Open Skies: Return trip logistics

Commuting in from the furthest reaches of Paris into Orly only takes an hour or so, but make sure you schedule extra time to go through security twice (once at the gate) and immigration. Nine o’clock in the morning at Orly is a pretty busy time, so expect to wade through some traffic once you get into the terminal. Unfortunately, there isn’t a dedicated security line for first class passengers, so even if you splurged on the nice ticket, you’re going to have to sack up and wait in line like the other plebeians.

Check-in, as expected, was fluid and pleasant, with three idle agents waiting for me when I arrived 1.5 hours early. I had my boarding card within two minutes of showing my passport and had directions upstairs and towards the gate and departure lounge.

Because British Airways doesn’t have much of a presence at ORY, there isn’t a BA lounge in which to crash when you return to the airport, so Open Skies has an agreement with a local lounge to take care of its passengers. If you’re flying in Prem + or Biz (opposed to only Biz on the way out), you can access this lounge just before gate 10 in the departure area, just don’t get distracted by the dance party, like me, and walk past.

Continue onward to The final word


Open Skies: The final word

So why book a ticket on Open Skies? The New York to Paris hop is already stuffed with routes (Air France has six), competition is high and prices should be reasonable across the board.

For me, what sets Open Skies apart from the competition distills down to one ratio: quality vs cost.

For the extra one or two hundred dollars over the competition to fly in Economy, passengers can enjoy a smaller cabin, comfortable seats and superior In Flight Entertainment, food and service. Another investment beyond that gets you the wide, luxurious, deeply reclining seats in Prem +, in seat power and enough space to have a miniature party around your seat. Further investment gets you the supreme luxury of Biz: mouth watering catering, lie flat seats and astonishingly articulate service. Add on top of that the comfort of working with the concierge program, airport lounges and friendly ground staff and you have a winning combination.

Open Skies treads the line of quality vs. cost so close that they make me, a devoted budget traveler, consider paying the extra couple hundred dollars just to fly in their economy. And if they ran a promotion, something like the 2 for 1 sale that they ran earlier this summer, that tips to ratio from reasonable to downright ludicrous. As I calculated in that earlier post, two seats in Prem + this summer were less expensive than a flight in economy on a legacy carrier. It should be no question at that point what airline to take.

I think that once (if) Open Skies joins the Oneworld Alliance, this should prove further reason to fly on them.

Until then, I’ll be watching the fares and operations at Open Skies closely. Three other niche carriers tried the business-class-only formula and went bankrupt within the last six months — can British Airways succeed where they failed? Will they generate enough interest and lock in a loyal passenger base before they hit the red?

If enough people learn about the service, try out the airline and have as good of an experience as I had, I think Open Skies will do well. It’s up to us to take the leap into an unknown carrier, to spend the extra dollar on comfort and to put faith in the new service.

Godspeed, Open Skies.