Eos – First impressions

London Stansted – New York JFK on EOS
I’ve done the trip from London to New York a few times for work. Company policy gave me the choice of Premium Economy in BA or Business Class in AA, so I always chose AA. I even earned a few miles along the way that I’m saving for a random jolly.

However recently the options have been expanded to include Eos, the relatively new ‘All Business’ airline operating from Stansted. I’d heard rave reviews from my colleagues, so for my latest trip I decided to give them a try.

Booking was easy via our company travel system, the only anomaly being that a Sunday afternoon outbound trip more than doubled the cost of a trip leaving on Sunday morning. I was planning to do some shopping in the city anyway so I chose the cheaper morning flight.

The trip to Stansted was eventful, the driver (organised through my company, not Eos) was only just on time and when we got to the M25 he went the wrong way (despite my attempts to correct him).

Anyway, I made it in one piece and headed to the Eos check in area which is at the end of the terminal, far from the check in areas of the short-haul carriers. Check in for the comically named ‘Flight 1’ was very swift, little more than ticking my name on a sheet of paper. Seats are pre-assigned (I had 5A) which I thought was a little strange as other airlines give you lots of flexibility about where you sit. Perhaps they’re trying to emphasise that all the seats are good.

Following check in I was escorted to the fast-track security line. This involved asking a group of people to ‘stand aside’ before opening a barrier and letting me through to an empty security line. Very nice.

The lounge is right by the departure gate, and to get there you have to take a one minute train ride. The lounge itself had just been refurbished and extended and was nice if fairly small. The staff were super-attentive, it was like being in a hotel lounge rather than an airport lounge. They fetched me a paper, some tea and pastries. All very nice.

Boarding was called about 30 minutes before departure so I took a leisurely stroll to the plane.

The planes are Boeing 757s, designed for 220 people now housing 48, 21 square foot ‘suites’. I had a window seat which some people apparently find claustrophobic but I prefer as you’re not disturbed by aisle traffic. The seat has an ottoman foot rest with a storage area underneath. The seat can go fully flat, joining up to the ottoman to make a bed. All of the seats face forward and they’re staggered so that there’s a space for window seat occupants to get out. This means they’re not ideal for couples as you can’t easily see each other, although the ottoman can double as a seat for dinner. All in all the seats aren’t hugely wide but I was very comfortable.

Champagne (Tattinger) was served immediately and my glass was never less than 80% full throughout the flight. Food orders seem to be taken front to back so I was surprised that my first choice appetiser (salmon) had run out by row 5. However the caprese salad I had instead was excellent. As was the steak I had as a main course, the best I’ve ever had on a plane. I then skipped pudding and went straight to the port before settling down to the entertainment system.

The system is a portable, pre-loaded unit supplied with Bose headsets. It contains about 15 films, some old including ‘City Slickers’ and ‘Greece’, and some new. I went for ‘Pans Labyrinth’. It also contains some basic games, TV shows (including Top Gear!) and music.

I read for the rest of the flight until 90 minutes before landing when ‘high tea’ was served. This was excellent, consisting of 3 sandwiches (cucumber was strangely absent), a fruit cake, some scones (with clotted cream and jam), oh and tea.

We landed right on time, at the new JFK terminal 4. Immigration took ages and there was no air-con. By the time I got to baggage claim my bag was waiting for me alongside an Eos representative keen to wish me a pleasant onward trip. All in all, a great experience.

New York JFK – London Stansted on EOS

My return flight was the 18:45 (‘Flight 2’), I got to JFK early as I’d heard that the Emirates lounge was worth experiencing. Check in at JFK was again very swift, I requested a window seat again but was told that they were pre-assigned and couldn’t be changed. However I was in 3A which was a window seat anyway.

Security at JFK is by the gate so no escort this time, also the fast-track queue was longer than the standard queue so I took the swift option. The Emirates lounge is right by the Eos gate. It’s a very nice, very large lounge which had about 2 of us in there. I checked the board and only our flight was listed so with a maximum of 48 people I’d have plenty of room.

The bar was extensive and included champagne, so I settled down to my book. At 17:00 the dining area opened so I treated myself to a 3 course buffet dinner. I went for a selection of cold starters, chicken Korhai curry and chocolate mousse. All excellent.

The return flight was uneventful, meals were served but I could only manage a main course and pudding. I watched a film and slept. I did request to be woken for breakfast, which was either a stuffed omelet or fruit.

We landed slightly early but baggage claim evened things out, next time I’ll ditch the liquids and take carry-on.

Overall it was an excellent experience. Much better than American Airlines in terms of quality of product, quality of service and also cost. I should also mention the mileage programme. You get 15,000 ‘Club 48’ miles for a return trip, these can be redeemed against Eos (redemptions from 50k for a one-way companion or 135k for a free round-trip) or any other major airline at 1k points for $10 award.