With only 76 passengers per flight, full-flat seats, and perks like free Wi-Fi, La Compagnie hopes to reimagine business class for the modern traveler, but is it successful?
Boutique airline La Compagnie means business, but are travelers buying?
What’s La Compagnie all about?
For the savvy traveler, getting to your destination can be as important as what happens once you land. The allure of comfortable air travel has seduced consumers to seek out airline cards, stockpiling miles for business class tickets where stemware is still a thing.
The exclusively business class airline La Compagnie offers most of the perks of its competitors with a streamlined business model that investors hope will keep it in the clouds. Before we get into it, I’ll answer your biggest question up front: Is La Compagnie lie flat? Yes, the benchmark for peaceful slumber at 35,000 feet is available in every seat on a La Compagnie plane.
How many planes does La Compagnie have?
Launched in July 2014, La Compagnie operates two A321neo planes outfitted with 76 full-flat beds, so if you’re wondering what kind of airline is La Compagnie, the answer is petit. But big things can come in small packages. Despite being grounded for over a year due to the pandemic, the airline is making a solid comeback. Is La Compagnie profitable? Not yet, though an airline spokesperson told Smart MNE profitability is expected by the end of 2022 thanks to “the booming market in the U.S.”
Where does La Compagnie fly to?
Fashion and food lovers will rejoice that the boutique fleet offers regular service to Paris and Milan and seasonal flights to Nice (this year through September 27, 2022) via Newark International Airport.
The airline’s starting rates for round-trip direct flights range from $2,200 to $2,900, depending on the destination and time of year, so it’s typically less expensive than major carriers. And you can still accumulate bonus travel points often associated with premium credit cards. In addition, La Compagnie does offer a loyalty program (My Compagnie)—perfect if you’re a regular shopper at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, want to be front and center for Milan Fashion Week, or a fan of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur rosé even in winter.
The flight experience: checking in
Online La Compagnie reviews via Tripadvisor average four stars, with most criticisms dinging the airline for poor customer service and refund-related issues. Is La Compagnie still flying despite a few alleged operational hiccups? Absolutely, so I packed a weekender and headed to New Jersey to experience the flight for myself.
What terminal is La Compagnie at Newark?
Terminal B is easily accessible by car or Airtrain service via the NJ Transit. If you’re wondering if La Compagnie has an app for a more streamlined check-in and boarding experience: app yes, streamlined… debatable. I downloaded the app and quickly checked in for my Nice-bound flight, but the airline doesn’t have TSA PreCheck, and the bottleneck at security can be unpredictable. To make matters worse, my QR code didn’t work, so I was redirected to check-in to obtain a paper ticket (vintage). I arrived several hours early to take advantage of the Plaza Lounge, but I spent most of the time standing in line. Ultimately it didn’t matter since the lounge was closed, the result of operational challenges beyond the airline’s control.
The on-board experience
A few deep breaths reset my attitude. I was heading to the south of France, after all. And once boarding began, the benefits of flying a smaller, all-business-class aircraft began to shine. With only 76 passengers (in a different configuration, the aircraft can hold up to 240), boarding was a breeze, and a sense of calm seemed to circulate (along with much-needed champagne). The best seats on La Compagnie depend on your preference for window or aisle. With a 2-2 configuration, be prepared to climb over your neighbor if you opt for the former and need to get up during the 8-hour flight.
My overall La Compagnie seats review is positive. Comfortable and with a fixed seat divider for added privacy, I settled in for the flight, only to discover a glitch in my remote control for the flat-screen TV. With several empty seats on board, the flight attendant offered to move me, but I had already settled in with a second round of bubbles, and the touchscreen offered easy enough navigation. The noise-canceling headphones crackled a bit throughout my screening of “Arthur” (the 1991 comedy starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli is one of about 50 random films on demand), but the WiFi was strong and steady throughout the flight for those who dare to get work done amid the flowing wine curated by famous French wine critics Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve.
The bubbles and Bordeaux elevated the meal service, which was adequate but uninspired. A typical European-bound overnight flight offers soup, salad and a cheese course, followed by a savory or sweet breakfast option the following morning. Return flights from Europe present more robust offerings, with featured dishes from partner chefs such as Italy’s Lorenzo Cogo of the Michelin star El Coq and French patisserie master Yann Couvreur, but nothing looked or tasted as appealing as the promotional images provided.
Staying in Nice, Paris, and Milan
If you need a quick hotel pick for any of La Compagnie’s direct flight destinations from the U.S., check out one of these fabulous properties:
Hotel Boscolo Nice — The historic 112-room, five-star property features marble throughout, accented by an ivory and cream palette to accentuate rotating contemporary exhibits. Head to the Bclub Rooftop for a dip in the pool and gorgeous city views.
Bulgari Hotel Paris — Located in the 8th arrondissement, the newly opened showpiece features 76 rooms and suites, including an opulent 3,000-square-foot, 2-bedroom penthouse with a rooftop garden and stellar view of the Eiffel Tower.
Galleria Vik Milano — Art, décor, and boundless shopping converge at this 89-room property, featuring site-specific art installations, stucco Veneziano wall treatments, and easy access to some of the city’s most renowned fashion brands.
To consider a La Compagnie business class review, ask yourself: What are the most important qualities of your travel experience? If the reduced number of passengers, chill vibe, and full-flat seats sound like perks, and if modest in-flight cuisine and a potentially clunky check-in won’t ruffle your feathers, then get ready to take flight.