I flew on an all-business-class airline I had never heard of, and it was one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

I recently returned from a five-day trip to London with my family. Before booking our flight in March, we’d asked my uncle’s travel agent to help us find the best deal. Normally, we’d just go for the economy tickets since they’re the most affordable. But since we were taking a red-eye to London, we felt pretty strongly about having seats that turned into beds, which you can get only in business or first class.

And this was the only big trip most of us would be taking this year, so we were willing to spend a bit more.

The next day, he sent over a few options. We could fly economy from New York to Heathrow for about $800 per person, premium economy for $1,500, or business class on a big-name airline for about $3,500 each. We didn’t even inquire about first class; we knew it would be too pricey.

But there was a fourth option: Fly on a boutique all-business-class airline called La Compagnie for $1,490 per person, which beat the premium economy and business-class prices on all other airlines.

I’ll admit, I’d never heard of La Compagnie before, and I was a bit hesitant to book a flight on a newer airline I knew nothing about. But I did some research, talked to the rest of the group, and decided it was worth a try.

Before I left, I told some friends and colleagues about the airline. None of them had ever heard of it either, so I decided to document the return trip. Keep scrolling for a glimpse at what it was like to fly La Compagnie:


I learned that La Compagnie is a small, independent company that has been around since 2013. The airline only flies to and from London, Paris, and Newark, New Jersey. The catch? It doesn’t fly in or out of Heathrow, London’s big airport. Instead, it goes in and out of Luton, a smaller airport just north of London.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

It turns out that this is actually a pro, not a con! Luton was only about an hour from our hotel in the heart of London, and Heathrow would have been 45 minutes, so not much of a difference there. Plus, we learned that checking in, going through security, and navigating the airport with a group of seven people and a baby is much easier at a smaller airport than it is at a big, busy one.

The process of checking in and going through security in both airports (Newark and Luton) was better than most airport experiences I’ve had. Because La Compagnie is a boutique airline with only a few flights a day, very few people are checking in at any time. That meant there was no wait on either end.

The ticketing agents were extremely friendly. They explained where the lounges were (which we had complimentary access to) and that La Compagnie had its own security line (which was also empty!). We flew through the check-in and security and had enough time to enjoy the airport lounges.


At Newark, La Compagnie passengers are granted access to the Art & Lounge space. It’s quiet and comfortable with a nice food and drink selection. At Luton, passengers have access to an executive lounge called Aspire, which is modern and sleek, and offers a large selection of food, snacks, and drinks. Below are some photos of the Aspire lounge at Luton airport.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

Drinks, snacks, and food are complimentary. At the Aspire lounge, however, you have to pay for certain fancy alcoholic beverages. The lounge also offers free Wi-Fi and spa services.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

The spa offers 20- or 40-minute manicures, facials, and massages, among other relaxing treatments.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

The lounge serves hot food …

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

… as well as sandwiches, nuts, olives, salads, cookies, cakes, and scones.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

There is also a room with three “SnoozePods,” which through the use of intelligent lights and sounds promote full sleep in a pre-programmed 20-minute cycle before “gently waking you.”

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

About 45 minutes before our scheduled take-off, an Aspire lounge employee announced that it was time for passengers on my flight to begin making their way to the gate. When I got there, I boarded our Boeing 757-200 immediately — no waiting!

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

On both aircrafts, the all-business-class cabins had 19 rows and 74 seats. Neither of my flights were sold out; there were a few open seats on both.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

When I got to my seat I found a bottle of water, a pillow, a blanket, and a travel-care kit, which included earbuds, a toothbrush, socks, Caudalie face moisturizer, a pen, an eye mask, and other goodies.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

Every seat had a Samsung Galaxy Pro tablet that you could remove from the port. Through these devices, La Compagnie offers TV shows, movies, music, magazines and newspapers, and e-books. The tablets can also be used to view the in-flight menu and other information.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

The seats are spacious and comfortable. They recline to a 175-degree angle and have a built-in massage feature, which I took full advantage of.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

My 16-month-old niece enjoyed the recline feature. The seats didn’t quite turn into completely flat beds, but they got close enough.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

The antiallergenic pillows and soft blankets were cozier than I thought they’d be.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

Upon boarding, the flight attendants came around offering champagne with cranberry juice, or just plain cranberry juice. Everything on the plane was complimentary.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

Next they handed out comfortable noise-canceling headphones. Sadly, these had to be returned at the end of the flight, but it was nice to have them for the seven hours we were on board.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

Just after take-off, the flight attendants came around with hot towels.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

On our return flight, which left London at 5:40 p.m. (London time) and arrived in Newark at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern time), we were served a light first course of tuna, a cheese and fig plate, and some sort of pie around 6:00 p.m. It was all surprisingly delicious.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

About an hour later, we were served dinner. Passengers had a choice of chicken in a red wine sauce, or spinach and cheese tortellini served with warm bread. I went with the pasta. It was simple yet flavorful. And the portion sizes were perfect.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

Finally, we were served a course similar to what you’d eat at high tea in London. The flight attendants came around with the “tea and sweets” meal — which included a scone with jam and clotted cream, a macaron, a miniature carrot cake, two finger sandwiches, juice, and tea — around 9:00 p.m. London time.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

On our red-eye from Newark to London, we had been served dinner after take-off (fig quiche and goat cheese tart, with potato and bacon soup and dessert), and breakfast (eggs, french toast, and croissants) before landing.

Normally one to be wary of airplane food, I thoroughly enjoyed every meal. Of course I didn’t like everything (for instance, the scones were cold and hard – and after enjoying amazing, warm scones in London, these just didn’t compare). But I ate almost everything!


Throughout the flight, a few baskets filled with candy and chips were left out for passengers to help themselves to.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

There were three flight attendants on each flight. They were very pleasant and attentive. They didn’t disturb passengers with a million unnecessary announcements, but came through the aisle with the drink cart frequently, asking us if we’d like anything.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider

I wish La Compagnie flew everywhere, because if it did, it’s the only airline I’d ever fly. My experience wasn’t perfect (for example, my arm rest of the return flight was broken, so I had to switch seats) but overall, it was one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had. And at less that $1,500 per person for a round-trip business-class ticket to London ($1,800 to Paris), the value is incomparable.

source
Jacquelyn Smith/Business Insider