If you’re flying LOT Polish Airlines from Warsaw to New York in the coming months, you might find yourself on a plane you weren’t expecting. I’d say this represents a positive change almost across the board.
Air Belgium operating Warsaw to New York flight
LOT Polish Airlines operates daily service between Warsaw (WAW) and New York (JFK), with a flight that’s ordinarily operated by the Boeing 787, which is LOT’s only long haul aircraft. However, that will be changing over the coming months, per a schedule update that was just loaded.
From October 29, 2023, through March 30, 2024, Air Belgium will be operating on behalf of LOT on the following daily flight:
LO26 Warsaw to New York departing 4:50PM arriving 9:35PM
LO27 New York to Warsaw departing 11:35PM arriving 1:05PM (+1 day)
While this is currently only loaded through the end of the winter schedule in March 2024, it’s my understanding that this is a one year agreement, so I expect this arrangement will be extended for the summer 2024 schedule as well.
This is a wet lease arrangement, meaning that the aircraft and crew will be from Air Belgium, while you can expect the standard LOT food, drinks, and amenities.
This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen Air Belgium operate flights on behalf of LOT. Presumably it reflects that Air Belgium has some excess capacity (or at least feels it can make more money leasing out its planes than operating its own schedule), while LOT has an aircraft shortage.
For those not familiar, Air Belgium is a quirky Belgian airline, which operates scheduled flights to leisure destinations, cargo flights, and also wet leases aircraft to other airlines. Initially the plan was for Air Belgium to exclusively be a passenger airline selling its own tickets, but the airline has had mixed success with this strategy, which is presumably why it’s leasing out aircraft.
Air Belgium is currently operating on a wet lease basis for British Airways between London and Chicago, but that ends as of October 28, 2023. So I imagine that same aircraft is now headed to LOT.
What does this Air Belgium swap mean for passengers?
Should passengers booked on this Air Belgium frequency be looking forward to this change, or does it represent a downgrade? Well, I’d say that almost across the board it’s good news.
For context, LOT operates either a 787-8 or 787-9 on the route, which have the following capacity:
- LOT 787-8s have 252 seats, including 18 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 213 economy class seats
- LOT 787-9s have 294 seats, including 24 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 249 economy class seats
Air Belgium’s Airbus A330-900neos feature 286 seats, including:
- 30 business class seats
- 21 premium economy seats
- 235 economy seats
So to break it down:
- This represents a marginal increase in capacity, since LOT uses a 787-8 on the route most days
- This is great for business class passengers; not only will the cabin be bigger (which is good for awards), but Air Belgium has a much better business class hard product than LOT (which I just shared my thoughts on)
- I think premium economy is pretty comparable between the two airlines, and the capacity doesn’t change
- In economy, the A330-900neo offers a superior product, given the 2-4-2 layout, which is better than the 3-3-3 layout on the 787
- Air Belgium has Wi-Fi on its A330-900neos while LOT doesn’t on its 787s, so that’s another positive difference
Air Belgium is taking over LOT Polish Airlines’ flight between Warsaw and New York starting in late October 2023, using an Airbus A330-900neo. I’d say this is pretty great for passengers. In business class, we’re seeing more capacity, and we’re also seeing a product with direct aisle access from each seat. Meanwhile in economy, I think many will appreciate the 2-4-2 layout, which is nice for couple traveling together.
What do you make of Air Belgium operating LOT’s New York service?