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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":
When it come to selecting an economy seat for a flight, there is a very limited platform on which you can base your decision. There are two decisions to make: Aisle or middle, and front or back. Other than that, it's a blind decision, most notably in terms of who ends up being your seatmate. The classic complaint always revolves around an annoying seatmate who talks your ear off all flight, but is this only because we typically sit next to people with whom we have nothing in common?
South African Airways thinks so, and is launching a new feature called Social Check-In to help people select their seats based on common interests with other passengers. The concept is pretty simple. When you check in online, you can choose to share select Facebook details, such as your interests or upcoming events, which are then available for other passengers to see when they are selecting their seats. Passengers can then vet the value of empty seats by evaluating who is occupying the ones adjacent to it.
Airports / South Africa Travel / Safari Travel / JNB / HDS / South African Airways / SAA / → All Tags
We love it when our travels take us to slightly more unusual airports, and this one in South Africa certainly fits the bill. Hoedspruit (HDS) lies 280 miles northeast of Johannesburg on the eastern edge of the Limpopo province, towards the border with Mozambique. The most likely reason for venturing out to HDS is the same for which we came: the proximity to world-famous Kruger National Park.
Only one airline (South African Express) and two cities (Johannesburg and Cape Town) offer scheduled service to Hoedspruit, using small, single-aisle Bombardier jets or prop aircraft. The link to Johannesburg is twice-daily throughout the week, with one daily flight to Cape Town only available on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. A few charter airlines will also make the hops.
Hoedspruitís location and level of traffic could easily fool you into thinking this is just a tiny airport, but that impression would be wrong; only a section (officially Eastgate Airport) is for commercial use, with the airfield being unexpectedly vast due to its use as a military base and, even more interestingly, as one of the emergency landing spots for the now-grounded Space Shuttle.
Duty-Free / Duty Free / Shopping Travel / British Airways / South African Airways / Emirates / Cathay Pacific / → All Tags
If you're anything like us, you probably think that the in-flight duty-free shopping catalog can eat up a good chunk of time on long-haul international flights and provide a few giggles or unique gift ideas. This week, we'll dive into the pages of some favorite airline shopping magazines and highlight our picks for the just-can't-live-without items.
Today, we bring you our recommendations from in-flight catalogs around the world that ease the pressures of traveling to a new land. No matter how many times you get your passport stamped, it is just a little stressful waiting in immigration lines, collecting luggage and getting to your hotel as quickly as possible. Some airlines will help you relieve some of the stress and all you need is a quick browse of their duty-free magazine.
Livery / London 2012 Olympics / British AIrways / Qantas / JAL / ANA / South African Airways / Olympics Travel / Airplanes / Airline News / Sports Travel / Airplane News / → All Tags
This week marks the moment most of us have been waiting for after the city announcement came in 2005. This Friday, London will be on center stage as it hosts the Opening Ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Thousands of athletes from nations all over the world have already been converging on the British city, clogging up the airports with their gear bags.
It very common for the Olympics host country to give their national flag carrying airline a new paint job advertising the world's largest sporting event. We have already talked about what British Airways have done to some of their metal, but it is worth another mention, as well as a highlight of what other airlines are getting in on the Olympic spirit.
In-Flight WiFi / WiFi / South African Airways / Mango / Airline News / Airlines / In-Flight Entertainment / → All Tags
Thereís plenty of domestic in-flight WiFi to be found in and around the nifty fifty, and even long-haul options are starting to pop up here and there. However, if there was one place where all this up in the air connectivity has been limited it's Africa, but thankfully thatís not going to be the case for long.
Low cost carrier Mangoótheyíre kind of like the little brother of South African Airwaysóis getting ready to connect passengers at 35,000 feet. It sounds like Row 44, Vodacom and Wireless G are teaming up to provide the in-flight internet magic. G-Connect In-Flight WiFi isnít just some limited gimmick either, as it sounds like email, websites and all the other World Wide Web tidbits are yours for the browsing. Thereís even plans to bring some kind of text message system to the comfort of your tray table as well.
New Routes / Airlines / Airline News / South African Airways / JetBlue / Spirit Airlines / American Airlines / Volaris / → All Tags
Sometimes itís hard to stay on top of all the new route announcements that come our way, so weíve complied a little bit of a rundown below. As long as you can afford the fares, this should definitely help add to your passport stamp collection.
· American Airlines:
Finland, Finland, Finland thatís the country for me! Well at least thatís what American Airlines is singing, as they just started up nonstop service to Helsinki over the weekend. Itís a seasonal thing, so be sure to get all your Scandinavian stuff done before the end of October. The new flights depart from Chicago en route to Helsinki with a little help from Boeing 767-300s. This is the first time American is bringing their planes to Finland, so hopefully things will catch on and the flight will become a permanent option.
Alright we knew JetBlue would be jetting back and forth between Boston and beautiful Newark, New Jersey, but this week things became official. The airline that loves in-flight television and plenty of free up-in-the-air snacks started four daily flights between the two cities on May 4. Thereís a couple morning flights and a couple afternoon flights, so you should be able to find something that fits your schedule. Expect Embraer 190s on this route, which are a little smaller but just as comfy. We actually just flew this route yesterday, so it's totally open for booking and going.
Drinking Travel / In-Flight Drinks / In-Flight Cocktail of the Month / Airlines / South African Airways / South Africa Travel / → All Tags
As many already know, we have a serious obsession with airline cocktails, and so much is our passion that we've created a whole first-Friday-of-the-month feature called In-Flight Cocktail of the Month, which highlights the special concoctions that flight attendants whip up with only a cocktail shaker, some tiny liquor bottles and a whole lot of hope that it won't make you drunk and unruly.
Red sparkling wine is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, the fruity stuff isn't nearly as easy to find as, say, regular French champagne or good old Freixenet. Instead, you've often to grab it when you see it, like perhaps on an Africa-bound South African Airways flight.
2010 World Cup / World Cup / South Africa Travel / South African Airways / South Africa Airports / Bus Travel / → All Tags
Outside Nelspruit/Kruger Airport
All this week, we'll be giving you the low-down on the many venues of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This five-part guide is designed to inform and ease the logistics of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see all the action, should you decide to get on the ball and go for it! Next up, how to get to the games!
Letís be real. Unlike previous "winters", flying to South Africa is unlikely to be cheap at this time due to the World Cup. Round-trip air from U.S. gateways like JFK, ATL and IAD on South African Airways,(donít forget their partnership with JetBlue!) are starting at around $2,000. Yikes.
But this may be the one time where the ultimate fan (and those still holding on to their tax return) may consider upgrading to the flat-bed outfitted biz class (some routes are just double economy fares) for the 16-hr plus flight ahead. Youíll get to sleep and then hit the ground running once you land. Hey, if youíre gonna go for it, donít do it half-assed.
Hopping a Virgin America flight between LA and Vegas might be easy and affordable enough, but what about the hassle of getting from LA to Johannesburg, switching between airlines, and hoping for in-flight internet for at least one leg? Well, now thanks to an interline agreement between Virgin America and South African Airways, getting from one coast to a whole other continent in this manner can be easily done.
What this means is that the one-third of transatlantic air traffic bound for South Africa that originates from the West Coast will have a much easier time of it. Fly Virgin America to JFK to connect with Johannesburg direct flight, or fly Virgin to Washington-Dulles to connect to the Johannesburg route with a quick stop in Dakar, Senegal. Don't forget that you can use the in-flight internet during the Virgin leg to make last minute arrangement in South Africa or just plain email home that "OMG! I'm using internet 35,000 in the air!"