Monday, January 24, 2011

Home Again

Greetings, Hollamaniacs. We're back from our epic Kabul--Shanghai-Maui-Molokai-Tokyo-Delhi-Kabul R&R trip, and ready to regale you with boring stories about it. As with last time, we'll try to keep it limited to the stuff rather that an average reader might find amusing rather than just showing the world our holiday snapshots. But we, like anyone, love our own holiday snaps, so somebody say "uncle" if we cross the line.

A few notes gleaned from our extensive air travel on this trip. First of all, there is a dangerous Airline Food Gap opening between us and the rising powers of Asia. If left unchecked, the superiority of the food on Air India and China Southern could seriously hamper the competitiveness of American industry. Darn but Air India doesn't offer some tasty food in those little airline serving dishes. United, you've been warned.

Oh, also, Air India has these old planes and a lot of the interior is kind of falling apart. But they still manage to have the kind of movie system in Economy Class where you can start and stop any of the movies on offer whenever you want, as opposed to United, which on the not-insubstantial flight from Japan to Hawaii and back still has the old-fashioned system where the movies start on their own and you have to decide to watch a movie at the moment that the movies are starting or you're out of luck. (For their part, I don't think China Southern had any kind of movie system at all, but I'm still giving them some props just for being an actual airline -- when we bought the tickets we weren't entirely sure.)

And yet despite this, our several flights on Air India were never more than half full. I would guess the flight from Tokyo to Delhi was at most 20% occupied. Ten hours is a long way to fly a plane that's mostly empty. Which of course means there must be some ridiculous subsidy scheme going on because I don't see how Air India could stay in business serving tasty meals and buying snazzy movie systems for a bunch of empty seats. So maybe United deserves some slack, too. Not too much. But a little.

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