Great Moments in Travel History – March 2020

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Delta acquired Atlantic Southeast Airlines on March 22, 1999, and in December 2011 it was merged with ExpressJet.

On March 2, 1981, Japan Air Lines became the first carrier to use a computerized flight simulator to train its crews.

Just after 2 a.m. on March 6, 1982, a fire broke out in the Westchase Hilton Hotel in Houston, Texas. Twelve people perished in the blaze, and five more were seriously injured.

The Boeing 737 became, and remains to this day, the world’s best-selling jetliner when United Airlines accepted delivery of the 1,832nd 737 on March 28, 1990.

On March 12, the Blizzard of 1993 shut down nearly every airport in North America from Georgia to Nova Scotia for two days. The blizzard became known as the “Storm of the Century.”

Scandinavian Airline System (SAS) launched the Boeing 737-600 with an order for 35 of the aircraft on March 15, 1995. The first of the aircraft was delivered on September 18, 1998.

Continental Airlines, now part of United Airlines, ordered five 787-9 Dreamliners on March 12, 2007. The Houston-based airline was the first customer in the Americas to order the high-tech plane.

The first flight of the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, took place on March 20, 2011. The plane is the largest version of the 747 and is the longest passenger aircraft in the world.

On March 30, 2012, the Park Hyatt Hyderabad opened in India. The hotel is the first Park Hyatt property in the country.

On March 25, 2013, Boeing conducted the first of two test flights of the 787 Dreamliner’s modified lithium-ion battery system. The tests proved that the battery overheating problem that the plane had previously suffered from, and had resulted in the grounding of all Dreamliners worldwide earlier in the year, was solved.

The first solar-powered flight to circumnavigate the world began in March 2015. The flight, which set a record as the longest flight without any fuel used, concluded over a year later, in July 2016

Three coordinated suicide bombings took place on the morning of March 22, 2016, in Brussels, Belgium. The bombings – two at Brussels Airport and one at Maalbeek metro station in central Brussels – claimed the lives of 32 civilians, and injured more than 300 people.

Anbang Insurance Group withdrew its $14-billion bid to take over Starwood Hotels and Resorts on March 31, 2016. This paved the way for Marriott to purchase the hotelier, which was completed in September of that year.

The first flight of the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner took place on March 31, 2017. The aircraft is the longest of the 787 family.

The fourth Nor’easter in three weeks took place on the first day of Spring, March 21, 2018, bringing with it heavy snow, fierce winds, and the cancellation of over 4,000 flights along the I-95 corridor from Boston to Washington, D.C.

On March 18, 2018, an Uber self-driving car in Tempe, Arizona, struck a woman who later succumbed to her injuries. The accident is believed to be the first recorded death of a pedestrian hit by an autonomous vehicle.  Elaine Herzberg was crossing a street outside of a marked crosswalk. The vehicle, a prototype based on the Volvo XC90, was in autonomous driving mode when the accident occurred.

Wow Air ceased operations on March 28, 2019, and cancelled all flights, stranding thousands of passengers. The move came after the airline failed to reach an agreement with investors that would have given it additional capital.  “Wow Air has ceased operation,” the airline said on its website. “All Wow Air flights have been cancelled.”

The co-owner and chairman of S7, Russia’s second largest airline, died in a private plane crash near Frankfurt on March 31, 2019.  Natalia Fileva was the largest shareholder in S7, an airline that was founded in 1957 as the Tolmachevo Squadron of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation of the Soviet Union. It was privatized in 1992 as Siberia Airlines and rebranded as S7 in 2005.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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