Simon Calder: Didn't enjoy the flight? Demand your fare back

The man who pays his way

Alpha Bravo is brilliant white – a white elephant, say those who lived through the financial fiasco that was Concorde. Yet even on a misty October morning at the scruffy end of Heathrow, the slim, sleek body and extravagant plumage of the airport's sole surviving supersonic jet breathes style. Seven years after Concorde was grounded, G-BOAB is still idling in BA's backyard.

A newspaper claimed this week that the last Concorde waiting for a permanent home could be destined for the Thames, displayed on a floating platform beside the London Eye. An appealing notion. But RHWL, the architecture practice that came up with the project a year ago, told me the plan was dead in the water. To see the capital's last example of a jet that was as beautiful as it was ruinous, you need Envoy Way.

This is not a Foreign Office manual for ambassadors, but the eastern perimeter road at Heathrow airport – just a little north of Hatton Cross Tube station. Appropriately, the road is named after an unsuccessful British aircraft; the Airspeed Envoy was a 1930s attempt to emulate the DC-3. When I went there this week, Heathrow's sole surviving Concorde, still immaculate in BA colours, was parked beside the fence. A free bus service – the 285 or 423 – will drop you off beside her. Stand in awe of this beautiful machine, which took passengers to the edge of heaven – and onward to New York. Then look across to a couple more BA planes that are also parked up awaiting a new home. Remarkably, these old Boeing 757s were supposed to take up where Concorde left off.

ppp You probably know that British Airways runs a "son of Concorde" service – a business-class-only jet from London City airport to New York. But you may not be aware that BA also emulates the Concorde network from Paris through its OpenSkies subsidiary. This premium service connects the French capital with New York and Washington DC.

According to the original plans, OpenSkies should by now have gone beyond its Paris home and be flying BA's old 757s (like those parked beside Envoy Way) from "Brussels, Milan, Frankfurt and Amsterdam to New York". A link from Amsterdam was tested, but it lost heaps of cash and soon closed. The airline is now focused on Paris, and in a bid to entice new customers, has come up with an unprecedented proposition: "Try OpenSkies. If you are not 100 per cent satisfied, get your money back. Love everything or pay nothing."

Dale Moss, chief executive of OpenSkies, says the offer "mirrors the image of our company: innovative, exclusive and charting new courses for the industry".

ppp As you would expect, the money-back guarantee is not without its terms and conditions. It applies only to journeys booked to start in the US, from either New York or Washington, between now and the end of November. To get your money back, you must write in with a "clear explanation why the onboard travel experience was unsatisfactory". If the airline accepts your account, you end up paying slightly more than nothing, as taxes, fees and charges are not refunded. And the offer does not apply to flights disrupted by strikes, acts of God or weather.

Most reasonable travellers are happy when the plane touches down safely, in the right place at roughly the right time. But if thousands of dollars are at stake, might an OpenSkies passenger lower the threshold of irritation, and cite unhappiness about how long the drinks trolley took to reach row 12 or how well the steak was cooked? Apparently not. Since the scheme started last month, only three passengers have asked for refunds – which were promptly granted.

Passengers today, parcels tomorrow

The clock is ticking for anyone keen to test the OpenSkies money-back guarantee. Here's how to try it before the end of November. Fly on Kuwait Airways from Heathrow out to New York for under £300. For the one-way OpenSkies flight from New York to Paris, choose between a "Biz Seat" (around £1,100) or "Biz Bed" (£1,550) – those adept at finding fault may well opt for the latter, in anticipation of a larger refund. Then stump up all of €26 for the hop from the French capital to Luton on easyJet.

Time is also running out for anyone keen to fly on BA's remaining Boeing 757s. The final flight of the long-serving twin-jet will be from Edinburgh to Heathrow on 30 October. The jets that were intended by now to be shuttling across the Atlantic for OpenSkies are being sold off. Not to another airline, mind, but to a cargo company: once the last passengers are off, the seats come out and the parcels go in.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    ICE ICT: Lead Business Consultant

    £39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave