The words “budget business class” sound like an oxymoron, on the same list with things like “plastic glasses” and “good Adam Sandler movie,” but that’s exactly what La Compagnie is promising on its newest route. The French boutique airline (the carrier’s words, not ours) has announced that it will begin offering Newark to London service on April 24, with introductory business class fares beginning at $1,007. We read the fine print and that thousand-dollar price tag does, in fact, include all of the taxes and fees.
La Compagnie’s selling point is that it’s all business class. Instead of playing Passenger Tetris and trying to arrange 235 passengers into its Boeing 757-200s, their flights have 74 seats that can recline into almost fully flat beds. Their in-flight meals skip the traditional airline delicacies (The Pasta Clump, The Meat Bits) in favor of a menu designed by a Michelin-starred chef and–wait, what’s the catch?
Well, it’s the three-letter destination code on each ticket. La Compagnie will fly from Newark to Luton airport, which might be the Newark of Greater London. (Yelp reviewers were less generous, describing it as “Horrible” and “Pretty, pretty terrible.”) Luton is also a solid hour-plus bus ride from central London.
La Compagnie CEO Frantz Yvelin says that for his airline to succeed where other all-business class carriers have failed, they will have to find ways to keep their costs low (So hello, Luton!). His savings strategy involves using a three-person cabin crew for each flight and headquartering the company in the suburbs of high-priced Paris. “Our internal costs are lower than any legacy carrier,” he said.
La Compagnie will initially fly the Newark to London route four times per week (with plans to add two more flights by mid-June). The tradeoff seems like a no-brainer too: a more pleasant trip across the Atlantic in exchange for a longer ride into central London. It’s hard to argue with those costs for business class, especially for passengers who aren’t loyal to one airline. Or to the Pasta Clump.