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Mailbag: Did We Go Too Far with ‘Sex in the Sky’?

SmarterTravel

Our recent coverage of Cincinnati-based Flamingo Air’s “Mile High Club” packages sure got you talking. We heard from many of you through our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, and via email. Some loved it, some hated it, and others—well, a few others might be on their way to Cincinnati as I type this. Here’s a sampling of the comments we received. I’ll weigh in with my thoughts at the end.

“The subject of the email I just received from your organization was very offensive to me. How can you possibly have a subject like this that goes out to so many people from so many backgrounds? How could you possibly think this was appropriate in any way?” —L.S.

“My husband and I paid to go skydiving. It lasted 25 minutes and we were strapped to other people. The cost: $500 with video. So yeah, I’d pay $400 to get in the air and be strapped to my own husband. Life is an adventure!” —C.H.

“I am so sad that your company would advertise ‘Sex in the Sky.’ That is just terrible. Sex is not entertainment … Your company must need business really bad to become this low and advertise such trash!” —D.J.

“This story if nothing else brought a smile to my face!” —C.S.

“Do not send any more emails with provocative titles like this. It is unnecessary and crude. The general population may like this stuff but do you really need to advertise this way to get clients? If someone really wanted this kind of thing I imagine they could find it on their own. In an over done ‘sex sells everything ‘ society, it is quite frankly ‘over done.’ I certainly hope I won’t need to contact you again regarding this kind of advertising.” —L.Z.

“Beats the hell out of Spirit Air!” —L.S.

“Do they have a senior discount?” —O.M.

First off, thank you to everyone who took the time to comment. Though this was a story that also received coverage from other mainstream outlets, we knew there was a chance some of you might still be upset. Of course, we hoped many more would be surprised or amused, and take the story as the fun digression we intended it to be. The positive comments outweighed the negatives by a wide margin, so I think we were successful.

No, SmarterTravel is not about to become a “smut website” (as some suggested). And no, you won’t see headlines like “Sex in the Sky” here every day, either. But will we tackle risqué topics if we think they’ll interest or entertain a majority of our readers? You bet—especially if there’s a useful consumer point to make, like comparing the cost of this airline’s gimmick to staying at a nice hotel. 

The same day we published “Sex in the Sky,” we also wrote about flexible airfare search tools, a secret 20-percent-off promo code from JetBlue, the world’s least spoiled island, and how to get more space in economy class. We’re still the same SmarterTravel you’ve always known. My advice: If you don’t like the risqué stories, you always have the power to avoid them by not clicking through to read them. And if you do like them? Click away—that’s how we know what our readers want.

And now for something completely different. One of our more popular stories this month, 10 Places You Never Thought You Could Afford, generated this excellent response from a reader in Hawaii. I’ll let her take it from here.

“I disagree with the statement that Hawaii is ‘already expensive.’ Fierce competition among hotels, condos and time shares, plus the many restaurants, make it just about the most affordable world-class resort area on earth. This is particularly true of the main island of Oahu, and its most famous section, Waikiki.

“The other islands such as Maui or the Big Island (Hawaii) are more expensive because there is less competition, but Oahu/Waikiki has more than enough wonderful must-see sites to keep you busy for weeks, even if you never go to the beach or lie out at a pool. These include the famous North Shore to watch the surfers, visits to the Arizona Memorial, the submarine Bowfin, the battleship Missouri (where the treaty with Japan ending WWII was signed), the Air Museum of the Pacific, Polynesian Cultural Center, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Chinatown, Punchbowl memorial cemetery, Sea Life Park, Foster Botanical Gardens, numerous beach parks, Hanauma Bay for snorkeling, and more.

“All of these are accessible via the excellent public bus system, so a rental car is not necessary—actually, the parking hassle can make a car a liability. Fares are reasonable and four-day bus passes let you hop on and off at will, and even go all the way around the island.   

“Hints: Don’t insist on a beach-front hotel (all in Waikiki are at most a few blocks from the beaches, which by law are accessible to everyone), and don’t dine exclusively at high-end in-hotel restaurants. Instead patronize restaurants along the main streets, those advertising in the tourist brochures available everywhere (often with coupons for a second meal free or 50 percent off, or a free drink with purchase of a meal) and the many ‘food courts’ such as at the Royal Hawaiian shopping center, the back side of the International Marketplace, and on the lower level of the Alal Moana shopping center.

“Many air-hotel packages are available (try for a hotel with at least a refrigerator and microwave, for inexpensive and convenient breakfasts and re-heating restaurant leftovers). To stock up on basics, there’s a ‘Food Pantry’ small supermarket on Kuhio Avenue and another larger ‘Foodland’ with lower prices at the back of the Ala Moana shopping center.

“If you can stay a week or longer, rent a Waikiki condo with kitchen or kitchenette. Numerous property managers have websites, such as aplaceinhawaii.com. Or see hawaiidiscounthotels.com for complete descriptions of available hotels, many of which have kitchenettes. Follow these tips and you can have a fabulous vacation for less than you might spend at home!” —C.C.

Thanks for sharing, C.C.! Those are great tips for anyone looking to save money in Hawaii. Aloha, and happy travels to you all. See you in Cinci?

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