Happy birthday to meGulliver's most popular posts on the world of travel – The Economist (blog)


TODAY is a very special day for Gulliver, for it is ten years to the very day since his column at The Economist opened for business. Since then, much has changed in the world of travel. A barrel of oil is now worth a tad over $60, instead of around the $100 mark as in April 2008. Old friends such as Monarch Airlines of Britain, Continental, NorthWest and US Airways of America and Air Berlin of Germany have long been consigned to the dustbin of history due to bankruptcies and mergers. Airbus’s A380 superjumbo, the largest passenger airliner ever built, somehow managed to go from the future of aviation to its past in less than a decade. 

But 2,911 posts since Gulliver started to blog for The Economist (after he had escaped from the tiny Lilliputian people that had imprisoned him), some things in the travel world have not changed. Looking back at Gulliver’s first ever post, the recurrent theme of many recent ones—namely the absurdies of poorly thought out business practices, often accompanied by ill-judged government regulations—was clearly there at the start:

AT A time when the price of a barrel of oil hovers around the $100 mark and airfares look set to rise, some lucky European travellers have been able to leave their wallets untouched. Flybe, a British budget carrier, recently gave away 200 return tickets on certain services between Norwich in Britain and Dublin in Ireland. It even offered to pay actors to come on board to boost the passenger roll. The rationale? To earn a £280,000 rebate from Norwich airport, the airline needed to fly 15,000 passengers on the Norwich-Dublin route in the 12 months to March 31st. Finding itself a few passengers short as the deadline approached, Flybe took drastic action. It blamed the airport’s intransigence for such absurdity. The airport said Flybe’s actions were not in the “spirit” of the agreement.

The best of Gulliver from the last few years:

1. Bottom of the class: America’s airlines are introducing a class below economy (February 2016)

2. Countries’ favourite beers: the lager picture (March 2015)

3. Walk right in: When it comes to passports, it pays to be German (March 2016)

4. Frequent flyers: The sad, sick life of the business traveller (August 2015)

5. Life in the slow lane: Why an eight-hour bus ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco might beat a flight (August 2017)



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