Norwegian Needs a New In-flight Magazine

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Right?

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Well, if whoever’s responsible for the raptor porn can put down their stuff long enough, they might find other inspiration here.

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Were Jen and Justin just seen on this beach in Cyprus?

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No: despite the rumors Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, who are from now on as a couple as much a part of ancient history as the love goddess Aphrodite who rose from the sea foam here to cavort and desport, were actually splashing around the Bahamas.

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Before the split, that is.

 

Flights to and from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport Briefly Suspended

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Due to a military incident involving Israel and Syria, flights into and out of Ben Gurion International Airport were briefly suspended Saturday, Israeli media reported.

Immediately following the incident, in which an Israeli F-16 jet was shot down by Syrian fire,  civilian airspace over northern Israel was shut down.  The flight suspensions at Ben Gurion, much to the south of the Israeli-Jordanian-Syrian border area, lasted less than an hour.

Some 90 percent of travelers entering and leaving Israel do so through Ben Gurion. During the Gaza war (called Operation Protective Edge in Israel)  in summer 2014, the FAA issued a ban on flights to Ben Gurion that lasted 48 hours, however the airport was never officially closed. Missiles fired from Gaza came close to the airport prompting some airlines such as El Al to alter their flight paths until a cessation of hostilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonic Bloom? In Airline Audio Branding, Norwegian Leads the Way

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In travel, sometimes it’s the most irritating experiences that turn out to be the most inspiring. Over about a 12-month stretch I found myself aboard more Norwegian Air Shuttle flights than I had planned on; but the routing and timing and reasonable fares added up to lots of Norwegian air time. I remember boarding one of the airline’s spanking new 787 Dreamliners at JFK. Okay I should specify JFK Terminal 1, which is  perhaps the worst terminal at JFK, principally because it isn’t Terminal 5 but I digress. The issue was that the terminal was crowded, wait times to check in were long, waiting at TSA was long, then the wait beyond security was long, and I felt like maybe this entire dehumanizing experience wasn’t really worth it. Did I mention the loud family from Australia with the loud Dad wearing a Hooters T-shirt, and his two teenage sons wearing Hooters T-shirts too, right behind me in the long check-in line, one of them spilling his Red Bull energy drink on my Mandarina Duck suitcase and oh, laughing about it while I thought well, thank God, at least they’re flying back to Australia, or someplace that wasn’t where I was going, and someplace with a (God love ’em!) Hooters.

Anyway. I primed my ears for onboard succor in the form of music, thinking maybe I could at least hear something humanizing, if not actually see or feel or smell it, on the way to my seat but no, nothing but canned music. The same canned music I had heard boarding in Barcelona. And in Copenhagen. And back at JFK. And that’s why when I heard that even some folks at Norwegian had had enough of melodies basic on their otherwise gleaming planes, I thought you know, this is something I can get behind. And the world should know more about these trailblazing efforts. So there you have it: overdue cool boarding music, be heard!

 

Pretty, right?

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But travel isn’t always pretty.

In the travel and hospitality industries there are certain observations that are chiefly expressed over drinks among colleagues or in other closed quarters: things like “the French are lousy tippers,” “Israelis are pushy” or “Americans are loud.” And while such findings may contain some elements of truth, does it mean brand-appropriate reaction to them can veer into actual discrimination?

On Losing My Ryanair Virginity

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My principal fear is that it will never be as good as the first time.

True, I never intended to fly Ryanair, the Irish low-cost carrier that has generated more passenger horror stories than perhaps any other airline today barring United. Recent work assignments tethering me to Greece, I had sworn silent allegiance to Aegean Airlines, which is now more or less the official carrier of Greece. Supporting the Greek economy, yadda yadda.

But after flying Ryanair #3565 non-stop from Thessaloniki (SKG) to Copenhagen (CPH), I’m not so sure. After all, mistaking brand loyalty for a virtue is slightly un-capitalistic, no?

Whatever. The slightly complex truth is that both carriers are doing good and interesting things (as opposed to Delta and United who with their crazy Basic Economy tactics are doing really dumb things), meaning the competition that’s been brewing for a while is about to heat up. I knew it the second I saw a Ryanair jet disgorge a full load at Chania airport, of all places. But after all, what had brought me to Thessaloniki in the first place? Why, a lovely Aegean A320 that had swooped in sweet and low over the shimmering Thermaic Gulf from an overheated tarmac down in Heraklion, Crete. Even if there was a ferry around that covered that ground, you wouldn’t want to be on it. The boat from Piraeus to Heraklion alone is a nine-hour ordeal, but I digress.

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Aegean has got Greece covered. And yet…

The state of the hobbled Greek economy is such that there is no Greek carrier that connects New York with Athens. #Tragic, right? Like we are supposed to sit back and be tickled that Emirates has stepped up to fill in that yawning gap? Hmm…do they allow Israelis on board their American-built aircraft? How about homosexuals? Oh, as long as they don’t kiss and frighten the children? We’ll wait for the marketing people in Dubai to get back to us on that one…

So Ryanair sweet baby, you pretty much had me at that 46€ one-way. I mean really? Fifty bucks for a fairly long, three-hour flight that was basically the perfect fit for my transatlantic connection on Norwegian, minimizing my wait time in the sleek Scandinavian dungeon that is CPH airport? SOLD! Bear in mind that the lowest fare around the third week in May from Athens to Copenhagen non-stop on Aegean was $121, plus add an additional 30€ for a bag and boom, you’re looking at $150. With that in mind, I sprang for the Priority Leisure+ fare on Ryanair, which included one checked bag plus seat selection and priority boarding–none of which were options on that $121-ish Aegean fare.

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And before you know it, because your time is always cruelly up quicker than you think in the Mediterranean (don’t even get me started on Tel Aviv), there I was at SKG, with my boarding pass pre-printed and in hand so as to avoid a frankly insane 50€ airport check-in surcharge and maybe it’s just because people  really are nicer in Thessaloniki (what is this, like the Phoenix of the Balkans or something? People smiling at 6AM and stuff? Weird). Suitcase whisked off, easy. One last smack-me Greek coffee, Oh God am I going to miss this place, and off to the gate and there are a ton of people in line and I can barely deal, but hey, for once I don’t fucking have to because with my Priority boarding I sail right past ’em and before I know it I’m on board and plopped down in aisle seat 7C. A pretty Greek lady offers me a mint. Was that ridiculously easy or what? No wonder they call it easyJet!!

Oh wait, this is Ryanair…well who can mind these details when you’re losing your religion/virginity/brand loyalty? Seriously though no matter what you were doing the night before or who you were doing it with, there can be no mistaking the interior of a Ryanair 737-800 for any other airplane. The wet lemon yellow and navy blue color scheme was obviously designed by your mother-in-law the night she swallowed the absinthe “by mistake.” We are talking not subtle. We are talking about the safety cards actually plastered onto the seat backs in front of you and seats that don’t recline.

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But hell, we’re also talking seats with thicker cushions for your weary ass  than comparable ones on easyJet or Aegean. Not quite JetBlue caliber but hey, this is not America (oh wait, isn’t America the place that gave us this single-ply tissue of an airline?) and frankly these seats are not that bad at all. Dammit, I’m not unhappy!

The flight attendants? Young and pretty and professional. The coffee? Should you want some, it’s by Lavazza. For a small charge but hey, Italian coffee on an Irish plane from Greece to Denmark? Fuck yeah, I’m in. And liking it. Not liking the fragrance trolley that’s being shuttled up and down the aisle with all the calculated abandon of a Rachel Maddow monologue, but hey everybody’s got to sell. Doesn’t mean ya gotta buy.

Although, with the fifty or so bucks I saved over competing fares in my pocket, I just might have.

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The author paid $101 for his ticket on Ryanair from SKG to CPH in May.