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.

World’s Biggest Airport Opens Its Doors In Dubai

CXX238 A skyline view of Downtown Dubai, showing the Burj Khalifa  skyline; view; Downtown; Dubai; Burj; Khalifa; dusk; arab; ar
Alamy, Flickr

Dubai has made no secret of its desire to do everything on a grand scale. The country boasts the world’s biggest shopping malls and even the world’s biggest natural flower garden. And now, the Gulf emirate has finally cut the ribbon on the world’s biggest airport.

Although it’s not yet complete, the Al-Maktoum International Airport opened its doors to passengers this weekend. The first plane to land at the new hub , a flight from Budapest, was welcomed with a water cannon salute when it touched down.

The new facility is the country’s second airport and is located about 50 miles away from Dubai International Airport, already one of the world’s busiest gateways. Last year, 57 million passengers passed through its terminals.When the new airport is finished, it will have five runways and be capable of welcoming 160 million passengers a year. It also will have the capacity to handle about 12 million tons of cargo. The new airport is in the middle of a special economic zone in Dubai, which includes one of the world’s biggest man-made harbors and a huge terminal for container ships. Officials believe the new airport will play an important role in shaping Dubai as a center for trade, commerce and tourism.

Despite all the fanfare, only a few airlines have signed on to use the new airport so far, although officials are confident that other carriers will soon follow suit.

Tourists Invited To Strip Down In South Korea

nude beach
Memphis CVB, Flickr

While South Korea’s capital city, Seoul, might be a big tourist draw card with plenty of Gangnam Style flair to attract visitors, other parts of the country have had to get more creative when it comes to promoting tourism.

Gangwon Province in the country’s northeast figures nudity might be just the ticket to increasing visitor numbers. It’s planning to open South Korea’s first nude beach in the hopes that tourists will set their sights beyond the capital and venture up north for a bit of skinny dipping.The beach primarily will be aimed at foreigners and may even be open to just overseas visitors initially, as many locals balk at the idea of stripping down at the beach. “Koreans actually love nude beaches when they’re traveling abroad, but the problem with having one within Korea is the fact that Korean society is so interconnected. They won’t be able to comfortably go to a nude beach due to the thought that people they know will find out about it quite easily,” a local reporter told CNN.

Korean tourism officials say they hope to eventually create all sorts of different beaches aimed at families, couples and even pets. They plan to have the first nude beach up and running by 2017.

Will a $16 Fee to Get Into Thailand Bring Classier Tourists?

Siim Teller, Flickr

Tourists to Thailand may soon be charged an entrance fee of 500 baht. That comes out to about $16, not really overkill for getting into a country that’s full of street markets, pad Thai and full moon parties, now is it?

The proposed entry fee is backed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Ministry of Public Health and the Royal Thai Police, and the collected fees would of course go back into government initiatives. But it’s not necessarily raking in fee money that has the Thai government behind it. It has to do with who they want and don’t want in the country. And they want better tourists.”Now is the time for us to have quality tourists,” said Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong to the Bangkok Post.

Take that dread locked, sandal wearing, backpackers!

The travel industry however isn’t necessarily excited about the proposed fee. “The plan will affect the tourism industry, both in the short run and the long run, because tourists will feel bad about Thailand and they may feel they are being cheated,” Sitdiwat Cheevarattanaporn, chairman of the Association of Thai Travel Agents said.

Might be time for the Thai government to figure out another way to keep the riff raff out.

Two 747′s Almost Crash Over Scotland — And That’s Not The Scariest Part

747
Flickr photo by Ramón Cutanda

On a course headed for what might have been the worst disaster in aviation history, two Boeing 747 aircraft came within 100 feet of each other in a near-miss event over Scotland.

It happened in June of this year but the report is just now being released by by the UK Airprox Board, which examines near misses in UK airspace. The planes were 30 miles north of Glasgow when an air traffic controller noticed they were moving closer together. Ordered to fly in different directions, cockpit crews apparently got the instructions reversed and wound up flying towards each other.

“It was apparent that both crews had taken each others’ instructions, and the board found it hard to determine why this had occurred,” noted the Airprox report, a reported in a SkyNews article.Odds are all four pilots in the two aircraft probably were not paying a lot of attention to ground control, already having received clearance to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Compounding the problem: both planes had been ordered by air traffic control to fly at 34,000 feet.

The really scary part: A crash was only prevented because two pilots on each aircraft saw each other. Taking evasive action avoided collision with one plane climbing and the other diving.

Crazy Stunt With a Jumbo 747 in Bucharest!