Last year, 107 million people flew in, out or through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest, according to Airports Council International. The concept of air travel may have lost its glamour, but it’s still a pretty remarkable way to see the world. Here are some destinations and attractions that will restore your sense of wonder in aviation.
TWA Hotel. Don Draper would be right at home at this recent addition to JFK International Airport in New York. The 1962 TWA flight center, designed by neo-futurist architect Eero Saarinen, has been transformed into a hotel that recalls the glamorous days of air travel, featuring 512 guest rooms with views of the runways, plus restaurants, bars, shops and meeting rooms. Dine at the Paris Café created by noted chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten or settle into the red space-age stools and banquettes for drinks in the glass enclosed Sunken Lounge. Snacks and classic cocktails are served in the Connie Lounge, a restored 1958 plane where guests can sit in the pilot’s chair and check out the original controls. Head to the roof for a dip in the infinity pool or views of the runway. Learn about TWA history and the modern design movement in displays curated by the New-York Historical Society that include furniture from TWA’s headquarters and silver utensils once used during flights. The museum displays are free. $259 and up for rooms. JFK International Airport, Terminal 5, 6 Central Terminal Area, Queens, New York. 212-806-9000, www.twahotel.com
Flights to Tokyo. It’s not too early to start planning that trip to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. And the hometown airline has just made it easier to get there. Beginning next year, Delta Air Lines is adding flights to Tokyo’s Haneda airport. The move will make Delta the largest U.S. carrier to Haneda, with seven daily flights from Atlanta, Seattle, Detroit, Honolulu, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, with most offering four levels of seating options. The airline has flown to Japan for more than 70 years, but in August Delta announced it would move its Tokyo services from Narita to Haneda, a more centrally located airport. Delta Air Lines, 800-221-1212, www.deltaairlines.com
Don F. Pratt Museum. Think flying today is tough? Imagine being in a plane under enemy fire or jumping out of an aircraft to sneak behind the lines. Those are some of the experiences recounted at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where the 6,000-square-foot Don F. Pratt Museum showcases the exploits of the 101st Airborne members who served in campaigns from the 1940s to present day. Memorabilia displays feature personal items from World War II officers, including Maxwell Taylor, Anthony “Nuts” McAuliffe, “Screaming Eagles” founder William Lee and Pratt, the highest-ranking officer to die on D-Day in 1944. Visitors can climb aboard a cargo glider that took WWII soldiers into combat zones, then peruse captured enemy equipment, including items belonging to Adolf Hitler and other Nazi officials. Displays also trace the history of air warfare and the various military craft that made it possible, including a restored C-47 and a Black Hawk helicopter. Historical films, lectures, guided and unguided tours, and a reference library are available. Visitors must register at the fort’s entrance and show a valid photo ID, car registration and proof of insurance to receive a day pass. Free. 32 Screaming Eagle Blvd., Fort Campbell, Kentucky. 270-798-3215, www.fortcampbell.com/museums
Scrub Island Resort. Beginning Nov. 1, snowbirds looking to avoid long lines, crowded airports and even more crowded resorts during the Caribbean’s high season can take charter flights to a luxury destination that leaves all that behind. The Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, a 230-acre private island 1.5 miles off the coast of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, is the first Marriott Autograph Collection in the Caribbean offering four-star escapes with just 52 guest accommodations in the hotel as well as a number of two- to six-bedroom villas. The adventure begins with a Fly the Whale charter flight on a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Tortola. At the resort, restaurants, two private beaches, a luxury spa and a range of diving and sailing expeditions await. Nov. 1-April 30. $1,875 and up for flight and 2BR villa. Scrub Island, VG1120, Virgin Islands. 800-228-9290, www.scrubisland.com
College Park Aviation Museum. North Carolina might be “first in flight,” but Maryland claims to be home to the longest continuously operating airport in the world, established in 1909. Wilbur Wright of the famous brothers spent time in College Park, Maryland, teaching military pilots the principles of flying, and today the College Park Airport is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 27,000-square-foot facility, about 12 miles north of D.C., houses the history of aviation in the state. Visitors will find vintage aircraft as well as replicas of famous fliers and the story of the airport. Hands-on and interactive exhibits are designed specifically for kids. Other highlights include the 1919 airmail hangar and clear views of take-offs and landings on the runway of the College Park Airport. $5 adults, $2 children. 1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive, College Park, Maryland. 301-864-6029, www.collegeparkaviationmuseum.com
Dolphins and Blue Angels Sail. It’s one thing to watch the Navy’s Blue Angels perform their dramatic stunts and maneuvers from a stadium seat. Imagine the spectacle of these flying acrobats directly overhead. You can do just that by signing up for a Dolphins and Blue Angels Sail through Sail Wild Hearts in Orange Beach, Alabama. The six- to seven-hour tours head into Pensacola Bay to watch the Angels’ scheduled shows and weekly practice sessions. Boats line up with the base airstrip, and the planes fly directly overhead. When the flights end, you’ll head to Fort McRee where kayaks, snorkel gear and paddle boards are provided, along with lunch, snacks and drinks. Along the way, guides will point out the sea life that abounds in the local waters, including turtles, dolphins, sharks, sting rays and manatees. $99-$125 adults, $69-$90 children. 25328 Canal Road, Orange Beach, Alabama. 251-981-6700, www.sailwildhearts.com
Seattle Seaplane Tour. This northwest city is rich in bodies of water from Puget Sound and Lake Washington to Elliott Bay and the Pacific in the distance. While water temperatures hover in the uninviting mid-50s, the beauty and scale of the lakes are worth savoring. One of the best ways to get a bird’s-eye view is to hop on one of the seaplanes that depart from the heart of downtown. Operated by Kenmore Air, the 20-minute tours soar above houseboats, historic neighborhoods, the scenic campus of the University of Washington, sprawling waterside estates and the iconic Space Needle. Other trips lasting from 90 minutes to two hours can be booked to fly over Mount Rainier, the Mount St. Helens volcano and the San Juan islands. $99 and up. 950 Westlake Ave. North, Seattle, Washington. 866-435-9524, www.kenmoreair.com
Downtown Memorial Airport Park. Aviation is the theme of this seven-acre park for children ages 2 to 12, which opened in 2018 next to Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport in South Carolina. Kids can ride slides down the side of a traffic control tower, play ball on a faux landing strip, frolic in a splash pad and burn energy on two separate playgrounds, one for kids 2-5 and one for kids 5-12. Picnic areas, ball fields and a paved trail for walking or biking are also part of the design. And since the area is in close proximity to the city’s airfield that opened in 1927, visitors will get a clear view of various craft taking off and landing. Free. 500 Ammons Road, Spartanburg, South Carolina. 864-574-8552, www.cityofspartanburg.org/airport
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