Imagine being only one of 84 passengers — or, more specifically, guests — aboard a Boeing 777-200LR airplane as you are whisked away to some of the most exotic and remote locations in the world in a plush, fully reclining seat while watching a movie on a 24-inch flat-screen television as a butler takes your exact order of the Michelin Star-inspired cuisine on which you prefer to dine, as prepared for you by a dedicated executive chef…
…and after you finish your sumptuous repast, you listen to music from a tablet with noise-cancelling headphones — both of which are supplied to you — before you decide to call it a night on what is now your bed for the evening ensconced with custom blankets and pillows, plush duvets and mattress toppers for a great night’s sleep.
Crystal AirCruises To Push Air Travel To A Whole New Level Of Luxury?
That sounds amazing — right?
If your imagination can carry you just one more year — and you are able to fund the trip — that scenario will be a reality; and the experience will blow you right out of the water…
…well…figuratively speaking, anyway, as Crystal Cruises, LLC takes its award-winning luxury experience to the air with its new Crystal AirCruises, which is scheduled to launch sometime in the fall of 2017 and offer itineraries lasting 14 days; 21 days or 28 days.
The expansive social lounge — with stand-up bar, two divans and four dining tables with dedicated seating for six guests — encourages friendly camaraderie among luxury travelers in an airy social space. Cuisine will be prepared in two state-of-the-art galleys and paired with an elegant premium wine list.
…But Will The Concept Last?
The track record of most airlines which were dedicated to luxury services have either gone out of business or radically changed their business models.
“Eight years ago, Michael Trager — who is a co-founder of TravelZork — and I were amongst a select group of passengers for an inaugural flight aboard an airplane operated by OpenSkies, which is a division of British Airways”, according to this article pertaining to an offer of paying $35,000.00 for unlimited business class travel by La Compagnie. “It started off as an airline which only offered a choice between first class and business class; but the airline eventually added economy class seats to its fleet of airplanes, as operating solely as a premium class airline was not as successful as initially expected.”
Since that article was written almost three months ago, an announcement via this official press release from La Compagnie — dated Monday, September 5, 2016 — revealed that its service to London will be suspended effective as of Sunday, September 25, 2016. “This decision comes in view of the new economic climate and aviation landscape in Europe following the recent United Kingdom European Union membership referendum in June 2016.”
Despite the airline having received consistent positive feedback from its valued customers on the London route and encouraging performance levels with an average load factor above 77 percent since June 2016, Frantz Yvelin — who is the founder and chief executive officer of the airline, which is based in France — said that “We do believe into UK’s unique market position, hence the decision to invest heavily in the London route for the last 16 months. But the recent result of the EU referendum has created an unprecedented level of legal and economic uncertainty for airlines that service Great Britain. This helped drive our decision to focus at accelerating the development on our Paris–New York route, where loads are already more than 80 percent, as we recognize the success of our unique model and increasing demand from both the corporate and leisure segment on that route. Of course, as soon as the Brexit consequences will be clarified, we will then re-evaluate our development opportunities from London and other British cities.”
Yvelin stressed that the London option is a suspension of service and not a permanent cancellation; and it will be reassessed in the future — though there is no definitive date for that reassessment.
Although there is an assurance from the airline that “all customers due to travel between New York and London after September 24 and affected by the suspension are of course eligible for a full refund or option to rebook onto the Paris – New York route free of charge”, no mention exists pertaining to the fate of those customers who paid that aforementioned $35,000.00 back in July of 2016 now that half of the advertised destinations had been eliminated.
This is not a recent phenomenon, either: almost 22 years ago, MGM Grand Air shut down after failing to post a profit; and UltrAir ceased operations in 1993, according to this article written by James F. Peltz of the Los Angeles Times. Both airlines catered exclusively to wealthy clientele.
“Crystal AirCruises is not just a thrilling new venture for Crystal, but a groundbreaking development in the luxury travel industry,” said Edie Rodriguez, who is the chief executive officer and president of Crystal Cruises, LLC. “Even the savviest travelers and guests who have sailed on our award-winning ocean cruises many times will relish brand new opportunities to explore places impossible to reach by water, all with Crystal’s signature personalized service and the highest standard of luxury at every point of travel.”
Who would not want to experience what potentially seems like an incredible concept?
The problem is that the odds are stacked against Crystal Cruises, LLC on this venture. How will it get 84 passengers to not only consistently subsidize every flight; but also have Crystal Cruises, LLC profit from it? Will its itineraries as a private jet service of sorts to exotic and remote destinations be the differentiator which airlines with somewhat similar concepts had not tried?
Speaking of profit, another factor to consider is that the cost of experiencing such luxury has not yet been revealed. Suffice to say that if you have to ask how much it costs and you are not amongst the supposed target market of “the top two percent and aspirational wealthy”, you probably cannot afford it — and do not look towards your frequent travel loyalty program miles and points to be of any assistance.
Source: Crystal Cruises, LLC.