Great Moments in Travel History – May 2022

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The Kölner Dom, or Cathedral, and the Excelsior Hotel Ernst, which opened in 1863

Pakistan International Airlines Flight 705 crashed on May 20, 1965, while attempting to land at Cairo International Airport in Egypt. Although six passengers were thrown clear of the wreckage, the remaining 121 people onboard the Boeing 720 died in the crash, making it the deadliest incident involving a 720 aircraft.

At the Paris Air Show on May 29, 1969, French transport minister Jean Chamant signed an agreement with German economics minister Karl Schiller, officially launching the Airbus A300, the world’s first twin-engine wide-body passenger jet.

American Airlines Flight 191 crashed near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on May 25, 1979. All 271 passengers and crew, as well as two people on the ground, were killed. Prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the crash was the deadliest commercial aircraft incident in United States history.

American Airlines launched its loyalty program, AAdvantage, on May 1, 1981. AAdvantage was the second airline loyalty program in the world, after Texas International Airlines’ program, and is the world’s oldest and largest frequent flyer program, believed to have over 100 million members.

The Shigaraki train disaster occurred on May 14, 1991 when a Shigaraki Kōgen Railway train collided head-on with a West Japan Railway Company train in Shigaraki, Japan, killing 42 and injuring 614 others.

On May 26, 1991, Lauda Air Flight 004, a Boeing 767, crashed shortly after takeoff from Bangkok, Thailand. All 223 passengers and crew aboard the plane lost their lives, making it the deadliest aviation accident involving a 767 aircraft.

The first Boeing 777 was delivered to launch customer United Airlines on May 17, 1995. The aircraft was placed into service in June of that year.

On May 30, 1995, the Boeing 777 became the first airplane in aviation history to earn U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval to fly extended-range twin-engine operations, or ETOPS, upon entering service.

Star Alliance, the oldest of the three current airline alliances, was founded on May 14, 1997, by Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways International, Air Canada, Lufthansa, and United Airlines. Star Alliance is the world’s largest global airline alliance with a current roster of 27 member carriers.

American Airlines placed an order for 20 Boeing 757-200s on May 2, 2000. The order brought the total orders for 757s from operators around the world to 1,009.

On May 16, 2001, Boeing delivered the first 737-900 to launch customer Alaska Airlines. The model is the longest 737 variant to date.

With the delivery of a 737-800 to ATA Airlines on May 14, 2004, only six years after delivery of the first model, Boeing’s Next-Generation 737 family reached 1,500 aircraft delivered in a shorter time than any other commercial airplane family.

On May 23, 2006, Boeing delivered the last two of the 156 Boeing 717 airplanes ever to be produced to Midwest Airlines and AirTran Airways. This marked the end of its commercial airplane production in Southern California, which had been started by Donald Douglas in the 1920s.

Assembly began on the first 787 Dreamliner on May 21, 2007. The Dreamliner is Boeing’s most fuel-efficient aircraft, and is constructed primarily of composite materials. It was first put into passenger service in late 2011 but was grounded temporarily at the beginning of 2013 due to problems with its high-tech lithium-ion batteries.

Air India Express Flight 812 crashed on May 22, 2010, with the loss of 158 lives, making it the deadliest incident to involve a Boeing 737.

After being grounded earlier in the year, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner resumed passenger-carrying flights in the United States on May 20, 2013, with United Airlines Flight 1, which flew from Houston to Chicago.

The first Tru by Hilton hotel opened on May 26, 2017, in Oklahoma City. The hotel was also the 5,000th Hilton property to open.

On May 18, 2018, a Cubana de Aviación Boeing 737-200 crashed in Havana shortly after taking off from Aeropuerto Internacional José Martí. All but one of the 112 passengers and crewmembers perished. There were initially four survivors, but three later died at a local hospital.

Hilton celebrated its 100th anniversary, which took place on May 31, 2019, with the formation of a new foundation and a charity drive. The hotelier will use the Hilton Effect Foundation “to create a better world,” it said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert in infectious diseases, issued on May 12, 2020 a stark warning that the country faces “needless suffering and death” if it reopens too early amidst the coronavirus pandemic. His warning was not heeded.

Berlin Tegel – the city’s main international airport whose history goes back to the 1948 Berlin Airlift –closeed temporarily on May 28, 2020 amidst a plunge in air traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic.  It was thought that it would not reopen but it did for several months and then closed with the opening of the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport on November 7, 2020.

On May 30, 2020, American Airlines and United Airlines – the two largest carriers in the United States by fleet size – announced significant cuts to their respective managerial ranks as demand for travel hovered close to zero as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Jonathan Spira contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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