News from Sugar not sweet: Pay up front

Brits interested in chartering jets may have to crack out the checkbook up front from now on. Sir Alan Sugar, owner of luxury charter service Amsair, says credit won’t cut it, as he tries to whittle down his company’s bad debts. For some, being given the choice to pay up front is fortunate … others are just being turned away.

In what can only be described as a “no shit” moment, Sugar explains to The Sun, “The whole industry is suffering in the current economic climate.” After proving that his head was indeed not buried in the sand, he continues, “We have had to make changes to some parts of the business. In some cases we have taken the decision to not take on some high-risk, third-party charters.”

In other news, the infamous UK tabloid can’t seem to find decent experts. To supplement Sugar’s opinion, The Sun was only able to come up with, “Experts said the move reflected the growing pressures on corporate jet firms. Customer numbers have tumbled as bankers lose their jobs.”

By June 30, 2008, the last period for which information is available, Amsair’s profits had fallen 41 percent. And, let’s face it; the financial world’s gotten a lot tougher since then.

400 strip for Aer Lingus tickets, some of them hotties

Remember that stunt we covered last week … where an anonymous airline was giving away free flights to people who would flash as a flash mob? Well, it was Aer Lingus, and there were only 400 winners. Fortunately, they all seem to be attractive. I’m guessing we didn’t want to see the other 600 anyway.

The strip site, which was kept secret until the last minute, was Jubilee Gardens in London. Thanks to the power of cliché, this St. Patrick’s Day get-together featured shamrocks for the participants to wear. Fortunately, this didn’t stop a few die-hards from going “Full Monty.”

As if anyone cares, the stunt was organized to promote new Aer Lingus routes from Gatwick Airport to Europe, with a tagline of “no hidden extras.” Though, I guess that depends on who was wearing the shamrock.

Bare butt (flight) bargains in Britain

You’ll do anything for a free flight, right? You’ll stand at the counter and yell and scream at some gate agent for half an hour while a line that stretches back to the next terminal wait with looks of increasing contempt. You’ll get up in the middle of the night to enter every online contest you can find first. But, would you strip to your skin – in the company of 998 other non-professional strippers?

That’s right. An airline – which isn’t revealing itself yet – is offering free flights from London to eight destinations for the 999 people willing to show it all (except the “rude bits,” according to the website). On March 15, all those who register will be invited to come to a central location in London and shed their threads.

There is no trace of the airline responsible. A WHOIS look up and a hunt through the website’s source code only turned up Hotcow, a marketing company that specializes in coordinating these types of stunt. So, you now have two choices: (1) read the news on March 15 or (2) register to be one of the 999!

[Via Jaunted]

Heathrow annoying, Americans rude according to some social network

The members of social network Where Are you Now? have spoken! Heathrow is the worst airport in the world, according to voters, thanks to passport control lines and baggage problems. The Brits don’t get all the glory, though. JFK in New York and Los Angeles picked up spots #2 and #3, respectively.

The good news, for Heathrow and JFK, at least, is that both were at the top of the list for security. Bangkok, Amsterdam and Rome were at the bottom. WAYN co-founder and joint chief executive Jerome Touze calls the survey results “pretty damning in terms of Heathrow’s reputation for passenger service.” Apparently, he doesn’t realize nobody gives a shit about WAYN’s opinion.

But, Heathrow is worth the wait, with the friendliest passport control officers outside Australia. They’re even nicer than the Canadians! U.S. customs officers were voted rudest, followed by those in India and Russia.

Again thinking that people give a damn about his opinion, Touze believes that “U.S. customs and immigration need address their attitude towards visitors, simplify the form filling, generally be a lot more welcoming and better reflect the personality of the American people.”

Thanks, Jerome. Because of your publicist prompted quote, we’ll get right on that.

WAYN’s survey included detail from 2,250 air travelers, who answered questions about customs, baggage handling and passport matters.

[Via Sydney Morning Herald]

Why are these the world’s best airports?

Click the image to find out!

South African flight crews know how to get high

If you’re having trouble staying awake or just like to party, book your next flight on South African Airways. The UK Border Agency arrested 15 SAA crew members – nine men and six women – at Heathrow Airport. Why are they now guests of the Queen? This crew was caught trying to slip 11 lbs of cocaine into the country.

The episode is just another example of poor timing. The drugs are estimated to have a street value of ???250,000. If nose candy is pegged to the U.S. dollar, it would have been worth almost twice as much six months ago.

Last month, another 15 SAA crew members were busted at Heathrow for hauling cocaine and cannabis into England. They were a bit more ambitious, with a haul with an estimated value of ???310,000. The outcome, however, was the same. BBC News calls it a separate incident, but it smells like a pattern to me … and my nasal passages are clean.

The most recent perps were given bail and instructed to return to court on March 23. The only question that remains is how much more cocaine they’ll have to “import” to cover their legal fees.

[Via BBC News]

Only these women have caused more problems than SAA’s pilots!