The reason low-cost airlines do not dish out free food and drink can now be revealed. it is not to cut costs so much as reduce waistlines!

By 9.58 yesterday morning the bbc scotland presenter fred macaulay was introducing the drifters, live in his studio. the veteran songsters crooned an a capella tribute to our boys, to the tune of "more than a number in my little red book". the revised lyrics began "england have gone out of the world cup" and ended with a reference to england's unfortunate goalkeeper: "seaman's height diminished, now his career's finished."

By 9.58 yesterday morning the bbc scotland presenter Fred Macaulay was introducing the drifters, live in his studio. the veteran songsters crooned an a capella tribute to our boys, to the tune of "more than a number in my little red book". the revised lyrics began "England have gone out of the world cup" and ended with a reference to england's unfortunate goalkeeper: "seaman's height diminished, now his career's finished."

South of the border, the effect of Brazil's victory on the mood of the nation was as if a football pitch-sized meteor travelling at 23,000mph had landed on, say, wembley stadium. besides scots and brazilians, the only people to whom i spoke yesterday who were in good spirits were people in the travel industry who witnessed the soccer spell being broken.

Suddenly, the english woke up to the fact that there is a summer's worth of travelling to be done. "the phones were silent until 9.22am," says tim jeans, the marketing director of ryanair. "since then we've been working flat out." at the lunn poly superstore in leicester, extra travel consultants were brought in to meet the demand for a short-notice getaway to escape the national gloom. by lunchtime today, we may see queues of holiday-starved folk stretching around the block from travel agents.

But where to go? there is no point travelling to a country that is also in a collective strop as a result of being knocked out. France, Ireland, Italy and the us are therefore off-limits – although not every american you meet may be aware of, let alone dismayed by, their team's exit at the hands of germany yesterday.

British airways is doing its best to persuade us to take a break in brazil with a cut-price deal to rio: book before the end of the world cup and you can fly to rio and back for £415. the bargain fare is available through agents such as south american experience (020-7976 5511), whose staff watched yesterday's match at the london office of the brazilian airline, varig. the good news is that sugar loaf mountain has just reopened to tourists, but England fans in rio risk having salt rubbed into their wounded pride.

Spain, another survivor, has had a dreadful week that is hardly likely to encourage visitors: after wednesday's air-traffic control shutdowns and thursday's general strike came yesterday's appalling bomb attacks on the costa del sol.

India and pakistan, where cricket is ascendant, are off-limits according to the latest foreign office advice. so how about austria, a football also-ran, which moves another step closer to britain this week? as thomas stephens notes on page 12 of this section, a new air link starts on thursday between stansted and klagenfurt, the capital of the province of carinthia. but before you join the telephonic queue for ryanair, which has set up the route, remember that it has no pre-assigned seating – and consider who may be sitting in the seat next door.

When any new service begins, it is customary to invite local dignitaries on to the first flight – the provincial governor of Carinthia, for example. he is expected to be aboard the first flight from klagenfurt to stansted. his name: jorg haider. at least the far-right politician can assert some democratic legitimacy, unlike the ruler of the obvious world cup-free destination, cuba. fidel castro, like his compatriots, is a baseball fan. he believes that a red card should be a cause for political pride and remembers 1966 only as the year when tractor manufacture exceeded production norms.

The most recent Austrian addition to ryanair's network was graz – which happens to be represented by the republic's youngest mp, werner amon. he likes the idea that tens of thousands of british visitors will be able to fly in to enjoy next year's european capital of culture, but is not so sure about the concept of no-frills flying.

"I have no problem with food and drink," (or rather the absence of free meals) he says, "but i'm a little worried if that means there are questions about security." his concerns, as well as the debate this week about the safety of no-frills airlines, are not going to put him off using the ryanair service to take his girlfriend to london.

The balance of evidence suggests that low-cost airlines are even safer than traditional carriers. the biggest in the world is southwest, which has flown some 13 million missions without a fatal accident. it is also notable for having a larger-than-life boss, named herb kelleher, and for remaining consistently profitable while other airlines were losing a fortune. but southwest has lost some custom as a result of the collapse of houston-based enron – and herb kelleher has lost a joke from his repertoire on the grounds of poor taste. he was once asked how he had managed to ensure the airline was consistently profitable. "it's very simple," he quipped. "you keep two sets of books."

The reason low-cost airlines do not dish out free food and drink can now be revealed. it is not to cut costs so much as reduce waistlines. from wednesday next week, southwest is to begin enforcing its rule about obese passengers. "persons who are unable to occupy a seat with the seat belt fastened" are to be invited either to buy an extra seat, or to leave the aircraft if the plane is full. the rule has been in place since 1980, but is now to be enforced rigorously by check-in staff because of some americans' expanding girths. southwest's one concession to "persons of size" is that they need only pay a child's fare for the second seat.

The carrier's contract of carriage reveals a host of other passengers deemed undesirable and likely to be refused boarding: from "persons who are barefoot and over five years of age" to "persons brought into the airport in manacles" (not believed to be a reference to british package holidaymakers). no mention is made of people with extremist political views, though a case might be made under the rule banning "persons who have an offensive odour".

One piece of good news is for musicians: large stringed instruments travel at the child fare. cellos, guitars and the like are also guaranteed a bulkhead window seat, which is more than the average passenger can expect.

A its fatal accident in 1996, when a dc-9 plunged into the florida everglades minutes after take-off from Miami, the no-frills airline valujet changed its name to airtran.

Any travel company in need of a rebrand could do worse than pick up the name that is floating around in the channel: golden arrow, the title of the premier rail-sea-rail link from london via dover to paris. in the first full week of easyjet offering yet another cheap way to reach the french capital from luton, an era ended for people who prefer the traditional link between the two cities.

Direct train connections from calais to paris have been cut, forcing passengers to change at boulogne, and signalling the end of an era.

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