What's in a name? In the case of OpenSkies—the new mostly-business-class subsidiary of British Airways—a whole lot. When first announced, the airline's name was inspired by the new deregulating treaty that allows airlines to operate on any routes they choose between the U.S. and E.U. Today, OpenSkies might also be taken as a comment on the lack of competition in the air, particularly since the demise of all-business-class carriers Eos, Maxjet, and Silverjet.
Sure, OpenSkies only has one airplane, a 757 that holds 82 passengers, but the Little Airline That Could has big plans for that one plane. We're talking three classes of service, with the top of the line being Biz, which boasts "truly lie-flat seats." Don't want to sleep that well? No worries. OpenSkies has Prem+, which must denote its premium-economy class, because I doubt it’s a typo (unless OpenSkies is planning on professionally curling its passengers' hair en route). Last but not least (well, actually it is the least, but OpenSkies swears it's not too bad at all), is the economy cabin. There are only 30 seats (genuine leather ones) there, so you should get plenty of attention, assuming there's also a designated flight attendant (kidding!). And everyone, regardless of class, will have access to the 50-plus hours of audio and video programming on their personal entertainment systems, so that's a step up from my favorite in-flight game: staring at the back of the seat in front of me.
So where exactly will OpenSkies fly? Let's just say it doesn't have a massive worldwide route network. In fact, there are just two cities involved, but they're pretty decent ones: Paris and New York. The plan is to scale up by adding new destinations as business results allow for it. Currently on the list of potentials are Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, and Milan.
In these days of cutbacks and fee increases, any airline looking hopefully toward the future should cheer us all up. No matter what it's called.
The Wall Street Journal recently suggested that airlines actively seek celebrity passengers because they bring the carriers cachet that ordinary schmoes like you and me are dazzled by. So for an international superstar to be banned by an airline, he or she would have to do something pretty bad.
Enter Naomi Campbell. The 38-year old supermodel (who may be demoted to simply "model" after her latest escapade) was arrested at London's Heathrow airport, where she was due to catch a British Airways flight to Los Angeles. When BA employees were unable to locate a missing bag of Miss Campell's, she allegedly "flew into a rage" and wound up spitting at one of the police officers who were trying to detain her. I guess if you're going to be spat at by someone, you could do worse than a supermodel, but saliva is saliva and laws are laws, so Campbell got dragged off by the cops.
Perhaps one isolated "babe behaving badly" incident might have been overlooked by British Airways, but the leggy Campbell has a history of violence:
Throwing a telephone at an assistant
Beating an assistant with a BlackBerry.
Assault on an Italian actress.
Another instance of battering an employee with a cell phone.
I'd say British Airways should be relieved to get out of the transporting-Naomi-Campbell business with no actual bloodshed.
flagship carrier, British Airways, has been named a top-tier partner for London's 2012 summer Olympics. Which makes me
wonder, will the airline's involvement go beyond providing transportation and
getting good PR in return?
I hope so. Because the possibilities are tantalizing. For
starters, commercial aircraft are perfect venues for several events,
particularly those of the track-and-field variety. I'm thinking the 100-meter
dash would work well on a BA 747, which has those two long aisles
on either side of the middle seats. One world-class sprinter could line up at
the back of each aisle and at the sound of the gun (which would have to pass
through security, wouldn't it?), they'd race from the worst coach seat by the
lavatory to the best flat-bed first-class accommodations—in under 10
seconds. Of course, all of the seats would be filled with Olympic spectators,
cheering on the runners as they breezed by.
I'm thinking certain jumping events are well suited to
British Airways' fleet. And while the long jump is a good fit for onboard
entertainment, the high jump brings up overhead space limitations and the pole
vault is simply out of the question. But I have to draw the line at anything
involving heavy or sharp objects being thrown, such as a javelin, shot put, or
discus. With fans literally in the field of play, the liability issues are too
numerous to mention.
I know we're already straying a bit from standard Olympic
fare, but since we're being theoretical, perhaps we could "think outside
the plane"? It's all well and good to have weightlifters at the games, but
British Airways could sponsor a real test of strength by asking athletes to
compete in a plane pull. After all, this guy did it to get into the Guinness
World Records, and he doesn't even look that big.
Looking something like a misshapen disco
ball—perhaps after being sat on by a Hairspray-sized John Travolta,
after trying to squeeze into his Saturday Night Fever white
suit—British Airways' digital sculpture, Cloud, is
now installed in Terminal 5 of London's Heathrow airport.
The artists, called Troika, were inspired by the
"flip-dots" used in the '70s and '80s to make signs in train stations
and airports. They were so inspired by these dots that they took 4,638 of them
and wired each of them to a computer, which controls their movements and as you
can see in this video of Cloud, creates all sorts of trippy (pun intended)
travel sounds and movements.
Cloud may not be quite enough of a spectacle to cause a
massive uptick in British Airways flight sales, but can you think of a better
way to spend your time while stuck in an airport?