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Above: the Delta DC-3
2014 has been a huge, huuuuuge year for airline anniversaries, and at the top of the list is Delta's 85th Anniversary of passenger service, which they celebrated with a reopening of their aviation museum at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Why a re-opening? Well, as it goes with museums, sometimes exhibits need polishing and the Delta Flight Museum had originally opened back in 1995. It's so much more than spit-shining some cases, however; an entire new aircraft was waiting to be added to the permanent collection.
Now visitors can finally get up close with the Boeing 767 "Spirit of Delta," which was actually purchased by donations totaling $30 million from Delta employees. This plane almost single-handedly allowed Delta to weather the tough economic times of the early 1980s and begin modernizing their fleet. She flew for 23 years and is now half time capsule, half museum-within-in-a-museum, and completely open for visitors to tour.
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The Boeing 747 is known as the Queen of the Skies, but even royalty sometimes needs to step aside for the next generation. Just this year we saw United ditch their jumbos between San Francisco and Sydney, Air New Zealand took the planes out of their fleet, and over at ANA they’re not using the big birds any more as well. Next to retire the planes is Delta, but you will have a few years of farewell before the head to the big hangar in the sky.
Right now the carrier has around 16 of the planes kicking around, as most of them were acquired back with Delta shacked up with Northwest Airlines. Apparently the planes ain’t what they used to be—too big, not fuel efficient, etc.—and it looks like Delta will be taking them out of commission as soon as 2017.
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When it comes to airline lounges, things here in the U.S. are leaps and bounds behind what’s being offered internationally. However, one major carrier's digs are getting a modest facelift, as Delta Sky Club has launched changes to its services. .
Delta’s airport lounges have always offered up complimentary snacks and beverages—even the alcoholic ones—but the latest upgrade and improvement is focused on the food. Please don’t expect waiter service, entrees, or tasting menus, but just last week the free bits and bites received little bit of an upgrade.
If you flew Delta yesterday on an international flight and wondered why the usual push for duty-free shopping didn't happen, the explanation is simple: Delta stopped offering it, effective last night.
This means no more Toblerone, Chivas Regal, watches from supposed luxury brands you've never heard of, and pens inexplicably filled with Swarovski crystals; the duty-free catalog and mid-flight soft sell are done away with on Delta, and it's all due to disagreement with its duty free vendor, DFASS.
RunwayGirlNetwork was first with the news yesterday evening, and also offers further insight:
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Our favorite piece of travel technology to spread in 2014 is the Automated Passport Control (APC) Kiosk, and every new airport added to the list of users is one more notch for progress. Joining the club this summer have been Newark, Atlanta, andnewest of allDetroit Metropolitan International Airport, who just completed installation of 30 shiny kiosks.
The APC, which began at Vancouver International Airport, now allow travelers arriving from international flights to quickly enter their details, snap a photo, receive a stamp, and continue on their merry way into baggage claim; this is as opposed to waiting in a long line to see an agent for the usual passport review and stamp. It's not Global Entry; it's something better than Global Entry, not to mention the fact it's completely free.
On aircraft with televisions in the seatbacks, the system is pretty self explanatory. But on older planes where there are no personal entertainment systems, the content will need to be accessed through your own device, such as a laptop, iPad, or Tablet. If you're using an older computer or operating system, you'll need to update it in order to stream the database of movies and television shows.
Taking a page out of Southwest's playbook, Delta has announced that it will begin offering free in-flight entertainment to all passengers in all classes on all its domestic and international flights longer than 1.5 hours beginning this Friday, August 1st.
On newer planes, the entertainment initiative, known as "Delta Studio" and including movies, TV shows, music, and videogames, will come through the seat-back televisions. On planes without seat-back systems, the content will stream for free via in-flight Wifi on passengers' laptops and tablets.
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When Delta yesterday announced their decision to stop flights to Tel Aviv, Israel "until further notice," they stood alone.
Within the next two hours, that move was echoed by United and US Airways, and eventually the Federal Aviation Administration themselves, who set forth a 24-hour ban on US airline flights to Israel, a ban which was extended today for a further 24 hours.
Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta, stood in front of the CNBC cameras this morning to explain their early and precedent-setting action, which goes beyond the single incident of the rocket attack nearby Ben Gurion International Airport to address danger due to "the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza."
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Update: 12:30pm EST, July 23: Although yesterday's FAA ban on flights to Israel was originally only for 24 hours, it has been extended to last another 24 at the least. This only applies to US airlines, so flights to Israel on El Al out of JFK are still operating normally.
Update: 1pm EST: FAA has issued a notice (NOTAM) prohibiting US airlines from flying to or from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Int’l Airport for up to 24 hours.
Update: 12pm EST: US Airways, United and American Airlines now join Delta in temporarily suspending Tel Aviv flights.
At approximately 11am EST today, Delta updated their Israel travel adivsory from a warning that flights may be disrupted, to the fact that their flights from New York-JFK to Tel Aviv will not be operating at all "until further notice."
The stoppage is a temporary hiatus necessitated by escalating violence in Israel; the final straw comes with the report of a rocket attack in the vicinity of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport. Naturally the danger calls to mind last week's Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 tragedy, caused by a ground-to-air missile. While airlines continue to divert their flight paths clear of Ukrainian air space, there are other war zones to consider.
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Ever heard of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line? We're guessing probably not, but the Smithsonian sure has; the seaplane carrier is classified as the world's first airline, which inaugurated commercial air service in 1914 when it took off with one paying passenger. It may have been a short journey (only 23 minutes!), but the Airboat Line's impact extends to today as commercial aviation has become a $2.2 trillion dollar industry, employing over 57 million people.
In 2014, the world celebrates 100 years of commercial air travel, but that's not all.
In this last century, airlines and airplanes have evolved into a fact of everyday life for travelers, and some of the pioneering companies will mark milestones this year. Here's who to wish "happy anniversary":
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Very important cat news! Venus, the two-tone face cat and social media darling flew to the Big Apple for some TV appearances this week, including a cute cameo on Good Morning America.
Venus, who was adopted off a dairy farm where she was living as a feral stray, turned 5 this year. Her owner uses Venus' exposure on social media to promote the adoption of pets who need good homes. We became aware of her while idly browsing Instagram's #catsofinstagram hashtag one day over a year ago, and have followed this chimera cutie's adventures since.
Venus' travels aren't frequent, but she did post the photo above of her and her owner enjoying a photo op in the cockpit of a Delta plane today.
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The first thing we thought of was finally, and we hope that you’re thinking the same. It’s been a long time coming, but just the other day the gods of complimentary connectivity paid a visit to the terminals and concourses at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Free WiFi is now a thing for one and all at the world’s busiest airport, and that means you can quickly and easily complain about your Delta delays without wasting your monthly data allotment.