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.
Venezuela’s late socialist leader Hugo Chavez set money controls a decade ago that have caused a wacky system of disparity between official and black market rates for local currency. One result has been flights out of Venezuela booked for months in advance as locals take advantage of a loophole to gain financially.
In Venezuela, the disparity between the official and black-market rates for the local bolivar currency is insane. It sells on the illegal market at about seven times the government price of 6.3 to the dollar. To compound the problem, there are strict limits on the availability of dollars at the 6.3 rate.
But a special currency provision for travelers with a valid airline ticket allows Venezuelans to exchange up to $3,000 at the government rate. The result has sold out planes flying half full, tickets bought by Venezuelans who had no intention of traveling. Others are exchanging currency, easily paying for their travel via the financial gain afforded by the special travel provision.“It is possible to travel abroad for free due to this exchange rate magic,” said local economist Angel Garcia Banchs in a Reuters report.
Better yet, those actually flying take credit cards abroad to get a cash advance, bringing back dollars to sell on the black market for about seven times the original exchange rate.
When I get on an airplane, I hope that my over-the-ear headphones will send the same message to strangers beside me that I hope they send to strangers on the subways or streets of New York City: I don’t want to chitchat. This isn’t meant to be taken personally — it’s a decision I make before I ever lay eyes on the passengers seated beside me. Plane rides have always been meditative for me. I prefer to zone out with the help of a good album or, if the screen before me is working (which it wasn’t on one of my most recent flights), pass the time with a movie. While I’ve never had a bad conversation with strangers that manage to strike up conversation with me during the no-electronics portions of a ride, I would have always chosen to not have any conversation at all, had I been given a choice. And I’m not the only one who feels this way.
A recent Velvet Escape piece discussed the declining social nature of planes. Perhaps the in-flight media available is satiating enough for us. Perhaps the internet has us feeling so intertwined with the rest of the globe that we aren’t as interested in strangers. Perhaps our lives are becoming so saturated with talk and work and we relish time alone more than ever before. The Velvet Escape piece asks this question and I ask it, too: when was the last time you had a memorable conversation (good or bad) with someone beside you on a plane?
The American Airlines merger with US Airways is under fire. The reason is simple: a merger between these two airlines would create the largest airline in the world — an airline that would have the potential to monopolize the air travel industry. The Justice Department, as well as several states, have filed a joint lawsuit in order to halt the merger. According to USA Today, the Justice Department noted that a merger between these two airlines would give the merged airline control over a whopping 69% of departure and arrival slots at Washington Reagan National Airport — that would be six times more control over the air activity of that airport than the closest competitor.
While other airline mergers have been successfully executed (United/Continental, Southwest/AirTran, Delta/Northwest), it seems as though the root of the problem with this particular merger is that it would be too big, perhaps too big to fail. It should be noted, however, that a USA Today article from December 2012 reported that despite gloomy speculations, none of the previous airline mergers raised fares as predicted.
Thanks to the Clothe a Homeless Hero Act, veterans are now receiving clothing that has been left as airport security checkpoints. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Kathy Hochul (D–N.Y.) was signed by President Obama in January. Reagan National Airport is the latest airport to join in on the charity with a donation comprised of two months’ worth of abandoned clothing. Before the passing of this bill, clothing that was left behind at security checkpoints in airports was either donated to police-dog scent training or discarded. It’s nice to know that forgotten clothing items will now end up serving a purpose within our respective communities instead of sitting in a landfill.
In other TSA/veteran news, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii) has been working to pass legislation that would ease screening procedures at airports for wounded or disabled veterans or soldiers. The TSA has also made an effort to hire veterans. This is all welcome news in light of some of the outrageous news involving TSA employees and veterans that has surfaced.