EO3 London Stansted (STN) - New York John F. Kennedy (JFK)
I arrived at Stansted airport by taxi (engineering work had cancelled all the Stansted Express trains) and soon arrived at the relatively serene check-in area used by EOS and the other business class only airlines.
EOS check-in consisted of two desks and was completely empty. The area in front of the desks was cordoned off and a meeter-greeter with a laptop greeted me and started by ticking my name off a list (easy when you've got one flight every 3 hours or so and only 48 guests on each one!). Then he asked me the longest list of security questions that I've ever had to tackle - at least a dozen questions altogether about my bags and their contents and my movements that day.
After this, I proceeded to the actual check-in desks where I was again asked the standard security questions and quickly checked in to my pre-selected seat 2D (contrary to popular opinion, you can pre-select most seats on EOS). A boarding pass in a very nice wallet was given to me and I was handed over to another member of staff who was to escort me to Fast Track security. During the walk to security, I was again asked a number of security questions. I don't know whether this is deliberate (EOS is an American carrier) or whether the result of bad communications - each one not realising that I'd already been asked these questions! I don't mean to labour this point - all the questioning was all done nicely and professionally and I actually didn't mind at all, but if I was a regular traveller this would eventually annoy me quite a bit. It certainly had the air of treating you like a travel novice, which I most certainly am not!
Anyway, once through Fast Track security which had no queue whatsoever, I was quickly aboard the shuttle train to the satellite terminal where the EOS lounge (Club 48 - the same name as their frequent flyer programme) is located near Gate 7. It was little over 10 minutes from taxi drop-off to lounge, which is an excellent performance.
On entry I was greeted by a waitress who immediately asked me for my drink order (champagne, natch) and brought it over to me, presented excellently with a strawberry on the rim of the glass. The champagne was Veuve Cliquot. The breakfast spread in the lounge was excellent and I had a smoked salmon and cream cheese on a poppy bagel, but there were plenty of other (mainly continental breakfast) options.
The lounge looks down on the gate where the EOS 757 was parked and provides free wifi access, so I was able to check my emails and do some casual web surfing. The service was attentive and as the lounge filled up I was served or asked whether I needed anything at least another 3-4 times. Boarding was called about 30 mins ahead of the scheduled departure time.
Eager to see the inside of the aircraft, I headed straight off and ended up being the first to board. I was greeted on board by the door and shown to my seat. Another cabin crew then asked if I would like champagne, mimosa or water and a small packet of almonds.
My immediate impression of the seat was very positive. It is very large, bigger than BA's Club World or even FIRST seat to be honest. However it is less private as the surrounding walls are not so high as CW and the seats are not angled away from each other as in FIRST. Each window seat has direct aisle access, as there is a gap between seats, which means no climbing out over someone from the window seat . The footstool does not extend towards the seat, so is difficult to use when the seat is in the upright position (e.g. for take off) but is much larger than any type of buddy seat I've seen and would be very comfortable to sit in and dine from. There are a number of useful storage spaces next to the footstool, although these shouldn't be used for take-off or landing (I did use them though and the crew took no action). There is a small directional light embedded in the seat cushion to the left or right of your head. The neighbouring seat is set back about two feet, so you are not sitting next to anyone at any point.
Boarding didn't take long at all and we were all on board long before the push back time, although the seat next to me remained empty for the flight. I would guess the load factor was around 90%. An excellent amenity kit was handed out which consisted of a large silver box containing all kinds of the standard on-board products.
I was visited by the senior cabin crew member and asked what I wanted from the beautifully-presented menu after take-off, including an introductory drink. The menu was as follows:
CLUB 48 LUNCH
Italian Mixed Antipasti
Grilled Vegetables with Goat Cheese
Fillet of Beef
Skipper Do & Co
Cheese & Dessert
Assortment of Cheese
Chocolate Praline Soufflé
Fresh Fruit Skewer
Assorted Tea Sandwiches
Scones / Clotted Cream
Sweet Cheese Soufflé
Benziger Sauvignon Blanc 2005 North Coast
Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuisse 2004
A to Z Pinot Noir 2005 Oregon
Chateau Croizet Bages 2004 Pauillac
Lincourt Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Santa Ynez Valley
We pushed back right on schedule and it was an easy and quick taxi out to the runway and the usual very powerful 757 take off. Unlike most American carriers, the seat belt sign was turned off in no time and we were on our way!
The EOS seat does not have an in-built PTV, so individual players are handed out. These are like mini-DVD players, but have hard drives loaded with films, music and TV which are all on-demand. They were handed out quickly after take-off so that we could start watching movies straight away and they all come with Bose QC2 headphones, which was an amazing surprise. I had brought my own along, but they were entirely redundant! The screen size is fairly small, but the choice of entertainment was good. I ended up watching Bourne Identity (to refresh my memory), then Bourne Supremacy, the second in the series which I hadn't hitherto seen, all in preparation to see the third film in the cinema soon.
My initial drink was served and this was then followed by lunch. The size of the table is extraordinary, especially when fully folded out. Plenty of room to have lunch on the near half while the portable IFE machine sat on the far half. I started with the Italian antipasti and had the fish main course. Both were absolutely delicious. To finish, I had the chocolate soufflé, which was also excellent. I ended up sticking to the champagne throughout the meal.
With two films to watch and other assorted programmes, the flight passed fairly quickly, and we were soon receiving the afternoon tea service which again was very nice. All throughout the flight there had been great service - frequent passes through the cabin and regular requests to see if I wanted anything. We had taken a southerly route across the Atlantic and it wasn't until we appeared directly over Boston that I first caught a glimpse of land. We descended from the cruise and flew a zig-zag approach down Long Island, before landing into JFK.
Unfortunately we pulled onto a remote stand and there was a minor delay with getting the steps to the right door (they wanted to use the second door rather then the first for some reason. Once we entered the terminal, the delays for immigration were huge and it eventually took an hour to get through. Initially I didn't hold this against EOS, but I've subsequently heard that this is a very common occurrence for them - they really do need to sort it out as it does risk damaging the service if they're not careful.
Overall this was a wonderful flight. The cabin crew were fantastic and the product and service that EOS offers is very good indeed. There are a couple of things that need tweaking, but I would not hesitate to use EOS the next time I need to cross the pond.
Aircraft and take off from Stansted
Cabin & IFE player
Food & Drink
Descent into JFK