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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

I may yet get to see America

I refuse to pay more than about £100 to sit in a tube for several hours, no matter how far it travels or how interesting the place at the far end, and even if they let me sit by the window and look at the clouds and, with extreme luck, at the beginning and the end of the journey, some actual views of earth. So until now, and given that no one else has thought it worth paying for me to visit, I have resigned myself to never actually seeing the (now sadly truncated) towers of Manhattan and the depths of the Grand Canyon (to name the two American things I most want to see before I die), plus whatever else American has to offer, such as those peculiar shaped small mountains in the desert wherever those things are, nice people, Carnegie Hall, an NFL football game, etc. But now, via the invaluable Transport Blog “In Brief” section (April 28th), I have come across this:

Transatlantic flights for as little as £60 could soon be available under a deal being forged between a German airport and US carriers.

The managing director of Cologne-Bonn airport, Michael Garvens, says he has been negotiating for several weeks to establish the service, which would take low-cost travel into a new realm.

Under the proposals, carriers such as Hapag-Lloyd Express and Germanwings would fly passengers from Cologne-Bonn to New York, Chicago and other destinations in America and Canada for as little as £60 per stretch. The deal would require passengers to pay for refreshments and to book online.

“We are currently holding concrete discussions with American carriers,” said an airport spokesman. The airport said its goal was to combine the strengths of budget airlines.

Concrete discussions, no less. (Interesting that “concrete” in this connection means a discussion that is actually going somewhere. Often “concrete”, applied to conversations, means the opposite of that.)

Two possibilities suggest themselves. Either Cologne-Bonn to America will shortly be followed by (e.g.) Stansted to America, or Stansted to Cologne-Bonn by Ryanair or scumbagair or reallyeasyjet or gojet or whatever can be stuck on the front of the journey, and I could be in the USA for something around or not far above my £100 limit.

The world is getting smaller.

So, now, who will pay my American hotel bill and cab fares, or put me in their spare room and feed me for a fortnight, having collected me from the airport? Some pocket money would be nice. A few speaking engagements (but not too many), some TV and radio appearances in which I can air my opinions to the American masses and become an instant celebrity, maybe some girl friends for the duration (see the Kris Marshall scenes in Love Actually for details), …

Who will start the bidding? America is the land of opportunity, right? So America: prove it. Show me some opportunities. (And please: no “we will pay this much for you to stay at home” nonsense. Well, actually, yes, that might be good too.)

18 comments to I may yet get to see America

  • toolkien

    I have an image of ‘Malcolm Merriweather’ (played by Bernard Fox) and the Andy Griffith Show flashing in my mind at this moment.

    Many folk came over the pond via indentured servitude. Seven years servitude for passage. Sounds like a deal to me.

  • They didn;t mentioned the part about your having to peddle REALLY hard amd flap your arms all the way across, did they?

    I don’t think 60 quid pays for the gas to to cross the Atlantic, how to manage to maintain pay debt on an airplane too?

    My interest in aircraft finance is piqued.

  • Brian,

    Our house is always open to the Samidatistas.

    The only stipulation is that sometime during the trip, you have to spend a couple of hours with me at the range, firing evil assault rifles and cop-killer bullets.

    As for female companionship, you’re on your own. Our 16-yr-old daughter is off-limits, but other than that, this is the Land Of Opportunity.

  • And Brian, when a man as well-armed as Kim says ‘off-limits’ he really means off-limits.

  • Maybe they’re going to be like a bar that has a band playing, and institute a “2 drink minimum”. Of course, the drinks will cost 11 dollars apiece, and another 3 if you want ice. Hey, gotta make up those margins somewhere. And the in-flight movies could be desert epics, Lawrence of Arabia, etc…

  • James

    Jeez. Only wish they’d done this years ago when my wife and I were scrimping to go see her mother once a year. Still, better late than never.

  • Oh man!!

    Weekend shopping trips to Selfridges… Jam stops at F&M… M&S underwear and socks on demand….

  • I don’t think 60 quid pays for the gas to to cross the Atlantic, how to manage to maintain pay debt on an airplane too?

    It doesn’t need to. If most of the costs are payed by passengers paying first class or standard fares, the airline can still make money out of those £60 fares since it will be selling off seats which would otherwise be empty.

    That is, after all, how EasyJet et al can charge £1 fares (plus taxes) for trips across Europe.

  • Pete (Detroit)

    Yeah, that was a good bit in an amusing flick (Love, Actually )
    But I’ve gotta wonder, does the same effect work for guys travelling the reverse direction?

  • I have a spare bedroom and will provide meals and sight-seeing if you are interested in seeing New Mexico. Otherwise you are on your own.

    As one who has made the trip across the pond dozens of times let me tell you: 1) it really is not that long a flight and 2) it presents a great opportunity to catch up on your reading list.

  • Jim

    Stop by in Rhode Island and I’ll spring for a few beers!

  • Amelia

    Hmmm- well normally out of a basic sense of southern hospitality, I would offer you a few days in Georgia, but alas, after spending time with me you would no longer doubt the existence of a higher power and we couldn’t have that… far too dangerous best stay home.

  • jk

    All Samizdatas are also welcome to stay at my house outside of Boulder, Colorado. Not much room, and you’d have to like dogs.

    But the Rocky Mountain Blogger’s bash is coming up on May 28th. Perry was kind enough to invite me to yours when I was in the UK a year or so ago. Let me know…

  • Antoine Clarke

    I got Concorde one-way with a Jumbo back for £250 in 1997. That was a courrier deal: you have to take hand-luggage only (a bother since 9-11 with the additional restrictions) and you can’t change your flight. You also would have to carry a document pouch.

    I’m sure you could get a seriously cheap deal either as a courrier or as the “friend” of an airline employee. There are freebies available.

    Finally you could take a large half-empty suitcase and take orders for clothing, DVDs etc.

  • Richard Shuford

    If you visit the United States, do keep in mind that the scale of geography is larger than Europe. I have known a German family who expected to be able to drive an automobile from JFK Airport in New York to North Carolina in about two hours.

    In fact, were one to drive from JFK to, for instance, the city of Charlotte (where the Bank of America is headquartered), it would probably require somewhere from 10 to 14 hours, depending on speed, weather, and/or traffic.

  • Sam

    Cologne to New York is around 4000 miles. The exchange rate is currently 1.7744 British pounds to the US dollar. So that’s only 2.66 cents/mile. There doesn’t appear to be any airlines that manages to achieve costs that low. On the other hand, looking at one airline, Southwest, their fuel costs appear to be about 1.3 cents/passenger-mile, so that price is definitely above the marginal costs…

  • Lord Worfin

    All Samizdata members are likewise invited to spend some time in Vermont. Not much to do, but I have a firing range in my back yard and no shortage of ammo and interesting weapons to fire. Come in the fall to see our daily color show.