Great Moments in Travel History – January 2021

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A 747 taking off from Los Angeles International Airport

On January 19, 1991, Eastern Air Lines ceased operations. The airline, which had been founded in 1926, grew to be one of the major U.S. airlines but was unable to compete after deregulation of the U.S. airline industry and following a decade of tumultuous labor relations. Only the former Eastern Air Shuttle, which was sold to Donald Trump in 1989 and subsequently sold to USAir in 1992, remains in existence and is now the American Shuttle, following US Airways’ 2013 merger with American Airlines.

Trans World Airlines filed for bankruptcy on January 10, 1992, and again in 1995. After yet another bankruptcy filing, the carrier’s assets were acquired by American Airlines in 2001 in a bankruptcy sale.

On January 8, 1996, an Air Africa Antonov An-32B plane overshot the runway at N’Dolo Airport in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although all of the six crewmembers onboard survived, there were 227 fatalities and 253 serious injuries on the ground, the largest number of non-passenger ground fatalities caused by a plane crash.

The Boeing 737-600 made its inaugural flight on January 22, 1998. The aircraft can accommodate 110 passengers in a typical two-class configuration, and 132 in a typical one-class configuration.

The Ice Hotel, or Hôtel de Glace, in Quebec, Canada, opened its doors on January 1, 2001. It was the first ice hotel to be located in North America.

Commercial airline passengers were able to experience in-flight Internet service for the first time on January 15, 2003, with the launch of Connexion by Boeing on a Lufthansa 747-400. On August 17, 2006, Boeing announced cessation of the service.

On January 18, 2005, Airbus unveiled the A380 superjumbo in Toulouse, France. The A380 was, and continues to be, the largest passenger aircraft in operation and can accommodate up to 853 passengers in an all-economy configuration, although it typically carries closer to 525 passengers in a three-class layout.
Boeing launched the 737-700ER, the longest range 737, with an order for two of the aircraft from All Nippon Airways on January 31, 2006.

On January 15, 2009, US Airways flight 1549, an Airbus A320, made history after making the first ditching of a passenger jet without loss of life. The event was dubbed “Miracle on the Hudson” and brought folk hero fame and status to its pilot, Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III.

Northwest Airlines merged with Delta Air Lines on January 1, 2010.

All Nippon Airways Flight 692, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, made an emergency landing after cockpit warnings indicated a battery failure and the presence of smoke. Because of this and other similar incidents, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines both grounded their Dreamliner fleets. This action was followed by a worldwide grounding of all 787 aircraft.

The Badrashin railway incident took place on January 15, 2013, near Giza, Egypt, when a passenger train en route from Cairo to Sohag derailed and killed 19 people.

On January 31, 2013, American Airlines became the first airline in the U.S. to operate the Boeing 777-300ER with a revenue flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to São Paulo, Brazil.

Guests at the Romantik Seehotel Jägerwirt in Turrach, Austria, were unable to get into their rooms while hackers held the hotel hostage after taking control of its computer systems. The hack took place at the start of the winter ski season on January 29, 2017.

Hilton announced that it was tweaking its brand, which will, effective January 31, 2017, be known as Hilton instead of Hilton Worldwide.  It also dropped the somewhat redundant “H” in its guest loyalty program, formerly known as Hilton HHonors.

Marriott International revealed the new name of its guest loyalty program on January 16, 2019, five months after having combined all three of its loyalty brands—Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest or SPG. The new name is Bonvoy. Marriott and Starwood merged in September 2016.

Alaska Airlines was granted a single operating certificate, a milestone in its integration with Virgin America, on January 12, 2018, allowing the airline to operate all flights under the “Alaska” call sign. Virgin’s “Redwood” call sign has been officially retired.

On January 8, 2020, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down by Iranian surface to air missiles launched by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.  The unprovoked attack resulted in the death of 176 people.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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