There’s still fun to be had in the travel industry

In the weekly travel newsletter I write, much of the content this year has focused on ugly loss predictions for the industry. As a diversion from the doom and gloom, I recently included some fun travel industry facts and got a great reader response. (Apparently, after enough bad news, people appreciate reading statistics instead.) 

I hope you enjoy these travel facts and figures, too. 

Getting around

Fact: New York City to Fort Lauderdale is the busiest city pair in the country with 3.22 million passengers last year. American Airlines flew 81 billion revenue passenger miles last year — the most of any U.S. airline. The once-small Southwest flew the most U.S. passengers last year: 101.9 million.

Fun: A British gentleman named Edwin A. Shackleton holds the world record for flying in the most different types of aircraft as a passenger.  By January 2007, Shackleton had flown in 841 different types of aircrafts. Another interesting record is held by Niek K. Vermeulen of the Netherlands. Vermeulen has collected 5,468 airline sickness bags from over 1,000 different airlines. Let’s hope he has not had to use that many!

Fact: Enterprise Rental Car is the largest rental car company with 627,314 cars in service at 6,159 locations. That does not even include the fleet and locations of National and Alamo, part of the Enterprise family.

Fun: Who needs a rental car? A gentleman named Marek Turowski of the UK managed to get a motorized sofa up to 92mph in May 2007. Vasilii Hazkevich of Russia also holds an interesting record for the longest journey ever — on a tractor.  He covered 13,172 miles on his unmodified tractor between April and August of 2005. That compact rental does not sound so bad now.

Staying and playing

Fact: Wyndham Hotel Group owns the most hotel properties with 7,043 containing 592,880 rooms. However, InterContinental actually has more rooms with 621,696 in just 4,222 properties. 

Fun: As of May 2008, the largest hotel suite in the world can be found in Lebanon at the Grand Hills Hotel & Spa. Its Royal Suite measures 44,466 square feet. The largest swimming pool can be found in Chile. Completed in December 2006, the San Alfonso del Mar seawater pool measures 3,324 feet long and covers more than 19 acres.

Here’s one in the good old USA: The tallest sandcastle, measuring over 31 feet, was built in Casco, Me., at the Point Sebago Resort in 2007. Another U.S. favorite is the tallest roller coaster at Six Flags Grand Adventure in New Jersey. Their Kingda Ka coaster reaches 465 feet and speeds of 128 mph. 

Sailing into the sunset

Fact: Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas is the largest cruise ship with capacity of 3,630 passengers. It is also the largest in terms of tonnage with 160,000 tons. Carnival Cruise Line is the largest cruise line with 52,402 floating berths.

Carnival Cruise Line has broken more interesting records than the number of berths. For its advertising campaign in 2008, it introduced the world’s largest beach ball measuring almost 11 meters wide and boasting an internal volume large enough to house 16 Boeing 737s. It also debuted the world’s largest piñata — a monstrosity over 61 feet high, 23 feet wide and 60 feet long — which held over 4,000 pounds of candy.

Looking for something salty instead of sweet? The world’s oldest message in a bottle was released in 1914 and spent 92 years and 229 days at sea before being picked up by a fisherman from the UK on Dec. 10, 2006. It’s too bad that Guinness did not report the content of the message.
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