On May 3rd of this year, Open Skies airlines started operating flights from Washington’s Dulles (IAD) airport to Paris Orly (ORY) airport. Open Skies is a new airline. It has been operation since June 2008, operating flights from New York area’s Newark Liberty (EWR) airport to Paris. Washington now becomes the second city in the US to be graced by Open Skies flights. There was a short lived New York to Amsterdam (AMS) route, but the addition of Washington is a bold new step for Open Skies.
A Unique Airline
Now, what makes Open Skies unique? If you look at any airline out there, any international flight an airline operates originates at its home country, goes out to another country and back. No routes begin in a country other the home country. Although there are routes such as Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Singapore Changi (SIN) operated by United, Rome (FCO) to Washington Dulles (IAD) operated by Ethiopian and Mumbai (BOM) to Dubai (DXB) operated by Cathay Pacific, in all cases, these are actually continuations of flight originating in their home countries. The cities here are just stopovers. For the three routes I mention, the full routes are Washington-Tokyo-Singapore (IAD-NRT-SIN), Addis Abeda-Rome-Washinton-Seattle (ADD-FCO-IAD-SEA) and Hong Kong-Mumbai-Dubai (HKG-BOM-DXB). Open Skies is different in this regard. While it is owned by British Airways and carries the British flag, but does not operate in the UK. It was created by British Airways to take advantage of the ‘Open Skies’ agreement signed between the EU and the US in 2008. This agreement allows any EU or US based airline to operate flights from Europe to the US, between any city pairs. Non-US owned airlines are still not allowed to operate routes between US cities. British Airways created Open Skies to start operating in these lucrative trans-Atlantic routes, allowing their passengers to fly non-stop to Europe’s mainland, without having to go thru UK. As I mentioned before, Open Skies did operate a flight to Amsterdam from New York for a while. It still has plans to add Amsterdam and Frankfurt to its routes.
All Business Class
Another way Open Skies is unique is that it has all Business Class seats. Their aircraft are all Boeing 757-200s, outfitted with ‘Biz Seat’ Business Class seats and ‘Biz Bed’ full-flat sets. Very few airlines are out there that operate all Business Class aircraft. Open Skies has only business class seats. No Economy, No First.
Open Skies does not have its own Loyalty Program. It has something called Le Club, but as of today, it does nothing other than allow you to have a profile online with your past and upcoming flights. As Open Skies is owned by British Airways, it is no surprise that you earn miles on BA’s Executive Club program when flying Open Skies. It is important to point out here that Open Skies is not a part of the OneWorld Alliance that British Airways belongs to, so you cannot earn miles on other OneWorld airlines when flying Open Skies.