Could LAX to Tehran Soon Be a Reality?

Pigeons in The Masjid-i Jami, Isfahan, Iran. Against sunset background.
Getty Images/Vetta

A direct flight to Iran? According to the Iranian airline Asseman, it’s possible, if relations improve. The airline’s managing director, Abbas Rahmatian, points out that because the airline recently transported President Hassan Rouhani to the United Nations meeting, it was requested to open up flights to the United States and Canada. Apparently the airline has 33 planes in operation and are completely capable of overhauling them.

While direct flights between the United States and Iran seem a little far off, it’s not surprising that Iran’s airline industry would want to look outwards; currently more than 60 percent of Iran’s total 220 planes are grounded because of technical and logistic issues. “Iranians airlines are facing great losses due to the low price of domestic flight tickets,” Sirous Baheri, managing director of Airtour Airline, which also operates in Iran, said, as reported by the website Skift. “They are currently having difficulties competing with foreign airlines.” Things are so bad that the deputy transport minister recently called for 16 of the country’s airlines to merge because they were in bankruptcy.Open Iranian airlines up to foreign markets like the United States and Canada, maybe they will have the potential for competing again. Of course that will depend on diplomatic relations improving. There’s the usual strict U.S. State Department travel warning, and because the United States does not have diplomatic relations in Iran, you can’t expect any consular services while there (although you could go to the Swiss embassy who handles all that stuff for the United States). And of course you need a visa.

So while you wait for those direct flights to open up, you may want to consider a few other methods of travel.

Amazing U.S. Map Given to the First Transcontinental Air Travelers

David Rumsey Map Collection

If you were lucky enough to be one of the first people to experience commercial transcontinental air travel in 1929, then you were lucky enough to receive this map.

On the backside of the map is a a weather diagram, a “Certificate of Flight” and a flight log for the passenger to fill out. At 14×30 inches, these days the map would have made for a beautiful poster, but it also folded down to be more pocket-friendly.According to Slate, the map was manufactured by Transcontinental Air Transport Inc, which was founded in 1928 and built an image off of the glamorous world of air travel. But as a matter of fact, people that flew weren’t actually flying completely transcontinental; passengers actually took a train to Columbus, Ohio, then another from Waynoka, Oklahoma to Clovis, New Mexico. But in between, they flew in Ford Tri-Motor planes, decked out with enough wicker seats to seat 10 to 12 people. In fact, people took the train at night and flew during the day so they could see all the amazing sights from the air. All in all, the trip took 48 hours.

This specific map, ​catalogued by the David Rumsey Map Collection, shows that Mason Menefee made the trip starting April 25, 1930, from Los Angeles to St. Louis.

I you visit the map’s page you can zoom in and out to see it in detail, and will make you wish that you too would get something just as cool when you travel.

Is Solar Powered Travel The Next Big Thing?

Jürgen Lison, Flickr

Using energy from renewable resources is always a good thing. But while adding solar panels to your own home might be an option, renewable energy is harder to depend on while you’re traveling. If we want to explore out of our immediate areas, we’re still stuck in a world of airplanes, cruise ships and cars after all. That might be changing.

While we probably won’t be seated on a solar powered plane across the Atlantic anytime soon, solar power is being put to use in creative ways that could have big meaning for the travel industry. And not just in high tech backpacks.

This summer, 55-year-old Bertrand Picard has spent much of his time flying in his solar-powered HB-SIA, a prototype plane with the same wingspan as an Airbus A340. Created in Switzerland, Picard’s Solar Impulse Project came to the United States in recent months, crossing from San Francisco to New York City in five stages. The goal is for a world circumnavigation with the next generation of the plane in 2015.

Picard’s not the only one.Earlier this spring, Li Linxiang and his wife Zhao Yafan, a retired Chinese couple, set off to travel around the world on their own solar powered electric tricycle. They plan to make it through China, Kazakhstan and the Middle East before wintering in Ethiopia, and then enter Europe in spring 2014. Covering the entire globe? That will take them about five years.

And while these examples may seem a little off the wall, solar power is nowadays becoming accessible to hotel guests around the world. From China to Maine to Australia, hotels are opting to power their operations with the help of the sun, and designers are working hard to come up with new ideas of how to put solar power to good use, in the hopes of greening the travel industry. Beyond hotels, there are plenty other examples of solar power and tourism coming together. This summer, New York City installed solar powered charging stations for cellphones and if you choose the right cruise line, you can even end up on a ship employing solar technology, like Celebrity Cruise’s Solstice.

So while your next non-stop flight to Europe might not be fueled by the sun, keep an eye out for emerging technologies, and watch as hopefully more businesses in the travel industry put solar power to good use.

Kids’ Bedroom Replicates 737 Cockpit, Doubles As Flight Simulator

When I was a kid, beds modeled after race cars were all the rage. Apparently, what’s cool these days is having a bedroom that so closely resembles a 737 cockpit, it doubles as a simulator. Oh, and bonus points if your dad builds it.

According to Gizmodo, Laurent Aigon has spent the last five years constructing aforementioned bedroom/cockpit. Aigon, who is from Lacanau, France, isn’t a pilot nor an engineer, by the way. He’s a waiter who once aspired to be a pilot. After much study, he put together a control panel and screen, and added “five networked monitors… he’s made it possible to simulate journeys to destinations as far-flung as Sydney and Rio de Janeiro. His copilots, presumably, sleep in the bunkbeds to his right.”

When not playing in his kids’ room, Aigon has been asked to lecture at the Institute of Aircraft Maintenance at Bordeaux-Merignac, which has used his creation to train students. Watch the video and take a quick trip, yourself.

What Flight Attendants Don’t Tell You In The Safety Demo

beigeinside, Flickr

For regular flyers, it’s all too easy to zone out during the requisite flight attendant safety speech. But have you ever sat back in your cramped airline seat to wonder why it’s so important to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others, or why airlines dim the lights upon landing? George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com helps us read between the lines — advice that is all the more relevant as we’re all thinking about Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash at San Francisco Airport over the weekend.

Own Mask First
Safety demos never go into why it’s so important to put on your own mask before helping those around you. According to Hobica, here’s the details:

You might only have 15 or 20 seconds in the event of a cabin decompression, during which all oxygen would be sucked out of the plane (and your lungs), before you’d experience confusion and a euphoric “stoned” state… In 30 to 45 seconds you’d probably pass out. So it’s important to act quickly.

Dimmed Lights Upon Landing
If you’re wondering why airlines dim the cabin lights before takeoffs and landings, here’s the scoop from Hobica:

You guessed it: to help adjust your eyes to the dark (either inside a smoke filled cabin or on a darkened runway).

Shoes On Upon Landing
Some airlines ask that passengers keep shoes on when landing — except for high heels, which can tear the emergency slide. Hobica explains why:

Because the runway might be burning hot after you jump down the slide.

The Proper Brace Position
Those safety cards in the seat back pocket that all flight attendants ask you to read detail the proper position to brace yourself in if a crash should occur. Look closely and notice each drawing shows one hand over the other. Here’s why:

Should something fall on you during a crash landing, you want to protect at least one hand (preferably the one you write with) because you’ll need it to unbuckle your seat belt when it’s safe to do so. Your other hand is in that position to provide some protection to your “strong” hand, which will be doing the unbuckling.

Hobica came up with the tips with some help from a Flight Safety Awareness Course by British Airways. While it’s not likely these details will be added to safety speeches (we’ll thank the flight attendants for keeping things succinct), it’s clear that a lot of thought has actually gone behind making each of the safety tips short but sweet.