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Flying Austrian Air to Vienna and then Bucharest. It’s time travel—not to a different time, but in one. We just finished a full free dinner. There will also be free breakfast.

Our tickets were $1300 per person. For all I know we paid an extra $100 per ticket for these meals. And we are delighted.

“I could go home now,” I told my wife as we polished off chicken and mashed potatoes, and she knew what I meant. The dinner was blissful. We were complete. We felt loved, by emotionless, attentive flight attendants. We felt valued.austrian-airlines-logo

This is not a plea to the U.S. carriers. There is no way they will ever go back to this model – they’ve gone too far. On the leg to Dulles, a dour (not to be confused with emotionless) United Airlines attendant was asked for a blanket by a sweet skinny older lady, and with absolutely no compassion or apology told her that blankets were removed in the cost-cutting frenzy after 9-11 and the subsequent run-up in fuel prices. “That many blankets are heavy, and they decided they could save fuel by eliminating them.”

Back in our seats my wife said, “Couldn’t they have kept ten blankets? That would be enough.”

There is a joylessness in the airlines’ quest for profitability. In every interview about their atrocious customer service ratings, Frontier will say they’re doing exactly what their customers want, and that once they get really good at it, their ratings will rise.

So we’re 37,000 feet up and just south of Greenland, 10 hours into our trip, and feeling joyful as we follow Austrian Airline’s onscreen seat exercises to avoid dying by blood clot.

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