OpenSkies, the British Airways-owned airline flying all-premium class flights to Paris Orly, announced that it will add economy class seating (again) to its 757s.
When the airline launched service about 4 years ago, they flew in a 3-class configuration, with a few sad rows of economy in the back of the plane. They then removed those seats and flew only with what they called Biz Bed (flat bed seating for about $3500 round trip) and Biz Seat (somewhere in between Premium Economy and Business Class, for about $2000, though often much less).
They expanded service to include not only Newark, but also Washington DC. That service ended last fall (with a bang, as they were giving away seats at $750 round trip), and they now only serve Newark.
British Airways, which I thought everyone assumed would shut OpenSkies down at some point, said it was re-investing in the airline, and as part of that, on June 19th they’ll add 66 coach seats to the aircraft, leaving 20 seats in the Biz Bed cabin and 28 in the cabin-formerly-known-as-biz-seat which is now called Prem Plus. Whew.
OpenSkies has learned what many others before it have learned: flying all-premium class service to Europe is difficult to do profitably. MAXjet couldn’t do it with all premium-economy-style seating; Silverjet couldn’t do it with all business class; Eos couldn’t do it with all first class. I remember that at Eos people were batting around the idea of adding MAXjet style seating in the back to lure in more leisure travelers when times were slow, but that didn’t happen. Finding the right mix of classes, while flying limited frequencies point-to-point is extremely challenging.
Few thought OpenSkies would survive long-term, so I’m not going to predict anything now. I think people tend to forget about it, but during the extremely expensive summer months, it’s often a great option for Paris flights.
And you can redeem British Airways Avios points for flights on OpenSkies — 75,000 points gets you a Biz Seat roundtrip between Newark and Paris, which is a pretty good deal (except for the $500 or so in fuel surcharges, which is not so good a deal).