Eos report card

I promised some curious folks a report card on my trip on Eos, the new, all-first-class airline that flies between New York and London at much less than British Air or Virgin Upper Class. At $2950 for the lowest roundtrip (30-day advance, Saturday stay), it’s not a bargain, but it looks like one next to the $13,000 it costs to fly first class on BA. I was lucky enough to go over on an expense account and given that same privilege, I’d take Eos again in a flash.

Here’s the best analysis: My biggest — my only real — complaint on the way over was the pillow. It was some Nazipedic nightmare — you vill sleep zhis vay — and I felt quite churlish whining about it, but I did say in the comment card that I wanted a softer pillow. On the flight back, I gave the pillow a squeeze and it was like a cloud. The stewardess heard my reaction and said that oh, yes, they’d listened to customers’ suggestions and were replacing the pillows. Now that’s the ticket.

The most important thing about the airline is its seat, which reclines to a fully flat bed with plenty of room to stretch out, work, eat, talk. Just as important, it comes with a 120-volt laptop plug. Heaven. They give you a wireless entertainment unit that shows movies and TV shows. It could have a better screen and better choices but, again, I don’t want to be churlish. On the way over, I slept anyway. And on the way back, I watched Sleeper Cell on my Mac, via iTunes. Having been lucky enough to take the sleeper seats on BA’s and Lufthansa’s first classes over the years, I’d say that Eos’ is every bit as good.

Flying out of JFK (an inconvenience for a Jersey guy), you go to the Emirates first-class lounge and my advice is that you eat dinner there. The food is good and interesting and this way, you can sleep on board as soon as you take off at 7p (otherwise, you’ll be dining at 9). I got a good five or six hours of sleep on the way over and woke up civilized. The plane comes into Stansted and it was easy to get into London on an express train.

On the way back, the Stansted lounge is a bit more spartan, but still pleasant, and all you need is peanuts and booze, for there are big meals on the plane. I was on the flight with some colleagues and we happened to end up talking with the company’s marketing veep. I begged him for wifi, but he said it takes millions to refit a plane for that. Damn. We asked who their target customer is and he said it’s investment bankers but that they are getting celebs, too, including a famous basketball player who, indeed, could lay out and sleep.

We left Stansted at 6p, landed 34 minutes early at JFK at 8:40p and I was home at 10:30. Today, I feel normal. And the schedule meant that I got two full days working in London on either end of the trip. It’s good business.

A friend who took the airline said more than once that it’s better than taking a corporate jet. I agree, for the few times I ever took corporate jets I had to work the whole time and be nice to bosses. Here, you’re the boss.

And, no, I have nothing to disclose; I paid the regular fare.

  • “I begged him for wifi, but he said it takes millions to refit a plane for that.” Not really accurate on his part, but he might just be trying to dissaude a line of reasoning. A 757 can have Connexion by Boeing added today for $500,000 to $1,000,000. The actual number isn’t really published. It can be accomplished across a regular 7-day maintenance window. But it adds a few hundred pounds of gear. And, with 48 passsengers already paying over $3,000 each way for travel, extracting enough cash and volume without eating the expense is pretty huge. Connexion charges about $25 for a 6-hour-plus flight on planes that seat 200 to 300 people, getting sometimes 40 or 50 people paying per flight at this point.

    OnAir will bring satellite-based Internet service in 2007 to a number of aircraft, and their solution is light-weight and cheaper for craft that already use the Inmarsat avionics equipment, which it’s possible that Eos’s leased planes do. These communications’ packages are typical on over-water planes and are already installed in thousands of aircraft worldwide. Their cost for adding Wi-Fi could be as low as $100,000 for a plane with Inmarsat satellite equipment already on board.

    The interesting thing is that there will be domestic US (air-to-ground) Internet access by late 2007 to early 2008 based on an auction of spectrum that will happen in May. UK plans, I don’t know about at the moment. The air-to-ground equipment is much lighter and simpler. It’s possible that Eos and similar airlines could equipmet planes with US/UK equipment to offer a few hours of service on either end of a flight, but that might not be enough to be useful.

  • “I was lucky enough to go over on an expense account”…”I have nothing to disclose; I paid the regular fare.”

    So did you pay or was your ticket paid for you?

  • Gregg

    “I was lucky enough to go over on an expense account and given that same privilege, I’d take Eos again in a flash.”

    Easy spending other people’s money, eh? Rough life….

  • Gregg

    “And on the way back, I watched Sleeper Cell on my Mac, via iTunes.”

    This sounds like product placement. :)

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  • Andrew: Not paid by Eos, I’m trying to say. I acknowledge the expense account at the start. I went to London to work.
    Gregg: I paid the $1.99 for Sleeper Cell (and liked it and might buy the next few, btw).
    I suspect Posturpedic will pay me to stop complaining about their torture pillow, though. God, I hated that thing.
    Glenn: Thanks, I hope Eos reads your comment!

  • Gregg

    Just teasin’…

  • So was I…

  • Can’t be too careful these days!….

  • I appreciate the report on Eos, although I doubt I’ll be taking first or business class once I get to go to the UK or anywhere else in Europe.

    Maybe something will happen and I’ll have a trip comped.

  • kurotenshi

    I guess the morbidly obese are out of luck on this one, especially with the sidepanels on the chair. I like where this is heading….no more fighting over the armrest, and with the offset seating placement, no more getting up for others to get to the aisle…

  • Ethan

    Jeff, did you keep downloading and watching “Sleeper Cell”? If so you can now pick up the entire series on DVD, complete with deleted and unedited scenes, documentaries and audio commentary. And a second season is on the way. I’m one of the two creators — so I’m glad you liked what you saw and I thank you for mentioning the show.

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