Monday, February 5, 2018


Just about a month ago, Delta Airlines Flt 9721 from Newark, New Jersey was the last scheduled passenger flight of the "Queen Of The Sky," the Boeing 747 anywhere in North America.

 Introduced into passenger service by Pan Am in 1970, of the more than one-thousand in world wide service by 1998, just a handful remain flying passengers mostly in the Middle-East, and a few more have been pressed into cargo service around the world.

I was reminded this week when Canada's second largest air carrier, West Jet, announced the launch of it's no frills airline (Swoop !) next summer,  just how miserably challenging  travelling by air has become in the first decades of the 21st Century. There was a time when getting to one's destination by air was as much fun, perhaps more some time, than the vacation, event, or activity that would be happening at  destination. Air carriers are greedy, the competition cut-throat and passengers are constantly demanding cheaper air fares. Boing has just narrowed the seats on the 747's modern replacement, the 777, by one inch so airlines can fit-in more people.

 I sense passengers in Titanic's steerage class were better treated than tourist class ticket holders on today's air carriers. On Titanic they had meals, fresh air, and space to lie-down - Lest I digress, the voyage most certainly more pleasant than their ultimate destination at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in April of 1912 - In the case of West Jet's Swoop ! launching June 1,  the lowest fare I've seen advertised is $9.00 (Hamilton - Winnipeg) "Seat Only", there's a charge for everything else...including carry-on and use of the over-seat bin.

Launching a 'no frills' discount airline in Canada is challenging - Others have tried, many have failed : Canada 3000, Can-Jet and New Leaf are three that come instantly to mind. - Problem is the small population (About 1/10th of the USA population) and the shear size of the geography, and all of the extra costs related to operating inside the 2nd largest land mass on the planet, next only to Russia.

In just a week or two, thousands of those same residents of 'The Great White North' will be heading south, family in tow, or if you're college age, with like minded young people, for the annual ritualistic 'Spring Break' pilgrimage to the south coasts of the United-States, or Mexico and/or other destinations in the Caribbean and central America. Guess what ? - Top of mind will be 'how cheap a flight' can they possibly book, boast about, and ultimately suffer through.

If you are considering being, or still think you want to be among those travellers, be prepared for the cattle-like herding experience of airport line-ups and security, and the somewhat like above described despicably miserable airline experience.

Consider yourself appropriately advised...

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