On the plus side, there are only 74 seats on the plane and they’re all business class. And the fares start at $1600 one way which is reasonably affordable. But they also go up to $4400+ which isn’t nearly as cheap and the product is mediocre at best. Welcome to La Compagnie, the latest company to try an all-premium cabin trans-Atlantic service.
The company announced itself in February as DreamJet, publicizing the background of its founders and their history in running commercial airlines. They went quiet for a while after that but came back this week with the announcement of their operating brand, service spec’s and other details. Among them the service between Newark and Paris-CDG will fly 4-5x weekly on a 757-200. And the plane will have 74 “lie-flat” seats (they put it in quotes in the release, not me). That’s really an angle-flat seat, not fully flat, and there will not be in-seat IFE. Passengers will receive a tablet instead. The aircraft will also be fitted with WiFi which will be free to use.
On board service will be provided by three flight attendants who will be outfitted in “stylish signature uniforms” according to the press release. That’s more than the regulatory minimums for a plane with only 74 passengers but the 24:1 ratio of passengers to cabin crew will be the lowest of any premium product offered. The airline’s founder Franz Yvelin says he wants to offer “personalized service … at respectable fares.” The fares are not particularly amazing (for round-trip travel they are matching OpenSkies and just a smidgen lower than the flat beds with higher FA ratio from Delta & United Airlines) and it is unclear how personalized the service can be at that staffing level. But I’m having trouble imagining that the meal service east-bound will be all that quick, for example. Perhaps it will be time for breakfast just as dinner wraps up. At least you wouldn’t need to worry about sleeping comfort on the angled seat in that case, right?
Oh, and they cannot actually sell seats yet because they’re not officially licensed in the USA. Oops. They do expect to get that approval by the end of the month and to begin operations two weeks later in mid-July. They also expect to add a second plane to the fleet in December. It is not clear whether they will use that for an additional frequency on the NYC-Paris route or another destination.
Disruptive is good. It can change the market and drive improvements for passengers. But to do that the disruptor has to actually drive improvements. In this case it is very much a “me, too” product offering which is only barely competitive with both the product and pricing already in the market. And it isn’t like the NYC-Paris market is particularly underserved in terms of capacity.
I’m hoping to get more details about the seats and in-flight internet service just in case that changes the analysis, but at this point La Compagnie is not a carrier I’d bet long-term on.
UPDATE: The 1776 euro for 2 tickets promo is confirmed by their press materials; valid for purchases prior to 15 August for travel prior to 5 September. Also, while lounge access is provided to everyone initially the discounted tickets will have that benefit removed when the promo period ends. So your $1600 premium ticket will come with a surcharge for the lounge. The press kit also mentions one of the passenger amenities as “Passenger Manifest to connect with other guests.” I don’t know the details about that but it sounds sketchy to me.
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