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March 30, 2010

The Details

All Business

Travelers who've been longing for air travel to regain a little lost luxe have reason to be encouraged. In recent months a handful of stylish all-business-class airlines and routes have emerged, offering private-jet services and amenities in jumbo-size planes—and giving a major boost to what too often seems like a rapidly downgrading industry.

AIRLINE Eos
SERVICE Launched in October with daily flights between JFK and London's Stansted. Roundtrip, $6,500; 888-357-3677; www.eosairlines.com.
PLANES Reconfigured Boeing 757-200s holding 48 passengers in cabins originally built for 200.
ON BOARD The fully flat seats come with cashmere blankets, personal DVD players, and Bose noise-canceling headphones.
COMPETITIVE EDGE Eos's seats are the best of the bunch—longer than the rest, with a true podlike feel.

AIRLINE Maxjet
SERVICE Flies the JFK–Stansted route; Washington, D.C.–Stansted flights are coming. Roundtrip, from $1,360; www.maxjet.com; 888-435-9629.
PLANES 767-200ERs with 102 seats as opposed to the 205 on regular flights.
ON BOARD Maxjet's seats only partially recline—to a 60-inch pitch—but the amenities include superb food and personal entertainment systems.
COMPETITIVE EDGE The price of flying business-class on Maxjet is often less than most standard business-class fares, even for last-minute reservations.

AIRLINE Lufthansa
SERVICE Flights from Newark and Chicago to Düsseldorf, and from Newark to Munich. Roundtrip, from $2,300; 800-645-3880; www.lufthansa-usa.com
PLANES A mix of Boeing Business Jet 737-700s and Airbus Corporate Jet A319s, each with 44 to 48 nearly flat seats.
ON BOARD Even better than the leather seats and personal entertainment systems, Lufthansa's menus are devised by a rotating roster of star chefs.
COMPETITIVE EDGE The new private jet service connects Frankfurt and Munich passengers to regional airports throughout Europe, handling all bags and paperwork.

AIRLINE Swiss Airlines
SERVICE The year-old service flies between Newark and Zurich six times a week. Roundtrip, from $2,200; 877-359-7947; www.swiss.com.
PLANES Boeing Business Jet 2—a new extended-range version of the Boeing 737-800—with 56 60-inch pitch seats.
ON BOARD The amenities are nice, if not extraordinary: seats that lie almost flat, DVD players, Jack Daniels and Glenfiddich, and lots of in-flight shopping.
COMPETITIVE EDGE As the only Swiss Airlines flight at Newark, check-in is ultrafast. In Zurich, passengers can use the chic new Allegra and Business lounges.

AIRLINE KLM
SERVICE The new Amsterdam–Houston flight, aimed squarely at oil executives, flies six times a week. Roundtrip, $8,500; 800-447-4747; www.klm.com.
PLANES Upgraded Boeing Business 737-700s, equipped with oversize fuel tanks and specially designed wings for long-range flights.
ON BOARD Forty-four flatbed seats come with the usual cotton sheets, power outlets, and personal videos—along with a not-so-typical Delftware parting gift.
COMPETITIVE EDGE For anyone connecting to flights to the Middle East or Asia, only KLM's service makes timing and transfering this easy.

AIRLINE MiMa Club
SERVICE MiMa (short for Milano/Manhattan) is a members-only service flying six times a week. Roundtrip, $4,000; 212-609-7074; www.mimaclub.com.
PLANES Airbus Corporate Jet A319 with 48 seats uses Linate: Milan's secondary airport, 15 minutes from the city center.
ON BOARD The leather seats are wired for e-mail, meals can be preordered, and once on the ground, immigration escorts help speed the entry process.
COMPETITIVE EDGE Extras include a 24-hour concierge as well as helicopter transfers and, of course, the most stylish fellow passengers in the sky.