Great Moments in Travel History – December 2016

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Downtown Chicago

Downtown Chicago

After a dispute with hotel management over medical care and salaries, three disgruntled employees set a fire in the Hotel Dupont Plaza in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on December 31, 1986. It was the worst hotel fire in Puerto Rican history, with 97 people losing their lives in the New Year’s Eve blaze. The hotel is now the San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino.

While flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a terrorist bomb on December 21, 1988. All 243 passengers and 16 crewmembers, as well as 11 people on the ground, were killed.

Trans World Airlines agreed to sell its six routes between the United States and London to American Airlines for $445 million on December 16, 1990.

After spending most of the year trying to emerge from bankruptcy court, Pan Am ceased operations on December 4, 1991, after Delta Air Lines withdrew a funding commitment it had made as part of the purchase of Pan Am’s European and Northeast shuttle routes earlier in the year.

On December 16, 2003, Boeing’s board of directors gave the go-ahead for the company to begin offering for sale the 7E7 Dreamliner, now known as the 787 Dreamliner.

The 500th Boeing 777 rolled off the assembly line on December 3, 2004. The aircraft reached 500 units delivered faster than any other twin-aisle airplane in history.

The greatest loss of life in railroad history occurred on December 24, 2004, with the Queen of the Sea rail disaster. Approximately 1,700 people perished when a tsunami created by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean destroyed a passenger train on a coastal railway in Sri Lanka.

The Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour opened at its new 73,000 square-foot facility in Everett, Washington on December 16, 2005.

Total orders for the Boeing 737 surpassed the 6,000 mark on December 21, 2005, with an order for 10 737-800s from Xiamen Airlines.

The Regent Palace Hotel in London, which, at the time of its opening on May 16, 1915, was the largest hotel in Europe in terms of the number of rooms (1,028), closed its doors on December 31, 2006. The building was demolished starting in 2010.

The first 787 Dreamliner made its inaugural flight on December 15, 2009, from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, under the control of Capt. Mike Carriker and Capt. Randy Neville.

AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines, and US Airways Group, the parent of US Airways, officially merged on December 9, 2013, forming the world’s largest airline, American Airlines Group.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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