Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Finland leapfrogs neighbours to claim top spot in happiness league

According to the UN’s annual report on happiness and well-being Finland is the happiest place on earth.

What’s not to like? Saunas, the Northern Lights, Moomins, Angry Birds, friendly people, Lapland, reindeers and Father Christmas (if you believe?).

And don’t forget heavy metal bands. A Finnish friend sent me a Nightwish CD swearing it was the national music of Finland. (Read more about them and hear them here).

The fact that it’s dark for half the year in the North and Summers are short doesn’t seem to bother the hardy Finns that much.

I’ve visited a couple of times to Helsinki and Espoo and apart from the difficulty in buying alcohol it seems a wonderful place. I’ve also flown to Lithuania via Helsinki on a number of occasions and it never closes (well once it did),and the airline crews are really helpful.

Finnair is my favourite airline – even though you don’t get free Lapin Kulta beer in economy anymore – and Helsinki is probably my favourite airport. Did I mention that the reindeer stew is very tasty too? And those liquorice and caramel toffees? And my Finnish felt boots I bought in Lithuania are perfect for this cold weather.

So congratulations on topping the list of 156 countries surveyed for the annual UN report. As usual the Scandinavians all feature in the top ten (along with several other countries that enjoy snow – is that significant?). In fact the same countries appeared in last year’s top ten but in a different order.

I described the methodology in last year’s blog on this topic here.

  1. Finland
  2. Norway (in top spot last year)
  3. Denmark
  4. Iceland
  5. Sitzerland
  6. Netherlands
  7. Canada
  8. New Zealand
  9. Sweden
  10. Australia

War-Torn countries and sub-Saharan Africa feature at the bottom of the table.

How did the UK do? We came in at 19th place, the same as last year, and the US dropped to 18th from 14th.

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Airlines’ ripoff charges

luggage_passport_ticket_1600_wht_8353You probably know about Ryanair charging for hold luggage – £35 for a 15kg bag during peak periods, a measly allowance compared to most airlines which allow at least 20kg, for which Ryanair charges £45.

But the trend is now to charge you for hand luggage as well! Hungarian Wizz Air were the first charging €10 but US airlines have taken over .

Frontier Airlines charges between £16 and £64 depending on whether you pay on-line or at the airport (Ryanair started that little trick with boarding passes I think) as do Allegiant and Spirit airlines.

Which! Travel‘s latest report shows that the cost of luggage can exceed the cost of a ticket, especially if you have oversize luggage or sports equipment.

Ryanair is by far the worst charging £140 if you exceed the 10kg hand luggage allowance – which is the lowest of any airline. And their exchange rate is £1 = €1.

And they charge you between£19 and £30 for the pleasure of carrying your baby.

Booking fees can mount up too with Easyjet charging £10 for one person and Aer Lingus and Ryanair £7 a person

But everyone’s at it even British Airways. And gone are the days when you could get a free beer or glass of wine in economy class with your food (if you still get food) and airline food typically has over a 2000% markup compared with supermarket prices.

Even my favourite airline Finnair now charges for a glass of Lapland Gold beer!