Merry Christmas from Maxjet. The discount all-business class airline shut down all its operations today — on Christmas Eve — when it declared bankruptcy earlier in the day.
The airline’s demise was no surprise — see this post — but passengers are now left scrambling to find alternate ways to and from their destinations, with some help.
MAXjet said it was working with rival all-business class Eos Airlines to find alternative routes. Meanwhile, Continental Airlines and Silverjet Aviation Ltd., another all-business class carrier, said they would honor limited numbers of MAXjet tickets.
“Honoring” tickets doesn’t mean they’ll do it entirely for free, but the cost is minimal. Continental’s rules for accepting these Maxjet tickets state:
MAXjet customers will be accepted for travel on a standby basis on Continental flights between Los Angeles/Las Vegas/Newark and London Gatwick from Dec. 24, 2007 through January 6, 2008. Passengers will be charged a $50 per flight segment ticketing fee, plus any applicable taxes and security fees. Continental will waive the current fuel service charge normally required for Newark to London passengers.
Note that they don’t state that they’ll transport you in business class, just that they’ll transport you on a standby basis. Lesson: If you want to fly in business class, and if Eos or Silverjet will take you, take advantage of that (especially if it’s the superior service at Eos). Call them first before you just show up at the airport with your Maxjet scrip.
Also: if you haven’t started your travels yet, you may not be able to simply swap carriers. Getting a refund — if possible — may be the better option. Notify your credit card company and let them know. If you bought through a travel agent, call them ASAP.
Maxjet’s homepage has an apology and some instructions, too.
For those left with this conundrum, my condolences, and best wishes for finding a way home, or wherever Maxjet was going to take you. Feel free to report back with tales of how you got there and back.
This past Friday, all-business class carrier Maxjet suspended trading of its shares on the London-based Alternative Investment Market stock exchange. The reasons for the trading halt started vague (“pending clarification of its financial position”) but got more dire as the day went on (“…the US group struggled to put together a financial rescue package.”)
It’s not easy being Maxjet. As the least-luxurious of the all-business carriers flying between New York and London, it lacks the cachet of an Eos, or even a Silverjet. And Maxflier, their frequent flyer program, stinks. (16 roundtrips necessary in order to get a free trip? C’mon!)
The airline assures its customers and suppliers that it’s still operating as usual, but it’s facing a cash crunch and is trying to line up funds to stay afloat. This doesn’t look good for them.
Maxjet is certainly a pioneer, but they’re facing stiff competition from both upstart airlines and old-school carriers on a well-traveled route. Those competitors are bound to benefit from this uncertainty that now hangs over Maxjet. The biggest thing going for Maxjet has been good value — even if they’re not the top of the line. But with expenses going up, that’s been a tough model to sustain.
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?
For just over a year, the major airlines have been fighting it out with all-business class upstarts like Maxjet, Eos, and L’Avion for trans-Atlantic premium traffic. Most of those seats are going from New York to London. But the Pacific has been conspicuously absent, with the skies still dominated by the big network carriers and their traditional economy/business/first configurations. Now Maxjet wants to fly to China.
Much like their bigger competitors, they filed paperwork with the Department of Transportation in an effort to get one of the very few available slots (see here for some background). Maxjet proposes a route that takes passengers from Los Angeles to Seattle, and then on to Shanghai.
Given that Maxjet is up against every other major US airline for a single flight slot that’s up for grabs, there is no way on earth that the Department of Transportation would give Maxjet the rights to the route. Maxjet’s Boeing 767s can’t carry nearly as many passengers or as much cargo as would be in the “national interest.” But the proposal signals that the company is looking beyond London.
So why hasn’t there been an entrepreneurial company that sells all-business flights to somewhere in Asia? The demand for premium cabins is high on those long trips — and frankly, that’s where you WANT to be in business class. A flight from New York to London isn’t really that long, and most people can manage that in coach. But a long-haul flight from North America to Asia or Australia in coach? Brutal.
I’m no airline economist nor an aerospace engineer, so I don’t have the answer. Perhaps the problem is filling planes that can actually reach Asia from the U.S. without a refueling stop in Alaska. Filling a 747, 777, or A340 with nothing but business class passengers might be tough for a new company, and most smaller planes don’t have the range to make it across the ocean. (Note that Maxjet’s proposed flight leaves from Seattle, not LAX or SFO, which cuts a bit of mileage from the flight.) And some of the Asian carriers (e.g., Singapore and Cathay Pacific in particular) offer a really top-tier business class product, raising the bar for potential competitors.
One alternative might be Oasis Hong Kong Airlines. They aren’t all-business class, but they are selling premium seats at a major discount to their competitors. Oasis promises service from Hong Kong to Oakland, California soon (though their promise of starting service by June went unfulfilled). They are currently flying from Hong Kong to Vancouver and London. A roundtrip business class ticket to fly between Hong Kong and Vancouver runs around US$2800 without any special sales or promotion.
Perhaps China isn’t the right route for Maxjet. But Korea or Japan might make sense. Bring on the trans-Pacific competition.
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?
What happens on Maxjet, stays on Maxjet
All-business class Maxjet now flies from London to Vegas. And this promo photo makes me wish there were a law requiring pilots flying to Vegas to dress like Elvis. Thankyouverymuch.
LAX gets serious about security
LAX isn’t just re-evaluating their security, it’s Israelifying it. Benet Wilson reports that the airport has contracted the Israeli equivalent of the CIA as security consultants. No word if the airport will require El Al-style customer interrogations in order to get on a plane. (Please, no.)
Hotels full of lying, thieving crooks… and that’s the guests
Chris Elliott digs through the raw data in the latest TripAdvisor poll. And whaddaya know, people really do steal towels. 37% of guests under 35 admitted they stole something, while only 15% of the over-50 crowd admitted to it. Note: The numbers only reflect the respondents who admitted it. I’d love to see the numbers of actual items absconded, or the percentage of rooms with missing goods. But who really WANTS that stuff, anyway, five-finger discount or not?
Northwest Airlines mechanics end strike, still don’t work for Northwest
The death of brinksmanship: After 15 long months of striking, Northwest’s mechanics, represented by the AMFA union, called off their pickets. But they’ve long been replaced by scabs. Why call off a strike if their jobs are gone? The airline will give them a severance package now that the strike is over.