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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 19th May 2017 > FLY THE UNFRIENDLY SKIES


The internet made flying hell but may have a nice escape slide


NEXT TIME YOU get dragged off an airliner or punched by a pilot or are just overwhelmed by the feeling that air travel is more soul-sucking than sitting alone at a Barry Manilow concert, blame the internet… and then pray for new technology like artificial intelligence that might help fix what the internet broke. And no, we’re not talking about robot flight attendants that can dispense wine out of their wrists like Spider-Man shooting a web, though that would be awesome.

The trouble began around 20 years ago, when many of us started jumping on Expedia or Travelocity to book travel. Before that, most people called a travel agent, who looked at a computer screen that likely showed information from Sabre, a reservation system invented by American Airlines and IBM in the 1950s. Those systems primarily ranked flights based on flight duration— how long it would take you to get to your destination. Price figured into our travel decisions, but it was just a part of the mix, along with flight time, the agent’s recommendation and brand loyalty.

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MACRON STRONGER THAN LE PEN, BUT FRANCE’S WORRIES FAR FROM OVE It was the day the world didn’t end, the day that the tide of populism that gave the world Brexit and Donald Trump turned, the moment when French voters chose pragmatism over protest. That, at least, was the judgment of Europe’s establishment at the victory of centrist Emmanuel Macron in the May 7th French presidential election. It’s not hard to see why the defeat of the Euroskeptic, anti-immigration Marine Le Pen was so vital to the West’s future. A victory for Le Pen’s far-right National Front party would likely have heralded the disintegration of the European Union and the end of the continent’s grand experiment with open borders. However, with Macron's victory, establishment Europe shouldn’t feel too relieved about right-winger Marine Le Pen’s defeat in France.