Eos Airlines, the all-business class class airline that actually approached all-first class service on the New York-London route, shut down abruptly today. Their homepage contains the now all-too-familiar declaration, as seen in the Maxjet and Skybus shutdowns, that future flights are canceled.
The business class wars, so heated just a year ago, are nearing an end. Who knows how long the remaining all-business class carriers — Silverjet and L’Avion — can hold on. The standalone niche all-business class airline just isn’t viable in a recessionary world of $120 oil.
Eos didn’t actually blame oil prices in their last-minute notice that they were shutting down. Instead, they blamed the credit markets.
This announcement is particularly regrettable since we have achieved so much, including having a term sheet in hand for additional financing. Clearly, even in today’s challenging economic and credit environment, investors believe in Eos. Unfortunately, some issues arose that prevented the parties from moving forward.
Nice spin. Maybe the airline’s investors held out hope, but hope is not a plan. And in today’s economic environment, the bankers didn’t see that plan coming together.
Of the three all-biz airlines on the NYC-London route, that now leaves Silverjet. They’re appealing to Eos ticketholders, saying they’ll “honour the price you paid to EOS, subject to seat availability and a minimum price paid” — a minimum of £600 / $1,200 plus taxes one-way or £1,200 / $2,400 plus taxes round trip. I note that they say they’ll honor the PRICE, not the TICKET. I’ve put in a question to Silverjet, to see if this means they’ll be accepting Eos tickets as-is, or if they will require a payment in the amount of the original fare. I’ll update if and when they respond. (Updated: See below.)
British Airways is offering reduced rates to Eos customers for business class fares. No word on how big a discount.
No word yet from Virgin, American, or anyone else on the NYC-London route as to how they’ll approach Eos customers.
If you can’t be rebooked, call your credit card and try to get a refund. With Eos’ pricing being on the higher end, you’ll want that money back.
UPDATE: Silverjet clarifies their policy. “This statement means you will need to purchase new flights from Silverjet and then claim any monies owed from Eos back from them, your credit card company or your travel insurance provider.” In other words, they’ll let you buy a new ticket at the original Eos fare, which, if it was purchased a while back, may be cheaper than a walkup fare today, but they aren’t honoring Eos tickets as-is.
It’s been a tough week, so forgive my absence online. I’m just starting to dig through the e-mails and comments, so if you sent me a message, please bear with me while I catch up. Speaking of catch-up…
Downgraded: Channel 9
For those who have flown United Airlines, you may be familiar with Channel 9, the inflight entertainment feature that lets you hear the conversations between the pilots and air traffic control. There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who get it, and those who don’t. I’m a fan, and I have always appreciated the openness and lifting-of-the-curtain that the channel provides. Of course, I hardly ever fly United any more, so I might as well use the past tense in describing it myself. When things seem amiss (like a powerful jolt of turbulence) it’s nice to hear know what’s going on. My affection for channel 9 is probably balanced out by the naysayers who ask why the hell anyone would want to hear that stuff, or who would rather NOT know how airline pilots actually do their job. The naysayers may have their day, though, as reports are increasing that Channel 9 is turned off more and more. The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney even devoted a weekly column to the subject, and his sources indicate that some pilots are intentionally keeping Channel 9 turned off as a protest against United management. Well that’s just lovely. Take one of the last (positive) things that makes UA unique, and destroy it. Another nail in United’s coffin.
Upgraded: Eos going domestic?
Eos, the swanky all-business class airline, plans to expand beyond its New York JFK to London Stansted route. First there was the addition of Newark flights to London. Then London to Dubai. And now, there’s word that Eos wants to introduce flights to “Western U.S. destinations.” But whereto?
Upgraded: Salt Lake City security
At the Salt Lake City airport, the TSA is running a pilot program and allowing passengers to self-categorize themselves as beginners, intermediates, or experts, as pertains to security. Interestingly, the “beginner” stage includes families and special needs travelers. Different needs, sure, but “beginners”? I like the ski-slope coding scheme (black diamond = expert), but it’ll be interesting to see if passengers actually categorize themselves correctly.
Upgraded, sorta: JetBlue inflight meals
Downgraded: Your peace and quiet
JetBlue will give you a free breakfast laden with Kraft cream cheese, as part of a buzz-building campaign for a reformulated light spread. Some flights even have Kraft representatives in white tuxedos chatting up the flight, pimping the cheese. Classy. The free bagel and cream cheese? Fine. But a sales schtick you can’t escape? Two thumbs way, way down. (Marketplace, via Rick Seaney)
Downgraded: go! Airlines’ pilots’ caffeine rush
Inter-island capitalization-challenged Hawaiian airline go! treated its passengers to a little extra flight mileage on board their Canadair
torture machine regional jet, when both the pilot and the co-pilot apparently fell asleep during a flight from Honolulu to Hilo. I couldn’t imagine falling asleep during such a short flight, even as a passenger. But both pilots falling asleep? Mechanical errors have been ruled out. Those pilots’ seats must be comfy. Or maybe someone slipped them a decaf instead of a triple-shot of regular?
Downgraded: London Heathrow
British Airways economy and premium economy passengers at Heathrow’s terminal 4 were told they could only fly on February 20 if they had no checked baggage. What? Again: Passenger wishing to check bags were prohibited from flying. Why? Because the airport’s luggage handling system had failed. And note that this is the terminal where BA’s long-haul flights tend to begin, so you’re not just hitting the folks who are daytripping on business. Great work, team. (Thanks, Hamish!)
Upgraded: Hotel executives’ waste of shareholder funds
Hotel corporation annual meetings rarely reach the level of sublime self-indulgence, but InterContinental has raised the bar:
[InterContinental Hotels Group] Americas’ President Steve Porter kicked off [IHG's national meeting] with the gusto of a rock star, directing a choir singing Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” A band, including CEO Cosslett on guitar, provided the thunderous chords while drummers drilled the song into the rafters of the Dallas Convention Center.
“Today we are at a crossroads,” Porter said. “Our relevance is at risk.”
Clearly, true. For real relevance, Porter would have conducted the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and London Symphony Orchestra in a complete performance of the Who’s “Tommy,” while discussing the prospects for expansion of the Hotel Indigo brand.
Upgraded: Airport health care
Why visit a doctor — or heck, a supermarket — when you can get your flu shots at the airport? Now injecting at gate C17!
Downgraded: New England fall foliage
One year’s weather or global warming? Either way, fall foliage in the northeast U.S. isn’t looking so great.
Upgraded: Eos adds more all-business flights
Eos Airlines, which currently flies from JFK to London-Stansted is expanding. New routes will include Newark to Stansted in the spring, and JFK to Paris in the fall.
Upgraded: Skybus adds flights from Greensboro
Late last month, I posted about Skybus’ plans to expand to a new hub — or “focus city,” if you must use the proper nomenclature. Signs were pointing toward Greensboro, NC or Portsmouth, NH. Greensboro it is. Up to 11 flights a day coming soon.
Upgraded: A380 cinema verité
Video of the interior of the new Singapore Airbus A380. It’s pure, unadulterated Singapore Airlines and Airbus PR video. But it’s actually often rather unflattering, if you ask me, at least in coach. (Legroom looks good, but those colors are drab!) For those seeking some first class airline porn, voila.
(Thanks to reader Chris!)
Reader Steven writes in:
I know that so called y-up fares can be a good way to sit in first class for cheap, but I can’t find them for flights to Europe or Asia. Can you help?
The reason you can’t find them, Steven, is because there are none by that name. International long-haul discount first (and business) class fares go by different names than their domestic equivalents.
Y-UP fares and their ilk are limited to North American flights, and generally refer to an upgrade from coach to first on two-class planes. See here for background on Y-UP fares, and see FareCompare’s Y-UP search tool to find these fares on routes you travel.
For Europe or Asia, you’re generally going to be looking for Z-fares. But there’s no handy-dandy search tool (yet) for Z-fares like there is for Y-UPs. (Neil and Rick, consider this a challenge!…)
Z-fares crop up from time to time, but aren’t available on every route. Traveling in summer or the December holiday season maximizes your chances of finding such a fare.
For international premium class travel, be sure to also consider the startup airlines like
Maxjet, Silverjet, Eos Airlines, MiMa, and L’Avion (update: L’Avion is now renamed OpenSkies). These offer all-business class flights to London, Milan, or Paris.
- First class for less than coach?
- More tips on finding discounted first class fares (Y-UP, Q-UP, etc.)
- Update/Correction re: discounted first class fares (Y-UP, Q-UP, etc.)
- Y-UP and Q-UP first class fares apparently not enough: Welcome M-UP and B-UP fares
- More trans-Atlantic flights, but lower prices?
Looking to choose the best seats on the plane?
SeatExpert now covers the two all-business class airlines. Seats are color-coded for good, bad, and so-so seating, but annotated comments are yet to come. See here for Eos, and here for Maxjet. (The odd shape of Eos’ seats on the map reflects their use of ottomans and privacy partitions in their seating units.)
Savvy Southwest flyers have been checking in online 24 hours before their flight, to get that boarding pass in group A and assure themselves of early boarding. Many use automated check-in services that guarantee an A pass, since they’re cheap, or even free.
But legitimate “A” holders may be fighting for space with cheaters. Someone posted a method of hacking your boarding pass to change the B or C to an A. It’s astonishingly simple, and it’s frankly an embarrassment to Southwest that their boarding passes are so easily manipulated. (No, you can’t create a boarding pass willy-nilly and fly around the country for free… the barcode still contains the information about you and your itinerary.) A similar trick could be used to change the date and print yourself a boarding pass for security, if you wanted to accompany a friend to the gate. (It won’t let you on a plane.) This latter trick I have no problem with, since you’d just be using the boarding pass to enter security, not cheating your way into better seats.
I wonder how long it will take before the company changes the HTML of the passes to prevent this sort of hack. When 137 people line up with “A” passes, with no one in “B” or “C”? Start the clock. (Via digg, thanks to reader BJ!)
(images: Maxjet, ladygypsy)
Eos Airlines, the all-biz class airline is once again offering a free companion ticket to those who purchase tickets with their American Express card. (They’ve done this before.)
Call (800) 455-8035 or book online. Book by Thursday July 20, 2006 and travel between Monday July 24, 2006 and Saturday September 30, 2006. Make sure the “affinity code” box lists “COMPUS” if boooking from the United States, and “COMPUK” if booking from the United Kingdom.