Hey, beleaguered air travelers, ready for some good news? How does this sound? Fly on TAP Portugal Airlines nonstop from Providence, Rhode Island, to Porto in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula’s answer to Napa Valley. Or how about Hartford, Connecticut, to Edinburgh, Scotland, nonstop on Norwegian Airlines? Or would you prefer to jet straight from Islip, New York, to Shannon, Ireland, via that ultimate budget-travel provocateur, Ryanair? The kicker: Some one-way tickets might cost as little as $65.
These are not fantasy flights; Norwegian is on the verge of launching that unlikely route between New England and the Old World this month. But it’s only recently that these oddball city pairings have even been possible. What’s behind the trend? New incarnations of narrow-body jets — the Boeing 737 Max and the Airbus A320 Neo — are now rolling off assembly lines at Boeing’s Seattle plant and at factories owned by Airbus Industrie in Toulouse, France.
FOR THE RIGHT FARE, PEOPLE WILL FLY INSIDE A BARREL OF TOXIC WASTE TO GET TO EUROPE.
These are not just souped-up versions of the sturdy workhorses that carry the bulk of today’s domestic passengers. They’re different beasts entirely, capable of covering far longer distances, landing at smaller airports and carrying more passengers than a typical single-aisle plane. While they don’t ooze glamour like the Boeing 747 or the defunct supersonic Concorde, these agile airframes could have as great an impact on international air travel as those iconic jetliners had in the 1970s.