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The patent motive behind in-flight magazines is to promote travel, to make destinations sound like paradise. With crafty editing and just the right omissions, for instance, a savvy in-flight rag can cast a place like San Antonio as visit-worthy.

The District hardly cries out for the classic in-flight treatment. It is a pretty place, particularly in the spring, with good restaurants and tons of free cultural activities. Yet the editors at skylines, “Das Bordmagazin der Austrian Airlines Group,” apparently decided that Washington needed a few enhancements—at least on the page.

In its January/February edition, skylines prints “U Got the Blues?”, an appeal to take one of Austrian’s daily flights from Vienna to Washington to sample the jazzy wonders of the U Street corridor. And to judge by the piece, Das Bordmagazin’s very own Fakt checkers were on a vacation of their own. Just a few highlights, with corrections:

Despite the sprawling suburbs that give the greater metropolitan area 3.5 million in habitants, Washington itself is a relatively small conglomerate of neighbourhoods, most of them Afro-American.

2000 Census: Metro area has nearly 4.6 million people.

Fittingly for an empire, Washington features discreet neo-classicist architecture, ranging from the White House and the 32 Doric columns of the Lincoln Monument to the Jefferson Monument…


But once the show is over and the cliches have been cast aside, Washington reveals itself as an altogether different world. It is a city that is almost un-American in its informal pleasantness and unusually high quality of life, allowing one to take a deep break and feel almost European.

Yes, especially at Paper Moon.

Washington has a large number of parks and green areas, almost as many pedestrians as drivers, and is compact enough that one can go almost anywhere on foot. The police sirens seldom howl, and certainly never in the neighbourhood of U and 14th streets, long the centre of Afro-American culture in Washington.

U and 14th: Home to the former Club U.