Top 5 Friday: Unique Routes Flown by US Airlines

With United’s announcement yesterday that they will begin serving Accra, Lagos and Bahrain (the latter two being extensions of other flights), I was reminded how much I appreciate when an airline takes on a route that is un- or under-served.  Today I bring the Top 5 Unique Routes Flown by US Airlines:

1) Continental’s Island Hopper.  Continental’s Micronesia service has served as an area of endless fascination for many Continental frequent flyers thumbing through the in-flight magazine route map and wondering when they’ll ever get to go to Yap.  The island hopper, a flight skipping from Honolulu to Majuro, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Guam, is particularly fascinating since flights that hop-hop-hop along to its destination rarely exist anymore and harken back to the days when Pan Am skipped along the west coast of Africa.

2) Delta’s JFK – Georgetown, Guyana.  A small outfit called Universal Airlines (as well as North American Airlines) used to fly this route so New York’s large Guyanese community could go back home to visit.  Always nice to see a more stable carrier taking over and letting Americans see what its like in this bustling Caribbean capital.

3) Delta’s JFK-Dakar.  Africa has been a mystery to most Americans forever, but Delta’s nonstop to Senegal – which is just about as far as Western Europe – makes a long weekend in Africa a real possibility.  Imagine that.

4) Northwest’s Tokyo – Saipan.  While most of us in the US think of Northwest as the airline you take to fly from Minneapolis to Minot, they have an extensive Asian network with rights to carry passengers from Tokyo to points onward.  Most unique is the leisure-focused Tokyo-Saipan flight, which, although it sounds exotic as I sit here and type it, would be roughly as exotic as New York – Fort Lauderdale if you were Japanese.

5) Spirit Airlines’ Fort Lauderdale – Cartagena, Colombia.  We got to visit Cartagena earlier this year because of Spirit’s flight there.  Although just a short 2-hour hop from southern Florida, it’s rather difficult to get to without Spirit’s flight.  Cartagena is one of the great jewels of Latin America, and Americans have largely avoided it because people assume it’s unsafe (wrong), and you pretty much had to fly through Bogota to get there (and most assumed you would be killed while in Bogota’s airport – wrong again).  Spirit has made the flight easy, and opened up a city that you’ll want to go back to again and again.


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  1. Cartagena? I romanced a stone there once.

  2. Seattle Traveler

    I believe that Northwest used to be called Northwest Orient Airlines. At least is was the first time that I flew from Seattle to Hawaii in 1969.

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