Flying the highly competitive New York-London route with 757s configured with just 48 business-class seats, Eos hopes to do for luxury business travel what Jet Blue has done for the budget market: reap the efficiencies of a finely tuned, well-capitalized startup while forging a brand identity that makes air travel more than a commodity.

In many ways, it's the logical extension of the market segmentation typical of the rest of the consumer landscape. Citing as models brands like Ritz-Carlton, Lexus and Apple (AAPL), Spurlock is betting that people will pay a premium for innovation, service, and a corporate identity that leaves plenty of room for old-fashioned, high-class aspiration. Eos' introductory fare is $5000 round-trip, rising to $6500 early next year -- a price still several thousand dollars cheaper than typical business-class fares on the route.

But as the recent demise of Delta's Song indicates, finding profitable ways to improve the air-travel experience isn't easy, even at premium prices. How does Eos aim to do it?

As Spurlock points out, in the logistics-heavy realm of running an airline, it's one thing to find the best way of making things happen, but it's another to ask if something is the right thing to be happening. Nowhere was this truer for Eos than in the seats themselves -- or, as Eos advertises them, the "suites," which boast 21 square feet of space per passenger, and a jump seat for meetings or social meals.

Eos knew it had to shake things up to be competitive, rather than settling for the business-class seats that existed in the marketplace.

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