenSkies seats) and in flight service is brought up to the standards of the current British cabin crew, maybe then I will change my opinion and think the price tag is worth it.

Overall OpenSkies was an interesting experience and it definitely opened up my eyes to a new way of traveling.

OpenSkies 004
Check In: 9 (Friendly and efficient with specific instructions as to where the lounge is)
Lounge: 6 (Decent snack selection but rather crowded with limited seating)
Boarding: 10 (Quick and easy)
Seat: 8 (Pretty good for a premium economy seat, even if it is a hand me down from Lufthansa)
Aircraft: 6 (Showings signs of wear and tear)
Food: 6 (Mixture of good (steak) and rather plain tasteless (pasta and breakfast))
Entertainment: 7 (While more choice is always appreciated, being able to actually anchor the device while eating would make it a whole lot better)
Service: 6 (Average at best with the disappearing act being performed after the meal)
Arrival: 9 (Easy enough with not much of a wait at baggage claim)


OpenSkies 003
Check In: 9 (Friendly and efficient just like in Newark)
Lounge: 8 (A nice lounge with some decent amenities but a bit crowded at times)
Boarding: 10 (Just like before, quick and easy)
Seat: 8 (Same as before, pretty good for premium economy)
Aircraft: 8 (Less wear and tear this time but decently maintained)
Food: 8 (Quality was much better and was served in separate courses unlike the outbound)
Entertainment: 7 (There really needs to ne a way to anchor the device on the seat in front)
Service: 6 (There was a stark difference between our French flight attendant and the British flight attendant serving the rows in front of us)
Arrival: 9 (Quick and easy once again with a ten minute wait at the carousel)

Total: 140/180 = .777

OpenSkies scored a total of 77% for their “BizSeat” product. Not bad for a premium economy product at all. I can see why they have such a loyal following as the product is certainly a nice alternative for someone who does not want to pay a business class price on the competition.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: sfflyer123
Posted 2010-09-12 09:30:42 and read 23666 times.

Thank you for this TR. I have always wondered about these "all business class" products. Now, we have a good idea of what it's like. Surprisingly, however, this international business class product seems to be essentially the same as a domestic american business class transcontinental, like United's P.S. service:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6cRt81of0w

This product definitely seems to be just a tad better, if at all. But I can see why. The flight time from the east coast of the USA to Europe is not that much longer than it is from SFO-JFK. Thank you for posting this TR. It is very helpful for those of us deciding on whether or not to purchase these fares!

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: globetraveller
Posted 2010-09-12 09:39:05 and read 23609 times.

A great trip report SR 103. Excellent detail and some great pictures as well. I especially liked your verdict at the end - from things I have heard and read about OpenSkies, I could not agree with you more.

Globetraveller

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: groobster
Posted 2010-09-12 11:48:41 and read 23086 times.

Outstanding detail on the trip report, great job,

Not sure I could have stomached looking at those purple and black seats for such lengths.

Interesting that you called the product "Premium Economy" and not "Business Class", says it all really 

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: EC001
Posted 2010-09-12 12:47:06 and read 22869 times.

Hi there,

Great TR! I really enjoyed reading it. I flew Openskies two years ago (and also posted a TR). Too bad you got the "L'Avion" product instead of the real Openskies one. I had a better experience with the latter (including fantastic FA's).

I flew Bizbed, so I'm interested in knowing if there was a bizbed cabin in front of the plane, doesn't seem so? so it was all L'Avion's Premium Economy (although they call it a Business class   )?

"being able to actually anchor the device while eating would make it a whole lot better"

I do agree, on the new Openskies aircrafts, they do have an anchor for the device.

"Service: 6 Average at best with the disappearing act being performed after the meal)/Service: 6 (There was a stark difference between our French flight attendant and the British flight attendant serving the rows in front of us)"

Too bad, I remember having had great British and American flight attendants.

Cheers,

orian

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: BA319-131
Posted 2010-09-12 13:54:19 and read 22588 times.

Nice report and pictures, thnaks for sharong, we have seen nothing of EC since Roni's TR some time ago.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
About 24 hours before my flight, I received an e-mail from OpenSkies outlining some of the services for my upcoming flight, which I thought was a nice little touch. Notice the name of the crew and menu

- Looking at the e-mail, it a very nice touch.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
As I was walking towards the lounge, it occurred to me that we were not using the British Airways Terrace lounge, which was a slight bit of a surprise to me

- Interesting, I would have assumed the BA lounge would have been used.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
The appetizer consisted of cold slices of salami and prosciutto with some salad leaves and a mozzarella ball. It tasted fresh and went well with the balsamic vinaigrette provided. The bread was also good, however it was served cold which could be an area for improvement. My main course consisted of steak, potatoes and some squash. The steak was tender and delicious despite being cooked through. The potatoes were ok and the squash was quite soggy, but it is one of my least favorite vegetables. As far as dessert goes, chocolate mousse is my absolute favorite desert in the world, so no complaints from me.

- Not a bad looking meal, just a shame it's all on the same tray.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
The tray consisted of an apricot yogurt with a plate of cold cuts containing:
- A slice of bread with some salami and a pickle
- A wrap containing pickles, bell peppers accompanied by a tzatziki sauce
- A egg casserole dish containing peppers

- Hmm, not sure about this as a pre arrival snack, a bit of an odd colection of foods!

Cheers

Mark

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: 767747
Posted 2010-09-12 15:58:02 and read 22173 times.

Great report on Open Skies! Looks like you had 2 night flights across the ocean. The seat you were sitting in, looks identical to the old Business Class seat used by Lufthansa a few years ago. I remember traveling in that back in 2002; it was comfy!

The service looks to be pretty nice, and the food decent. I think it must be hard to service so many customers on the 757 that its probably not as personal as if you were flying in a smaller, more compact, Business Class cabin.

Thanks for sharing!

Matthew (767747)

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: Carfield
Posted 2010-09-12 17:50:24 and read 21976 times.

Thanks for the trip report!

I am flying the same set of flight next week, and know what to expect!
Just curious... I assume they no longer pass out a real printed menu. Am I right?

The meals looked pretty sad on the outbound. But I assume one tray supper is the norm for eastbound nighttime transatlantic flight. I assume there is a real service difference between Biz Seat and Biz Bed, and Open Skies should make it a clearer point in its website. The product is definitely more Premium Economy than Business Class.

Glad I read your report! So I won't be disappointed.

Thanks,
Carfield

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: SR 103
Posted 2010-09-12 22:25:54 and read 21625 times.

Quoting sfflyer123 (Reply 3):
Thank you for this TR.

Thank you.

Quoting sfflyer123 (Reply 3):
Surprisingly, however, this international business class product seems to be essentially the same as a domestic american business class transcontinental, like United's P.S. service:

It really is not much better, but to be fair I still consider it a premium economy product more than a business class product.

Quoting globetraveller (Reply 4):
A great trip report SR 103. Excellent detail and some great pictures as well. I especially liked your verdict at the end

Thank you, glad you liked it. I was worried my verdict was being a little too harsh on.

Quoting groobster (Reply 5):
Outstanding detail on the trip report, great job,

Thank you for the compliment.

Quoting EC001 (Reply 6):
Great TR! I really enjoyed reading it.

Thank you.

Quoting EC001 (Reply 6):
I flew Bizbed, so I'm interested in knowing if there was a bizbed cabin in front of the plane, doesn't seem so? so it was all L'Avion's Premium Economy (although they call it a Business class   )?

Yes they did, the L'Avion planes seem to only have Bizflat between doors 1 and 2. I took a quick pictures as I was boarding in Paris. As you can see, it looks almost identical to the ones used by OpenSkies.
http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f42/SR747300M/OpenSkies/P1010473.jpg

Quoting EC001 (Reply 6):
I do agree, on the new Openskies aircrafts, they do have an anchor for the device.

I have seen that on their website. Shame these seats did not have the option.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 7):
Nice report and pictures, thnaks for sharong, we have seen nothing of EC since Roni's TR some time ago.

Thank you for the kind words.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 7):
- Interesting, I would have assumed the BA lounge would have been used.

It still surprises me as to why they went down this route instead of just using BA's lounge.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 8):
Great report on Open Skies!

Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 8):
The seat you were sitting in, looks identical to the old Business Class seat used by Lufthansa a few years ago. I remember traveling in that back in 2002; it was comfy!

They are the same seats, just re upholstered purple. The L'Avion planes came second hand from Condor Germany, thats your connection.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 9):
Thanks for the trip report!

Thank you Carfield, always nice to hear from you.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 9):
I am flying the same set of flight next week, and know what to expect!

Are you flying BizBed or BizSeat? Hopefully you get the original OpenSkies aircraft have a better experience.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 9):
Just curious... I assume they no longer pass out a real printed menu. Am I right?

Not for BizSeat, though I would like to think BizBed still does.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 9):
The product is definitely more Premium Economy than Business Class.

It really is in my opinion.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 9):
Glad I read your report! So I won't be disappointed.

Hopefully you have a better experience. I look forward to the trip report.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: ryanair!!!
Posted 2010-09-12 22:36:06 and read 21597 times.

The emailed they sent you surely hyped up your expectations. And if I were you, I would have expected more too. The dirty looking side panel on your flight out is not my idea of how a "boutique" airline should maintain their planes.

The 2nd meal on both flights seemed to be a lacklustre effort in a meal. Perhaps this is the norm on JCL flights these days?

Whatever it is, thank you for this insight on Open Skies, an airline we hardly hear about where I live. Catch up soon.

Cheers
Ryan

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: concordechild
Posted 2010-09-12 23:17:54 and read 21504 times.

very surprising that they do not use the BA lounge... after all the aircraft tail is unmistakeable

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: smi0006
Posted 2010-09-13 00:14:26 and read 21399 times.

Great insightful report thankyou!!

Where are the British FAs based do they live in Paris, the States or company sponsored commuters from the UK?

Thanks again for taking the time for this report!

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: debonair
Posted 2010-09-13 02:31:00 and read 21163 times.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
a flight attendant (lets call her Ashley) came down the aisle with a cart handing out the portable video player.

Nice TR! As also shown in your picture the trolley is a no-go for a so called Premium-Airline; it just look cheap! Even I was teached years ago to serve (in economy!) only from a trolley which was covered with linen.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: airpearl
Posted 2010-09-13 04:44:56 and read 20918 times.

Excellent report and perspective on OpenSkies, SR103. Well done. Thanks very much for this, and makes a perfect complement to Roni's earlier report on the BizFlat service. Such a shame then that the quality of the product failed on so many fronts, particularly in the delivery of inflight service. To be honest, I had expected much better. After all, why else should the business traveller abandon his/her usual legacy J class for this?

Thanks again for this great report. It's an eye opener.

Cheers
airpearl

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: SR 103
Posted 2010-09-13 05:26:40 and read 20824 times.

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 11):
The emailed they sent you surely hyped up your expectations.

That it definitely did. Its started off so well and then...

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 11):
The 2nd meal on both flights seemed to be a lacklustre effort in a meal.

They definitely were not the most creative, but then again they never really are. American and Delta serves a pizza, Continental serves a cheeseburger. Its rare to get something creative and nice from a European or US carrier.

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 11):
Whatever it is, thank you for this insight on Open Skies,

Thank you, glad you liked it.

Quoting concordechild (Reply 12):
very surprising that they do not use the BA lounge... after all the aircraft tail is unmistakeable

I can not emphasize how surprised I was either.

Quoting smi0006 (Reply 13):
Great insightful report thankyou!!

Thank you for the compliment.

Quoting smi0006 (Reply 13):
Where are the British FAs based do they live in Paris, the States or company sponsored commuters from the UK?

To be honest I have no idea. They may commute or some may even live in France. I am sure someone with more insight could answer this question.

Quoting debonair (Reply 14):
Nice TR!

Thank you.

Quoting debonair (Reply 14):
As also shown in your picture the trolley is a no-go for a so called Premium-Airline; it just look cheap!

To be honest, I am used to it by now. Almost everyone I fly with the exception of Continental seems to use a cart in Business Class. It certainly speeds up the process, but does add a bit of cheapness to the experience.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 15):
Excellent report and perspective on OpenSkies, SR103. Well done. Thanks very much for this, and makes a perfect complement to Roni's earlier report on the BizFlat service.

Thank you for the compliment, I almost did not do a trip report as I feared it would be too much of the same as Roni's.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 15):
To be honest, I had expected much better.

As did I. At the end of the day, they were no better or worse than any European or US legacy carriers across the Atlantic. Certainly not worth the hype created by their marketing department.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: BA174
Posted 2010-09-13 05:31:31 and read 20817 times.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
At the end of the day, would I recommend the BizSeat product on OpenSkies? I would, but it is not a product for everyone. I did not have a choice in carriers this time around as someone else paid for my ticket. If I had to pay for my ticket, I would definitely be looking for alternatives I am afraid. In my honest opinion, the original L’Avion “BizSeat” is not worth the hype associated with the OpenSkies brand. As far as I am concerned, I did not fly OpenSkies, I flew L’Avion and I can fully see why they did not last long on their own.

I have heard OpenSkies are still two airlines in one brand. One version being the origional American based cabin crew with the proper fairly young ex-BA mainline 757s containing the proper seats and a reputation for good service the other being the old L'avion on the fourth hand 20 odd year old 757s. That purple cabin is a joke and looks battered and I notice they always choose to market the cream leather biz seat without telling passengers that they could end up on the L'avion seats with less room and no PTV holder and other reviews I have read express anger at being in a product that was not the same one they had seen on the website. It is a shame you never got G-BPEK/J but the MD of OpenSkies does have a blog on the website and I would address the lack of a uniform product on it and see what they say.

[Edited 2010-09-13 05:55:01]

[Edited 2010-09-13 05:56:47]

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: BZNPilot
Posted 2010-09-13 07:34:50 and read 20429 times.

Hi SR 103,

Great report, thanks for posting. I was curious what this all-biz carrier was like. Sounds like a reasonable product for the price, but with many, many areas for improvement. Interesting how the L'Avion product still is evident in OpenSkies. Also, the email the night before with the menu, etc. is a nice touch, but only if they actually stick to it during the flight!

Nice pics, too.

Greetings,
BZNPilot

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: lychemsa
Posted 2010-09-13 08:47:25 and read 20260 times.

I never thought the Swissair croissants were so extraordinary. I think SWISS still serve the same. I like the CO / AA croissants. They are large and filling.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: SR 103
Posted 2010-09-13 09:08:59 and read 20201 times.

Quoting BA174 (Reply 17):
It is a shame you never got G-BPEK/J

It really is. I think that if I had tried out the original OpenSkies product, my opinion would have been different.

Quoting BA174 (Reply 17):
but the MD of OpenSkies does have a blog on the website and I would address the lack of a uniform product on it and see what they say.

Thanks for the idea, I completely forgot about Dale's blog.

Quoting BZNPilot (Reply 18):
Great report, thanks for posting.

Thank you, glad you liked it.

Quoting BZNPilot (Reply 18):
Interesting how the L'Avion product still is evident in OpenSkies.

I was really surprised considering there really is so little to change as the airline is so small. Just look at DL, they have all but annihilated NW from existence in less than a year.

Quoting BZNPilot (Reply 18):
Nice pics, too.

Thank you.

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 19):
I never thought the Swissair croissants were so extraordinary

I guess we think differently then. On all my business class flights with Swissair (there were a large amount), the croissants were always heated just right. They were never burt or hard from the outside and had a nice warm melt in your mouth inside.

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 19):
I like the CO / AA croissants. They are large and filling.

I can't say I have had any AA croissants, but I fly CO quite a bit and have a very different opinion than yourself on their croissants. They tend to be overheated with a hard top shell and a crispy texture inside. Not the way I like mine.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: BA174
Posted 2010-09-13 09:43:43 and read 20110 times.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 16):
Where are the British FAs based do they live in Paris, the States or company sponsored commuters from the UK?

Cabin crew are based in Paris(ex-L'avion) and NY(origional) they recently took a load of cabin crew on at the NY base.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 20):
was really surprised considering there really is so little to change as the airline is so small. Just look at DL, they have all but annihilated NW from existence in less than a year.

I saw L'avion uniform in JFK as recently as late last year but I have heard they all have BAs now with the different tie. They must be going through intergration slow as it should all be done by now seeing as they have all been working for the same company for over a year and they only have 2 AC to convert.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
The original OpenSkies flight attendants were friendly, always smiling and had a little more finesse in their service. The original L’Avion flight attendants did not seem to share the same enthusiasm for the job. While they smiled and did their job, that’s where it ended. There was no above and beyond, they only did the necessary amount to get the job done. Truly genuine service was absent, especially from Camille on our flight back to Newark from Paris.

There have been many reports of the French L'avion crew being not up to par with the origional base in NY read this for example
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...-club/965895-openskies-misery.html

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: CrimsonNL
Posted 2010-09-13 12:13:53 and read 19759 times.

Hi there, just a quick thanks for sharing this report. I must say I love the purple interior! It's a shame they discontinued the AMS routes.

Regards,

Martijn

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: SR 103
Posted 2010-09-14 02:07:56 and read 19224 times.

Quoting BA174 (Reply 21):
Cabin crew are based in Paris(ex-L'avion) and NY(origional) they recently took a load of cabin crew on at the NY base.

Thanks for answering that question.

Quoting BA174 (Reply 21):
They must be going through intergration slow as it should all be done by now seeing as they have all been working for the same company for over a year and they only have 2 AC to convert.

They have definitely worked on the two L'Avion planes, but they never changed the BizSeats, just the BizBed. Silverware, and glasses are also still mixed as you can tell. Makes me wonder if they ever plan on making sure everything is merged into one product. It does not seem like they care too much.

Quoting BA174 (Reply 21):
There have been many reports of the French L'avion crew being not up to par with the origional base in NY read this for example

Thanks for the link, it was an interesting read.

Quoting CrimsonNL (Reply 22):
Hi there, just a quick thanks for sharing this report.

Thank you, glad you liked it.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: ronerone
Posted 2010-09-15 05:51:39 and read 18437 times.

Hi Anosh!

It is really great to see another Trip Report from you! After all it has always been your TR's that encouraged me to do my very own   .. They are always reasonably balanced between + and - , and this is just great  

This is definitely one TR that i have been anxiously waiting for! and congrats on finally sampling what OpenSkies is all about. .. As you know, i do have a soft spot for this airline, but it is mainly because of the story behind it (i think i am a bilaterals freak!). Though they did not seem like much at all from your experience. In fact, several parts in your experience seem different to mine.

I have a feeling that BA wants them as far away as possible from their LCY premium service (the move from JFK to EWR, no more BA lounge access in New York, no access to Oneworld etc).

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
While there is a fantastic trip report written by Ronerone ( OpenSkies From British Airways: A New Era's End? ) his report focused on the %u201CBizFlat%u201D product.

Thank you for quoting my TR  

Has there been a change of names to OpenSkies' flat bed product? I know it as 'BizBed' and not 'BizFlat'

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
About 24 hours before my flight, I received an e-mail from OpenSkies outlining some of the services for my upcoming flight, which I thought was a nice little touch. Notice the name of the crew and menu.

Very nice touch, which was absent in my experience. Though i did get a pre-flight email only to remind me of my outbound flight.

However, if OpenSkies cannot match reality to what they said they'd do in your email, why bother in the first place?

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
As I was walking towards the lounge, it occurred to me that we were not using the British Airways Terrace lounge, which was a slight bit of a surprise to me.

I've always found that to be quite strange!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
amenity kit

There was no amenity kit on my flight (only separate socks and eyeshades that were not branded). Again, quite strange.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
The appetizer consisted of cold slices of salami and prosciutto with some salad leaves and a mozzarella ball. It tasted fresh and went well with the balsamic vinaigrette provided. The bread was also good, however it was served cold which could be an area for improvement. My main course consisted of steak, potatoes and some squash. The steak was tender and delicious despite being cooked through. The potatoes were ok and the squash was quite soggy, but it is one of my least favorite vegetables. As far as dessert goes, chocolate mousse is my absolute favorite desert in the world, so no complaints from me. Fat old me even ate my traveling companions.

Does not look appetizing at all!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
I decided to pull out my blanket from the plastic casing only to discover it was wet and smelled like moldy cheese. I pressed the call button and Camille was by my side a few seconds later.
%u201CSorry but do you by chance have another blanket? This one is wet.%u201D
%u201CLet me check.%u201D
She came back a few minutes later
%u201CI am sorry, we don%u2019t have any extra ones. We are only supplied with a limited amount.%u201D

Not good at all!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
My pasta dish was put on my tray with another round of bread. The lemon butter sauce tasted really good and the shrimp were cooked perfectly. Neither the pasta nor the shrimp were overcooked or dried out. Overall I was very pleased the dish.

Looks much better than the previous meals for sure!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
I need to point out something here, as I was in the exit row, I got to see the service being conducted a few rows ahead by a British F/A who was clearly from the original OpenSkies. She was in the aisle ever so often checking up on the passengers who were still awake. Even earlier during the meal service she handed out the meals followed by a couple of rounds with the wine bottles. She repeated this cycle ever so offering refills on drinks and bread. Something Camille our French (L%u2019Avion) F/A never did for our section of the aircraft. I was just a little flabbergasted at such varying levels of service on the same flight.

That lead F/A sounds a lot like the one who was on both my EC sectors. I think her name was Shauna, and was a pure-breed OpenSkies Purser   And she was just great! Her heart is totally into that airline, and it really showed.

Do you remember what her name was?

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
For the first time, the British F/A serving the cabin in front of us approached me and handed a small box of mints. A nice little parting gift in my opinion.

Another thing you got which i didnt!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
Ronerone in his trip report had mentioned that the two uniforms were still very much in use on his flight last year. While every F/A had the same OpenSkies uniform now

I loved that both uniforms were still in use, as it added a nice touch. And i much prefer L'Avion's uniform.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
The original OpenSkies flight attendants were friendly, always smiling and had a little more finesse in their service. The original L%u2019Avion flight attendants did not seem to share the same enthusiasm for the job. While they smiled and did their job, that%u2019s where it ended. There was no above and beyond, they only did the necessary amount to get the job done. Truly genuine service was absent, especially from Camille on our flight back to Newark from Paris.

It was definitely a mixed bag in my experience. The female L'Avion crew on my outbound sector was great, while most of the rest weren't. On the inbound flight, all the crew were OpenSkies and they were ok. Of course Shauna was the best one!


Thanks a lot for sharing this with us. Once again, excellent work!  

Cheers,
Roni

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: ojas
Posted 2010-09-15 06:17:10 and read 18442 times.

Hi SR 103,

Excellent TR, yet again!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
She poured a cup of coffee without even bothering to ask if I would like coffee or tea. I decided it was not worth asking for tea instead and just had the coffee.

Used to be a regular occurence with Gulf Air in the 90s on their Indian Sub Continent routes.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
The catering was again a mixed bag. Out of Newark there was a one-tray meal service while out of Paris there were three separate courses. I can understand that this may have been done due to the late departure hour out of Newark, but it conflicted with the menu that had been e-mailed to me 24 hours in advance. Thus my expectations differed from what was actually served. The quality of food was also much better out Paris than it was out of Newark.

It would have turned out be a brilliant service aspect, had there been no inconsistencies.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
onerone in his trip report had mentioned that the two uniforms were still very much in use on his flight last year. While every F/A had the same OpenSkies uniform now, they may as well be working for their respective airlines. The original OpenSkies flight attendants were friendly, always smiling and had a little more finesse in their service. The original L’Avion flight attendants did not seem to share the same enthusiasm for the job. While they smiled and did their job, that’s where it ended. There was no above and beyond, they only did the necessary amount to get the job done. Truly genuine service was absent, especially from Camille on our flight back to Newark from Paris.

Do the crew have a common training program or are they trained separately from their respective airlines? While I believe it is the latter, openSkies should pay special attention to the fact.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: BA174
Posted 2010-09-15 07:57:18 and read 18356 times.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 23):
I loved that both uniforms were still in use, as it added a nice touch. And i much prefer L'Avion's uniform

A lot of their passengers did not agree from what I have read in reviews and they are fully BA owned so it just makes sense to have BA uniforms and elements of BA service.

Quoting ojas (Reply 25):
Do the crew have a common training program or are they trained separately from their respective airlines? While I believe it is the latter, openSkies should pay special attention to the fact.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

OpenSkies crew are trained in London by BA which is probably why everyone thinks they are a lot better than L'avion. I presume L'avion crew have not been trained by BA.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: ronerone
Posted 2010-09-15 08:24:45 and read 18343 times.

Quoting BA174 (Reply 26):
A lot of their passengers did not agree from what I have read in reviews and they are fully BA owned so it just makes sense to have BA uniforms and elements of BA service.
Quoting BA174 (Reply 26):
OpenSkies crew are trained in London by BA which is probably why everyone thinks they are a lot better than L'avion. I presume L'avion crew have not been trained by BA.

Thanks for the insight BA174!

One thing for sure, is that some of the L'Avion crew lacked skills in the English language. The safety demo was announced by a L'Avion crew and i could barely understand a word, though it was in English.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: Carfield
Posted 2010-09-16 08:20:43 and read 17905 times.

Just a followup... I don't think I need to write another trip report, since SR 103 did an excellent job.

The flight was not that bad, but not that great. I got the ticket for free, so could not complaint. But I might not be too happy if I pay for this flight. I am still trying to decide on the differences between Biz Seat and Biz Bed. The seats are obviously different... I think Biz Bed is more like a real business class product with Terraces lounge access, better food presentation, better wine list, and the BA Club World amenity kit. Biz Seat is not really a business class product... I see it as an improved Premium economy class product. Biz bed indeed had a printed menu, but a tiny single page card with wine list on one side and menu on the other side. Really disappointing... not even a proper Club World printed menu. The content is the same, but Biz Bed had an express cold option and cookies, while Biz Seat got an express dinner service.

Here is the menu transcript for Biz Bed and the menu I got from Biz Seat online email:

Menus September 2010

Open Skies
New York to Newark
Biz Bed

Wine List
Champagne
Billecart Salmon Brut

Vin Rouge
Chateau Monconseil Gazin 2006 – Premieres Cotes de Blaye
Chateauneuf du Pape Clos de l’Oratoire 2008
Chateau de Chamirey – Mercurey 2008

Vin Blanc
Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillons Vieilles Vignes 2007 – Domaine Laroche
Pouilly Fuisse – L’Or Blanc 2008 – Louis Pere et Fils

Menu
Dinner
Grilled vegetables and mixed salad

Grilled Chicken with Shiitake and Oyster Mushrooms
Or
Stuffed red pepper Gnocchi and sautéed spinach

Camembert and Parmesan Cheese
Raspberry Swirl Cake

Goodnight Express
Beef fillet slices on a young shoot Salad and asparagus
Or
Warmed cookies and hot chocolate

Breakfast
C1/10

Biz Seat (No menu but sent through online check in information email)

Menu
Dinner
Grilled vegetables and mixed salad

Grilled Chicken with Shiitake and Oyster Mushrooms
Or
Stuffed red pepper Gnocchi and sautéed spinach

Camembert Cheese
Raspberry Swirl Cake

Breakfast

Anyway, it is an interesting experience. The F/As were okay.
I will fly the return next week, and if there is any interesting thing to report, I will do so!

Carfield

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: ronerone
Posted 2010-09-16 10:38:34 and read 17799 times.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 28):
The flight was not that bad, but not that great. I got the ticket for free, so could not complaint. But I might not be too happy if I pay for this flight. I am still trying to decide on the differences between Biz Seat and Biz Bed. The seats are obviously different... I think Biz Bed is more like a real business class product with Terraces lounge access, better food presentation, better wine list, and the BA Club World amenity kit. Biz Seat is not really a business class product... I see it as an improved Premium economy class product. Biz bed indeed had a printed menu, but a tiny single page card with wine list on one side and menu on the other side. Really disappointing... not even a proper Club World printed menu. The content is the same, but Biz Bed had an express cold option and cookies, while Biz Seat got an express dinner service.

Hi Carfield,

This is very interesting indeed.

I had no menu on my flight last year, no amenity kit, and no express meal option. But that was last year when BA did not want to give OpenSkies any money  

Did you get BA lounge access for your flight?


Cheers,
Roni

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: BA174
Posted 2010-09-16 12:57:06 and read 17671 times.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 29):
Hi Carfield,

This is very interesting indeed.

I had no menu on my flight last year, no amenity kit, and no express meal option. But that was last year when BA did not want to give OpenSkies any money

Did you get BA lounge access for your flight?


Cheers,
Roni

My understanding is that Bizbed get menus on printed cards al la club world on BA mainline but Bizseat just get a announcement telling them what the meal choices are. OpenSkies only use BA galleries lounge at IAD as EWRs is for mainline only which was not the case when OpenSkies operated from BAs terminal in JFK which obviously being BAs own has very good lounges. The Whole EWR move was very strange to me....... It will be interesting to see if they move back to JFK when ATI is put into force for the JFK connections on AA which OpenSkies said they were keen to expolore.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: Carfield
Posted 2010-09-17 12:07:15 and read 17240 times.

I am in BizSeat so I don't know. I can only access the Open Skies lounge (joint with jet Airways, which make a very crowded lounge for the 6:40pm flight). I stayed there for twenty minutes to check some emails and got a bottled water. I went to find some real food later.

I just picked up a menu on BizBed section when I deplaned. The menu was not even similar to Club World menu. It is basically a card with menu on the front and wine list on the back. Not even a booklet like Club World!

Carfield

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: BA174
Posted 2010-09-24 13:59:36 and read 16418 times.

I notice OpenSkies have now launched a virtual tour on their website missing out the fact that you could end up on L'avion aircraft 

I have my doubts that these 2 planes will ever get re-fitted but they could at least make them resemble the real OpenSkies product e.g. install an AVOD holder or re-fabric the seats cream maybe?

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: PlaneHunter
Posted 2010-10-29 11:31:49 and read 14796 times.

Fantastic report, I cannot believe that I missed that one. The product in general looks very good and I really like these interior colors. However, the titles on the fuselage look quite cheap.

Quoting SR 103 (Thread starter):
The chocolate mousse was absolutely amazing, but like I said earlier there is no chocolate mousse I won’t eat, as it is my favorite dessert.

That's huge...and looks absolutely mouth-watering!


PH

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: KaiGywer
Posted 2010-10-29 14:25:41 and read 14672 times.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 16):
To be honest, I am used to it by now. Almost everyone I fly with the exception of Continental seems to use a cart in Business Class. It certainly speeds up the process, but does add a bit of cheapness to the experience.

I fly DL biz quite often and I have yet to see a cart used during meal service with PMDL crew. The only cart I've seen used is a special one they use for cheese/fruit and ice cream.

I have, however, seen the cart used with PMNW crews even after SOC.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: akhmad
Posted 2010-10-30 00:33:55 and read 14418 times.

Hi SR 103,

Awesome report of BizSeat. Pity hat the lounge and in-flight service did not live up to the expectation.

The meal presentation was great nonetheless and I like the crockery.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 1):
While the e-mail with the menu was a very nice touch, it is kind of pointless if the actual items served are going to differ so much.

Did you ask EC about the e-mail? EC surely owes you an explanation.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 2):
Thankfully there was some nice Armin Van Buuren on the digital player.

Lucky you! I wished airline like QR had him in the IFE option.

Thanks for sharing.

Cheers,
Suryo

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: henkybaby
Posted 2010-10-30 02:12:49 and read 14354 times.

Excellent report and wonderful detail. Pictures are pretty good too. I find it a shame that OpenSkies does not operate from AMS anymore.

Don't care too much for the old L'Avion style economy plus seating. I liked the product they used from AMS better. (See OpenSkies BizSeat AMS-JFK - Simply Amazing (by Henkybaby Jul 6 2009 in Trip Reports)).

Is that still in service or is it only the purple monstrosities?

EDIT: Never mind, I missed it in the first reading. I agree: two different seats when only operating 4 planes is not good.

[Edited 2010-10-30 02:20:23]

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: SR 103
Posted 2010-10-30 04:13:45 and read 14238 times.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 24):
It is really great to see another Trip Report from you! After all it has always been your TR's that encouraged me to do my very own

Thank you Roni for the kind words.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 24):
As you know, i do have a soft spot for this airline, but it is mainly because of the story behind it (i think i am a bilaterals freak!).

I know you are very fond of them. Hopefully they survive long enough for you to give them a try again.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 24):
I have a feeling that BA wants them as far away as possible from their LCY premium service (the move from JFK to EWR, no more BA lounge access in New York, no access to Oneworld etc).

I can understand why.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 24):
Very nice touch, which was absent in my experience. Though i did get a pre-flight email only to remind me of my outbound flight.[/quote
Interestingly I did not get one for the ORY-JFK flight. Seems to be a few inconsistencies regarding the e-mails.
[quote=ronerone,reply=24]Do you remember what her name was?

Unfortunately I do not. Hopefully your wrote to OpenSkies to let them know about Shauna?

Quoting ojas (Reply 25):
Excellent TR, yet again!

Thanks Ojas, always nice to hear from you.

Quoting ojas (Reply 25):
It would have turned out be a brilliant service aspect, had there been no inconsistencies.

Agreed.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 28):
I don't think I need to write another trip report, since SR 103 did an excellent job.

Thank you very much for the compliment Carfield. I saw your meal photo's up on airlinemeals.net. Did not look like much changed on the catering front.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 33):
Fantastic report,

Thank you PlaneHunter.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 33):
the titles on the fuselage look quite cheap.

I agree, they could have done a lot more regarding their branding but I guess Costs outweigh everything else these days.

Quoting KaiGywer (Reply 34):
I fly DL biz quite often and I have yet to see a cart used during meal service with PMDL crew.

I don't fly DL internationaly, its a personal choice despite my Skyteam Elite status. However AF, KL, LH etc... tend to use a cart. DL was still using the cart up until the time I stopped flying them. I have heard things have changed now.

Quoting KaiGywer (Reply 34):
I have, however, seen the cart used with PMNW crews even after SOC.

NW used to use a cart and the meal service was often finished rather quickly in order to allow some down time in the cabin. Truthfully I don't really mind the cart that much.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 35):
Awesome report of BizSeat.

Thank you akhmad. Its always nice to hear positive comments from amazing trip report writers such as yourself.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 35):
Did you ask EC about the e-mail? EC surely owes you an explanation.

I did not bother as I felt it was too minor of an issue to really bring up.

Quoting henkybaby (Reply 36):
Excellent report and wonderful detail.

Thank you, glad you liked it.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: akhmad
Posted 2010-10-30 07:18:51 and read 14064 times.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 37):
Its always nice to hear positive comments from amazing trip report writers such as yourself.

You are welcome. Thanks for your kind words.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: MSS658
Posted 2010-10-31 00:16:13 and read 13653 times.

Interesting report. I surprised that the L'Avion brand has yet to be integrated in the Openskies brand. Looks like the 9W lounge in EWR is very crowded as well.

Topic: RE: The Last Boutique Airline: OpenSkies To Paris
Username: christao17
Posted 2010-10-31 03:46:36 and read 13587 times.

Thanks for the thorough report. I'm amazed at the hit-and-miss inconsistency of their service. It seems that they'll have a hard time keeping customers if they don't standardize their product and service.


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