April Fools a busy day for airline news

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

April Fools’ has been a busy “news” day for the airline industry. In the name of fun, many carriers worldwide are announcing groundbreaking innovations aimed at improving the passenger experience, cutting costs and even defying the laws of physics. Earlier, I wrote about Ryanair’s move to offer child-free flights.

Here’s a roundup of more April Fools’ airline news/gags:

-- In a post on its blog, Southwest announced that its team of scientists (the kind who study time travel, not the kind who build planes), have unlocked the secret to time travel after spending nearly 20 years working in a hangar under the sea. The airline’s first trip to the past will take passengers to 1971, when the airline launched operations. -- While Southwest is relying on state-of-the-art technology for innovation, WestJet recalls the days of helium-filled airships for ideas. In a news release, the Canadian airline said it will fill its airplanes with helium to lighten them. The release states:

“Helium is approximately 85 per cent lighter than nitrogen, which accounts for 80 per cent of the air we breathe. With a maximum takeoff weight of more than 150,000 pounds, adding helium to the air mix will provide fuel savings of approximately three to four per cent on board WestJet’s Boeing Next-Generation 737s. This will, in turn, allow WestJet to pass the savings on to its guests.”


Here’s a YouTube video in which a WestJet spokesman introduces the cost-cutting initiative. The pitch of his voice rises as he breathes in the cabin’s helium-filled air. -- On its Facebook page, Virgin Atlantic announced it would grow herbs and vegetables to serve as drinks for its first-class fliers.

“We are beginning a trial today to grow fresh herbs and vegetables on board flights to complement drinks and cocktails served in the Upper Class bar and fresh produce from a specifically designed ‘vegetable patch’ in the galley for in-flight meals,” the post reads.

-- On Twitter, airlines are abuzz with news. Swiss Airlines said it will hand out chocolates to passengers based on their status. Air France said it will introduce flights to Jupiter on Bastille Day. Richard Branson expressed his intention to reinstate Pluto as a planet after buying it. He writes: “I have bought Pluto & intend to reinstate it as a planet. This could herald a new age in space tourism.”

Imagine what flying would be like if the airline industry were as innovative year-round.

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