As an experienced traveler and a more experienced Mileage geek, one of the things I asked a lot by friends and readers alike is help in finding them good travel deals. More importantly, help in finding deals that minimize the cost while maximizing the miles. I am not a travel agent, so I do not book flights for them, nor do I charge for the advice I give. I do provide a ‘paid for’ service in helping people book award travel, contact me for more details on that, if interested.
Enough of this ‘brief commercial break’ and back to my article. So, I was helping my friends book their vacation to the beautiful Canary Islands in Spain. While I was helping them find cheap flights to Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, I made a sad historical find. Back in 1977, Tenerife airport was the site of an air disaster that involved two 747 aircraft. With 583 fatalities, this remains the worlds worst aviation disaster. Now, this was a sad, tragic accident that was caused by a series on incidents and misunderstandings. It should in no way dissuade anyone from visiting this beautiful island. In fact, the airport where this disaster occurred is Tenerife North or Los Rodeos airport (TFN). The current international airport for Tenerife is Tenerife South (TFS) or Reina Sofia airport.
It is amazing what makes an airport infamous. No matter what, even the existence of another airport, Tenerife will always remain in the history books because of this accident. More details can be found on this Wikipedia page on the accident. The summary version of the accident indicates that it was a series of unfortunate events that led to the accident. The two 747s were not even supposed to be at this airport. They were there because their final destination, Gran Canaria airport (LPA) had been hit by a terrorist bomb. The two aircraft were operated by PanAm (flight 1736) and KLM (flight 4805). The KLM 747 hit the PanAm 747 during take off, not knowing that the PanAm aircraft had not exited the runway on to the taxiway, as it was supposed to. The visibility was extremely poor, making it impossible for the KLM pilots or the control tower to visually verify the PanAm jets location. This was an avoidable accident and with present day technology would not have happened.
Several other airports have joined the list of the infamous due to bad accidents, disasters and terrorist attacks. Munich’s airport will always be associated with the 1972 Olympics terrorist killing of Israeli athletes. Here again, the actual killing of the hostages happened at the old Munich-Reim airport and not the current Munich’s Franz Josef Strauss (MUC) airport.
In 2006, Lexington, KY Blue Grass airport (LEX) was in the news due to the Comair flight 5191 crash. This crash happened because the pilots took off from the wrong runway, that was half the length of the actual runway that they were instructed to use. More recently, Mangalore airport (IXE) in the quiet Southern Indian town of Mangalore, Karnataka was in the news because of the deadly crash of an Air India Express flight from Dubai (DXB). Here the pilot landed too far down the runway, overshooting it and crashing the plane over a cliff and killing 166 aboard.
My goal here is not to be gruesome, but to discuss how and why some airports have become infamous. I do prefer to write about happier and more enjoyable things, but unfortunately this is where I ended up today. I will return with brighter, happier posts real soon, like all the duty free shopping at Dubai airport or ANA’s planes with Pokemon livery.