Looking at the economy configuration, you don’t immediately see many differences between the Open Skies product and any other transoceanic carrier.
But a closer look at the product reveals the perks. Seats are new, all-leather and surprisingly comfortable. With only about thirty seats in the cabin, there is a quieter, personal feel in the area, which means that if the baby three rows ahead of you starts crying it’s not going to reverberate as dramatically. The back of the plane, rows 18 – 14 make up the economy section with a hard bulkhead at the front, so if you’re concerned about legroom don’t sit in row 14.
Like other transoceanic carriers, both recline and legroom are limited in this section as well (I poked my head around the seat and decided not to recline into the dinner of the woman behind me), but such is the nature of coach.
Once airborne, an Archos 705 portable media player (many with the clear plastic still on the screen) chocked with 20 new releases and 42 TV shows including Ugly Betty, Family Guy and 30 Rock is dropped off. In addition, 66 musical artists with 777 titles are loaded as well as 10 simple interactive games. This In Flight Entertainment (IFE) is standard throughout the aircraft, although the headphones passed out in Economy and Prem + are a little flimsier than those given out in Biz.
Navigating the system is as simple as choosing French or English at startup and tapping what ever menu option you want on the screen. The entire system is refreshingly responsive, unlike many of the IFE that I have tested, which I partially believe is because the systems run independent from the aircraft. So when there’s a glitch in the server or row 10 isn’t working, the flight attendant doesn’t have to reboot the entire system. The bad part about this is that you don’t get integrated into the aircraft computer, so you don’t get GPS or network data, but the pros seem to outweigh these points.
In coach, these system strap to the back of the seat in front of you (or the bulkhead), while Prem + and Biz seats have dedicated arms and slots for the systems.
Meal service still has the same “chicken, pasta or fish” options with similar portions to other carriers. In spite of the portions, all meals are served on ceramic dishes with real flatware, so even if you aren’t eating better food you feel better about eating it. Food service is standard between Economy and Prem + as well, so you won’t be paying extra for that if you opt for second class tickets.
Continue onward to In flight: Prem + or skip ahead to