The electric plane takes flight



Jack's Flight Club ✈️ Travel News & Inspiration

Hey, there, JFC-ers,

There’s travel news galore this week. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Alice takes flight and easyJet offs its offsets

This week, ‘Alice,’ the world’s first fully-electric passenger plane, made history by taking to the skies in a test flight.

Produced by Eviation, Alice’s time in the air was just eight minutes long at an altitude of 3,500 feet, but creators state that her full battery charge is currently between 1 and 2 hours.

The results of the test will be used to help Eviation develop prototypes for commercial use - and, hopefully in time, electric planes which are capable of long-haul flights.

Meanwhile, easyJet has announced that it will be dropping its previous three-year commitment to carbon offsetting on its flights; instead, the airline states that it will be prioritising its direct reduction of carbon emissions, with a focus on replacing its fleet with more fuel-efficient hydrogen-powered jet engines.

The announcement has been broadly welcomed by environmentalists - who have frequently criticised carbon offseting as a misleading non-solution to the damage caused by flights.

Pain-in-the-backside passengers

In other news, it’s been another week of bad behaviour on planes. Fighter jets were scrambled after a bomb hoax onboard an Iranian plane, while a Delta Airlines flight from Miami to Los Angeles had to unexpectedly land in Texas after one passenger began to scream, “We’re all going to die,” and told her fellow fliers to “repent.”

This comes just a week after one American Airlines passenger punched a flight attendant in the back of the head, and just three weeks after another pair of first-class AA passengers began shouting racist abuse, spitting on a fellow flier, and shoving stewards.

This does, sadly, seem to be the new normal - since the beginning of the pandemic, airlines have reported record numbers of unruly passenger incidents, and it’s only slightly letting up in 2022.

In the USA, 2021 saw 1099 investigations into disruptive passenger incidents, and there’ve been 690 so far this year…which, in total, is more than the previous 12 years combined.

What’s causing all of this havoc? Well, CNBC reported that even excluding mask-related rage (which have made up a majority of overall incidents, and which have declined as various airlines have ended their requirements around wearing masks), passenger incidents shot up by 1,500% last year.

Alcohol continues to be a uniting factor in almost all of these cases, so those of us who quietly enjoy a can of G&T during a flight may want to watch out; several US airlines banned drinking temporarily earlier last year, and the question is likely to be raised again if these incidents continue.

Many thanks and happy flying,



Your Next Trip: Lesser-Visited European Cities

In our regular feature, we offer tips, advice and travel inspiration in response to your questions.

We’d be thrilled to help you out, reader!

Here are our top tips for smaller or less-visited European cities which you can see in a long weekend (and sample some of that local food and drink you’ve been enjoying in Brugge, Bilbao and Bordeaux).

And if you want to continue that ‘only visiting places beginning with a B’ theme that you seem to have accidentally stumbled onto, we’ve even got some recommendations for that, too.

Autumn 2022: Glorious Gdansk

Only around 300,000 foreign tourists visit Gdansk on Poland’s Baltic coast every year - compare that to the nine million visitors who descend upon Brugge every year.

It’s a huge pity; the city boasts a magnificent old town with some stunning Mannerist architecture and a number of lush walking routes and cycling trails to keep you occupied.

And in the autumn, Gdansk (when it isn’t raining) comes alive in colour - Poland is famous for its ‘golden autumn’ in October when the beech forests are particularly gorgeous. It’s a great time to drop in on Gdansk’s scenic 10-hectare Oliwa Park, which features stunning beech alleys, duck ponds, and the Groty Szeptów, or ‘Whispering Caves’.

Eating and drinking

Traditional Polish pierogi are popular in town, as are potato pancakes and rosół meat soup. For a properly authentic experience, head to one of the city’s ‘milk bars’ - low-cost diner-style restaurants popularised during the Soviet era. (The folks at Nothing Familiar have some tips here on the best milk bars to visit.)

And to drink? Well, there you’re spoiled for choice. The city has an almost ludicrous volume of beloved craft beer bars, but there’s also Polish vodka ( remember to toast), the cherry liqueur wiśniówka, and Gdansk’s resident fancypants drink Goldwasser, containing gold flakes and made famous by the European royals who believed it held alchemical properties.

Perhaps most surprisingly to foreigners, winemaking has a centuries-old history in Poland and it’s seeing a resurgence across the country, mostly led by talented enthusiasts - Gdansk has one such ‘amateur’ winery, the Winnica Modzrew, which is well worth checking out (just call ahead and let Mr Mirek know if you’re planning to pay him a visit).

And beginning with a B…?

While perhaps a little chilly in the autumn (the snowy season kicks off in November), Bialystok in north-eastern Poland is a truly delightful city, surrounded by natural landscapes and famous for its chocolate lounge.

Winter 2022: Lovely Ljubljana

Slovenia is one of Europe’s least-visited countries overall for international travel - but we’re here to shake the extraordinary capital of Ljubljana in your face and tell you why that needs to change.

Ljubljana is a small city with a young vibe - about a sixth of the population is taken up by its 50,000 students - and a complex history that dates back to the Roman era.

And in wintertime, Ljubljana becomes…look, we’re going to resist the urge to use the words ‘fairy-tale’, but there is something particularly charming about its snow-capped architecture, its splendid Christmas lights and markets, its outdoor ice skating, skiing day trips, and - yes - its massive outdoor New Year’s Eve celebrations.

For us, though, the real trump card is Ljubljana’s quite frankly ludicrous artistic scene - over 14,000 cultural events take place in the city every year, ensuring that you’ll never be at a loose end on a rainy day.

Founded as a squat in an old army barracks in 1993, the Metelkova neighbourhood is a punky cultural centre and network of clubs, and it’s rightly famous as the city’s alternative, underground heart. (The neighbourhood hostel, Cecilia, is an old prison that welcomes guests into its 20 colourfully-designed cells.)

For travellers whose raving days are long behind them, however, the city centre also holds a wide variety of museums, concert halls, theatres, and much, much more.

If you can’t make it for Christmas, then we’d head to Ljubljana in February, in time for the Pust or Karneval celebrations, where in Slovenian tradition fearsome masked figures parade to chase the winter away. (In Ljubljana, the parades are led by the city’s mascot, the green dragon.)

Eating and drinking

With a heavy emphasis on pork and deliciously doughy desserts, Slovenia is a great choice for warming winter food - but Ljubljana is way too trendy to rest on its laurels. Last year, the city had 17 mentions in the Michelin Guide, with praise going out to its talented chefs fusing traditional Slovenian cuisine with Mediterranean, Thai and Japanese influences.

While we haven’t been there ourselves, we’d be tempted to take a cab out to the delightfully infamous Gostilna Skaručna, an eccentric family-owned restaurant serving traditional Slovenian cuisine just outside the city.

Wash it all down with an excellent glass of Slovenian wine, local plum schnapps, or the up-and-coming local vodka - which, for some reason, has Bill Murray as its ambassador. (Maybe Lost in Translation gave him the idea?)

Beginning with a B?

It’ll be better in the summer or autumn, but we’d head to Bled to check out the town’s rightly beloved lake.

Spring 2023: Nuremberg

Bavaria’s second city is a complicated, beautiful, sometimes weighty wonder to visit - after it was devastated by bombings during the Second World War, Nuremberg’s citizens spent 38 years painstakingly reconstructing its medieval architecture (from the castle all the way down to the gargoyles).

Nuremberg has its own world-famous Christmas market, but we’re going against the grain and suggesting a springtime visit not just for its charming Folk Fairs by the city’s lake (which take place next year from April 8-23, 2022 and May 4-8, 2023), or May’s Blue Night, where dazzling public art displays are projected onto buildings across the city, but also for the spring blossoms, which will be particularly lovely - in Germany, the cherry blossom season is known as the kirschbäume.

If you’re left desperate to sample even more beautiful medieval architecture, it’s just an hour’s train ride to nearby Regensburg (which also has the highest concentration of bars in Germany).

Eating and drinking?

Nuremberg’s particular brand of bratwurst is small (‘three in a bun’ is the traditional serving) - one tradition implausibly claims that they were designed this way to secretly feed prisoners. Try the rotbier - it means 'red beer' - to go with it.

Beginning with a B

Visit lovely Bonn in Western Germany - whether you want to check out Beethoven’s house or simply stuff your pockets full of gummi bears at the home of Haribo, there’s something there for you.

Summer 2023: Make for Montpellier

Montpellier in southern France is another city with a huge student population - 60,000 of the 260,000 residents are there to study, and the average age is just 25.

In other words, it’s a good location to head for during the summer: a good chunk of the population will have headed home for the holidays, leaving you free to enjoy the cobbled streets, beautiful beaches and gorgeous sandstone buildings. (A couple of tips from our Flight Finder Larissa - take a picnic to the Promenade du Peyrou for some wonderful sunset views, and then drive out to the unspeakably pretty village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert.

Eating and drinking

You’ve got a great range of choice in Montpellier when it comes to eating out - from Languedoc staples like cassoulet to delicious Mediterranean-style seafood. But our top tip would be to try the tielle sétoise - it’s a little Italian-inspired pie filled with spicy octopus meat.

And we hear the Minervois region has one or two wines, too…?

Beginning with a B?

You can’t go wrong with the stunning city of Béziers - just be mindful that a million visitors will crowd into the streets every August for the Feria de Béziers and its bullfighting spectacles.

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Our Pick Of The Clicks

All the important (or silly, or strange) travel news from across the web this week.

Back in 2019, a Dutch team discovered and salvaged the wreckage of a World War II airplane in the Netherlands countryside - and found the body of Sergeant William Hurrell, the RAF pilot who’d been shot down in action. This week, 78 years after his death, Hurrell was laid to rest by his family members.

In China, grandmother Su Min has become an unlikely YouTube star after abandoning an unhappy marriage and setting out on a road trip across the country in her VW hatchback.

The Guardian is continuing its work of reporting on UK ghost flights, with a new investigation finding that over 5,000 completely empty flights and 35,000 nearly-empty flights have flown in and out of the country since 2019.

And congratulations to Kendra Rhoden, a Connecticut citizen who was travelling to the Dominican Republic on an American Airlines flight when her waters broke - six weeks before her due date.

Her baby boy arrived safely in mid-air, and Kendra's now named him Skylan. Cute!


And Finally...

It's World Space Week - so from Afar, here are nine incredible dark sky parks around the globe for all of your stargazing needs.