a plane on the runway

There is no better reminder of what a privilege flying up front is than having your parents, who’ve never flown up front before, experience flat beds, lounges and international business for the first time. As if I don’t already get enough of a kick out of it, especially on flights like this one where I paid $1106 round trip for flat beds from New York to Paris during a flash sale, seeing it through someone else’s eyes almost makes it brand new. Open Skies, British Airways boutique airline offering the only direct service to Paris Orly (the closer, better airport to Paris) served up a really nice offering and a great seamless experience….

a plane on the runway

Check In

Sometimes I chuckle when checking in using a priority lane. There seems to be ten times more people checking in to coach, but the line seems to move ten times quicker. Regardless, both lines were relatively short and it did not take long at all to get the four of us checked in and ready to go. 

a sign in a building

After a breeze through the priority security lane (amen to that), we headed to this elevator which conveniently had a button that said airline lounges, which I liked.

a close up of a metal panel


In a lounge I want tranquility, I want great food and (alcoholic) beverage offerings and I want a view of the action. British Airways Galleries lounge at Newark offered a fantastic view of the departure runway and the gate area immediately out the window. Fortunately it also offered many different areas with tv viewing, quiet areas, couch areas, chair areas, dining areas and of course the bar, which my dad very happily found. Chardonnay for all!

a man walking in a bar

As a true loser, I really enjoyed these vintage British Airways posters from one of my favorite periods in aviation history. If you like this kinda stuff, I did a really neat post on the “golden age” of flying HERE.

a group of framed posters on a wall

With chardonnay and cookies in hand we settled in for some relaxation and departure checklists, which my dad seems fairly unsure about in this photo. Luckily he remembered his passport.

a man and woman sitting in chairs

For you real fancy fliers, in British Airways First, here’s your bistro area which features the only champagne in the lounge as well as non buffet offerings. It looked very nice, but sadly I was not allowed to eat there. I’m sure it’s lovely.

a room with booth seating and black and gold lamps

It’s US Open time and happily that meant re runs from great matches of last year while we hung out awaiting our flight. This area is in a far corner of the lounge and was far less trafficked than the immediate entrance. Highly recommend.

a group of people sitting in a room

I am a slave to red wine and there were three nice offerings from Italy, Spain and California respectively. Each was worth a try. In this battle California won. 

a group of bottles of wine on a table

For those traveling in Club or Biz Bed, this is the buffet offering and seating area. We experienced the “sleeper service” on our flight which meant a less substantial food offering than normal in the air which I actually really enjoyed. We stuffed our faces here at the all you can eat buffet and it allowed my mom and Laura to get right to sleep on the plane.

a restaurant with tables and chairs

If you think that looks like a lot of food, I had three plates worth. I even added some shrimp on the third helping. When it’s “free” I just can’t help myself. Tragedy.

a table with plates of food and wine

The Seat

Open Skies offers a unique product not found on any standard British Airways flights known as “Biz Bed”. The cabin is not brand new, the seat is not the widest or most private, but I found it very functional and very cozy. Anytime you can lie flat on a plane you should thank your lucky stars. I’ll take this opportunity to do that. Laura is ready to go. 

a woman sitting in a chair on an airplane

If I were writing an endorsement for Open Skies it would go something like “the romantic business class for lovebirds”. Every seat faces someone, which can be off putting for some but in our case, it was very appealing and one of the easiest chatting experiences I’ve had. If you are sat directly facing Shrek, there is an option to pull up a chinese style fan curtain, completely blocking your view of…. Shrek.

a man and woman sitting in an airplane

Fortunately, I very much enjoyed my view.

a woman sitting in a chair holding a drink

I’m a sucker for amenity kits and Open Skies offers a very nice Elemis amenity kit and nice french styled bag. Socks, ear plugs, skin care products, a tooth brush and chapstick all came in handy on a seven hour flight with a “bubbly” lounge experience prior…

a pillow and a bottle of water on a seat

And a continued bubbly experience on board. I love Billecart Salmon champagne and couldn’t resist another glass as we awaited taxi. As you can see from this angle, with the chinese fan curtain deployed (it’s not) you could effectively block out your neighbors view. Since I am getting married to the person slightly in view, I chose not to.

a drink holder on a tray in a plane

Laura thoroughly enjoyed the full flat position and thanks to the dinner in the lounge beforehand managed to get to sleep just shortly after take off. She also managed to avoid the few glasses of champagne which left me…. tired. Great duvet and pillows.

a woman lying in a bed

The Booze

The cabin crew truly makes a flight. What started as a very lackluster service, which I was ready to chalk up to french indifference ended up being a really great crew who were attentive and happy to help (fill my glass). Sorry for the image quality, it was night time and I chose not to blind the cabin with my flash. Courtesy is king.

a menu with different wine labels

Cheers! I mean Friends. After a brief delicious meal I settled in for a nights sleep with a sensationalist view of New York in the 90’s. 

a glass of champagne in front of a screen

The Food

As I’ve mentioned, due to the late “business” nature of the flight Biz Bed guests are encouraged to have a more substantial meal in the lounge prior to departure allowing for more work and more sleep. I wasn’t hungry, but for review’s sake I chose to sample some food. Thanks to you all I may now not fit into my wedding suit. Sacrifices….

a menu of a restaurant

I love char and the shrimp were wonderfully fresh and tasty. The wildberry and vanilla crisp however was the showstopper. Truly one of the best deserts I’ve ever had on board anything.

a plate of food and a napkin on a table

After getting about four hours sleep I was thrilled to wake up to an incredible (by airline standards) cup of coffee, some warm crisp croissants, yes, warm and crisp and some fruit. By the time I finished further stuffing my face we were descending inbound for Orly.

a plate of fruit and a cup of coffee

The Experience

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Open Skies offers a nice boutique feel to the British Airways behemoth brand with great little touches and as I said, the only direct flight to Orly. Upon arrival we managed to get our bags, through immigration and into an Uber car in less than ten minutes. Seeing the experience through my parents eyes, their first time in business class made it one of the happiest experiences I’ve had in the sky. All smiles.

an airplane wing above the clouds

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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