A LOT Embraer E-175 landing at Prague – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Flying business class within Europe is not often an exciting nor noteworthy affair. That said, I was pleased to recently discover that it can still be a positive experience, with a lot more than meets the eye, and at a very affordable price.
I was fortunate enough to recently experience LOT Polish Airlines’ business class product from Warsaw to Prague. As part of its ongoing brand redevelopment, LOT, like many other carriers, has introduced an online bidding system for unsold business class seats, called plusgrade.
The only business class difference versus economy on intra-European flights – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
The system allows passengers to make a bid up to 72 hours before the flight’s departure, and there is a minimum amount that can be bid (in my case, it was approximately $80). At 48 hours prior to departure, I received an email that my bid was successful, and was issued a new ticket for business class — sweet.
Time lapse videos are fun. Retro airline liveries are also fun. Put the two together and you have yourself a winner.
This video was created to celebrate LOT’s 85th anniversary. The Embraer E-175 is painted in the livery that the airline used from 1945 to 1973. It took 12 days and almost 53 gallons of paint to get the job done.
On overview of hangar four shows a handful of aircraft in the shop. Most notably however, is the LOT 737-400 in the foreground. The airplane, now out of service, was painted gold to celebrate the free and fair elections in the country after the fall of communism.
By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren and originally published November 20, 2013 on Airchive.com
As part of our trip to Poland in October we had an opportunity to visit LOT Aircraft Maintenance Services on a Saturday afternoon. Technically separate from LOT, the company can handle anything from a simple tire repair to a heavy D-check, aircraft painting to 737 avionics.
LOT Polish has not exactly been living on easy street over the past few years. The carrier has faced intense competition from deeply entrenched regional full service carriers such as Lufthansa and Air France that have made the effects of the global recession all the more severe. Below the surface the carrier has been shedding routes left and right since 2010 in a bid to increase profitability. The carrier has also been courting partners since 2012 to convince one to buy a major stake in the airline.
But worst of all, the carrier bet the farm on the controversial Boeing 787 Dreamliner for its long-haul operations. Originally intended to help create one of the youngest and most advanced fleets in Europe, the move instead left the Warsaw-based airline with a bunch of expensive pieces of flying plastic when the type was grounded worldwide in January.
Having already sold off all but one of their Boeing 767s by the time of the grounding, the carrier was left up a big creek with a very small paddle. With long-haul operations effectively crippled the carrier hemorrhaged cash to the tune of $50,000 per day for months on end, eventually ending up broke earlier this year. LOT has been taking government loans consistently ever since, and has already admitted that if Boeing doesn’t compensate them for the loss in revenue they are already looking at dire financial straits for 2014.
It is against that backdrop that Airchive was invited by LOT Polish on a roundtrip from New York JFK to Warsaw.
A LOT Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Image: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive.com
Terminal one at New York’s JFK Airport isn’t exactly the airports crowning jewel, but it’s hardly the worst of the bunch either. LOT Polish’s check-in desks are located just below and to the left of the AirTrain entrance, making it an easy find. Premium economy passengers have the option to check in for the flight in at the business class desk, where a friendly LOT employee made check-in quick and easy.
Despite having a fast track security status it took almost thirty minutes to wind through the lanes. Obviously not LOTs fault, but the coach lanes moved faster. Post-security, premium economy passengers can enjoy the Lufthansa lounge at JFK’s Terminal One: this was not clear to us however, and we missed it.