The problems we encountered on our trip to the States last summer (which turned into an upgraded, if lengthier, journey, as described here) were truly an advance warning. It took several more months for MAXjet to declare bankruptcy – which it did on Christmas Monday – and stop flying.
I am a big fan of upper-class transcontinental air travel, and who wouldn’t be? The advent of business-class-only commercial airlines, of which for the last couple of years there were just two, MAXjet and Eos, with SilverJet a very recent new entrant, made such travel more accessible and affordable. You lose most of the trappings of privilege, since not a single person on the plane is flying a lower class, and the service may be down a notch compared with the likes of Virgin Upper Class, but it is still markedly more pleasurable than the best experience that can be had in coach.
The cost is only about a third of what you would pay for a major-carrier business class, with frequent deals available to bring the expense even further down.
On the other hand, I can certainly see how the business model for such airlines can be less than viable. Their fares are priced at no more than two times the unrestricted coach fares for major carriers; often the pricing gap is even less. Yet, they carry considerably less than half the passengers that could fit into a standard configuration of their aircraft. In the times of rising oil prices and tightening credits, it is hard for such company to make the same type of profit per flight, even less so in direct competition with the big boys on the same routes.
Too bad for us. The free tickets that we received in compensation for the aforementioned [mis]adventure (it really was a treat of sorts) are most probably worthless now. At least, MAXjet communications suggest that everybody with future confirmed tickets should be seeking refunds and making alternative arrangements for travel. Natasha is exploring whether we can obtain some sort of a refund for our complimentary tickets, but even I cannot imagine that their customer service would be that stupid. Which leaves the ladies without tickets for the planned visit home at the end of March. Looks like the family budget will have to accommodate additional expenses this year…