Review: La Compagnie A321neo Business Class

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, La Compagnie

And the award for the most improved airline goes to…

What Is La Compagnie?

La Compagnie is an all business class airline that began flying between Paris and Newark in the summer of 2014. I flew the airline shortly after they launched, and had a “meh” experience.

However, the airline has no doubt matured over the years. For one, La Compagnie just took delivery of two A321neos. Unlike the 757-200s that they used to operate, the A321neos feature fully flat beds and wifi onboard. Furthermore, in addition to their Newark to Paris route, the airline this past summer flew between Newark and Nice, and they’re bringing back that route in the summer of 2020.

I was looking forward to checking in on both La Compagnie’s soft and hard product — how are the new seats, how is the service, and what else is going on with the airline?

How I Booked My La Compagnie Ticket

La Compagnie generally has attractive business class fares. You can expect normal pricing to be somewhere around $1,600 roundtrip when booking in advance, but on top of that they sometimes have fare sales.

For example, earlier this year they had incredible $1,000 roundtrip fares. Really I just needed to fly them one-way, though, since I figured one flight was enough to review them. At the time I was booking there was a sale where one-way tickets were bookable for 600EUR (~$660) including all taxes and fees, which is a spectacular deal.

La Compagnie A321neo Review

La Compagnie 102
Paris (ORY) – Newark (EWR)
Wednesday, November 13
Depart: 2:30PM
Arrive: 5:10PM
Duration: 8hr40min
Aircraft: Airbus A321neo
Seat: 18F (Business Class)

At the door I was greeted by a flight attendant, and I was immediately blown away by the cabin. WOW. This has to be the sleekest narrow body commercial plane in the world.


La Compagnie business class cabin A321neo

The A321neo has just a single cabin with 76 business class seats, spread across 19 rows in a 2-2 configuration. Wow, wow, wow… I love the baby blue seat finishes, I love the mood lighting, I love the new plane look. I love all of it.


La Compagnie business class seats

La Compagnie selected B/E Aerospace Diamond seats for their A321neos, which are fully flat seats. These are pretty common seats that you’ll also find on dozens of other airlines (in the US you’ll find them on select American A321s, as well as on select American, Delta, and United 757-200s).


La Compagnie business class seats

The reason these seats are so efficient is because the footwell is underneath the seat in front, meaning that the amount of space needed per seat isn’t that great. Is this a cutting edge business class product? No way.

But it’s a phenomenal product for what La Compagnie is trying to offer, which is an all business class service at a reasonable price.


La Compagnie business class seats


La Compagnie business class seats

It’s not just that I like the cabin finishes as such, but there’s something so sleek about the symmetry of the cabin, the entire A321neo consisting of just a single cabin, etc.


La Compagnie business class seats


La Compagnie business class seats

In the last row on the left were some crew rest seats. I’m not sure what exactly they’re for, given that the flight had just two pilots. I believe the flight attendants may have rested here a bit during the flight.

However, these seats could be selected during the booking process, so I wonder if this is consistently a formal crew rest area, if they just have it in case they ever need it with different routes, or if they have it and use it only when the cabin isn’t full.


La Compagnie crew rest

I selected seat 18F, the window seat on the right side in the third to last row (there are 19 rows of seats, but seat numbers go to row 20, since they skip row 13).


La Compagnie business class seats

In these B/E Aerospace Diamond seats, there’s a storage compartment to the back right of the seat, which also has the headphone jack and USB outlet.


La Compagnie business class seat storage

There was a permanent privacy partition between seats. While you’ll still see your neighbor when sitting up, it at least gives you some privacy while sleeping.


La Compagnie business class seat privacy partition

The seat controls were on the center panel, and were easy to use.


La Compagnie business class seat controls

The tray table also extended out from the center armrest, and could be folded in half.


La Compagnie business class tray table

To the side of the center console was a literature pocket and the entertainment controller.


La Compagnie business class seat literature pocket & controller


La Compagnie business class entertainment controller

Then there were two 110v outlets underneath the center console.


La Compagnie business class power outlets

Underneath the entertainment monitor was both a small shelf as well as the footwell. The footwell is on the small side, though I find the window seats are more spacious since you can bend your knees towards the fuselage.


La Compagnie business class seat footwell

The La Compagnie A321neo has individual air nozzles at every seat — yay!

La Compagnie individual air nozzles

Already waiting at each seat upon boarding was a pillow and blanket. Not only were they both plush, but I also loved the design, which nicely complemented the cabin finishes.


La Compagnie pillow & blanket

There were also headphones at each seat, which were just alright quality.


La Compagnie headphones

There was also an amenity kit waiting at each seat, which was well stocked. The kit could be opened from both sides, and had two separate pouches with contents. Inside the kit were socks, a shoe bag, eyeshades, earplugs, a pen, a toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, and some cream.


La Compagnie amenity kit

There was also a bottle of Evian water waiting at my seat.


La Compagnie bottled water

At around 2:15PM the crew passed through the cabin with a tray of pre-departure drinks, with the choice between champagne and orange juice. I selected some champagne, which was a rather small pour, and was served in a plastic cup.


La Compagnie business class pre-departure champagne

At 2:20PM it was announced that boarding was complete, at which point the door closed. There were about 15 empty seats on the plane, and my strategy (of picking a seat towards the back) paid off, as I had an empty seat next to me. While the plane was ~80% full, in the last three rows there were just a total of four passengers. So if traveling alone I recommend picking a seat towards the back.

Did I mention how pretty the La Compagnie cabin is?

La Compagnie A321neo cabin

There’s another reason I was so excited to sit towards the back. I’m lucky to mostly fly in first and business class, or otherwise in the extra legroom economy section, towards the front of plane. However, I also love a “behind the wing” view, so an all business class plane is the perfect opportunity to enjoy that.

View from behind the wing on the La Compagnie A321neo

At around 2:25PM we began our pushback. Around that time the purser, Sara, made a welcome aboard announcement, on behalf of herself and the two other flight attendants. She informed us of our very long flight time of 8hr40min (which makes sense, since my eastbound flight across the Atlantic the previous evening was very quick).

At first I thought that must be pushing the range of the A321neo (this isn’t even the A321LR), but I guess given their all business class configuration they have quite a bit of extra range.

At that point the safety video was screened. I’m surprised La Compagnie even has a safety video (rather than doing manual demos), and I quite liked it. They have a yoga themed safety video, which they call “the most relaxing safety video ever.”

There was some interesting traffic on our taxi to the runway, including a French Bee A350.

Taxiing Paris Orly Airport

At 2:35PM (while taxiing) the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, explaining that the flight would be very long due to strong headwinds, and also anticipating that it would be bumpy because of that.

At 2:40PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 24.


Taking off from Paris Orly

Okay, I have to say, sitting in the back of the plane was oddly exhilarating, and a completely different sensation than in front of the wing during takeoff and the climb out.

View after takeoff from Paris


View after takeoff from Paris

During our climb out I browsed the entertainment selection. My first observation was that the screen has a lot of glare, so even with the windows closed and cabin lights down, I felt like I was largely just watching myself on the TV.


La Compagnie entertainment screen


La Compagnie entertainment screen

La Compagnie has a total of 61 movies, but doesn’t really have TV shows.


La Compagnie entertainment selection

I spent most of my flight just watching the map for our journey to Newark.

La Compagnie moving map


La Compagnie moving map

But who the heck really cares about the not-amazing entertainment, because La Compagnie has free unlimited high speed wifi. As I wrote about in a separate post, La Compagnie is my new favorite airline in the world for wifi.

You can connect from as many devices as you’d like with just two clicks (you just have to select your language and agree to the terms), and the wifi is legitimately high speed.


La Compagnie wifi

Coverage was excellent, and there were just a couple of very brief service gaps.


La Compagnie wifi

Soon enough after takeoff the meal service began. There were no printed menus or wine lists, but rather they were all available on the entertainment system.

The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

With the entire service there was one flight attendant starting at the front of the cabin, one starting in the middle of the cabin, and then one running around and working in the galley, which seemed like an efficient system.

Service began with warm towels being distributed about 30 minutes after takeoff.

La Compagnie warm towel

About 50 minutes after takeoff I was served my first drink and the appetizer. I had a glass of Piper Heidsieck champagne to drink.


La Compagnie Piper Heidsieck champagne

That nicely complemented the sea bream and tofu in nori leaf appetizer, which was incredibly flavorful. The entire service was done from a cart, though it’s a nice touch that they then place it directly on your tray table, rather than placing it on an additional tray.

La Compagnie business class meal

About 30 minutes later I was brought the main, the cheese, and the dessert, and offered a drink refill. They had both of the main course choices on the cart, so there was no need to take orders in advance.

I selected the cod filet with curry mustard and quinoa, which was excellent, much to my surprise. The cheese and upside down apple cake were also quite good.


La Compagnie business class meal

About two hour after takeoff a tea and coffee cart was rolled down the aisle, and I had a (very small) cup of coffee.


La Compagnie business class coffee

Service throughout the meal was quite good. I like that there’s one flight attendant assigned to each section, so you have the same person taking care of you the whole flight.

Service wasn’t especially personalized, which is to say that it wasn’t proactive and I wasn’t addressed by name. It did feel like an assembly line, which is to be expected when you have three flight attendants taking care of up to 76 business class passengers. However, the flight attendant was friendly, smiled, and took care of any requests.

The meal wasn’t the most elaborate thing ever, but it tasted good.

By the time the meal was done we had just over 6hr30min remaining to Newark.

Map enroute to Newark


Flight information

I worked for a bit longer, and then tried to recline my seat to sleep. I ended up sleeping for about 30 minutes, but that was it. The bed was comfortable, particularly with an empty seat next to me.

La Compagnie flat bed seats


La Compagnie flat bed seats


La Compagnie flat bed seats

La Compagnie A321neo cabin

I then checked out the lavatories — there are two in the back and one in the front — and they were reasonably nice, though nothing special.

La Compagnie lavatory

There was a snack basket in the back galley with some sweet and savory treats.

La Compagnie snack basket

At this point I ordered a latte. The drink list indicated they had this, though when I ordered one the flight attendant seemed confused, and said “a latte? Like you want a coffee with milk?” So I ended up just having that, and it was served in a cup with a lid.

La Compagnie mid-flight coffee

I remember on my first La Compagnie flight over five years ago that they used disposable cups between meals, but in this case I didn’t mind it, since it’s practical to have a lid for coffee, especially when you’re not looking to chug it.

I worked for most of the flight, and before I knew it we were flying along the coast of Canada.

Map approaching Newark


Map approaching Newark

The sun was slowly starting to set at this point.

Sunset enroute to Newark

About 90 minutes before landing the cabin lights were turned up, and warm towels were distributed. About 15 minutes later they started serving the pre-landing snack, and they ended up getting to my seat around an hour before landing.

By the time they got to my seat they only had the ham baguette with white chocolate mousse left. I don’t eat pork, but the white chocolate mousse was delicious. The other choice would have been a selection of sweet tartlets and a lamb’s lettuce salad with parmesan slivers.

La Compagnie pre-landing snack

At the same time the snack was served the captain announced that we’d be landing in about an hour, at 5:20PM. Moments later we began our descent.

I was surprised by how early we descended. We were already down to 16,000 feet over 40 minutes before landing.

As we got close to Newark the sunset got even more beautiful.

Sunset on approach to Newark

We ended up touching down at Newark at 5:20PM. Again, the sensation of sitting in the very back during landing is so different. After landing we had a 15 minute taxi to our gate, which included shutting off the engines just prior to arriving at the gate, and then being towed in.

Once off the plane I cleared immigration in no time thanks to Global Entry, and was ready for a good night of sleep before continuing my adventure the next morning.

La Compagnie Business Class Bottom Line

I’m so impressed by what La Compagnie has become. Now, I’m sure some people are reading the above and saying “well some of that doesn’t look like what you’d expect in a top business class product.”

Yes, there were some minor shortcomings — the meal service could be a bit more elaborate, the flight attendant could have known what a latte is, they could have had my first choice of snack, etc. But that’s all not the point.

To me, La Compagnie is an airline that is essentially revolutionizing transatlantic business class travel (though admittedly in very limited markets). They’re making business class in markets like New York to Paris affordable in a way that it never has been before.

They’re offering unbelievable value. Paying under $700 for a one-way ticket and getting fast track, lounge access, a fully flat bed, unlimited high speed wifi, and most of the amenities of business class is simply unbeatable.

Furthermore, I thought the food quality was good, and the service was friendly. Their unlimited complimentary high speed wifi is also industry leading. Lastly, I loved flying on an all business class plane — the novelty of flying in a cabin like this isn’t lost on me.

Obviously those of us who have miles & points can often get first and business class on some top airlines. But the fact that you can fly between New York and Paris with this good of a product for fares as low as $1,000 roundtrip (during a great promotion) is just spectacular.

The one warning I have to provide is regarding La Compagnie’s reliability. My flight operated on-time, but when you’re booking a smaller airline like this without partners, there are more risks in terms of getting to your destination on-time. I have heard of last minute cancelations and even aircraft swaps to leased planes, though hopefully the new A321neos help their reliability.

Regardless, on balance I’m so impressed by La Compagnie, I can’t recommend them enough, and I’d fly them again in a heartbeat.

If you’ve flown La Compagnie’s A321neo, what was your experience like? And if you haven’t flown them, would you consider doing so?

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Comments
  1. The plastic lid my be “convenient” but and absolutely wasteful and unnecessary from an environmental point of view.

  2. Also wasteful are the plastic cups for the pre-departure beverage. Looks really nice, and similar in seat and service to what AA offers on their JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO service in business class. This is all nice, but these types of airlines do well in good economic times. I see La Compagnie as a new incarnation of Eos (or MaxJet or SilverJet) with better seats. As for the less than elaborate meal service, at EUR 600- you can’t really expect an Air France La Premiere type of gourmet experience, now can you?

  3. I remember 10 years ago there used to be similar all business class airlines competing on the London – New York route (Maxjet, Eos, Silverjet). Guess the economics didn’t work out and they all disappeared. I’m surprised that the economics are working out on the Paris – New York route.

  4. By pure coincidence, because I had no idea of the specific details, I caught a Swiss all business class 737 from France to Newark a long time ago. I walked on the plane with a business class ticket and realized it was a 737 and had a slight anxiety attack because I figured it was two cabin and I would get a crappy business class product. Nope, it was 2-2 just like this. Awesome flight. Loads of food. Tons of legroom.

  5. I’d say the main difference between previous “all business” airlines and La Compagnie is that the latter has been able to take advantage of modern technology (smaller and more efficient planes). Sure, just like Eos they operated 757s for a couple of years, but after two or three years of operations La Compagnie knew they’d be able to profit from the a321 in the medium and long term.

  6. @Jay, I’ve also been on that plane (I think), which were leased from a small charter corporation, later hired by SK for their short-lived service to Houston. I believe the seats were 2-2 angled flat, but still very nice for a 737. I would assume that an A321 is, at least marginally, better since it’s more quiet, have the windows a bit higher up, and so forth. Too bad La Compagnie only flies this route, I would LOVE to use them for my transatlantic journeys. Seems like truly excellent value.

  7. “La Compagnie is an airline that is essentially revolutionizing transatlantic business class travel”

    Are they really? If that were true, there would be a dozen flights per day using the same business model offered by various airlines. We still haven’t seen that…yet.

    At best, they seem to offer a niche product that people who use it seem to appreciate. And it is a good value for the price you are paying.

  8. @Lukas @Jay

    You are thinking about PrivatAir, used to operate a number of routes for Lufthansa in the past.

    Company folded last year.

  9. This airline is surviving because it’s not challenging Legacy carrier like BA, AA or AF, since it’s flying to a secondary airport and that too to Paris. Had it been flying to LHR or CDG they would have either folded or been bought out like open skies and then shut down, which was a shame. Nevertheless this looks like a solid product for the price and option to fly to Paris at a reasonable price which amazing. If I use my BA avios it would cost me over 100K miles and around $1200 in taxes which pure highway robbery, save your miles and fly LC.

  10. Lucky: you describe the cabin
    The A321neo has just a single cabin with 76 business class seats, spread across 19 rows in a 2-2 configuration

    A321’s have a B door ahead of the wing. The type of seat on this plane depends upon having the seat in front of your seat a specific distance away for the footwell and screens. What happens with the seats at the B door and at over wing emergency exit.

    BTW I personally would like to see one or bulkheads to break up the cabin into smaller more intimate cabins

  11. That’s a nice little amenity kit with a very reusable bag. I like socks with grippers and Caudalie is a good skincare brand. For a similarly priced Business class seat on Condor, you don’t get something that useful.

  12. I guess when things work, it’s good. After reading the TPG horror story about the Nice flight a couple of months ago I would probably give them a pass

  13. Can’t believe people are moaning about the use of plastic cups and lids on a business class transatlantic flight.

    More energy will be wasted from the drops of kerosene lost when the crew detach the fuelling hose than goes into about 100 plastic lids.

    If you’re worried about echo credentials, don’t turn your nose up at the receptacles, don’t fly. Full stop.

  14. Considering they refer to it as expresso multiple times, I’m not surprised she didn’t know what a latte was. Seems like a rookie mistake for an airline attempting to be boutique.

  15. @lucky.

    I’ve read both reviews of La-Compagnie and to be honest I’m not impressed.

    How would it compare out of 5/10/15 or what ever score you wish to give to Virgin Business, BA Business, Air France business?

  16. Viva La Compaignie! My wife and I look forward to flying on La Compaignie to and from NCE again, especially now that they have ditched the out-dated 757.

  17. Latte could of been a language barrier as in Italian latte is literally milk and caffe latte is milk coffee. Ran into that while in Milano hence the double check of “a latte? Like you want a coffee with milk?”

  18. @AR

    The dominant spelling of the word in French is probably now expresso, though both spellings are used there. In English, dictionaries disagree on whether expresso is incorrect or merely a less common variant. In general English usage, espresso is definitely preferable. However, for a French airline’s translated menu of French cuisine, expresso seems acceptable.

  19. She could have been confused about latte or whether you meant cafe au lait ( the former an espresso drink, the latter more commonly using a French Press).
    I wish airlines would not serve pork: Jews and Muslims don’t eat it ( and obviously nor do vegetarians): so why serve something that 30% of the world’s population can’t eat?

  20. I really like flying them. It feels a bit like flying private in that there are so few seats on the plane. Also boarding and disembarking are very fast. The lounges in Newark and Orly are not that great, but that is minor.

    They used to fly to Luton in the UK, which was great for London. They switched last year from CDG to Orly, which is slightly more convenient, except if you are taking public transportation.

  21. I agree, sitting in the back is very different! You feel like you’re on a pendulum instead of turning like normal.

  22. I really liked our flights on the A321 with LaCompagnie. I found their lounge accommodations less than sterling, and EWR is such a pit—- but it all is well worth the other $1400 apiece we saved per r/t, and the seats sleep just fine. Bravo, and we’ll be back!

  23. In this configuration how do you access the aisle from the window if someone is sitting in the aisle seat?

  24. Latte is a US invention like Häagen Dasz to dazzle ignoramuses.

    In Italy, as someone says above, it is just a coffee with milk, in gist for babies.
    Europe prouds itself for serving all kinds of torrefied good coffee, milk or suger will alter what precious aromas have.

    So a company that does not offer Latte is actually educated, and so is the FA who guessed it right.

    Also, you’d be surprised what a cappucino is in France ( coffee and chocolate )
    The best cream coffees are in Wien ( Vienna ), they put any starshmucks to shame 😉

  25. @BrewerSEA:

    Interesting. They share a border with the word’s country of origin – it’s literally espresso. There’s no translation for it that would allow for the misspelling. So the whole of the country has just decided they’re going to spell it incorrectly for shits and giggles? Even more interesting is this comes from a country that’s incredibly anal retentive about ensuring their own language remains “pure”.

  26. @Paolo, that’s sacrificing 70% for the 30% who don’t ear pork. Why not serve vegan which satisfies nearly everyone. Your logic doesn’t make sense.

  27. @ JW. Well, I intended something more universally accepted than pork, like chicken, rather than complete deprivation. However, I would prefer vegan/vegetarian only food on planes. After all, how hard can it be? Just like a meatless Monday or Lent. It will come in the next few years, I’m sure.

  28. @neil: You can order the A321neo with the Cabin Flex configuration without B doors. It instead has two pairs of overwing exits like the smaller A320 family jets. This maintains the required exit throughput without sacrificing seats.
    This is the configuration that La Compagnie flies.

  29. “They’re offering unbelievable value. Paying under $700 for a one-way ticket and getting fast track, lounge access, a fully flat bed, unlimited high speed wifi, and most of the amenities of business class is simply unbeatable.” Kinda hard to argue with that logic.

  30. You have to ask for “cafe au lait” or a French person might not understand what you want.

    Latte just means milk (in Italian), and isn’t universally understood outside of Americanized Starbucks culture.

  31. Hey JW, if you serve me vegan it will all go directly into the trash can. Not everyone likes quinoa and rabbit food.

  32. @Stogieguy7, frankly I would too, life’s too short for compromises. Keep the pork and leave a moslem/kosher special meal option open.

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