La Compagnie is an all-business class boutique airline that boasts only a few planes in its fleet and flies three specific routes from Newark, NJ to Paris, Milan and seasonally to Nice, France. They also allow dogs up to 33 pounds in cabin. When Nik and I started planning our December trip to Europe, we wanted to fly La Compagnie as a bit of research should we return to Europe for a long period of time to scope out how it would work should we bring Koval with us. Read on for our experience flying La Compagnie.
About La Compagnie
I first learned about La Compagnie, a French boutique airline, in an animal travel Facebook group since they allow dogs up to 33 pounds in cabin. The reviews I read in that group and elsewhere online were all very positive. When Nik and I started planning our trip, we went a little out of our way to Newark to be able to fly them to Europe where we’d fly in and out of Paris. Their business class seat layout is what you expect from other airlines, but for a slightly cheaper price.
Flying from Newark
Located in Newark’s Terminal B, La Compagnie doesn’t have their own app, so getting the boarding pass took some effort. One digital wallet version we got didn’t work at security so we had to get a different digital version in email which did work. However, we still needed to check-in at the airline counter to get a printed paper pass for boarding since they don’t use the digital passes for some reason. Our flight was at 7:30pm and the desk didn’t open until 5pm, so we had a lot of extra time to hang out. We had fast pass for TSA security so dealing with a shorter line was nice, but we still had to take shoes off and electronics and liquids out.
Typically when you fly business class, the airline has its own airport lounge or partners with an airline for line access. Unfortunately the lounge at Newark that La Compagnie worked with has since closed so all we got were two $30 vouchers to use at either of the two restaurants in our gate area. We opted for a snack before the flight, but it was a terrible experience. The restaurant we went to had only one worker taking orders and bringing food out. Long waits and slow service. This reflects more on Newark Airport than the airline, but it was pretty disappointing.
Each La Compagnie plane is an Airbus A321neo that has just 76 lie flat seats arranged in 2×2 rows. These are similar to what you see for business class seats on other airlines. Since the seats recline to a fully flat position for sleeping, each seat had its own pillow and comforter. Also included for each passenger is an amenity kit (in a super soft pouch) of lotion, ear plugs, eye mask, travel socks, toothbrush and a shoe bag.
There’s also a footwell at the bottom that can double as some storage space underneath if need be.
The seats have noise cancelling headphones, though the way they plug in was a bit wonky. The plugs need to align just right. There are also a couple compartments for personal items, electrical outlets and free Wi-Fi that was some of the best I ever experienced on a flight (for example, we were able to stream Netflix while in flight without an issue).
Boarding was fast and efficient at 7pm since there are only 76 seats and our flight was maybe half full. We even backed away from the gate a few minutes early, ultimately being airborne at 7:54pm. (Again, we had a 7:30 departure, so not terrible considering it was raining all day and Newark is a big airport.) On this first leg, to Paris, there were no dogs on our flight and the flight attendant said that was pretty unusual. They usually have at lease one a flight.
As boarding wrapped up, we were given a warm towel to clean our hands and a welcome glass of champagne or juice. We both went with the champagne and took a cliche selfie.
Food on La Compagnie
Having followed La Compagnie’s Instagram for some time now, the food has always looked pretty amazing. They work with high quality chefs from France or Italy and aim to offer wines that pair well with the food. The menu’s must change monthly, because for most of November I kept seeing pictures of a meal with lobster, we did not have any lobster. The menus also differ depending on the route you fly.
Dinner was served about an hour after takeoff giving us a choice of entree. Nik and I skipped the soup and both chose the grilled flank steak. Though the steak was served cold, it was still pretty good. The cheeses were delicious and the dessert was good, but rich. We enjoyed dinner with a couple glasses of wine before settling into a movie and some sleep.
About 90 minutes before landing in Paris, breakfast was served. We were given a choice for the meal and both Nik and I went with the Nutella and banana crepe. It was really quite good. People in the seats across from us got the eggs, and they looked decent from afar.
Our return flight to Newark was a different menu and it was good, but it didn’t blow me away.
I’m not sure what they were trying for with the veggie starter, pictured bottom right. It looked weird and I didn’t care for the taste of it. The cheeses and fresh baguette were delicious. However, the dessert was once again pretty rich so I only ate a few bites.
For the main course, both Nik and I went with the lamb and it was very good. (Though the picture doesn’t reflect how good it was.) I think we were both surprised because the description doesn’t tell you much about it and because it followed the lackluster starter.
Similar to the flight to Paris, the snack was served about 90 minutes before landing at Newark. The options were a goat cheese and leek puff tart or some pancakes. Nik got the tart, which had a side of maybe pumpkin soup. We couldn’t quite tell. I got the pancakes, which came with a side of peaches. Since we got one of each, we shared and the pancakes were the better option, even if they were served cold. Are cold pancakes a thing?
La Compagnie’s website is pretty good that it has the menus and in-flight entertainment options posted, so you can view things ahead of time. I had previously read that the movie selection is lacking, and I can confirm that is the case. Maybe 100 or so titles, but not many new releases and many foreign films. I guess they’re aiming to please all of their clientele, which definitely skewers a little older. I settled on “Cool Hand Luke” and “The Departed”, while Nik got to see the new French version of “The Three Musketeers” which was great, allegedly.
They also have a meditation channel if that’s something of interest to you.
Departing from Paris
Our departure flight was scheduled for 10:30am from Paris Orly Airport, the smaller of Paris’ airports. It was about a 25 minute car ride from our hotel and we opted for an Uber since it was early in the morning. We arrived just before 8am and had to wait less than 10 minutes for the checkin desk to open. Being fourth in line, it moved quickly.
Once we had boarding passes in hand, we made our way through a fast lane at security (able to keep shoes on, but electronics out) and into another fast lane for border control. After passing through those, Nik and I made our way to La Compagnie’s “Primeclass Lounge” which had a nice spread of hot and cold items for breakfast.
A really nice aspect of the lounge was the outdoor terrace. While it was cold outside, I did pop out for a few pictures. The sunrise was absolutely beautiful.
While in the lounge we did see a couple who was traveling with two dogs. I spoke with them for a few minutes and learned they have flown La Compagnie several times with their dogs and have had good experiences each time. They said the airline was always relaxed about the pet carrier size and pet weight, which is reassuring since Koval is 22 lbs in weight but has some lanky legs. The dogs were on our flight and I never heard a peep from them.
Nik and I have flown through Orly a few times on flights within Europe and were never that impressed with the terminal. This time we were in Terminal 4 and the gate area for boarding was very nice. I regret not taking a picture. It was spacious with big windows, bright and clean.
Final Thoughts on Flying La Compagnie
I don’t have too many negatives about flying La Compagnie. If anything, I would complain that the bathrooms are tight. They seem tighter than most other airplane bathrooms. That said, it was always clean the few times I used it.
One other negative I can think of, is that the aisle seat doesn’t offer much privacy, if that’s something of concern to you. Others might complain that if you’re a solo traveler sitting in the window seat, you have to climb over your seat mate to access the aisle. For Nik and I traveling as a couple, that wasn’t an issue.
One last note about landing at Orly, we also had a fast lane through customs which was a nice perk. We were through in minutes.
While we didn’t bring Koval on this trip, it was a great roundtrip experience. If we happen to return to Europe full-time, we would definitely bring Koval and fly La Compagnie.