Singapore Airlines Cancels the World’s Longest Commercial Flights

Singapore Airlines Airbus A340-500; 9V-SGE@LAX;08.10.2011/620dq
Flickr/Aero Icarus

The longest commercial flights in the world — Singapore Airlines’ flights 21 and 22, running between Singapore and Newark, New Jersey — are slated for cancellation The Economist’s Gulliver blog reports. The flights traverse 9,525 miles in about 19 hours.

Qantas’s 8,576-mile route between Sydney and Dallas now has the top honor, according to USA Today, with Delta’s Atlanta to Johannesburg flight (8,434 miles) a close third.
Singapore Airlines cancelled the flights as part of a deal with AirBus, the Economist writes, in which “Singapore will get five new A380s and 20 new A350s, and the manufacturer will buy back the A340-500s that the airline uses on its super-long-haul routes.”

Singapore Airlines Makeover Signals Future of Air Travel

Iconic Airports: Where Are They Now?

Original LAX airport design
Original LAX plan, courtesy LA World Airports Flight Path Learning Center

Yesterday, I went out to JFK Airport with no flight to catch and no visitors to greet. It was the annual Open House New York event, where private buildings and homes all over the city open to the public for a few hours, and it was a last chance to see the iconic TWA Flight Center before it is turned into a hotel. (You can see our photos from last year here.)

Native New Yorkers, retired flight attendants, tourists and architecture enthusiasts flooded the airy terminal, closed since TWA ceased operations in 2001, taking photos and sharing stories about the good old days of air travel. The mid-20th century was the high point in airport design; its airy and futuristic buildings can be appreciated by any modern day traveler who has ever had a layover at La Guardia.

We looked at some of the most iconic airport architecture in the U.S. and their current status. Is your favorite still flying?

%Slideshow-100872%DCA Terminal A – Washington D.C.’s first airport opened in 1941, and was considered to be the most modern in airport design at the time. In addition to its status as historic landmark and aviation icon, it’s also an archaeological site: the airport was built on a former colonial plantation and the birthplace of George Washington’s granddaughter.

Status: The original terminal was restored to its original look in 2004 and 2008, with the interior currently undergoing a massive renovation. You can still see many parts of the original lobby and building as it looked when President Roosevelt dedicated it. Check out some vintage postcards of the airport from the Boston Public Library.

IAD Main Terminal – One of Swedish architect Eero Saarinen’s airport designs, Dulles was designed in 1958 and dedicated in 1962, the same year the TWA terminal opened. The architect called the building and control tower “the best thing that I have done,” and inspired the design of Taiwan’s international airport. The “mobile lounges” were one of the most innovative concepts, carrying passengers in relative luxury from the terminal right to the plane

Status: Dulles wasn’t a popular airport from the beginning, as it didn’t allow jumbo jets until 1970 and the distance from the city is still off-putting, but it’s now one of the busiest in the country and is continuing to expand. The mobile lounges are still around, but the new Aero Train is more commonly used.

JFK Pan Am Worldport - The 1960 “flying saucer” was designed to bring the airplane to the passenger, sheltering the planes under the overhang for all-weather boarding. It was opened for Pan Am and renamed the Worldport in 1971 when it was expanded to accommodate the Boeing 747, and was the biggest passenger terminal in the world for several years. After Pan Am went bankrupt in the ’90s, Delta acquired the terminal and used it for many long-haul flights.

Status: Although it is on the list of the most endangered historic buildings and beloved by many airline and architecture enthusiasts, it looks like the Worldport is permanently grounded. While Delta just completed a major renovation of their other terminal at JFK, they need the room for airplane parking, and the flying saucer is already beginning to be demolished.

LAX Theme building – The distinctive Theme building is a perfect example of 1960s futuristic architecture, resembling something out of the Jetsons and actually inspiring the cartoon’s design. Part of the original ambitious plans for the airport was to connect terminal buildings with a giant glass dome, with the Theme Building serving as the main terminal, as in the picture above. One of the most famous buildings in the world, it’s photographed more than the Eiffel Tower.

Status: The Theme building has been a restaurant since 1997, and you can visit Encounter for a meal even if you aren’t flying. The free observation deck is open on weekends only if you just want to watch the planes taking off.

LGA Marine Air Terminal – For a passenger who arrives at one of La Guardia’s many dim and low-ceilinged gates, it’s hard to imagine that an Art Deco beauty is part of the same airport. Opened in 1940 and funded by the post-depression Works Progress Administration, the Marine Air Terminal originally served the glamorous Clipper planes, carrying 72 passengers on long transoceanic flights with sleeping berths and a high-end restaurant. The second World War made such flying boats obsolete, and the terminal sat unused for several decades.

Status: It’s now the main hub for Delta’s shuttle service to Boston, Chicago and Washington, even after a massive renovation to Delta’s other terminal at LGA. While it might have less modern facilities, it’s the only terminal to feature an original mural dedicated to flight (with a secret message).

LGB Main Terminal – The first trans-continental flight landed at Long Beach in 1911, but the Streamline Moderne terminal wasn’t built for another 30 years. The modernist building was considered avant garde at the time, but now feels classic and a bit romantic among airports, the kind of place you can imagine passengers boarding with hat boxes and cat eye sunglasses. Much smaller than nearby LAX, JetBlue made it a west coast hub in 2001 and put the California airport back on the map.

Status: Last year, LGB was fully modernized to make it more green and “resort-like,” with outdoor spaces outfitted with fire pits and cabanas. The renovation uncovered more of the mosaic tile art by WPA artist Grace Clements, then 28 years old, and covered by carpet for 70 years.

Airplane Food Just Got Worse: Air China Serves Expired Food On Domestic Flight

Air China meal food poisoning
Flickr, bfishadow

Over 20 passengers on an Air China flight were sick after eating expired beef pancakes on a domestic flight to Beijing. One passenger shared a photo of the out-of-date food on Chinese social network Weibo showing the expiration date of October 2, four days before her flight. An official statement by the airline claimed that incorrect packaging was to blame for the “misunderstanding,” and that any leftover or expired food is regularly discarded. The passenger claimed that flight attendants refused to acknowledge the issue or warn anyone eating the bad meals.

Food poisoning is fortunately rare on airlines, but it does happen. Earlier this summer, Delta passengers on an Istanbul-New York flight suffered possible food poisoning and were met by medics on arrival at JFK. A Miami family sued American Airlines in 2011 after a man died allegedly due to food poisoning on a flight from Barcelona.

Read our advice on dealing with food poisoning while traveling, in the air or on the ground.

Man’s Response To $1,400 Overweight Baggage Fee Prompts Police Action

overweight fees
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Lockwood (This isn’t the luggage in question, but you get the idea)

Police in New York and Seattle were called in to investigate when a man ditched his luggage in order to avoid overweight baggage fees, NBC reports.

The unidentified traveler was going to take Delta Air Lines Flight 1452 from Seattle to JFK when he was told his baggage was overweight and he would have to pay $1,400 in fees. The man decided that whatever he was lugging across the continent wasn’t worth that much money and left it behind. When the abandoned bags were spotted it sparked a security alert and the check-in area was closed for two hours.

The passenger, blissfully unaware, flew to JFK only to find police waiting for him. He was questioned and released after police decided that he hadn’t intended on causing a panic.

It’s unclear how many bags this guy had or where he was going, but a look at Delta’s overweight fees show that he was probably carrying his prize antique brick collection to display at the London Brick Fair this summer. No, that doesn’t really exist.

Worried about getting slapped with extra fees? Check out our guide to packing your luggage efficiently. Or you can simply wear 70 items of clothing to avoid overweight baggage fees.

Delta Punished For Breaking The Rules On Passenger Bumping

delta plane
Kentaro IEMOTO, Flickr

Delta has received a slap on the wrist for failing to properly compensate passengers who were bumped from their flights. The government handed the airline a $750,000 fine, saying the carrier had routinely mishandled overbooked flights by bumping passengers without asking for volunteers or compensating travelers.

Airlines regularly overbook flights since many passengers end up cancelling or changing their travel plans. If flights are still full when departure time rolls around, airlines typically ask travelers to volunteer for a later flight in order to avoid having to bump (and compensate) any passengers. However, not all travelers realize that they may be entitled to cash or understand the rules about it works.In general, if the alternative flight a bumped passenger is placed on arrives within one hour of when the original flight was scheduled to land, airlines don’t have to pay them anything. But according to U.S. federal regulations, passengers who are involuntarily bumped and will have their travel plans pushed out by more than an hour are entitled to at least 200 percent of the one-way fare to the destination (with a cap at $650). Compensation for longer delays maxes out at $1300.

This isn’t the first time Delta has been penalized for bungling how it deals with overbooked flights. The airline was fined back in 2009 for the same infraction.