London Express

Across the Atlantic for $149

The scene on an observation deck at Newark International Airport last Thursday night was steeped in irony. Newark-based People Express, the cost-conscious, no-free-food airline that is sometimes called the McDonald's of the skies, was throwing a bash for employees, passengers and anyone else who dropped by. Champagne flowed and tables were covered with such treats as candied kiwi fruit, Brie and salmon mousse.

The cheapskate airline had reason to be generous. The British government earlier that day had given People Express the final go-ahead to start cut-rate transatlantic service, and the passengers at the party were about to...

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