logo elysair LAvion to rebrand as OpenSkies, but with own cabin identityL’Avion, the French all-premium class airline that was bought by British Airways last year, is being merged into BA’s existing premium class sub-airline, OpenSkies. But while the L’Avion name is disappearing, there won’t be a single airline just yet.

Here’s part of the e-mail that went out last week:

In light of recent international developments, and following our acquisition by the prestigious British Airways, beginning April 4th, L’AVION will fully merge with and formally change its name to OpenSkies.

The premium service you received on board L’AVION is not only being preserved, but further enhanced, all while maintaining very attractive prices. OpenSkies will be a unique, all business class airline featuring 2 cabins of service. You will recognize the normal L’AVION Business Class, which will be called “Biz Seat”, as well as enjoy an entirely new product, “Biz Bed” featuring a 180° fully reclining flat bed available at prices that are still unbeatable! You can combine the rates for the two classes, too. This way, you could, for example, book an outgoing flight in “Biz Seat” and a return flight in “Biz Bed”.

You will also benefit from the “British Airways Executive Club” customer-loyalty frequent flyer program, allowing you to accumulate BA Miles that can be converted to complimentary flights or upgrades.

What’s odd here is the branding of the cabins. OpenSkies has already been operating a two-cabin aircraft (down from three cabins, when they ditched economy), which this will align. But OpenSkies labels their cradle seats “Prem+,” while the L’Avion planes will use the “biz” title, implying business class.

From various reports from the field, L’Avion’s product has been widely described as a better premium economy product. Which is fine. And which would align with OpenSkies’ terminology. So the fact that they’re becoming OpenSkies, while at the same time still calling themselves “biz,” is odd.

(There is no sign that OpenSkies is (yet) adopting the “biz” nomenclature, so somehow, the merged airline will still maintain two distinct cabin identities.)

This is what L’Avion’s seats – the “Biz Seats” – look like now:
lavion seats LAvion to rebrand as OpenSkies, but with own cabin identity

In any case, for aficionados of the discounted premium class travel, it seems that BA is sticking with their OpenSkies sub-brand, and that L’Avion really is the sole survivor of the all-premium independent airlines (though admittedly it’s not independent anymore…).

Related:
- Booking flights on L’Avion just got less risky
- Inside L’Avion, part un: a good seat but a shortage of fluids and information
- Inside L’Avion, part deux: the airline that is betwixt and between
 LAvion to rebrand as OpenSkies, but with own cabin identity


A couple weeks ago, Rick Seaney wrote about bargain rates for holiday travel to Europe in business class. Slower seasonal demand for business class seats, plus the financial crisis and recession, have left a number of seats open, especially between business centers in the US and Europe.

Many of those seats are still available. Economy class fares are creeping up for those folks who waited until the last minute to book their tickets, but business class (and premium economy) are still comparatively low.

If you’re doing a search for fares, run a separate search for business class fares. The economy search that is the default on most booking sites won’t necessarily capture business or first class fares, even if they’re lower than coach.

The best deal I’ve seen for last-minute 2008 holiday travel has to be on L’Avion, the all-business class carrier flying between Newark and Paris. $1479 plus taxes ($1,581.79 all-in) pays for the round-trip. The coach fare on Air France is $1623 for the same holiday dates. L’Avion isn’t the top-of-the-line business class seat — it’s a cradle, not a flat bed — but it’s $50 less than the cramped coach seat. No contest. (Plus, you can earn miles in British Airways’ Executive Club, as of December 2, 2008.)

Some of those flights may be operated by OpenSkies, the British Airways subsidiary that sells premium-economy (cradle) and business class (flat-bed) seats. A L’Avion seat in business is considered equivalent to an Open Skies Prem+. Check both sites, but I found the fares lower on the L’Avion side — even for the OpenSkies operated flights.

Related:
- Booking flights on L’Avion just got less risky
- Inside L’Avion, part un: a good seat but a shortage of fluids and information
- Inside L’Avion, part deux: the airline that is betwixt and between
- L’Avion (aff) Bargain last minute business class fares for the holidays
 Bargain last minute business class fares for the holidays


man with the golden gun Upgrades and Downgrades    Air marshals, LAvion gets a lounge, Thanksgiving math, and a TP emergencyDowngraded: Air Marshals
In a series of sting operations, several air marshals who were supposed to be protecting passengers inflight were using their free pass in American airports to smuggle cocaine, drug money, and child pornography. Lovely. My favorite part of this story: One marshal called himself “the Man with the Golden Badge.” Racy! Paging Roger Moore to take this guy out! Heck, paging Hervé Villechaize!

Upgraded: L’Avion lounge
When Tyler Colman reviewed the all-business class airline L’Avion for us last year, he commented on their lack of a real lounge at Newark Liberty Airport. That deficiency has been addressed, with the opening of a real lounge in Terminal B, shared by L’Avion and Jet Airways of India. Upgrades and Downgrades    Air marshals, LAvion gets a lounge, Thanksgiving math, and a TP emergency

Upgraded: Thanksgiving Status Quo
Downgraded: Math

Just like last year, 39% of Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving, according to a recent poll. But the conclusion that travel will “mirror” last year as a result of comparable traveler numbers? That smells of bad math. Airline capacity is down from a year ago, with fewer planes in the air. Yet the same number of travelers? Look out. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, consider revisiting these holiday travel tips and these five ways to get an edge on fellow travelers.

Downgraded: Toilet paper supplies on Qantas
Here’s a horror story: Trapped on a plane for 24 hours, passengers on board a Qantas flight (from Singapore, diverted to Canberra) had their toilet paper rationed. Four squares per person. Not a square to spare. It’s a tale of absurdity: People on the ground, but unable to deplane, at government orders. But couldn’t they restock the plane’s supplies while on the ground? Bonus points to The Age for their punny headline, “Loo paper rationed on bummer of a diversion.” (rimshot) (Thanks, Rob!)

Upgraded: Concierges on television
“A concierge is the Winnipeg equivalent of a geisha.” So says Michael Scott on last week’s episode of The Office, whose plot centered on business travel. See the full episode here, where it’s available for online viewing until January 15, 2009.

02
Jul
2008

lavion Booking flights on L’Avion just got less risky

British Airways is buying the last surviving standalone all-business class airline to cross the Atlantic. L’Avion, which flies from Newark to Paris-Orly, is being bought by BA and incorporated into their OpenSkies subisidiary.

The move comes as a bit of a surprise to me, since L’Avion and OpenSkies just started codesharing a few weeks ago. I would have expected that relationship to progress for at least few quarters before moving to full-on merger. But here we are.

The deal comes with a £54M pricetag, but about half of that covers the cash L’Avion has on hand.

British Airways plans to merge L’Avion into its new OpenSkies subsidiary, but that can only be a good thing, if recent reviews hold up.

But most importantly, the fact that L’Avion now has a major backer (with a meaningful frequent flyer program connected to a major alliance, I might add), it takes an element of risk off the table for those afraid to take the plunge with a standalone carrier. Especially after the spectacular failures of Maxjet, Eos, and Silverjet, it’s good to know that L’Avion tickets are highly likely to be backed by alternative itineraries, should a flight be cancelled or a route eliminated.

And, as we’ve seen, L’Avion’s service is a decent product in its own right. Flights in business class for $1499? Book away.

Related:
- Survival strategies of the all-business class airlines
- Inside L’Avion, part un: a good seat but a shortage of fluids and information
- Inside L’Avion, part deux: the airline that is betwixt and between
- L’Avion customer service: Meet your pilot and purser!

 Booking flights on L’Avion just got less risky Booking flights on L’Avion just got less risky



 Booking flights on L’Avion just got less risky


12
May
2008

lavion Survival strategies of the all business airlines

Eos and Maxjet have kicked the proverbial bucket, but the all-business carrier concept isn’t quite dead yet. Silverjet found new life by getting a cash infusion, a promise of more cash, and possibly even a bidding war/buyout offer. Huzzah for them!

But the other remaining trans-Atlantic airline, L’Avion, has figured that it can survive by partnering with others. And it’s linking up with another new airline — the British Airlines subsidiary OpenSkies, which launches flights from Paris (Orly) to New York (JFK) on June 19.

L’Avion will codeshare the OpenSkies flight, but not the other way around, at least for now. L’Avion flies all-business class from Newark to Paris, while OpenSkies flies a plane with business, premium economy, and economy from JFK to Paris. L’Avion’s seats are all forward-facing cradle seats (not lie-flat) while OpenSkies has alternating front-and-rear facing 180-degree lie flat business seats.

For L’Avion’s survival, getting a codeshare with a British Airways subsidiary seems like a smart move. I’m still not sure how they can afford to sell tickets for under $1500 round trip in business class and survive long-term, but the new codeshare may have thrown them a lifeline for the short term.

 Survival strategies of the all business airlines


hole in ozone layer Short hops    September 14, 2007    Ozone, first and business class sales, and more dangerous shirts

Next thing to worry about in flight: Ozone
Like “sick building syndrome,” you can now start worrying about the plane’s air. But not because of the germs. It’s the ozone. Not holes in the ozone layer, either, but ozone levels in the cabin. Most interestingly, narrow-body flights are more prone than wide-body planes to higher ozone levels. Yet another reason to love the jumbos.

Korean Air shows off its Airbus A380 interiors
Singapore Airlines may be the first airline to fly the A380 mega-uber-hyper-super-jumbo-jet (and tickets are finally on sale for Sydney-Singapore flights, which start October 25, by the way), but you can get a photo tour of Korean Air’s A380. Lavender??! Who’s their interior designer? Yuck! (Thanks, Jeff!)

First class fare sale… if you’re traveling tomorrow
I know that airlines like to put out the e-fares and net-savers for weekend travel, but this offer from United struck me as odd. First class fares are on sale for travel on Saturday, September 15 only. Fly there in first, fly back in coach, savor the difference? Fares are less than regular paid first, but the bulk of fares are for really short flights where paying cash money for first class is bonkers.

Business class fare sales to Europe
All-business class L’Avion is flying Newark to Paris for $1398 roundtrip, pre-tax. Maxjet is doing London to New York or DC for $998, also roundtrip, also pre-tax. Both are through the end of 2007, but not every date may be available. (Thanks, Michelle!)

More dangerous shirts
I don’t know what to make of this. “Your liver is evil. It must be punished.” Har har har. But Continental Airlines wasn’t laughing when they kept Edna and Frank Taylor from getting onboard, because of that shirt. What’s with this “What Not to Wear” airline trend?

(image) Short hops    September 14, 2007    Ozone, first and business class sales, and more dangerous shirts