JONAS
Jonas Rask Eilersen
La Compagnie B757 Business Class
New York Newark - Paris Charles de Gaulle
22nd September 2015

A new contender on the all business class scene, La Compagnie has, since summer 2014, been running up to 5 flights weekly between New York and Paris, using refurbished Boeing 757 aircraft (previously flying for Icelandair). It has recently commenced operations between London Luton and Newark as well. Marketed as an airline for ‘business travellers who love a good deal’, the flight was very cheap – but was it a bargain?

RASK tried out the airline on a recent night flight from Newark to Paris. Read our, as always, painfully honest review.

Check In
I was dropped off at Newark Terminal B around 1915, some two and a half hours before the flight was due to depart. I quickly found the check in desks – there was no queue. Four helpful, but slightly helpless, contracted staff were assisting me to check in my bags. I asked for, and got, a window seat as well as a lounge invitation. Although I had a connecting flight, to Geneva, from Paris, I was unable to check in my bags all the way to my final destination.
The Lounge
La Compagnie uses the so-called Art & Lounge which is located not far from the check in counters. It is not a particularly impressive facility – staff seemed clueless and not service-minded (an example: pouring themselves drinks at the bar). A modest selection of snacks was available, as well as drinks (although not great, I will readily admit). Wifi signal was very poor.
Boarding
I was dismayed to have to wait 45 minutes to get through security – there was one single TSA officer processing all passengers for all flights this evening, and no fast track. I eventually made it to the gate, where boarding had just begun, some 15 minutes prior to departure. I got onboard as the second passenger, was greeted at the door by a smartly dressed stewardess and quickly found my seat. Boarding took only a few minutes. It turned out that the cabin was only half full.
The cabin looked really good. LED mood lighting is put to good use here, and as most surfaces (e.g. seats and carpets and so on) are brand new, things looked very smart and neat.
The Cabin, Seat and Service
In all honesty, the seats are all the same and you are unlikely to require any extra legroom as it is already ample. So, as per usual, just steer clear of the seats closest to the galleys (in order to avoid noise and traffic).
Food and Drink
I was surprised to not be offered any kind of welcome drink or snack – in fact, apart from delivering a small amenity kit (modest, but adequate, with socks, shades, lipbalm and moisturizer in mini (mini!) sizes from Caudalie) to each passenger, there was zero interaction between passengers and staff until almost an hour into the flight. Cabin crew seemed a little uneasy and confused.
While most of my fellow passengers quickly reclined their seats for the 7h30 journey, I of course had to stay awake to sample the food and drink onboard.
After a while, I realised that I had to turn on the Samsung Galaxy Pro tablet in order to read the menu – and in doing so, I realised that the reason no newspapers or reading matter had been distributed by the crew was that all was available in the tablet. It was easy to use, but only with a couple of movies and series (clearly inadequate).
I am happy that I wasn’t hungry – because the dinner service turned out to be very modest in terms of portion size, although luckily not in quality. In fact, I sincerely enjoyed the cold green pea and mint soup, the chicken breast canapés, as well as the cheese selection. However, it was really more a snack. A small cherry crumble tart rounded off the small meal. There was only one single white wine (Chardonnay), one red (Merlot blend) and one Champagne (Pieper Heidsieck Brut) – however, all three were of high quality, particularly the La Part des Anges Chardonnay.
Following the meal, I reclined my seat and fell into deep sleep.
Arrival
I was a little miffed to be woken up by the captain announcing an hour’s flight left to Paris – but breakfast had already been served. Our arrival was timely, at1130, and it was a quick taxi to Terminal 1. Immigration was fast (for EU passport holders – other travellers had a lengthy wait at passport control, it seemed) and my bags were on the carousel within minutes.
Verdict
There is no denying that this was a complete and utter bargain – but the product doesn’t stand comparison with legacy carriers. Aimed at business travellers, La Compagnie falls flat with its lack of frequencies, its lack of check in options, frequent flyer programmes and of interline agreements (i.e. making transfers seemless), and the crappy lounge at Newark. However, I would absolutely fly La Compagnie again: the super keen pricing and the comfortable (albeit not flat) seat would easily make me overlook the serious service hiccups and the lack of a flatbed seat.