By the byline


GOOD morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to welcome you aboard Veritas Airways, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray-table is stowed. At Veritas Airways, your safety is our first priority. Actually, that is not quite true: if it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing. But then hardly anybody would buy our tickets and we would go bust"¦

So begins the funniest article I've ever read to date in The Economist. Who knew the magazine even did comedy? The article is called "Welcome aboard" and is a send-up parodying the not-so-truthful in-flight announcements we hear every time we step foot on a plane. I wish I could tell you the name behind this hilarious spoof, but The Economist has always had a "no byline" policy, which can be maddening in times like these.

Other than when reporters went out on strike at some newspapers like The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal some years ago, I don't know of a major news publication other than The Economist where the writers' names are withheld.

And this got me wondering: how many of you stop to notice who writes the articles you read, anyway? I'd be curious to know. If the article isn't by someone like Maureen Dowd, does it even matter?

Meanwhile, I know you're itching to read the rest of the brilliant, anonymous piece quoted above. Luckily, a blogger has taken the time to type it up for you, verbatim right here. And here's another preview: "Your life-jacket can be found under your seat, but please do not remove it now. In fact, do not bother to look for it at all. In the event of a landing on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred, because in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero."