First impressions I arrived at London Stansted at 0820 for my 1030 departure. The check-in area for Eos is at the far left end (Zone K) of the departures terminal. Security formalities were swiftly dealt with, and an invitation for fast-track and the Eos lounge was presented to me. Fast-track at Stansted involves being escorted to the head of the security line, which is either wonderful or embarrassing, depending on your personality.
Flights on this route depart London Stansted at 1030 and arrive New York JFK at 1329. Eastbound flights depart JFK at 1905 and arrive Stansted the next morning at 0730. Beginning January 3, 2006, Eos will also offer a second daily flight, which will depart Stansted at 1615, arriving JFK at 1914, and will depart JFK at 2115, arriving Stansted at 0940.
The lounge Located next to gate 7, the lounge has comfortable armchairs, a selection of hot and cold drinks and sandwiches and a view down to the Boeing 757 aircraft. This was an inaugural flight and there was a function held in the lounge before the flight, so this part is difficult to judge, but there are currently no workstations in the lounge or wifi access, although I was told that it was something that is being looked at.
The seat Boarding was on time. The 757 has a fresh interior in shades of grey, black and white. The “suite” seat has a 198cm, fully reclining seat with cashmere blankets and Tempur-Pedic pillows. It is clear that a lot of time, attention and money has been spent.
The layout of the seats at first sight resembles that of British Airways, except that all seats face forward in a staggered formation and all have aisle access. The seat was good for sleep – being wide and comfortable – and for work, with a wide, firm table that adjusts both forward and back, which is good if you want to use the keyboard of a laptop or write notes. I was impressed by the power supply, which requires nothing more than a US adaptor and kept my computer fully charged for the whole journey, meaning on this daylight flight I could complete a day’s work. There is a good-sized seat opposite for a colleague to join you for meetings, and even a seatbelt for their safety.
In-flight entertainment came courtesy of a personal DVD player and excellent BOSE noise-reducing headphones. The choice of movies was limited but adequate.
The flight Before the flight I had asked the captain about the experience of flying on a narrow-bodied jet such as this 757 on a transatlantic route – particulary whether the aircraft would be underpowered and if it would have the necessary range for all flight conditions compared to, say, a wide-bodied 767. He was reassuring, likening it to driving a Porsche compared with the 767 Lexus. He maintained that the noise level would not be noticeably different from that of a normal transatlantic flight. He was right. It was a smooth ride, although it seemed considerably smoother at the front while, strangely, the rear half was warmer, perhaps because of the greater number of ovens.
The meal service throughout was faultless, as was the overall service on board. There was an immediate offer of water, orange juice or a Maserati cocktail of champagne mixed with campari and lime. The meal choices were good, with the main course options being fillet of beef with grilled polenta and green beans rolled in bacon, Skipper DO & CO (fillet of salmon, fillet of sole, prawn), and asparagus risotto with homemade parmesan crackers. For wine you could choose between three reds and two whites as well as Lanson Black Label Brut Champagne, along with a listed selection of spirits, liqueurs and both regular and decaffeinated coffee and tea.
Arrival We arrived 10 minutes late but quickly cleared immigration.
Prices Return fares start at £3,500, but until January an introductory offer of £2,500 is available.
Verdict There’s no doubt this is a wonderful on-board experience. Only time will tell whether flying from Stansted is a choice that high-spending business travellers are prepared to make. And then of course there’s a competitor in the form of Maxjet. In the meantime, Eos should be applauded for its daring and innovative approach. The rest of the airline industry will be watching with interest.Tom Otley