Our family travels a lot. It’s a priority for me. As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I have come to recognize that the journey is just as important as the destination. That’s why we plan our Paris vacations with OpenSkies. When you choose to fly with OpenSkies from JFK to Paris you are opting to start the vacation early. It’s a smart move!
For the past 15 years, Mr. Momtrends and I have traveled to Paris together. For some of you, this may seem odd or indulgent but for us, it defines who we are and our value system. Diving into new experiences and embracing other cultures matters deeply to us. I’ll happily spend time with anyone who wants to hear why we return again and again to Paris. It’s a magical city, a world unto itself really, we could go twice a year for a century and never run out of new experiences (or romance!).
Last year we took the girls along to soak in all the goodness of Paris and understand why the city appeals so much to us. This year we were looking for more romance. The girls were off to sleepaway camp, and we headed overseas for some kid-free fun.
Dreams of travel never stop at casa de Momtrends. We are constantly in a state of trip planning. I screenshot museums I want to visit, restaurants I want to try and shops I want to explore. For years we had deal alerts on business class flights to Paris. Now we have at least one thing figured out. For the past few years, we’ve flown OpenSkies, a luxury boutique airline.
OpenSkies from JFK to Paris
OpenSkies does just one thing and they do it very well. They connect NYC and Paris. They have 5 direct flights a day connecting my two cities. Pick from JFK / EWR, select your class of service and then leave the rest of your time to mapping out what you are going to eat, see and buy in Paris!
OpenSkies airlines is owned by British Airways. They’ve been around since June 2008 but largely still fly under the radar (pun intended). When you fly OpenSkies you get BA miles or Oneworld affiliate miles and most of the perks of BA travel.
Planning you Open Skies Trip
There are three flight classes available. Our family has tried all three. Bottom line: for the value, get the Biz Bed experience. Rates start around $2000 for a round trip ticket. You’ll get a flatbed seat, an in-flight fine dining experience, access to BA’s private lounges and an expert staff. It’s a tremendous value.
The OpenSkies Biz Bed Inflight Experience
Arriving at JFK you’ll immediately feel special. The check-in area is a private oasis at JFK. There isn’t a line in sight. The staff is charming and efficient—they want to get you to the lounge and on your way toward enjoying yourself.
The exclusive security area at JFK will take mere minutes of your time. In no time at all we were on our way to the lounge.
I’ve been to many airport lounges over the years, and the BA Lounge at JFK is among the best in the US. They pay attention to food and service in a way that American carriers don’t care to compete.
I usually eat on the plane (since I don't have meetings on the other side, I don't worry about getting a full night of sleep on the plane). In the BA lounge, I grab a healthy snack or make a salad, and of course have a glass of wine or champagne. We've been to the BA lounge many times. Usually Mr. Momtrends has work on the other side of the Atlantic. He eats a full gorgeous meal in the lounge. The assortment is stunning (think Asian, Italian, French and more) and you can leave the lounge fully satiated. Health tip: If veggies and greens are important to you, load up here. Every flight I've ever been on goes skimpy on the greens.
Overall experience of the lounge in Paris
The two lounges are different. The JFK Lounge is ENORMOUS. It has many distinct zones--business, relaxing, socializing and the dining room. In Orly (Paris) the lounge is quite a bit smaller. There is a generous buffet area with snacks and beverages and ample seating, but it is much more intimate that the JFK lounge.
The seats are comfortable and roomy. It’s a true 180º experience on OpenSkies Biz Bed. The staff is bilingual and among the youngest and most lively on transatlantic flights (while I love Delta, our major domestic carrier of choice, they can use some help when it comes to being cheerful!).
Settle in with a glass of champagne (the real stuff from France, not a cut-rate bubbly) and slip off your shoes. This is going to be fun!
Food on OpenSkies
When you settle in, an OpenSkies team member will check in and see if you want a full breakfast or dinner or if you want to optimize sleep. As I said, I like to enjoy the ride, so I say yes to all the meals.
Make your selection from the gourmet menu (heavily influenced by the French) with a full complement of wines. I recommend a glass of Billecart-Salmon to start and a Saint Emilion with your meal. For breakfast, you’ll have the choice of a quick breakfast or a full petit dejuner (French breakfast).
Don’t miss the cheese plate with a glass of Madeira or port. I feel like this touch is an example of the taste level OpenSkies brings to flying. They most certainly aren’t skimping.
Note: I always love the goody bags in first class. Open Skies provides a Furla bag with socks, eye mask, ear plugs, Pure Altitude lip balm and lotion, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Definitely not the fanciest I've seen, but nice.
OpenSkies Inflight Entertaint
Where this experience is lacking is in the entertainment department. It’s fairly limited—especially for kids. On the way over, this isn’t a big issue. It’s easy to find one movie or show to watch. On the way home, I took a meager 45 minutes’ nap, I needed hours of entertainment and struggled a bit to find shows to watch. (I did score big with a Bruce Springsteen documentary, I would have never tried it if I hadn’t run out of other options.)
Other Classes of Service
OpenSkies ECO is like no other transatlantic economy flight. You’ll still get an expert staff, great food and the iPad entertainment. Rate start at $575. Our family has opted to fly over Biz Bed and back in ECO. We figure the daytime return flight is worth saving a few dollars when we are flying four people. But when it’s a trip for two, we splurge for Biz Bed both ways.
Prem Plus (premium economy) is the middle ground for OpenSkies. It’s a “more premium experience” than ECO. The biggest difference: the seats are larger. So again, this doesn’t really factor in for young kids. Round trips start around $1000.
No matter the class, it’s a refined experience for you and your partner or your entire family. With just over a hundred passengers per flight, they can give everyone on board TLC. You’ll be sure to get speedy boarding and a great staff.
Instead of Charles de Gaulle (which IMHO is chaotic at BEST) you’ll fly in and out of Orly airport (ORY). Orly is a quick train or cab ride away from the main parts of Paris. Outbound, pick from either Newark (EWR) or JFK airports.
This is not the time to diet my friends. You’ll be walking a ton so embrace the food of the finest culinary talent in the world. This trip we tried the L’Oiseau Blanc restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel.
Book your table early—it’s a tough place to finagle. Arrive early. If the weather is fine, grab a seat at the outdoor bar and sip some bubbly as you take in the views of the Eiffel Tower.
I sampled the Lobster tasting menu. I still dream about it. Let the sommelier guide you through the wine list and suggest a perfect pairing. If you can time it right, you’ll have a spectacular view of the nightly light show at the Eiffel Tower.
The Peninsula is within walking distance of the St. James hotel.
I read up on what’s trendy in Paris. This year I was eager to catch the Dior exhibition at Les Arts Décoratifs (a museum near the Louvre). The retrospective guided me through the founding years of the latest artistic incarnation. The clothes were swoon-worthy and the curators did a magnificent job connecting the dots between the past and present of fashion.
This exhibit simply took my breath away.
My motto: always make time to shop in Paris. A recent favorite is Berenice for clothing (you can see what I bought in this post). And I always, always shop for tea at Kusmi Tea. This year we stopped in at Clair Naa in the Marais for sweet jewelry for the girls.
This trip we stayed at the Hotel St. James in Paris. It’s a private-ish club with exquisite rooms and a prime location in Paris’s swank 16th arrondissement.
The Bois de Boulogne is a large public park right at the edge of the 16th. It's a perfect spot for running and also has loads of things to do for families. The Jardin d'Acclimatation has rides and a amusement park atmosphere (albeit French and extremely chic). There are also horse paths, cycling routes and loads of playgrounds. Set aside a full day to wander here! For more ideas on what to do in Paris, refer to this past post.
Get more details about flying OpenSkies to Paris here. Are you ready to plan your Paris trip?
This is not a sponsored post. Travel accommodations were made by OpenSkies to facilitate this review. All lodging and meals were paid for by Momtrends. Photos are all original and may not be used without express permission.