Report Card: Silverjet
Date: January 25, 2007
Route: Newark, New Jersey, to London’s Luton Airport
Departure Time: 7:30 p.m.
Fare: $1,020.50, one-way
Online booking and check-in were a snap, and the links to transportation providers from Luton to London are a plus. My only complaint: the website’s small light-gray type isn’t easy to read.
Ground Transportation: A
Passengers don’t have to arrive at the airport until 30 minutes before their flight, but I gave myself a three-hour window. Silverjet’s chauffeur service picked me up promptly at 4 p.m. for an additional $90.
Instead of the usual throngs of passengers, I encountered two smiling attendants who took my luggage, checked my passport, and then pointed me toward the lounge—all within three minutes.
Indulging in the fresh fruit, pastries, and top-shelf bar helped me survive the lounge’s chilly temperature. Passengers chatted over cocktails while the white, pod-like chairs and mood lighting made the space feel like a swank hotel bar.
An attendant announced boarding at 6:50 p.m., and I was through Silverjet’s fast-track security by 6:57 p.m.—an absolute breeze.
The interiors of the Boeing 767 are brand-new, with a two-by-two-by-two configuration and capacity for 100 passengers. The brown-and-beige interior was drab, but the airline gets kudos for the futuristic flat beds. A plastic privacy screen tucks into the armrest, and the seat has a built-in back massager and reclines 172 degrees. Instead of overhead lighting, each chair comes with a fluorescent lamp that juts out from the top—it seemed to poke me in the head every time I moved—and there wasn’t a seat-back pocket where I could store my book. Luckily, the 60 inches of legroom and a women-only bathroom, with a calming aromatherapy moisturizer, made up for these oversights.
Silverjet recruits flight attendants from the hospitality sector, and for the most part, it shows. They were so friendly that service gaffes were easily forgivable. But the absence of call buttons was a design blunder; it was nearly impossible to signal an attendant. After dropping my fork in the aisle before dinner, it took 10 minutes to get anyone’s attention. What’s more, dinner service was spotty. My neighbors had finished dessert before I received the first course.
The canapés of salmon, Brie, and prosciutto that welcomed us on board were served on cardboard-like bread. The lettuce in my salad was wilted and the chicken breast was rubbery, though the spinach and potatoes were fresh. The full bar, with La Baume Merlot and Cockburn’s port, was some compensation.
In-Flight Entertainment: A+
The entertainment selection and screen resolution on my personal media player were exceptional. I had a choice of 13 movies, from The Way We Were to The Last King of Scotland, 25 television shows (I caught up on The Office), and five music categories (jazz, rock, classical, dance, and "greatest hits," with a total of 100 songs).
Silverjet might be a fantastic airline once it irons out a few kinks. The laid-back yet professional vibe made for a relaxing flight, and Luton Airport is a plus too—only an hour from London and easier to navigate than Heathrow.