The demise of concorde has set off a competition among both established and fledgling airlines attempting to provide travelers to London with an experience as pleasing as the one associated with the supersonic aircraft. Stalwarts such as British Airways have polished their upper-class offerings, but a new carrier, Eos Airlines, a New York company that began operating last October, presents another option for transatlantic fliers seeking a first-class experience.
Eos gutted and refurbished the three Boeing 757 aircraft that it currently operates between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and suburban London’s Stansted Airport. These planes that once packed in 220 passengers now carry a maximum of 48. Flying with Eos—sans the supersonic speed—is less akin to taking a Concorde flight than it is to crossing the Atlantic in a corporate jet, at round-trip rates that range from $2,950 to $6,500, depending on how far in advance you purchase a ticket.
Boarding bears no resemblance to the cattle calls associated with most airlines. Check-in time at JFK is a convenient 45 minutes prior to departure, and after you receive your ticket, a staff member guides you to the security checkpoint. From there, another staffer escorts you to the lounge that Eos passengers share with Emirates airline’s first-class passengers.
Once aboard the plane, each passenger has 21 square feet of space surrounded by a privacy shell and equipped with various entertainment devices. The seats recline into fully flat 78-inch-long beds, and the rows of two seats on either side of the plane are staggered, providing the window passengers with unimpeded access to the aisle. You can order a meal at any time during the flight, and entrées range from fillet of beef with truffled potato puree to penne primavera.
Service can best be judged on a staff’s ability to cope with the unexpected, and on a recent round-trip to London, Eos performed admirably in such circumstances on both sides of the Atlantic. Before the flight departed for London, Eos recovered a passenger’s luggage that a domestic carrier had lost en route to JFK (and had promised to send to London within 72 hours). A week later, Eos’ JFK general manager, Harel Magaritz, peered through the windows of the airline’s Stansted lounge into a fog that was thick enough to divert all air traffic to Heathrow. “Not to worry,” said Magaritz. “We have a standby.” While many other travelers endured a four-hour drive to the far side of London that morning, the other Eos passengers flew out of Stansted only 15 minutes behind schedule.
Eos takes its name from the Greek goddess who heralded the arrival of a new day. Judging from its plans to expand its fleet to 20 planes within five years, the company seems to believe it is emulating its namesake.