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What a difference a year makes! Last January, we profiled the longest and shortest regularly scheduled commercial flights, with Singapore Airlines taking the cake for traveling from Singapore to Newark in 19 hours. SIA has since ceased these flights, making room for a new top dog.
As of November 23rd 2013, Qantas flight 7 now claims the title for longest flight, hauling passengers from Sydney to Dallas aboard a Boeing 747-400. From block to block, the flight takes about 15 hours, 25 minutes to fly from down under to the Lone Star State. The total distance traveled spans 8,578 miles, edging out the second longest flight by a mere 139 miles.
It's that time of the year again, the time when the year just plain ends. Alas, we can't just let 2013 go that easily, especially since travelers spent it both up in the air and up in arms over a crazy range of topics. Needless to say, we're ready to get going into 2014, but first we're taking a brief look back at the best of 2013 with the Jaunted Travel Awards,or as we fondly refer to themThe Jauntys.
2013 saw the rise of important new routes for three world cities in particular: Chengdu, China; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Seoul, South Korea. Just one can win for hosting the best new route of the year, however, and so we hope you packed plenty of 'Gangnam Style' for the launch of American Airlines' nonstop between Dallas-Fort Worth and Seoul-Incheon.
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Did y’all cowpokes know there’s a newly crowned “World’s Longest Nonstop Flight?” With the retirement of Singapore Airlines flight 21/22, an unnaturally long 18hr 50min nonstop flight between Singapore and Newark, comes the new champion of distance: Qantas Airlines 7's 15h 25min nonstop from Sydney, Australia to Dallas, Texas.
It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that the flying time difference between the newcomer and the old-timer is a dramatic 3hr 25min. You could watch “Titanic” from start to finish in that exact time (the movie is literally 3 hr 25 min long). However, we certainly don’t want to make light of a 15-hour flight.
Let us not forget that while Singapore’s flights were longer, they were also running a completely business class cabin with no economy option. For Qantas, a few hundred passengers on the new longest flight will be spending their 15+ hours sitting upright in economy, chewing Xanax to make the pain go away. Just kiddingEconomy in one of Qantas’ 747-400ERs really isn’t all that bad (though we’d still suggest spending a little extra for Premium Economy like we did).
Let's close out the week with the kind of advisory that we always hate giving: if you're not traveling today and tomorrow, consider yourself lucky, because holy hell does it suck to be flying across the United States this weekend. There's a slim chance that you've managed to arrive get to one of the five warm weather destinations that we outlined earlier this morning - they're here if you want to confirm that you're among the chosen - but if not, wow does it suck to have anything to do with an airport right now.
It really, actually has come to this: News outlets have gone ahead and dubbed today "Ice Friday." Hundreds of flights were canceled across the country, not least of all because a storm decided to bury the Southeast and Texas with what people down there - allegedly - refer to as "weather." DFW alone had 500 cancellations.
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Today is Cyber Monday, and that means there’s all kinds of discounts to be had across the internet. However, after scoring a few digital deals, we suggest hitting the terminals and concourses to look for the next big thing in holiday gifts, and that’s because Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is all about shipping and shopping for the next few weeks.
The airport is offering to ship gifts back to where you call home—no checked baggage free required—for those items purchased at the airport. Things started up on November 22, and the option will run through December 24. It’s called "You Shop, We Ship," and is available to all travelers who grab something valued at $50 or more in the airport—but there are some certain restrictions depending on the store or the seller. Let’s just say that the copy of US Weekly from Hudson News isn’t going to be eligible for this promotion.
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The king is dead, long live the king!
Just before dawn across the world at Singapore-Changi Airport, an Airbus A340-500 touched down and taxied to its gate. The passengers filed off, followed by the flight crew, and there was no fanfare for this last arrival of the longest flight in the world.
At nearly 18 hours and 9,500 miles, Singapore Airlines' SQ 21/22 between Newark and Singapore was a monster of a nonstop which only accommodated 100 travelers in all-Business Class comfort. All good things must come to an end, however, and Singapore dropped the route in order to trade in the old, gas-guzzling, four-engine A345s for some shiny and efficient A350s to come.
It's a smart move, but a sad one regardless. Singapore 21/22 will live on through the stories of those who flew it, and we're proud to add our hour-by-hour account to the aviation history books.
Moving on, another flight route must now ascend to the throne and claim the title of "longest flight in the world." For that, look no further than Texas.
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Word to the wise: automated immigration kiosks are the new hotness. These machines process the passports of US & Canadian citizens in a matter of seconds (minutes, if there's a line), and we foresee it one day pushing the Global Entry program to the curb. Oh, and it's free.
How to use the kiosks:
Simply roll up to one, scan your passport page, confirm that the screen has your ID and arriving flight info correct, tap to answer "no" to the usual "are you bringing anything weird into our country?" questions, and a camera snaps your photo and prints a receipt of the transaction. Show that receipt to a man in a booth (no waiting!), he'll stamp your passport, and you're free to enter baggage claim. You'll finally yield that receipt to the customs inspection officers after baggage claim, with minimal bother and no queuing.
Who's got them:
As far as we know, there are four US airports with immigration kiosks up and running for holders of US passports. They are:
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We’re not sure if this is the future of airport security here in the nifty fifty, but the changes that are taking places in Charlotte and Dallas are certainly something that we can support. Think more comfortable spaces, better signage, and even places specifically intended to use for slipping your shoes back on.
If you’re looking to check things out for yourself you need to make your way to—or through—checkpoint E at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Things are being sponsored in part by SpringHill Suites by Marriott, so a lot of the touches are things you would normally see at one of their hotels. Of course the advertising is just part of the new setup, but there are some new comforts as well.
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At the beginning of summer, the US Government launched a new way to speed through immigration at Chicago O'Hare. Self-service kiosks eliminating the need to wait in long lines for a passport stamp. Even in the midst of an embarrassing government shutdown, someone was at work long enough to declare they were a huge success, expediting their expansion.
The trial in Chicago went so well, the next airport to see the technology is Dallas-Fort Worth. Since 60% of arriving passengers cleared customs in 15 minutes or less, and 85% of the rest of travelers making their way through in no more than 30 minutes. The Texas hub will now be the next to see improved waiting times.
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It doesn't matter if you're a frequent flyer or an avid armchair traveler so long as you're a lover of good design when it comes to what we've got for you. Picture this: your walls, decorated with schematics of airports, but in more of a minimalist-Apple sort of way and less back-of-the-inflight-magazine.
The Chicago-based NOMO Designs fulfills this fantasy, with the runway layout (and pertinent facts) of some 30 international airports printed in white ink on 18" x 24" steel gray sheets. The two newest? Dallas-Fort Worth and Hong Kong. There's even a few available on T-shirts if your airport allegiance runs truly deep.
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In case you missed it, Silvercar is the coolest rental car company around. They only give out silver Audi A4s, and a lot of the rental car magic is done from the comfort of your mobile device. Right now they’re pretty much doing their thing down in Texas, but if things catch on we’re sure they’ll be up for a little expansion elsewhere.
The best news from them is their new partnership and promotion with Virgin America, as they’re pretty much giving away rental cars—no strings attached. Travelers arriving aboard a Virgin America flight—and who are Virgin America Elevate members—are welcome to try out a one-day rental car free of charge upon arrival.
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We know we all love standing in long lines after 14-hour flights, but for those rare times when you feel rundown, jet lagged, and perhaps even a little hungover, you may consider joining the elite club known as Global Entry.
Joining Global Entry is rather easy for someone with $100 to spare, a clean criminal record, a list of all the countries they've been to, and a dash of patience.
From submitting our application to having the in-person interview, which normally leads to being immediately enrolled, it was almost exactly 30 days.
Here are the steps: