And then there were none.
I’ve probably spent too much time writing about the ups and downs of the now-defunct Eos Airlines, which I consider to be the best airline to ever operate – at least in my flying lifetime (Refer to my detailed Eos Review, my one year update, and my notes on their demise). But the ultra-luxurious all-business-class airline with only 48 seats was certainly worthy of writing about.
Eos was the grandest of the all-business airlines that tried their best to make it on their own, until high operating costs, mostly driven by the soaring price of fuel, forced the planes grounded. First went MaxJet. Then, Eos closed up shop, leaving me stranded in London while holding one of their return tickets. Silverjet was nice enough to honor my flight home at a discounted rate, but soon experienced their own demise weeks later.
Left all on its own was L’Avion, the final of the independent all-business-class airlines. Their Newark-to-Paris 757 service operates a couple of times a day and, for the most part, the reviews have been positive (I have never flown them myself). I am sure that they could see the writing on the wall, however, and, regardless of what they actually sold it for, it was probably a good move to accept British Airway’s bid to acquire them just a few weeks ago.
After I flew Silverjet home from London following Eos’ bankruptcy, I was all set to write a detailed review of the airline, but they went under before I could get back to my keyboard. All I can say is that, as a passenger, you could tell that things were looking pretty bad in its final days. My flight back from Luton was mostly empty, appeared understaffed and the food was just poor. I have actually had better quality food in economy class on other international airlines.
The dessert that came with my dinner was Jello. I kid you not. Jello. ‘Nuf said. (Just in case Bill Cosby is reading this, I have absolutely nothing against Jello – in fact, I love it. However, for a $2300 one-way ticket, I would have expected something a bit more, um, substantial.)
Just for those of you with morbid curiosity, however, I figure that I will post a couple of pics for the archives.
The seats were of ugly, brown “bucket” variety, which are similar to those offered in Qantas’ Business Class (They call it the Qantas Skybed). They do recline flat to 180 degrees, but force you to lie on a slight angle, which I always find uncomfortable. To be fair, this is just fine for the short 7-hour-ish hop from London, but could be a real strain on the back if you were enduring a 20-something hour flight from New York to Sydney!
The seat did have an annoying, protruding built-in “shelf”. I really found this thing to be in the way and it couldn’t be moved or adjusted in any way:
It did have all of the pretty controls you would expect, however:
For entertainment, you were given a personal video player, similar to what Eos offered. If I recall, the selection was quite poor, however. Eos and Virgin offered much higher-quality programming.
To be fair, comparing Silverjet to Eos isn’t, well, fair. They are of two completely separate classes. And, although I would fly Silverjet over coach any day, their service was not up to par with most other airlines’ international business class services. Their best feature was, by far, their private air terminal at Luton, which allowed you to bypass the main terminal and the long security lines (although, you then had to take a bus to the awaiting plane on the tarmac, which was a bit annoying, particularly in the rain).
My late, ex-business partner, Lewis Kurfist, used to be an executive for Gulf & Western (then owners of Paramont Pictures) and he used to tell me about his experiences on the ultra-luxurious MGM Grand Airlines, which operated between New York City and Los Angeles back in 1987 (at that time, a $1000 one way ticket would get you on a 727 outfitted with only 33 seats). It didn’t survive and, perhaps, in the case of these modern airlines, we should have learned something from history. After seeing the MGM Grand commercials on TV as a youngin’, I had always dreamed of a time when flying was luxious, civilized and a bit glamourous. These airlines did their best to come close and I was lucky enough to experience them. Unfortunately, at least for now, it’s back flying with the big boys…