Monday, October 3, 2011

Random News Generator- Czech Republic, Sort Of, Reluctantly

Once again, we're messing with a Random News Generator. However, this time it's not due to writer impotence brought on by epic Boston Red Sox fail, but rather due to the fact that the writer found something much more entertaining.

You see, the RNG landed on the Czech Republic today. Usually, that would be the end of it. But the Czech Republic's newswire is of a particularly dry nature- a story about connecting a Czech gasline to an existing regional pipeline; a report on factory sector growth, which is at its slowest pace since 2009; planned anti-Roma protests cancelled due to hot weather. (That's Roma, not Rome. You know the Roma better as 'gypsies,' but they consider that a slur.) All fine topics, but for me, it'd be a grind trying to get through them. But if they're your thing, there are the stories for you. We'll count it for statistical purposes. Have fun. (Of course there are stats. Trinidad and Tobago currently leads with three RNG appearances. Eight other countries have two each. 64 different entities have made at least one appearance.)

Honestly, you'd think the anti-Roma protest would be a thing, but you read the article and you find out it got slightly more attendance than a Down With Kitties rally. The weather was basically just an excuse for the protesters to save face.

Anyway, while making an attempt at the Czech Republic, I came across something much more interesting, from Kim Bhasin of Business Insider. There is an airline reviewer called SkyTrax. They review airlines. (Duh.)

Their highest rating, five stars, is currently given to six airlines: Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Hainan, Kingfisher, Qatar and Singapore. A seventh, Malaysia Airlines, is currently under review.

That wasn't what Bhasin was interested in.

On the other end, you have only one airline that has gotten the minimum score, one star. That airline: Air Koryo. The official airline of North Korea, serving themselves, China, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Kuwait.

*Their fleet can be best described as "Soviet", with international flights tending to use Ilyushins and Tupolevs.
*Their food on the flight in is generally pegged as generous portions of what just stops short of being called "something-or-other", although one reviewer on a group tour (Beijing-Pyongyang is the only route available to most visitors) describes being only served bread on the return flight to Beijing, and others report no food service at all.
*The flight is commonly described as "exciting", which sounds nice until you realize that an invasion by Daleks could also be called "exciting."
*The in-flight entertainment consists of North Korean propaganda, up to and including the music. This includes thanking Dear Leader for beverage service.
*That last link, from 2007, debunks a 2006 review anticipating frequent-flier service. There is no frequent-flier service.
*One reviewer makes sure to note, "We landed safely." Another "was very happy to land!"
*The air conditioning is shot. Sometimes you'll get so much water vapor that the inside looks like it's smoking, sometimes you get no air conditioning at all.
*One reviewer notes that other parts of the Air Koryo fleet, visible from the plane, are nothing more than shells, gutted so that other planes may stay in the air.
*There are no overhead bins, just racks. Luggage can very easily fall out of the racks.

The more positive reviews, on that note, really don't tend to view Air Koryo as an airline to be reviewed as a serious airline, but more like a B-movie. You know the flight is going to be insane on every level when you sign up for it, so just enjoy the absurdity.

And then land in North Korea.

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