Now that winter has arrived in Europe, the low-comfort, low-cost airlines—many of whom require customers to help push their own planes onto the runway— are falling all over themselves to offer cheap fares to exotic locations. Last week, for example, tourists could fly from frosty Torp, Norway south to semi-tropical Weeze, Germany to for only 15€. (Taxes not included.)
In an all-out air-war over prices, the low-budget carriers have figured out that bargain lovers will rush to some of Europe’s’ most out-of-the-way places just to save a few quid. Thanks to Ryanair, for example, many Spaniards will spend the winter in Skavsta, Sweden for the simple reason that it’s a good deal.
To keep prices grounded, the no-frills airlines go to great lengths to skimp on costly luxuries like barf bags, or leg room for anyone older than six. The physics are simple: aerodynamically speaking, frills aren’t needed to keep a fully-loaded Airbus airborne. Besides, packing passengers together like carbon atoms in a pencil is good for massage therapists and, as a general rule, what’s good for massage therapists is good for the global economy.
In addition to subtracting every remaining sub-atomic particle of customer service, the low-cost kings have reduced staffing levels to the legal limit. This means that the person selling you duty-free “Pringles” is also piloting the plane. By dropping the air-pressure in the cabin to that of deep space, the airlines are assured lucrative profits on water sales to dehydrated travelers.
Fortunately for us, the intense focus on savings hasn’t impacted safety. I salute the airlines’ efforts to reduce expenses by not equipping planes with flotation devices. Who really believes that, in the event of a water landing, you’ll be saved by your soggy seat-bottom?