La Compagnie Boutique Airline | Airlines | Last week I was invited by the brand new La Conpagnie All-Business-Class Boutique Airline, to be among the first travel bloggers to experience and review their services, for their flights connecting non-stop New York (EWR Newark) to/from Paris (CDG Charles de Gaulle). La Compagnie operates with several flights a week on a full 74 Business-Class-Seats configured Boeing 757-200 known for its reliability, comfort, and fuel efficiency. The aircraft was previously operated by Icelandair. At the moment this boutique airline only counts with one aircraft, but they are planning to receive their second one next November, and they are even planning adding other destinations to their service. La Compagnie enters to the competitive market of the NYC to Paris route, with very strong players and some similar concepts like OpenSkies by British Airways. Flights depart from New York at 09.50PM, arriving to Paris at 11.30AM. On the way back, departing Paris at 5.45PM arriving to New York at 08.30PM. The story of La Compagnie officially began in October 2013, when DreamJet, their parent company was founded. Thanks to the association between air transport professionnals and bold entrepreneurs, La Compagnie was born on June the 16th of 2014. Watch the video of the cabin.
As they describe it themselves, “La Compagnie will not be the best business class in the sky between New York and Paris, but will without any doubt, be the best business class travel value – price / quality” offering fare discount ranking from 35% to 50% off from other transatlantic carriers! And I could not agree more with them, and I congratulate them for being able to be honest to themselves and have found their own niche. I am a regular Business Class flyer, and my overall impression was… La Compagnie, is a Business Class Airline, for people that are used to fly Economy of Premium Economy, not for regular Business Class flyers. And I am not only talking about the seat, but about the overall experience, including service, lounges, meals, amenities, entertainment system among others. I think it is great concept and product, and I would risk to call it, the flourishing Low Cost All Business Class Airline market.
74 All-Business-Class seats technical description: Integrated in fixed shells, seats offer passengers ultimate privacy and comfort. Seats recline to a 180-degree angle with a built-in massage feature for added comfort during your journey. Arranged in 2×2 rows, comfortable seats are spaced by a pitch of 62 inches. The seat height is 46 ½ in. with a width of 26 in. Seat configuration has also been designed as a personal work environment. Seats are equipped with a reading lamp, compartments for personal items and electronics, an electrical outlet, a headphone plug, and a pouch for documents. For their customer’s comfort and well-being on board, they provide anti-allergenic pillows, large soft blankets, and a Caudalie travel care kit, all free of charge.
My own experience: The cabin looked impeccable, both times we boarded. Seats are indeed very comfortable, and I truly liked the color scheme and materials chosen. The pitch of 62 inches is just enough for a good rest, and If you choose the exit rows, you will get almost double. As for privacy, well I partially disagree, the shells do not offer much privacy. If you are traveling on the window side, in the middle of the night, if you need to stand up or go to the bathroom, it is a whole process, not to mention you will have to wake up the person next to you. I liked that almost all seats have three windows, that is a plus for me. The electric controls for the seats where not working properly, and in more than one occasion I had to call the flight attendant to help me figure out what was happening. The seats do recline 180 degrees indeed, but be clear that in an angle of 75 degrees. Therefore it cannot be called nor consider a flat bed.
But let me breakdown the rest of my experience, from the moment of booking till my return. If I omit to cover anything, please feel free to contact me directly for more information. Booking and Check IN: Was relatively easy and smooth, despite that being the airline still fairly new, they still have so re-scheduling happening and we had to move our dates a bit to match some of their dates modifications. Online check in was easy, 24 hours prior departure. Once at Newark Airport the check in took place at Terminal B and was very fast. Same in Paris at Charles de Gaulle Airport at Terminal 1 Hall 2.
Lounges: With your La Compagnie boarding pass, you have access to the lounges at each airport, but I am afraid I must say the lounge experience was rather mediocre and disappointing, specially in Paris Charles de Gaulle. In both cases, the fact that the lounges are located pre Security Screening, does not allow much time to unwind and relax. At Newark International Airport they use the Art & Lounge premises. The space is comfortable and clean. Food, drinks and service were not up to the standards of an All Business Class airline. As for the lounge in Paris, the one used at Charles de Gaulle is the ICARE Lounge. The minute we walked into, we decided to leave. It looked too overcrowded, dirty and the atmosphere was very dense and unbreathable. We had a better experience at the Gate. This is one of the points I would strongly recommend upgrading.
On-Board Entertainment System: A personal Samsung Galaxy Pro tablet at your disposal. The tablet can be removed from their port, and used for leisure, reading, or to monitor the flight in real time (which BTW never worked, searching for a network connection). For passengers who have brought their own entertainment on board, there is a USB port on each tablet. Now the selection of movies, TV Shows and music is very poor. Specially when you fly, like I did, for just 5 days, where on both ways you had the same exact program. There were approximately 10 movies in total, with no new releases and only one episode of the TV series. Another point needing upgrading. The headsets were very comfortable and blocking external sounds. Although they promote WiFi connectivity., I was not able to connect at any time.
Catering: To me this was one of the weakest links of the entire flight experience. I was rather excited to try their cuisine by chef Christophe Lingerie. The service from New York to Paris was very disappointing, both dinner and particularly breakfast. On our return from Paris to New York, the quality, quantity and service improved. I was also very surprised by the time it took them to perform the entire service and the way they were doing it. Very limited selection of wines. The tea selection was Lipton tea, which heading to or coming from France, you would expect to find other brands. When you board the plane, you will find a bottle of water in your seat, but there is no welcome drink whatsoever, so no champagne, nor orange juice or else. Since we boarded, till the time meals and drinks service began, a full hour and a half or more went by.
On-Board Amenity Kit and Bathrooms: The amenity kit by Caudalie Paris, teaming with La Compagnie to offer passengers personalized care products. A moisturizing day cream for the face and a specific cream for the eyes and lips will be included in your welcome kit on board. I would suggest including a toothbrush and toothpaste to the kit. Bathrooms on the aircraft are regular size and configuration. Being an All-Business-Class flight I would have expected to see some products in the bathrooms and perhaps some flowers….
Crew and Ground Agents: All committed to La Compagnie’s success, and you feel that way. Everyone is happy to help you, even at the most extreme situations. Their pilots, all under a French employment contract, have been carefully selected and trained according to the highest aeronautical standards.
Their flight attendants, the true ambassadors of La Compagnie and its values, will be in charge of passengers’ comfort and safety on board flights.
Cancellations and Contingency Plans : If there was one big concern for me flying La Compagnie, was, the fact that they only own and operate one aircraft, on tight schedules. So my question was from the beginning…. What would happen if the plane has a technical problem, and is not able to fly ? What do you do with your passengers, being an independent airline.What’s the contingency plan? Well my main concern became a reality, I guess when you think so much about something, you end up manifesting it. Our flight back from Paris to New York was cancelled. Our first reaction was…. HOW DO WE GET BACK, and the second… do they have flights tomorrow ? First of all, despite the inconveniences of a cancellation, I must say and congratulate La Compagnie, because they managed the situation with care and full support. Some passengers were rebooked on fellow airlines, protecting them on Business Class or Premium Economy. In our case, we decided to stay for an extra night. They took care of our hotel, booking us at the hotel of our choice within the allowed budget by them, which was the Shangri-La Hotel in Trocadero, Paris. They even asked us to keep or taxi receipts to be refunded. Now I must say that I was rather disappointed that during this event, no official employees from La Compagnie was at the airport to assist us. There was only an Agent (who was not direct employee of La Compagnie) giving instruction and providing passengers with a phone number to contact their reservations department in Paris. Following day, during the regular scheduled flight Check IN, I counted over 5 direct representatives of the airline at the airport and onboard the aircraft, and I questioned myself… where were they the day before ? But again we were very well taken care. But if you are a business traveler, this should be something you need to have in mind. And if you are a leisure traveler as well. Read more on their Contingency Plan Policy.
A few more things to have in mind, when planning your next trip to/from New York from/to Paris. Price: La Compagnie is for those who want more freedom in Business Class at a lower fare. They have now an amazing promotion for 02 Round Trip Business Class Tickets starting at USD 2014. Unbeatable right. Frequent Flyer Program: I haven’t found any information regarding their current association to any frequent flyer program or consortia. Pet Friendly: For the time being, animals are not permitted on board with the exception of guide dogs. La Compagnie accommodates service dogs in its cabin. Please note that due to their cabin configuration in case you travel with a service dog, you will not be able to benefit from the full recline of your lie-flat seat. Pre arrangements for the carriage of the animal need to be made at least 48 hours prior to your departure.
So this was my real and honest experience flying on-board La Conpagnie All-Business-Class Boutique Airline. I want to extend my gratitude and big THANK YOU, to everyone at La Compagnie, who went above and beyond to make us comfortable and take excellent care of us. I guess nowadays this is, in the end, what all comes down to, right…? SERVICE. In one way or the other, they were there to take responsibility, follow through and take care of us. Overall I had a very pleasant flight on both ways. despite some service and experience issues, which can easily be adjusted, addressed and upgraded, to provide even a better flights to their clients. La Compagnie may not be the best business class in the sky between New York and Paris, but will without any doubt, be the best business class travel value – price / quality” offering fare discount ranking from 35% to 50% off from other transatlantic carriers! And that is all you need to keep in mind. I wish them a continuing success and look forward flying them back again soon, to follow up on this report, after my experience flying La Compagnie. Carlos Melia Luxury Travel Curator – www.carlosmelia.com
(*) To book your own travel experience, do not hesitate to contact me either by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone # 917.754.5515. Also check our scheduled Small Travel Groups at Coups de Coeur. I am an experienced Travel Agent with over 25 years of experience, member of LGTNetwork, First in Service Travel, TZELL Travel Network. www.carlosmelia.com