When La Compagnie first announced that they were coming to the UK they were offering super fares on a limited basis and it was too good a chance to miss out trying their all-business class service. Initially operating from Paris, the airline has established itself in a niche market. Talking with other passengers there seemed to be a mix of business people not wishing to pay the regular price for flights to London and those going on a special occasion where the great fares made this experience affordable.
Luton Airport, whilst calling itself London Luton is 20 minutes outside London by train, followed by a short bus ride. One fellow passenger mentioned that her cab fare from central London was £140. The train, from St. Pancras is about £16 one way. Note that if someone drops you off, there is a £2.50 charge to drop off at the kerb charged by the airport.
Check-in opened at 3pm and the airline operates two desk. The rest of the airport was very empty at this time.
You can spot their desks by the prominent banner in the centre of the check-in hall.
The staff were super friendly, even after I asked whether they could provide me with my return boarding pass. They explained where the lounge was located, what time I needed to be at the gate etc. They tagged my carry on to show that I had been to the counter. Unfortunately they could not immediately generate my return Boarding Pass but the manager offered to keep trying and to bring it to the gate for me.
The flight leaves Luton at 17:45 and lands at Newark at 21:00 making it ideal for those wishing to complete a full business day before heading to the US. The return, leaving at 22:20 lands at 10:45 so you could be in the centre of London by lunchtime. The aircraft I experienced was a 757 with 74 lie-flat seats. They are not 180 degree flat, but I found them comfortable.
I did ask whether there were two empty seats so that I could sit on my own but, as the flight was originating in Paris due to a shortage of aircraft, it was full. This was the seat chart when I checked-in.
I was located in 2D as you can see. The cabin has toilets at the front, adjacent to the cockpit entrance and two at row 15.
Travelling with La Compagnie secures Fast Track security at Luton, which is normally chargeable. The actual Fast Track queue was about 4 people and I was through in about five minutes. The lounge used by the airline is the only one at the airport and is located on the mezzanine above the duty free shops, next to the Bureau de Change. It is an Aspire lounge.
The Aspire Lounge is undergoing renovation and so is about half the size it should be. This means that they are restricting access to La Compagnie passengers at certain times.
This did cause a bit of consternation when other passengers were denied access at 4pm. Priority Pass does make a cryptic reference to this in its app:
The lounge had snacks, scones, soup, cheeses, bread and a wide range of drinks. Unfortunately, there was a largish group of men who had clearly been there for some time when I got there around 3.30pm, and had been consuming the free booze. They were loud rather tan aggressive, but there was a decent amount of swearing as they were leaving to get their Easyjet flight.
The new lounge will be great when it opens, expected to be in early June:
I had some Afternoon Tea whilst I waited:
The aircraft left Paris late and so got to Luton late.
The gate used by La Compagnie is at the end of the main terminal, a 10-15 minute walk from the Lounge. When leaving the lounge I found the main part of the terminal packed with people going off for the weekend on the low cost carriers who operate from the airport. Hen and Stag parties were prominent. What travellers the Brits have become. I wonder how the users of Luton would feel if the UK leaves the EU and they all have to get visas for the revelry.
The plane had arrived from Paris when we arrived at the gate but until the Paris passengers had deplaned, cleared immigration, collected their bags and then cleared UK security. This was necessary as La Compagnie had their other plane in a maintenance check and Luton has no facility for connections. By the time you are reading this these short Paris -> Luton flights are no longer needed.
Just before we started to board my name was called and the Manager from check-in produced my Boarding Pass for my return flight. He’d gone on to the web and checked me in, printed the document and brought it to the gate. Now that is an ‘A’ for effort if you ask me.
We boarded a little late due to inbound late arrival. At the gate there is a further passport check and some passengers (one) was selected for additional screening.
Pretty soon I was off down the stairs and the short walk to the plane. You board and deplane at Door 1 in Luton and at Door 2 in Newark.
Come back tomorrow for an review of the service.