Your Guide to Luxury in the Sky
The Web site had me at hello, with a flash-enabled tour I took no less than ten times during prime working hours. United Airlines (UAUA) calls it a First Suite, and it cost me 120,000 miles, plus an almost equal amount of calls to its Indian-outsourced reservation desk, to fly round-trip from Los Angeles's LAX airport to London Heathrow on its newer fleet of 777s.
My seat location in 1A was ideal, the type where people from Economy try sneak glances ahead to look for celebrities and where flight attendants offer you the best wine. But what I expected would be a well-equipped, luxurious leather seat with high-definition video screen was an antiquated poly-blend, hard-to-navigate flatbed with minuscule TV offering manual-load premium movies a la 1980s Betamax.
Cue the business-class airlines. With a growing rebellion of flyers tired of the scaled-back services and dated amenities of many U.S. air carriers, a new spate of all-business airlines with expanded destinations hopes to quell the demand of the luxury-starved.On the surface, the business model is quite simple, offering upgraded business-class services to key international cities at competitive prices. But what looks like a straightforward solution comes with its own concessions that may make our domestic carriers look better than anyone imagined. Launched in autumn 2005,
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