FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Check in for this 1000 inaugural flight of Maxjet was from Zone K at London Stansted, to the far left of the departures lounge, and with no queue we were quickly checked in and sent through fast-track security. From there, a short shuttle ride took us to our departure gate 16 and the Maxjet lounge.
THE LOUNGE: Maxjet has taken over the old SAS lounge, which has been empty for some years. It is a fabulous space with floor-to-ceiling glass windows looking out onto the runway on three sides. There was a good choice of food and drink and newspapers and magazines.
BOARDING: Maxjet leaves Stansted daily at 1000 (except Saturday) and we boarded at 0920.We suffered a slight delay, not taking off until 1020.
THE SEAT: This Boeing B767-200ER aircraft had 102 business class seats configured six across (2-2-2) with 152cm legroom, 48cm width and a recline to 160 degrees. The seats were in a smart new blue leather trim and the carpets were new in navy blue. The body of the seat was an old design, however, and as such did not have seat power (my laptop power ran out by 1530). There were a few teething problems on this particular flight, not least that the seatbelts were too short to be fitted properly (the buckle ended up on our hips) but I was told that this would be looked into immediately.
THE FLIGHT: The service was excellent, provided by a crew of eight – although since this was the inaugural flight and only half full, we had plenty of attention.Minor glitches, such as the amenity kit not arriving in time, were solved by innovation on the part of crew – the flight attendant gave me an eye mask she had “borrowed” from another airline –and their friendliness made up for any uncertainties. Entertainment came in the form of a personal digEplayer handed out by the crew. There were 10 films of recent releases and 10 television programmes. Ten categories of music were also available.
A lunch service arrived within two hours and was a good selection of tasty food. Main course options were beef tenderloin, chilli spiced prawns or roasted pork loin. Strangely though, there were no vegetarian options. Wines included a choice of old and new world wines. A snack bar was available.
THE RETURN: Things didn’t go quite so smoothly on the return flight. Maxjet uses the Korean Air lounge at JFK, which is comfortable – if a little grey – and the flight was called on time, but we were late taking off and never made up the time, eventually arriving over an hour late at Stansted. On the flight the crew were helpful but inexperienced, fussing over personal DVD players and meal choices when most passengers simply wanted to go to sleep. I asked for ear plugs and an eye mask but they never arrived. In addition, the flight was the bumpiest transatlantic I’ve experienced, which we later learned from the flight crew had been expected but they had not warned us about it.
VERDICT: With two Business Class-only products launching from Stansted to JFK within weeks of one another, comparisons will inevitably be made between Eos and Maxjet. Having flown both (see Jan-Feb issue of BTAP Eos), it is clear that these are two very different products aimed at different markets. Maxjet is pitching itself at the price of a fully flexible Economy Class ticket as offered by its competitors (British Airways, Virgin and so on) and will appeal to travellers who don’t normally fly in the premium cabin.
PRICE: US$1,475 return including taxes, tel 0800 023 4300 ,www.maxjet.com