"No Groping or Hot Drinks Allowed on Naked Flight"
One day he thought up a clothes-optional flight, and the next day he was famous. Enrico Hess, the founder of the OssiUrlaub.de travel company, spoke to SPIEGEL ONLINE about the huge interest in his naked travel service, the special in-flight rules and his future offers for Germany's touring nudists.
Mr. Hess (Photo: left) has started travel service experienceíng everything nude only. Not more than nudity and not less than it, just the middle is his motto.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: You've made headlines across the world for your naked flight idea. Did that surprise you?
Enrico Hess: I figured the idea would attract some attention, but we never would have thought that we would receive inquiries from France, Japan or New Zealand.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: How many solid bookings are there so far?
Hess: We plan to start taking bookings on Friday, but we're already receiving non-binding requests every 10 to 15 minutes on our Web site's pre-booking application. We could already fill the first plane two or three times over, one of them just with the journalists who want to be on the flight.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What kinds of travellers have been contacting you? Are they older people, who have good memories of the FKK era in the former East Germany (GDR)? (FKK, or "free body culture," is a popular German naturalist movement promoting a clothes-free lifestyle.)
Hess: No, it goes across the board: young people, older people, people from both western and eastern Germany. No one type has predominated.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Will you impose any particular behavior rules on the flight? Is groping allowed?
Hess: No, and I'd like to believe that that wouldn't really be an issue among genuine FKK fans. We regard it as being taken for granted that touching and ogling don't belong on an FKK vacation, just like they don't belong on the beach. Nor do we want it to be some airborne dating service.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: How did you come up with the idea?
Hess: It was about a year ago at a travel trade fair -- I think at Berlin's ITB. I was chatting with a guy at a hotel bar one night talking about FKK vacations and about how popular they were in the GDR. He gave me the idea. I'd love to thank him, but I can't remember his name.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Did you ever go on a FKK vacation yourself back in the old days of the GDR?
Hess: No. It's true that I was born in the former East Germany, but I never had anything to do with the that. When I was a kid, I would always go to Usedom -- to Heringsdorf -- with my parents. But my parents weren't FKK fans, so I really wasn't one either.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: So, how expensive is the flight?
Hess: It costs €499 ($735), and I agree that that's a lot for a one-day trip. The issue is that the plane is really small and only has 50 seats. The price would decrease considerably if we used a bigger plane. We're considering switching the whole thing over to another, larger airline and offering regular naked flights.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What makes the flight different from a normal airline flight?
Hess: There are a few basic rules. For example, no hot drinks will be served and there will be certain hygienic regulations. Passengers won't be sitting directly on the seats but on specially sized cloths laid on them. And the crew will have to remain clothed, too.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are you planning a further expansion?
Hess: We can see that there is a genuine market for FKK-related things and will soon be offering all-inclusive FKK vacations, which will involve a FKK flight, a week in a FKK hotel and a return flight with other FKK passengers. FKK cruises are another possibility.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: How do you deal with the chilliness when you're sitting on a naked flight?
Hess: That is a serious issue. But, in the end, the flight will be on July 5, and it only lasts 60 minutes. Of course, there are also people who go swimming in the Baltic Sea on the first of January. I would never do that. But, then again, I'm not an FKK fan and, in that sense, not a FKK flight customer either.
Interview conducted by Reinhild Haacker