Open Skies, the all business class airline, is canceling their Washington to Paris (Orly) route as of October 28, and that means good news for last-minute travelers.
With no minimum purchase, enjoy fares of $750 round trip, including all fees and taxes, for departures from Washington (Dulles) for travel completed before October 28.
This is by far the best business class fare we’ve ever seen for this route, and isn’t being matched – so far as we can tell – for other airlines. We priced out departures and it seems like you could even leave tonight for a whirlwind weekend in the City of Love.
We’re all fed up with just about every aspect of air travel. The seats are cramped, the employees are rude and the TSA is trying to feel us up. We’re told that fares are cheaper than ever, but nobody seems to care about the high rates of unemployment and under-employment that have come to characterize our economy … meaning that these “cheap tickets” have a proportionately higher impact than appearance would dictate.
Meanwhile, the extra fees being tacked on haven’t been a big hit with most consumers, leading to an additional dose of animosity this holiday travel season. Well, one air carrier is fighting back. Dale Moss, CEO of OpenSkies, seems to be pretty fed up with the situation. In response to a report by the Consumer Travel Alliance, he took the time on the OpenSkies blog to remind his customers that his airline doesn’t charge extra fees for anything.
So, what got Moss all charged up? The Consumer Travel Alliance did some digging into the issue of hidden airline fees and found some disturbing (and downright bizarre) data:
1. Turkey equivalents: appalled at how much your Thanksgiving bird cost you this year? Well, Americans will buy the equivalent of 12.6 million of these gobblers when paying the extra fees associated with air travel during the holiday.
2. The big number: in case you aren’t tuned in to turkey economics, that adds up to $167 million in additional fees paid by consumers.
3. The small number: it’s based on the average cost of a 12-pound turkey this year: $13.25.
4. The profundity: the airlines could use this extra cash to buy a 12-pound turkey for every household in California.
5. The affected: according to the Air Transport Association, 24 million Americans will take to the skies during the 12-day Thanksgiving holiday travel season.
“Feathers are flying over hidden airline fees, because Americans are justifiably angry that they can’t see the true costs of air travel, nor compare the price of different flights against one another,” said Charles Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance. “Airlines expect consumers to dig through thousands of words of gobble-gobbledygook to find even the most basic fees. We say stuff that. It’s time to talk turkey and show consumers what their tickets will cost with all the fixings included.”
The United States and the European Union have signed an open skies agreement that makes it easier for airlines to buy one another.
This is the second open skies agreement between the two governments. The first open skies agreement took effect in 2008 and opened up transatlantic routes to all carriers. Previously some routes were limited to specific carriers.
This new agreement will allow foreign owners to have a majority stake in an airline. Until now, European airlines could only own 25% of a US carrier, and US airlines could only own 49.9% of a European airline. The new limits have yet to be set and the move still has to be approved by Congress.
The deal also equalizes rules on emissions, fuel, and noise, and establishes a closer cooperation with the carbon trading scheme. European airlines will also now be able to fly in and out of the U.S. without first landing or taking off in the EU. Expect more services to non-EU destinations by EU airlines in the near future.
OpenSkies, the all-business-class subsidiary of British Airways has always been fighting an uphill battle. At only one year old, the airline has always struggled to earn and maintain a customer base. Now with demand on the wane and airlines cutting back, OpenSkies might soon be on the chopping block.
The model, it seemed, was valid. A smaller plane with all business and first class seats could consume less fuel, sell fewer seats at a slightly higher price and still make a profit. But as Eos, Silverjet and Maxjet all showed, there just might not be enough demand for business class seats to warrant an entire widebody aircraft full of them.
Now, with British Airways launching business-class service between London (LCY) and New York on a tiny A318 aircraft, the niche crowd may move to that product. That leaves very little space for OpenSkies. According to The Guardian, this means that BA may want to sell of or cancel the service.
No official word has come from the BA, naturally, so the airline may survive yet. Having personally flown the service a few times, I hope they make it. But in a market as tight as this, the top of the hill is a long way off.
With demand for airline tickets quickly shrinking, premium carriers like OpenSkies are scrambling to incentive passengers to continue flying Business and First class products overseas.
OpenSkies’ latest promotion is aimed at goosing that first class demographic. Passengers interested in traveling in their “Biz Bed” class (effectively their lie flat, premium product) can now get a free companion ticket when booking seats to Amsterdam or Paris from New York.
Before, it would have cost anywhere from $3,500 to $3,900 for the pleasure of this service. Now, if you bring a friend that price is effectively halved. $1,750 for a round trip first class journey across the Atlantic during the summer is a bargain.
Book you travel between now and May 31st to take advantage of the offer at flyopenskies.com.
Curious about the transatlantic OpenSkies experience? Check out Gadling’s first hand review.