Airlines this year got into the full swing of celebrating April Fools', announcing, err "announcing", initiatives ranging from charging passenger tickets based on weight to child-free flights to time travel. While airlines tried to have a laugh, some readers took the ruse seriously and were disappointed when they found out the truth.
Here's a compilation:
Ryanair kicked off the celebrations early, but maybe a bit too early. Its announcement on 30 March that it would offer some child-free flights left some wondering if the deal was real. Egging them on was that the Irish low-cost carrier announced it would impose a passenger levy to pay for compensation costs (a somewhat ironic scheme that effectively means passengers pay for their own disruption) and Ryanair hinting there could be ancillary revenue opportunities as a 1,000 person "survey" found "that half would pay higher fares to avoid other people's children". The announcement also came with a spokesman's comment that "When it comes to children we all love our own but would clearly prefer to avoid other people's little monsters when travelling."
The first jig to appear on April 1st went to the major carrier closest to the international date line: Air New Zealand who announced it found a way to "decrease your airfare and your waistline at the same time". How so? Charge passengers based on weight. At the time of booking the carrier would charge, depending on age and sex, 30-100 New Zealand cents (US$0.23-0.77) per kilo. It feigned off potential cheaters by telling them their weight would be verified at the airport during a "weigh in". "Remember," the carrier warned, "a golf ball of fat could end up costing you $$$." One reader here commented: "That is a great idea!! I sat next to a 400-pounder on a regional Air Canada flight the other day and there was NO WAY this guy would fit in his own seat without overflowing into 50% of mine."
Innovative Virgin Atlantic, the carrier who introduced PTVs at every seat and then a seat "suite", announced it would start growing fresh herbs and vegetables on its aircraft. The herbs would complement bar drinks while the veggies would complement meals. Photos of cabin crew with plants made some think this was real, with one reader perplexed about quarantine, asking "Wonder how they work this from an customs perspective, given the strict rules about importing these things into most countries?"
Meanwhile Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson announced he was purchasing, in a galaxy first, a celestial body--Pluto--and would spend to Pluto a special spacecraft that would collect rocks en route and then deposit them on Pluto, helping it bulk up and regain its status as planet. This story prompted a reader to go on a tirade about how Pluto is a planet.
Sticking with the British theme, here at Flightglobal we couldn't resist our own fun and wrote that British Airways in honour of the forthcoming royal wedding would adorn some of its aircraft tails with images of the royal family (but not Camila).
Some airlines traded Photoshop and prank websites for simple joke announcements on social media. On Twitter Air France announced it would serve Jupiter (clearly in competition with Branson's Pluto initiative) while Swiss announced it would serve passengers chocolate based on their frequent flyer status. (Warning! Swiss and Air NZ are both members of Star Alliance. For passengers with connecting flights on the carriers, ensure you calculate your Swiss-sponsored chocolate into your Air NZ weight.)
As North America woke up, airlines there started broadcasting their jokes. Southwest announced it had found a way to conduct time travel and brought passengers back to 1971 to re-experience the carrier's inaugural flight, a run on Dallas-San Antonio. They even made an off-beat video about it.
Canadian carrier WestJet continued Air NZ's cost saving theme by announcing it would fill its aircraft with helium, the rationale being helium is lighter than nitrogen (the majority element in air) so less fuel would be needed. A WestJet spokesman explains the process, and lets us hear the vocal effect of a helium-filled jetliner in the video below.
And finally, low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines re-affirmed it would charge passengers for carry-on luggage. Oh, no, wait. Sorry. That last one is true.