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Tragedies / Accidents / United / TWA / Vintage Travel / Airplanes / Brooklyn Travel / → All Tags
Although it's never nice to talk about past air incidents when they have the possibility of freaking you out before flying, but it's important to note that today marks the 50th Anniversary of one of the most tragic airplane accidents in history. At the time, in 1960, it was the deadliest, killing 128 people in the sky and 6 on the ground. Here's what happened:
In the morning of December 16, 1960, a TWA Constellation carrying 44 was heading to land at LaGuardia Airport while a United DC-8 Jet with 84 on board was on its way to land at Idlewild Airport (now JFK). Because of lower-tech air traffic control systems of the time, and because the United jet wasn't in the spot it thought it was, the two planes collided over Staten Island. The TWA prop plane was sliced into three pieces and fell straight down onto a military field in SI, while the United Jet managed to continue as far as Brooklyn, where it eventually fell into a church and intersection in the Park Slope neighborhood, killing 6 on the ground and setting buildings on fire.
Tragedies / Bus Travel / Road Trips / Megabus / → All Tags
Although we've had our own list of the Top 5 Tips for Surviving Budget Bus Travel, we will now have to add "sitting at the front of a double-decker" to it after a fatal crash of a Megabus left four dead on Saturday. The cause? The bus had veered from its normal routes and was driving on roads unfamiliar to the driver when it drove into a railroad trestle bridge near Syracuse, NY, too low for the double-decker to pass underneath.
This Megabus, driving between Philadelphia and Toronto, was carrying only 28 passengers when the terrible accident occurred. It is the only fatal accident in Megabus' history, and the company says the incident is still under investigation.
It's that time of the year again, when two powerful lights take up their brief residence in lower Manhattan to remember the thousands of lives lost during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This year marks the ninth anniversary, and as New York City has done every year around the date since 2003. Officially the installation is called "Tribute of Light," and it takes 88 searchlights to form the seemingly never-ending beams. Next year will be the lights' final year to appear, marking the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
Yesterday we showed you the real reason that tourists ride the free Staten Island Ferry from the tip of Manhattan: the view of the Statue of Liberty. However, since a few days ago and continuing through this upcoming weekend, the tourist hordes will be attracted by the World Trade Center lights, which are perfectly visible and photographable from the ferry. Our friend @the_vole was on the ferry just last night, shooting these images with his iPhone.
Around 11pm last night EST, which would be during the morning rush hour in Moscow, two separate female suicide bombers detonated themselves in the subway underground of the city. The first occurred in a train at the main station Lubyanka, killing 23 on the train and platform and the second came at the Park Kultury station, killing another 12. The attacks again raise important questions about the safety of public transportation while turning an eye to Russia and their terrorism problems with Islamist rebels fighting for independence in Chechnya.
Russia is not new to subway bombings, but then neither are Tokyo, London or New York, the latter of which has foiled several attempts of terrorists to bomb and even cyanide gas the system. As a result, expect subway security to be beefed up in big cities around the world, especially in New York. Plan for random bag checks and remember that using common sense is a good defense. While there's probably no need to bring your flame-retardent suit on the train today, it's also a good idea to be aware of what's going on around you.
· Moscow Subways Attacked, NYPD Increases Subway Security [Gothamist]
· Two Blasts in Moscow Metro, Dozens Killed [RT]
· Tragedies [Jaunted]
Tragedies / SeaWorld / Shamu / Orlando Travel / Travel News / Amusement Parks / → All Tags
UPDATE 2.26.10: SeaWorld Orlando's website has only updated on the show schedule page to say that the Believe shows at Shamu Stadium will resume again tomorrow, February 27. The Dine with Shamu experience, which enables guests to have lunch while observing the whales and was the scene of the horrifying incident, has been suspended until further notice.
Park authorities say the killer whale, Tillikum, will not be transferred, released or destroyed but whether he will perform is still not certain.
UPDATE: 5:26pm EST: A Twitterer in the audience, SapphicKitty, snapped a couple of Twitpics just before the show and Tweeted, "The killer whales are have a "moment" They don't feel like performing right now...." Later, the Twitterer found out it was because of all the action that happened just before the show started. Sad.
UPDATE 4:10pm EST: It has been confirmed that a trainer was attacked by a whale at the start of the show. Alarms went off and the stadium was evacuated. The park is still open but the whale stadium is closed.
However, it looks like the whale, Tillikum, has a history of doing this as he was the reason a trainer drowned in 1991 at Sealand of the Pacific in British Columbia. Another man was found dead laying on Tillikum's back in 1999 at SeaWorld. The man had snuck into the park and was later believe to have drowned but Tillikum had torn his shorts and bit him as well.
It's a tragic day for SeaWorld to lose one of its trainers doing the job they loved. But also, animals in captivity: still not a good idea.
Earthquakes / Haiti Travel / Disasters / Tragedies / American Airlines / Frequent Flyer Miles / → All Tags
If you're looking to donate to a Haiti earthquake relief charity but don't want to wait till George Clooney's MTV celebrity-filled telethon on Friday, American Airlines is offering an alternative through the American Red Cross.
Make a contribution to the American Red Cross and the airline will award your do-gooding with bonus AAdvantage miles. A minimum $50 donation will get you 250 miles and a pledge of $100 or more will earn you 500 miles.
In the US, rescuers have been complaining about "Yuppie 911." This happens when inexperienced urban hikers try to rough it and discover that nature is actually kind of brutal, so they use their personal locator beacons to call in helicopters because their water tastes salty (sweat) or because they heard a loud noise (thunderstorm). The underlying problem is that adventure tourists often simply don't realize what they're getting into.
In New Zealand their extreme travel tourism problems are less humorous and, at least recently, more tragic. The April 2008 death of Emily Jordan, a 21 year old who was killed in a river boarding accident, triggered a review of the entire industry. Now a new UK group, led by Emily's father, is demanding that the government take steps in the meantime to make adventure tourism safer:
Earthquakes / Haiti Travel / Disasters / Tragedies / Spirit Airlines / Volunteer Travel / Frequent Flyer Miles / → All Tags
All day today and yesterday, ways to do your part to help the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti have been publicized on Twitter, Facebook, and on the news. Even celebrities are throwing their weight behind some of the text-to-donate schemes, but how can you be sure it's all legit?
Unless you really do the research, it's all a crapshoot with those texting charities and money boxes at gas stations, so we're throwing our weight behind the charity efforts of an airline, of course. Specifically Spirit Airlines, who will give you enough loyalty miles for a free flight if you donate only $5 to Haiti by January 17.
On their website, you can login or sign up for the Spirit Airlines frequent flyer program (Free Spririt) for free, and then choose who you'd like to donate to: The Red Cross, UNICEF, or Wyclef Jean's charity Yéle Haiti. After completing the donation form and sending at least $5 to the charities, Spirit will credit your account with 5,000 miles if you're among the first 200,000 to do so, which is enough for a roundtrip flight if you have the Spirit Mastercard, or half of a one-way flight if you don't. Granted, it'll take 6-8 weeks for the miles to drop into the account, but it's for a good cause. Go here to participate and donate.
· HaitiRelief [Spirit Airlines]
· A Man with a Radio is all that's left of the airport in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti [Jaunted]
· Spirit Airlines News [Jaunted]
Tragedies / Haiti Travel / Earthquakes / Disasters / Airports / Airport News / → All Tags
As medical air and media begins to flood into Haiti following the devastating 7.0 earthquake of two nights ago, we're hearing reports of complete destruction that is affecting 1/3 of the country's population, and inhibiting the arrival of more help.
Yesterday evening, rumors on Twitter did not help, when people circulated the false statements that UPS was allowing free shipping of packages to Haiti and that American Airlines and Jetblue were flying any volunteers and medical personnel to Haiti for free. The last thing the country needs right now are planeloads of people who might have goodwill in mind, but will only spill into the fray already occurring on the streets, without much organization. The airlines are only working with the UN and embassy to send selected medical professionals, so don't pack your bags yet.
Even if you could up and go to Haiti to help, the airport at Port-Au-Prince is barely functioning and is doing so dangerously.
After the jump, Anderson Cooper explains the situation at the airport
It's the video gone viral yesterdaythe Japanese whaling vessel purposefully turning to hit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Batman-looking boat, the Ady Gil, in the seas off Antarctica. Check out the collision above if you haven't seen it already; it's a pretty great video for such a terrible event.
Luckily, no crew on board the Ady Gil were killed and only one suffered cracked ribs, but the collision did sheer 10 feet off the bow of the high-speed stealth boat, which was sitting dead in the water when the Shonan Maru altered course to aim directly for it. The incident occurred in the most frigid of waters, in Antarctica's Commonwealth Bay, which is part of Australia's Antarctica territory. Luckily for the Ady Gil, the crew of the Sea Shepherd's newest shipthe Bob Barker was only a little ways away and was able to rescue the crew and salvage the boat.
See exactly where it all went down, after the jump
The blame game in that horrible crash of Air France Flight 447 is intensifying, even while everyone admits they still have no idea what caused the disaster. The latest dust up involves management taking some potshots at Air France pilots for their attention to detail, and the pilots responding with angry statements.
Now it's unseemly enough to have the parties involved publicly bickering with each other in full view of the nation and the victims' families. But it's not a real party until self-important unions get involved and start talking about the pilots' hurt feelings. And wouldn't you know it, that's exactly what's happening:
Yesterday evening, while we were out gallivanting around town for Fashion's Night Out, we passed by a store whose sidewalk sported those rental searchlights. We continued walking, until we noticed another pair of searchlights even further downtown, and that is when we stopped in our tracks. This is the pair of Tribute Lights for 9/11, placed in the hole where the Twin Towers stood up until this date in 2001.
We won't run through the history of the event again for you, but we will remind you that today's date still carries some weight when it comes to air travel. Use your common sense, arrive to your airport extra early in case of heightened security, and don't go around the terminal talking about how great you did at the shooting range last night.