PHOTO: Carnival Air Lines Boeing 737-4Q8. (photo via Flickr/Aero Icarus)
You likely know that Crystal AirCruises and Crystal Luxury Air recently spun off from Crystal Cruises.
But did you know that Carnival Cruise Line once had its own airline, and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will soon (cough) operate its own as well?
That’s right, back in 1988, Carnival Air Lines was founded as a chartered airline division of Carnival Cruise Lines (since singularly renamed Carnival Cruise Line) when the company bought Pacific Interstate Airlines. Before settling on a name and livery, not unlike Carnival’s current fleet by 1989, previous designations included Fun Air and Majestic Air.
Said airline was based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and destinations included the Northeastern United States, Caribbean and Los Angeles, California among others, servicing cruise ship passengers. At one point, the carrier even had a code-share agreement with Iberia Airlines and flew wide-body Airbus and Boeing aircraft in addition to narrow-body planes.
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Eventually in 1997, the Pan Am Corp. holding company that emerged from reincarnated Pan American Airways purchased Carnival Air Lines. When the holding company filed for bankruptcy in 1998, however, the cruise-branded airline officially ceased operations, a decade after it began.
Crystal AirCruises and Crystal Luxury Air
Crystal took the concept to its most luxurious, which now includes a whole portfolio of travel products including Crystal AirCruises and Crystal Luxury Air. In support of the company’s many other travel opportunities, Luxury Air began offering private flights on a 12-guest Bombardier Global Express XRS jet in April 2016, and the line will add a second similar jet to the fleet this year.
Also in 2017, the AirCruises product will launch an in-air world cruise that essentially features a compressed itinerary aboard Crystal’s very own Boeing 777-200LR. Equipped with Crystal Exclusive Class seats, guests will be able to convert them into 180-degree lie-flat beds and also access a dedicated onboard lounge and bar. Plans to also introduce a Boeing 787-8 this year have been scrapped at this time.
In the meantime, the 27-day Peninsula Grand Inaugural Crystal AirCruise is scheduled to depart on August 30, 2017 roundtrip from New York City to Chicago, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok and Paris.
READ MORE: Crystal AirCruises Prepares for Inaugural Itinerary by Partnering with The Peninsula Hotels
Fred. Olsen Air
While the first two examples are entirely genuine, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines decided to go a bit tongue-in-cheek by issuing a press release for April Fools this year by “announcing” its own fleet of aircraft. Much of the information in it actually seems legitimate such as the following quote:
“The formation of ‘Fred. Olsen Air’ seemed a logical step for us, to enable us to offer guests a seamless Fred. Olsen holiday experience from start to finish,” said Justin Stanton, Sales and Marketing Director for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
After all, the cruise line really does have a fly-cruise program of exotic destinations for the UK market, and the idea of the line deploying its own aircraft to get passengers to those destinations is not too farfetched.
READ MORE: Crystal Luxury Air Prepares for April Launch with Bombardier Jet
I even rather like its playful promenade seating concept: “Fred. Olsen’s on board flight experience is expected to include a unique new seating configuration down the centre of the aircraft, and guests will be able to walk around the edge and enjoy the views, whilst being able to exercise at the same time.”
Perhaps less realistic, however, are the faux-planned budget “interior” seats in the cargo hold where it was suggested that guests dress up warmly. Similarly, passengers were expected to don formal wear for first class. Of course, captain’s table dinner seating would have been limited as the captain was preoccupied with “operational duties.”
Particularly hilarious are balconies only available at the rear of the aircraft to avoid drafts and the lack of whirlpools due to their water jets interfering with the avionics.
Stanton himself concluded in the release, “This move into aircraft seems the right thing for us to do – to ignore it would just be plane stupid.”
Maybe one day.