Airline joke

27 June, 2011

A guy is sitting in the bar in departures at Heathrow. A beautiful woman walks in and sits down at the table next to him.

He decides that because she’s got a uniform on, she’s probably an off duty flight attendant.  So he decides to have a go at picking her up by identifying the airline she flies for thereby impressing her greatly.

He leans across to her and says the Delta Airlines motto: “We love to fly and it shows”.   The woman looks at him blankly.

He sits back and thinks up another line.   He leans forward again and delivers the Air France motto: “Winning the hearts of the world”.  Again she just stares at him with a slightly puzzled look on her face.

Undeterred, he tries again, this time saying the Malaysian Airlines motto: “Going beyond expectations”.

The woman looks at him sternly and says: “What the f**k do you want?”

“Ah!” he says, sitting back with a smile on his face, “Ryanair”!!!

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I had the dubious pleasure  of flying Ryanair again recently.  I repeat all my previous comments (here) about how they manage to make travel annoying.

This one is a particular bugbear:

The baggage weight limit.  For an item of checked baggage, 15kg is ridiculous and seems designed to annoy passengers – an allowance of 20kg should be the minimum, or at least 18kg. Ryanair’s policy leads to people maximising the 10kg limit on carry-on baggage, and adds to stress levels on boarding, with passengers chasing inadequate overhead locker space. This is one of the causes of the cattle-like queuing referred to above. And the thing is, 15kg is a totally arbitrary limit. What’s the difference in cost for the airline between carrying a 90kg man with a 15kg suitcase, and an 85kg man with a 20kg suitcase? They don’t charge for passengers by weight.

The Economist had a piece recently about Southwest Airlines:

Southwest’s main advantage is that its rivals often treat passengers like cargo. Not only do they squeeze them into seats that make dentists’ chairs seem comfortable, but they do so with an air of ill-concealed resentment. …….It is the small things that make the difference. Southwest still gives out free peanuts, an oddly emotive subject among travellers. It lets passengers switch their flights often, for no extra charge. Most importantly, perhaps, it does not charge for checked-in luggage. Bob Jordan, Southwest’s vice president for strategy, reckons that charging for bags would have given the airline an additional $300m a year. But bag fees are so irritating that Southwest decided to go without.

And to think that Southwest Airlines was supposedly the model that Ryanair originally followed!  Michael O’Leary has obviously cherry-picked the bits that suit his unusual worldview, and discarded the bits that involve being courteous to passengers (even where it costs nothing).

The other day, I was prevailed upon to give a tenner to “sponsor” an acquaintance who is undertaking a mountain biking, trekking and rafting trip to Tibet and the Himalayas next August. Now I don’t usually pay for holidays for people who are not members of my immediate family (and not always then either), but this was in a Good Cause as the “proceeds” were going to the Irish charity, Concern.

Ever since I was parted from my hard-earned money for this “Tri-Adventure Challenge”, a niggle of resentment has been afflicting me.  Not because I have anything against giving money to charity – in fact, I give rather a lot – but because I am simply browned off at being asked to pay for exciting trips for people to far-flung destinations, with an unspecified (and probably negligible) quantum of the money eventually finding its way into the coffers of the charity itself. 

I want all of any donation I might make to go directly to the charity, and not to have most of it spent in flying (with attendant carbon footprint) an army of under-occupied do-gooders to the ends of the earth, where their energies will be dissipated in pointless activities that serve no purpose, and where no doubt many a pleasant evening will be spent relaxing and socialising, all at my expense.

I was musing on this last Saturday when I opened the travel section of the Irish Times and found an article entitled “Charity begins away”.  Here I read that “It’s supposed to begin at home but charity can also take you abroad to some of the world’s most exciting places. It’s the ultimate win-win so Sandra O’Connell rounds up some great holidays for worthy causes”. 

At least the article doesn’t pretend that the trips are not holidays.  Here is a sample of the sort of trips somebody with time on their hands could undertake under the guise of charitable endeavour [my comments added]:

Walk the Great Wall  Easily one of the wonders of the world, the 6,400km Great Wall of China stretches from the Gobi Desert to the mountains of Korea. Happily, you’ll only be taking in a tiny bit of it [must leave enough time for sightseeing, after all]……Once you’re off the wall there is a guided tour of Beijing, including Tiananmen Square, the Olympic Park and the Silk Market, as well as free time to undertake your own excursions [that’s more like it].   Charity: Irish Cancer Society. Event:Great Wall of China Trek. Date: October 14th to 23rd, 2011. Sponsorship required: €4,500.

Grand Canyon trek   Children’s charity Barnardos already has a full quota for its big trip this year [I’m not surprised] but if you fancy giving yourself plenty of fund raising time for next year, check out its Grand Canyon Trek which takes place in June 2012.    Fly to Las Vegas [party!], transfer over the Hoover Dam into the Lake Mead National Park for an acclimatising walk. By day three you’ll be spending your first full day on the trails, with an early start [not too early, I hope] into the Hualapai Indian reserve and a trailhead that overlooks the Grand Canyon.  From there you begin your descent along remote paths past waterfalls with the Colorado River snaking far below. You continue down the canyon, crossing creeks and waterfalls and pitching your tent at night.  Expect to walk around 15km a day [OK…but let’s not overdo it], taking in highlights such as the “wet route” to Beaver Falls, swimming through to a subterranean cavern under the first tier of the waterfall, before jumping 5m into a frothy pool below.   Charity: Barnardos. Event:Grand Canyon Trek. Date: June 2nd to 9th, 2012. Sponsorship required: €4,600.

Make for the Cape   A much gentler option open to volunteers of all fitness levels [now you’re talking] is a nine-day meander [a good stress-free word, that] through South Africa, helping to raise funds for people with disabilities back home.  The walking tour of Cape Town and the surrounding countryside includes treks through the Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens and the Silvermine Nature Reserve, enjoying views out over both the Atlantic and Indian oceans on the Cape of Good Hope peninsula [mustn’t forget my camera].  Equally unmissable is the panoramic views of Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain [wonder what the suckers back home are up to?] , a visit to the penguin colony at Boulders Beach and an exploration of Stellenbosch in the country’s winelands [yes!].  You’ll also get to take a boat over to Robben Island for a guided tour of the former prison Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in [can I skip this bit? –  sounds boring], now a Unesco World Heritage site.      Charity : Rehab. Event: South African Challenge. Date: November 2011. Sponsorship required: €4,950.

If I’m going to subsidise somebody to take part in a trip or an event, I want the sponsored efforts to have tangible beneficial results in themselves, and not be just a diversion or holiday for the participants.   Why not a sponsored clean-up of Dublin parks and canals?  A sponsored cook-in for homeless people? A sponsored house clean for sick and elderly people?  A sponsored day out for handicapped children?

In the Sunday Times, Daisy Waugh has similar feelings:

…. I’ve made it a rule never to contribute to fundraising efforts where fundraisers are simply finding a moral high ground from which to bore us all about a new personal hobby.  So: premenopausal ladies struggling with weight issues, wanting sponsorship to run half-marathons: forget it.  Ditto middle-aged fathers demanding money for week-long bike rides in exotic and manly places.  Not a chance. In fact, now I think about it, any begging communication at all which uses the words “challenge” or “fun” – or which suffixes their named endeavour with a facetious “athon” – doesn’t even make it to my Maybe One Day pile.  No matter what the cause.  It goes straight in the bin.

Her article appears under the headline “Nobody’s having fun at my expense”.  Join the club, Daisy.

In the most recent edition of the Sunday Tribune, I found some extremely useful information. Their travel correspondent Lizzie Gore-Grimes was “smitten” with the Villa Feltrinelli  (or to give it its proper title, the Grand Hotel Villa Feltrinelli) which apparently “is the perfect base for loved-up couples to explore stunning Lake Garda”.

Tribune readers now know, thanks to Lizzie, that “the hotel boasts so many exquisite details you could never list them all….. imagine an octagonal bathroom’s deep purple marble bath, the kaleidoscope effect of the tower room’s round windows, chandeliers dripping with Murano glass, hand-painted ceilings (crafted by the Lieti brothers in 1890), gleaming gilt mirrors and wonderfully friendly staff all gliding about in their starched whites.…. We settled in with a white peach bellini out by the water before retiring to the pergola for dinner.”

I’m glad to see that The Sunday Tribune, in these days of hardship and cutbacks, is still prepared to treat its correspondents properly. In the Villa Feltrinelli, the cheapest room (if that’s your thing) between May and September is a snip at €1,200 per night, and seeing as how that includes breakfast, a selection of house wines, free soft drinks and beers in the room bar, personal laundry, valet service and use of their on-site recreational facilities, you have to admit it is exceptional value.   I lost no time in booking a week in one of their Premium Junior Suites for Lady Puckstownlane and me, at the really very reasonable rate of €2,650 per night.

Tribune Newspapers plc, which publishes the Sunday Tribune, incurred a loss of over €5 million in 2008; its revenues shrank by 15.7 per cent.

Memo to Sunday tribune editor: I am available to undertake similar arduous assignments, in the event that Ms Gore-Grimes is indisposed.