Saturday, June 19, 2021

To the Moon Alice

 I read this week that United Airlines plans to reintroduce Super Sonic travel in 2029 (which scarily is only 8.5 years away). This heartens back to  the hey day of the Concorde, the super sonic program developed jointly by France and Britain. Between 1976 and 2003 for the price of $7,995 a seat (equivalent to around $13,000 in today's dollars) one could travel at the speed of Mach 2 from London to New York. 

This means flying twice the speed of sound, in less that 3 hours (vs a bit less than 7 hours on a standard passenger jet), one could cross the Atlantic in pure luxury. Flying on the Concorde was more than just a fast way to get some where. Passengers enjoyed 3 course fine dining  with menus that may have included Angus beef, Scottish smoked salmon, caviar, lobster, guinea fowl, truffles, foie gras, and champagne, as well as high end cocktails and fine wines. Speaking of wines, the Concorde had its own wine 'cellar' stocked with fine French wines and champagne.

There were other offerings, such as Cuban cigars. Remember the days when one could smoke on airplanes - up until the late 1980's.

The experience started with the exclusive "Concorde Lounges" at each airport that serviced the super sonic jet and its passengers. Once on the plane, there was an understanding that anything not tethered down could be taken home (cutlery, luggage tags, cutlery, bottle openers, matches, coasters, and vanity kits). In addition, the price of the ticket included swag for each passenger such as Wedgwood paperweights and circular trays, Smythson of Bond Street notebooks, silver photo frames, letter openers, leather drinks coasters, hip flasks, and leather bags - each embossed, engraved, or etched with the iconic Concorde symbol .

Traveling at Mach 2 allowed passengers to actually see the curvature of the Earth. However that was a bit difficult given the windows were very small. One had to remember the super sonic Concorde was really a glorified fighter jet - that offered champagne and Cuban cigars. 

I love to travel and enjoy flying (even in today's trying circumstances). Flying on the Concorde was always on my bucket list . At least  until 2003, when the service was stopped. That was 3 years after the crash of Air France flight 4590 that killed all the passengers and crew aboard. After an extensive investigation, it was determined that the cause of the crash was not the super sonic jet but rather a piece of debris  on the runway that fell off an earlier passenger jet.

There have been several times I have flown 1st Class, always on an upgrade or using my airline points. And it was great, not worth the price of $1,000 plus per seat, but a more enjoyable and comfortable way to travel.

So thanks to United Airlines, I may be able to check this off my list after all. Good thing, I have 8 years to save my nickels and dimes for the $13,000 fare. Ironically, for that price, wouldn't one want the experience to last more than a mere 3 hours?

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