It’s not every day that you get to put Jane Austen and Freddie Mercury in the same sentence. But thanks to Norwegian Airlines, a budget carrier with a penchant for decorating its planes with portraits of famous people, today is such a day.
Norwegian announced last week that Austen’s portrait will appear on the tail of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner next summer, as she joins the company’s illustrious cast of “Tail Fin Heroes,” chosen because they "symbolize the spirit of Norwegian by pushing boundaries, challenging the norm and inspiring others.”
The list of past Tail Fin Heroes is eclectic and, not surprisingly, mostly Scandinavian, including such luminaries as Greta Garbo, Hans Christian Andersen, and Søren Kierkegaard. But a number of Brits have made the cut, including Bobby Moore, the captain of the English soccer team that won the World Cup in 1966; beloved children’s writer Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; and, yes, Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen.
These days, we get so little in return for the money we spend on plane tickets -- no food, no luggage checking, no legroom -- that it's hard not to be pathetically grateful for even the tiniest gesture toward restoring civility to air travel. Pictures of movie stars and writers on the tail fin? Yes, please! Why, maybe they'll restore the free peanuts next!
Honoring another British writer is a commercial move, since Norwegian is expanding its services in Britain. And as blog readers will recall, it's not the first transportation company to latch onto the Austen name: Remember the luxury rivership MS Jane Austen?
I’m not clear, though, on why the airline didn’t coordinate its honor with this year’s commemoration of the bicentenary of Austen’s death. Perhaps Norwegian's staff are fans of Persuasion.*
* Which, you'll recall from last week's blog, gets to celebrate its bicentenary in 2018.