Upgrading the business-class jet

A new airline thinks it's found a formula for soaring above the rest.

By Diane Anderson, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- The world of business-class-only air travel is getting pretty crowded, at least on the lucrative, 10,400-passenger-a-day New York-to-London route. Since 2005, startups Maxjet and Eos have offered planes with no economy seats, meaning that as many as 100 transatlantic road warriors can stretch out on each flight.

So how can Silverjet, a newcomer with the same idea, compete? Simple: Find more business-traveler needs to fill, like last-minute check-in, a dedicated women's bathroom, and a carbon credit to offset the environmental impact of the trip. It seems to be working: Sales for Silverjet's first flights in January averaged just 45 percent of capacity (65 percent is the magic break-even number), but by July the planes were 76 percent full. Silverjet plans four new routes by 2010.

"They're riding a wave," says Joel Chusid, chairman of the Association of Travel Marketing Executives. "Eos is increasing its frequency and Maxjet is expanding to new cities, but Silverjet is smartly planning to do both."

Super service

No carts clog the aisles. All food and drink is delivered by hand - a first for the industry. Silverjet hired its attendants primarily from hotels and restaurants.

Time savings

At London's Luton airport, passengers arrive at a private Silverjet terminal as little as 30 minutes before takeoff. The company has its own dedicated security process.

Boys, keep out

Airplane lavatories are usually unisex, but Silverjet added a dedicated women's bathroom, an idea the CEO got from an outspoken female passenger at Heathrow.

Bedding down

A standard Boeing 767 has more than 200 seats. Silverjet has 100, which recline into 6-foot, 3-inch beds. Cost: $2,200 for a round trip.

Eco-aware air

With a fee of roughly $20 on every ticket, Silverjet is the first airline to completely offset the 124 tons of carbon dioxide released by each transatlantic flight.  Top of page

To send a letter to the editor about this story, click here.