Today is National Aviation Day and for the country’s jet-setters that is reason to celebrate. The holiday coincides with the birthday of Orville Wright who, together with his brother Wilbur, designed the first powered airplane. President Franklin Roosevelt first proclaimed Aug. 19 National Aviation Day back in 1939 and we are still celebrating it now.
In honor of the Wright brothers and all those who have contributed to powered flight, we have come up with a list of some essential developments since the first airplane puttered 20 feet above a wind-swept beach in North Carolina. Here you have it, some of the most momentous advances in modern air travel.
1. Non-Stop Flights
If you’re trying to get from one place to another, the rule of thumb is the less stopping the better. Currently, the longest nonstop flights you can take run between Singapore and North America, although that may be changing by the end of the year.
The roughly 19 hours spent on a flight across the globe are enough to force anyone to a breaking point, but imagine having to make that trip while stopping to refuel all along the way.
Another reason your aircraft doesn’t make constant stopovers, the hub and spoke air transit system. It used to be that airports operated on a regional level. Now, thanks to hub airports, you can choose between 20 flights a day traveling to and from major American cities.
2. In-Flight Wifi
While there was initial trepidation about Internet connectivity aboard aircrafts, in-flight WiFi has started to take off. Today, 8,700 domestic flights, which accounts for 38 percent of total U.S.-based flights, now offer onboard WiFi. And while there is still a ban on the use of in-flight cell phones in the U.S., the days of being offline while in the air appear to be coming to an end.
3. Online Flight Check-in
Remember those long wait times just to get to the ticket counter? Then there was the second long wait time for security. Well, thanks to online check in, at least one of those wait times has dramatically decreased in recent years. Now, just by going to your airline’s website, you can now bypass the check in counter completely.
4. Mobile Phone Boarding Passes
Who hasn’t experienced that heart-pounding anxiety of the Misplaced Boarding Pass Syndrome? Well, thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices and innovation in airline ticketing technology, your phone can become your boarding pass. No printouts necessary.
5. In-Flight Personal Televisions
While it used to be that airline passengers were entertained by in-flight pianists, now there’s a whole myriad of performances passengers can watch. Many airlines have now installed personal televisions (otherwise known as PTVs) on the seatback of every chair. Worried you’ll miss the playoff game? Never fear. The PTV is here.
6. The Airsickness Bag
While maybe less flashy than the seatback TV, the airsickness bag should never be underestimated. For while airlines have mastered the art of getting you from Point A to Point B, they still haven’t found a way to do it without turbulence.