Top critical review
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Good read but could have been great.
on 29 January 2014
As someone with a keen interest in aviation and a frequent flyer on commercial airlines, I picked up this book with a great degree of anticipation. The premise is excellent, there were some genuinely interesting subjects covered and I found the author's style affable and easy to read. However...
At times it felt like an advertorial for the Boeing Company and particularly the Boeing 747. His flag-waving allied to regular snipes about other aircraft manufacturers, particularly Airbus, cheapens the book.
As an American, Smith's experience lies with regional US airlines, so it's fair enough that this was very US-centric account. A more rounded vision of the global airline industry would have been more interesting though.
What was less forgivable was his parochial view of the US's aircraft and airlines.
Romantic claims about the 707 and its role as the pioneer of jet airline age have merit but not without a mention of the de Havilland Comet that preceded, and indeed inspired, it. In fact no mention of the Comet at all, not even in the Q&A section concerning why windows aren't bigger or different shapes on airlines - surely an ideal point in which to describe to the reader why the Comet suffered early disasters and gave the 707 its pre-eminence and competitive advantage?
His obsession with the 747 is understandable - it's a truly great, ground-breaking aircraft. But that it's also the most attractive airliner is odd for someone who acknowledges to have seen Concorde. His opinion though I guess...beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
And finally just some points of order relating to inaccurate comments about British Airways.
His criticism of BA using the phrase 'the World's Favourite airline' when it is now statistically 21st. For the record when the slogan was introduced in 1989, BA were the world's favourite airline according to passenger numbers. When in 2001 they were surpassed by Lufthansa, the slogan was summarily dropped.
And the comment that BA introduced the slogan 'The World's Favourite Airline' to charm Americans with 'cute spelling'. Could I respectfully remind the author that the language he speaks and writes in is English. As in England. 'Favourite' is not a cute spelling. It's how the word is spelt correctly.
Finally, the tailfin of a BA airliner resembles a can of Pepsi according to the author. Pedantic I know, but surely he means a can of Pepsi looks like the tail fin of a BA airliner? The Pepsi logo he draws comparison to was introduced in 1973, BA's in 1972, although as part of BA's component parts, BOAC and BEA, far earlier. The Union Jack flag on which the logo is based has been in regular use since 1606.
All-in-all, it's well worth a read though... it just needs a bit of editing.