Eye on Travel

Eye on Travel — New York — May 22, 2021

A rare fatal accident occurred on November 12, 2001, when the vertical fin of American Airlines Flight 587 separated from the plane over Queens, New York, shortly after taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport. Photo: FAA

Locations in this article:  New York City, NY
This week’s broadcast of Eye on Travel comes from New York. Patrick Smith, Airline Pilot, Author & Founder of AskThePilot.com, speaks about the 20th anniversary of the crash of American Airlines Flight 587, the last catastrophic crash involving a major US carrier in the last 20 years. And what it says about airline safety today. Then we’ll hop around the world for a global travel update: a report on COVID-19 and the United Kingdom from Simon Calder, Senior Travel Editor for The Independent,  and when he thinks vaccinated Americans can fly to London. Italy is opening up, and Kathy McCabe, Host and Producer of PBS’ Dream of Italy, talks about what it means — and how fast you can get to Tuscany. And Scott Livermore, Chief Economist of Oxford Economics Middle East, discusses why the countries hit the hardest by the economic impact of COVID-19 might recover the fastest. There’s all this and more on this week’s Eye on Travel


Have a travel question? Then ask Peter. E-mail him at peter@petergreenberg.com, or tweet your questions to @petersgreenberg (include #AskPeter).



Patrick Smith, Airline Pilot, Author & Founder of AskThePilot.com, speaks about the 20th anniversary of the crash of American Airlines Flight 587, the last catastrophic crash involving a major U.S. carrier in the last 20 years. He credits the lack of crashes since then to improved pilot training, increased oversight in the cockpit, and more communication between the pilot and co-pilot. He also speaks about the return of travel as more and more people are vaccinated and countries begin to open up. With many airlines set to have their full fleet flying again by May 25th, he notes that it will still be a while before profitability comes back and that it will take time for travel to completely even out across the board. He also says that consistency in entrance protocols are imperative in order to ease apprehension and get people flying again.


Simon Calder, Senior Travel Editor for The Independent, offers a United Kingdom situation report and the latest developments on the ban on international travel that lasted for approximately 19 weeks there. He says the U.K. is still asking people not to travel. Calder then discusses the significance of American visitors throughout the U.K. – and even throughout Europe – and then gives us his predictions for the inevitable U.S. and U.K. reciprocal travel relations after the next G7 Summit.


John Sage, CEO and Founder of Sage Traveling: The European Disabled Travel & Cruise Experts, speaks to the challenges of traveling while impared and whether or not their needs are being addressed. What are the most desirable destinations doing about this, especially when the architecture and geography make accessibility difficult? He describes the situation on cruise ships and why he thinks they are finally moving in the right direction. And what’s the situation at airports? How inclusive are they to travelers with disabilities? Sage explains what airports are doing right and what they’re doing wrong.


Stefan Leser, CEO of Langham Hospitality Group, speaks about the intense race among nations to vaccinate their citizens and reopen in order to cash in on upcoming tourism. He also speaks about how the Langham Hospitality Group’s hotels weathered the pandemic thanks to staycations and how most of them are open again and better than ever with COVID-19 testing and other protocols to ensure guests feel safe while traveling. Beyond the pandemic, he discusses how the Langham Group is working to become competitive again and how it is using the best technology to foster innovation and inspiration for business travelers even if they are in a virtual setting. 


Scott Livermore, Chief Economist of Oxford Economics Middle East, speaks about how the UAE and Israel are leading the Middle East in terms of reopening to travel with high vaccination rates. He also talks about  the importance of governments employing the right policies regarding COVID-19 in order to instill confidence to get people traveling once again. He then discusses the economic impact that reopening could have on people that have been saving their money thanks to government programs that kept them employed and are now ready to travel and spend money once again. He also believes that the countries that were hit the hardest will recover the best as they have the most to gain. 


Kathy McCabe, Host and Producer of Dream of Italy, is excited about Italy opening back up and gives us an update on what the country looks like on the ground currently – especially with her new and relevant Italy special coming out soon on PBS. Everyone is looking for a release and Italy has been truly transformative for McCabe and she expands on some of her favorite corners of the nation and what she recommends you do if you were to visit tomorrow. She argues that Italy is like a big hug and travelers are ready to be hugged – especially looking back at how they originally weathered the pandemic. Still, she says it’s important that people make their own personal decisions based on vaccination percentages in Italy and in other countries, but makes a case for visiting anyway. 


Dr. David McKenas MD MPH, tells the compelling story about how a defibrillator on an American Airlines flight in 1997 saved a man’s life – after being installed just two days prior. Then, he has more on the eerie circumstances surrounding the events that unfolded on this day. Was it meant to happen? He describes his involvement in getting the defibrillator on the plane in the first place and how it created a ripple effect for the industry in the years to come, after American Airlines was the first to lead. Dr. McKenas shares some sobering statistics that plagued aviation back in those days and how medical technology has helped in making the skies safer. 


Amy Shira Teitel, Space Historian & Author of FIGHTING FOR SPACE: Two Pilots and Their Historic Battle for Female Spaceflight, speaks about the female trailblazers that opened the door for other women at NASA and the two women who inspired her biographical book. She describes one of them as “the real Forrest Gump.” Teitel discusses some of the challenges faced by pilots Jackie Cochran and Jerrie Cobb and how they joined a spot at the “boys club” – an attitude that is still prevalent today along with roadblocks and gatekeeping.