Unseen side of New York

Written by CNN StaffNew York

Style Cities is a new series exploring the world’s cultural capitals through the eyes of their most creative residents and devotees.
For photographer Landon Nordeman, finding beauty in the everyday is a full-time job. So, it’s no surprise that his hometown of New York provides an endless source of creative and personal inspiration.

“I love people and I love just seeing out on the street a gesture, a flash of color, the way someone’s leaning against a bus stop or an umbrella opening and passing by you,” he said. “Just these little daily life moments that happen in New York, that somehow I just am forever intoxicated by.”

Over the course of his career, Nordeman — a regular contributor to the New York Times, Time and Vanity Fair — has shot A-list celebrities at the Met Gala, fashion insiders at New York Fashion Week, and NBA draft hopefuls at the Barclays Center. But he insists that inspiration can be found in even the city’s most hectic and accessible areas too — tourists be damned.

“When you’re in midtown you just see all of New York walk by, so I think that’s the best spot to people-watch,” he said.

“If I’m in Midtown, if I’m taking pictures, then I will stay and find a corner that has light or something, some sort of element that just I’m drawn to, and then I just want to stay there and kind of watch this parade come through.”

Watch the video above to find out more about Nordeman’s love of New York.

How Pan Am Flight 50 flew from pole to pole

(CNN) — You might think circling the globe by airplane is no big deal anymore. But you’d be wrong.

Surprisingly, circumnavigating the world via the North Pole to the South Pole in an airliner is a feat accomplished only three times.

Why? Because it’s a Very. Long. Ride.

Even with stops to refuel, flying across several oceans as well as the remote Arctic and Antarctic requires long-range aircraft that first became available in the mid-1960s.

And besides, passengers aren’t exactly clamoring to endure being trapped on a four-leg, 54-hour odyssey.

I mean, who would REALLY want to travel that way?

Meet author Brian Baum.

In 1977, Baum was an 18-year-old aviation enthusiast who ponied up $2,222 of his savings to buy a ticket on Pan Am Flight 50.

Baum knew this flight was likely to make history by setting a speed record for a polar circumnavigation. The one-time-only flight on Boeing’s new special performance 747 began in San Francisco, flew over the North Pole and stopped at its next destination: London.

After refueling the plane jetted on to South Africa. Next, it flew over the South Pole and landed in New Zealand before taking off again and ending up back in San Francisco.

Total time: 54 hours, seven minutes and 12 seconds. The record-setting average speed, according to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale: 487 mph (784 km/hr).

“It was truly an opportunity to do something that really hadn’t been done before,” said Baum, a former public information officer at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. There had been a couple of previous flights over both poles, but this was the first such flight that was affordable to folks other than the super-rich.

How do you pack for a 2 1/2-day quick whip around the world? You pack light. Very light.

Luggage for Flight 50’s 120 passengers was limited to a single carry-on bag per person. For many, that provided just enough space to fit an extra set of clothes and your basic toiletries.

Although Pan Am provided passengers with access to an onboard hairdresser, freshening up was limited to whatever you could manage in the lavatory. “I think everybody took that in stride,” Baum said. “It wasn’t a big deal.”

‘Round the world, ’70s style

From his window seat in front of a wing — seat 17A — Baum experienced a whirlwind tour of the two poles that he would never forget.

He remembers the flight crew counting down the miles as the plane closed in on the top of the world, followed by cheers and toasts as it finally flew over the North Pole. Baum recalls the wonder of watching a sunset shortly followed by a sunrise because of the plane’s unusual route.

The celebratory atmosphere throughout the flight was unforgettable.

While over the North Pole, one passenger put on a Santa hat and beard. Later, when the plane crossed the equator, the man reappeared with the same beard and a three-pronged toy trident — paying tribute to Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.

A strolling guitarist was aboard, singing custom songs about the North and South Poles.

In true 1977 style, international beauty queens were aboard, armed with Polaroid cameras — for passengers who wanted a selfie.

And then there was the Gucci fashion show. Five models showed off 24 different outfits, using the 747’s upstairs lounge as a changing area and the lower cabin aisles as their fashion runway.

“That was really well done,” Baum said. “They played it up so well.”


“The most memorable thing was Antarctica,” Baum said. “It was incredible.” Mysterious, desolate and vast, the frozen continent kept Baum glued to his window.

A man sitting directly in front of Baum was looking forward to seeing an active volcano in Antarctica called Mount Erebus. “He pointed a lot out to me … Unless you know what you’re looking for, you’re not able necessarily to identify things.”

Although the jet was cruising at 43,000 feet (13,100 meters) above ground, Baum said the landscape appeared to be much closer.

Another countdown from the flight deck signaled to passengers that they had passed over the South Pole — triggering another celebration.

The sky was remarkably clear, Baum remembered. The absence of haze or pollution brought out a brilliant sunset. “Everything was just spectacular — the mountains, the colors when we were exiting the continent and heading toward New Zealand. The sun was going down, and it had the lovely pinks and pastels of the sunset. It just couldn’t have been better.”

Baum felt like he was looking at things people had never seen before. “You’re at the bottom of the world, and there’s nobody else in the air for thousands of miles around you. It was an interesting feeling.”

Other pole-to-pole flights

Pan Am flight attendant, Siri Giberson, models an outfit during an onboard fashion show.

Pan Am flight attendant, Siri Giberson, models an outfit during an onboard fashion show.

Brian Baum

The first pole-to-pole circumnavigation flight took place in 1965 by a modified Flying Tiger Line Boeing 707-349C carrying 40 scientists, guests, and crew. To make the trip possible, the plane — nicknamed Pole Cat — had to be modified with two additional fuel tanks installed in the main cabin. Total time: 62 hours, 27 minutes.

In 1968, a Modern Air Transport Convair 990 airliner with 78 passengers and crew flew over both poles. This plane didn’t set a speed record, but by landing for fuel at Antarctica’s McMurdo Station, it was the first aircraft to touch all seven continents.

Pan Am Flight 50’s speed record stood for 31 years until 2008, when a Bombardier Global Express business jet broke it, thanks to perfect planning and shorter fuel stops.

Membership in the “over both poles” club is pretty exclusive. According to Baum, more people have flown in space.

Upcoming flight

Now, 41 years after the last such flight, a sub-50-hour aviation adventure is being planned to take air travelers over both poles. The Polar Express is scheduled to take off this coming October 26 from New York’s JFK International Airport with about 150 passengers.

The route will take them from JFK to Río Gallegos airport in southern Argentina. Taking off from there, the Polar Express will fly over the South Pole and continue all the way to Perth, Australia. Next, it’s on to Beijing. And the final leg of the trip takes the plane over the North Pole and back to JFK.

The jet for this upcoming trip will be an Airbus A340-300 — a large, wide-body, long-range airliner with four trusty engines. Coach tickets start at $11,900. Amenities include specially created cocktails, informative lectures, inflight yoga classes, and an Antarctica expert who will explain what passengers see out the windows.

Clearly, the glory days of record-setting global air travel have not completely passed. For those who can muster the time and money, there are still rare experiences to be found out there.

Our advice for first-time cruisers

(CNN) — Sailing into a new era of ultimate getaways, cruising has never been more on the pulse of what vacationers want: adventure, relaxation and Instagram-worthy food.

For skeptics who maintain that cruising isn’t for them, the industry has heard you loud and clear, making huge changes over the past decade.

Cruising has seen great advancements in the comfort and style of their ships — so much so that nonbelievers may discover it’s the perfect vacation they’ve been avoiding.

Here’s a handy travel guide to assessing whether you’re fit to join the ranks of millions of happy cruisers.

1. There is a cruise line to fit your personality

So much more than getting from point A to point B, cruise lines create distinct atmospheres on board — and you get to choose your own adventure, based on which one is right for you.

From sophisticated white glove service to retro hamburger joint Johnny Rockets, the offerings on cruise ships vary to suit many different ideas about comfort and budget.

The most important aspect to consider when assessing a cruise line is its culture, whether it’s the party scene aboard Norwegian, the family-oriented Carnival ships or the art history lecture-leaning Viking Ocean Cruises.

Smaller ships tend to offer more personalized, relaxed sailing experiences, while the larger, behemoth ocean liners echo a Vegas-style extravagance.

2. You won’t feel claustrophobic on the right ship

Many of today’s ships are floating cities, with sprawling lobbies, spacious pool decks and distinct areas meant to vary your day at sea.

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships feature seven neighborhoods, allowing you plenty of room to leisurely stroll through a five-deck high Central Park atrium on your way to an elaborately themed Boardwalk, where a grand carousel takes passengers for a spin.

Typical seven-day cruises spend more than two thirds of the week in ports, allowing ample time for excursions, walks along the beach or lunch at a local favorite.

Cruises offer the convenience of visiting multiple destinations in one trip while only having to unpack once, paired with the ease of waking up docked at your next destination.

3. Cruises can be a great value

All-inclusive by design, cruises offer great savings by bundling a majority of your trip expenses into one rate.

When considering the value of a cruise, know that your ticket generally includes: 3+ meals per day, twice-daily serviced cabins, a fathoms-deep list of shipboard activities and nightly entertainment.

With week-long cruises starting around $50 per person per day, few other value vacation options can compete.

Even on the higher-end luxury lines, the quality of service, dining experiences from renowned chefs and cabin accommodations far outweigh the value of a night’s stay in a five star hotel.

Still, there are add-ons like excursions and alcoholic beverages that are generally not included, so take those items and other extras into account.

4. Great food is available

Going on a cruise does not mean sacrificing premium food experiences.

Historically known for endless buffets, awkward group dining experiences and the inedible Baked Alaska dessert, cruise dining is not what it used to to be. Celebrity chefs have revamped tired dining traditions with exciting new takes on casual and fine dining at sea.

Seabourn Cruise Line touts a collaboration with Michelin three-star chef Thomas Keller, while Crystal Cruises features fresh sushi from Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa.

When it comes to comfort food, Carnival Cruise Line hits the spot with Food Network mainstay Guy Fieri’s indulgent “Guy’s Burger Joint” on its fleet.







Buffets still attract the most crowds for breakfast and lunch, and main dining rooms are now more commonly configured with fewer group tables and flexible timing for a more casual repast. Or you can skip the hubbub of the dining room and order in. Room service is available on all cruise lines with select lines now charging a nominal fee per order. Everything tastes better in a robe.

Pro tip: Plan ahead each night with a custom breakfast order. Set your delivery time window to coincide with the time you’d like to be woken up. You’ll begin the morning with a fresh cup of coffee and an omelet cooked to your liking.

5. The entertainment has evolved

Acrobatic wonders, full-scale Broadway musicals and comedians straight from TV — cruise lines deliver quality entertainment options on board nightly.

There’s plenty to look forward to as the sun sets when beloved TV brands come to life with shows like “Deal or No Deal” on Norwegian Cruise Lines, “Lip Sync Battle” on Carnival and “The Voice of the Ocean” (professional mentors, iconic spinning chairs and all).

Smaller ships welcome more sophisticated and intimate shows, as with Azamara Club Cruises’ Feinstein’s/54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club and Cunard Line’s impressive National Symphony Orchestra music concerts.

Pro tip: Reservations for the headlining shows are often required ahead of time.

6. It’s tough to be bored on board

From bow to stern, cruises are packed with cutting-edge fun. Modern fleets have successfully antiquated the game of shuffleboard, and then some.

In the new era of cruising, the day begins with fitness classes, followed by hours of continuous programming, including pick up games on expanded sport decks, arts and crafts, lectures, behind-the-scenes tours and much more.

Industry-first attractions like a 1,000-foot go kart track on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Joy and “indoor” skydiving by way of RipCord by iFly® on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class deliver some of the most thrilling moments at sea.

Every day on the ship, you’ll receive a comprehensive planner that details the activities, dining hours and late-night bar options that helps to make the most of your day.

7. Cruising doesn’t mean you have to disconnect

To connect or disconnect; the choice is finally yours. No longer beholden to subpar internet access, cruise lines are prioritizing high-speed, ship-wide Wi-Fi networks that can provide the bandwidth to stream Netflix poolside.

Research the internet packages prior to boarding, as you’ll likely save by purchasing ahead of time. Regardless of the internet package you choose, you’ll still want to bring your phone along throughout the day, as most lines offer free, resourceful apps that help with passenger-to-passenger communication, daily activity schedules and tracking account charges.

8. Ships also provide serenity

As much of an emphasis as there is on fun at sea, every cruise ship dedicates areas of quiet relaxation.

Spa amenities and facilities continue to expand as cruise lines invest in partnerships with spa brands including The Canyon Ranch SpaClub on Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships, Dr. Andrew Weil on Seabourn Cruise Line and Liv Nordic Spa on Viking Ocean Cruises.

If peace and quiet is a priority, a balcony is a must for the perfect view of the endless horizon. There are also plenty of cozy chairs that line the edge of each cruise deck with the same view.

Pro tip: Plan ahead for your first day on the ship by bringing a day bag. When boarding the ship, your luggage is whisked away, usually appearing at your cabin a few hours later.

If your first instinct is to head straight for the spa, pack your day bag with a swimsuit and a change of clothes.

9. You don’t have to be a slave to seasickness

The ship can and will sway, but new ships minimize the effects of the ocean’s motion with high-tech stabilizers.

Maintaining your wellness at sea begins with staying hydrated, making sure you counter each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water, and applying and re-applying sunscreen throughout the day.

Non-drowsy Dramamine or Bonine can help seasickness symptoms, or opt for ginger chews for a natural aid.

Pro tip: If you are anxious about getting seasick, consider a cabin in the lower, center ship areas.

10. Norovirus is rare

According to the Cruise Lines International Association, “you’re 750 times more likely to contract norovirus on land than on a cruise ship.” Still, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to forget some of the unnerving headlines from incidents in recent years.

To stay healthy on the ship, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds continuously numerous times throughout the day, use the stairs when you can to stay active and be mindful of drinking the water (and ice!) in ports where water quality is an issue.

These are the 15 biggest cruise ships in the world

(CNN) — When Symphony of the Seas, an 18-deck cruise ship measuring longer than a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, sailed out of port for the very first time this April, it smashed yet another size record in the cruise industry.

But the current largest passenger ship in the world is hardly one of a kind.

Her slightly smaller sister ships — the Harmony of the Seas, the Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas — each held the honor of this title at the time of their launch, only to be dethroned shortly after in what seems like an endless race to build ever larger cruise ships.







If the names of these four floating cities sound similar, it’s not by coincidence.

“Most of the largest ships in the world are sister ships. A family of ships, such as Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class, to which the Symphony belongs, are built according to the same specifications and with only minor differences between them,” explains Colleen McDaniel, senior executive editor at Cruise Critic, a leading publication specializing in cruises.

“It is a successful formula that has been scaled up,” McDaniel adds.

The reason that they’ve become so gigantic, says McDaniel, is not only to accommodate more passengers, but also to stuff them with added extras such as water shows to keep everyone distracted.

“These ships are really packed with activities,” she says.

So what are the largest cruise ships plying the planet’s waters today? Here’s our guide to the 15 biggest cruise ships in the world today for your travel pleasure:

1. Symphony of the Seas

As you’d expect from the largest cruise ship in the world, everything about the Symphony of the Seas is on a large scale. There are 18 decks (of which 16 are for guest use), 22 restaurants, 24 pools, 2,759 cabins, a park with over 20,000 tropical plants.

Not to mention the world’s tallest water slide at sea.

Like Royal Caribbean’s other Oasis-class ships, Symphony is organized in so-called “neighborhoods,” and contains seven of them.

“These are theme areas that replicate what you can find in cities. People have a feel that there is so much to see and you would need days to really explore what’s in all these different areas,” McDaniel explains.

“Everyone has their favorite neighborhood. They are unique spaces and, despite the large number of people onboard, the flux is managed in a very smart way, you never get the feeling of being in a crowded space.

However, if all goes according to plan, Symphony of the Seas’ days being the largest ship in the world are already numbered.

The Oasis-class’ fifth ship, which will be even larger, is expected to enter service in 2021.

2. Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas shares much of the same layout and onboard services and activities as Symphony of the Seas (as do the next two ships on the list.)

The billion-dollar ship has a maximum capacity of 6,687 and measures 1,188 feet.

One of its stand out features is the Ultimate Abyss slide, which transports guest down 10 decks at nine miles per hour.

3. Allure of the Seas

Launched in 2010, the Allure of the Seas boasts 25 dining options, four pools and 10 whirlpools and can accommodate up to 6,687 people.

Measuring 1,187 feet, the Royal Caribbean ship also has a state-of-the-art 1,380-seat theater which offers performances of shows like the Tony award-winning Broadway musical “Chicago.”

Also, due to the Royal Caribbean’s partnership with DreamWorks Entertainment Allure of the Seas and the majority of its sister ships have characters from movies like “Shrek” and “Madagascar” onboard.

4. Oasis of the Seas

Oasis of the Seas is the original ship of the Oasis-class as well as the first to feature the “seven neighborhoods” concept its sister ships have pretty much turned into a standard today.

It set a new capacity record (6,780) at the time of its launch in 2009 and also held the deepest high dive pool ever to sail.

As for onboard entertainment, guests were treated to exclusive performances of Broadway musical “Hairspray.”

5. MSC Meraviglia

MSC Meraviglia is both the first ship on the list not to belong to Royal Caribbean and the first of MSC’s Meraviglia class of ships, which will see an identical sister ship delivered in 2019.

Among the signature features of this vessel, which heads to the United States in 2019, is the exclusive agreement MSC Cruises has with the Cirque du Soleil, which performs onboard 12 times a week.

Fittingly for a ship whose primary area of operations is the Mediterranean, the Meraviglia has its own branch of Eataly, the famous Italian delicatessen chain, and a 262-foot LED Sky Mediterranean-style indoor promenade open 24 hours a day

6. Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Bliss, the newest and largest member of the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway-Plus class had its maiden voyage in late April 2018.

Ships belonging to the NCL can be recognized from afar thanks to the colorful painted designs that decorate their hulls, and the three ships of this class are no exception (a fourth one is coming up in 2019.)

The deck lined with restaurants running along the side, allowing guests to feel a more direct connection with the sea, is another of the distinctive features they hold.

Norwegian Bliss also has the largest competitive go kart race track at sea and an open-air laser tag course.

7. Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class is made of three active ships of equal dimensions, the Quantum of the Seas, the Anthem of the Seas and the Ovation of the Sea, with more ships planned.

Although slightly smaller than Oasis ships, Quantum Class vessels offer a similar experience.

“They all feature great outdoor spaces, promenades and the cruise line’s signature activities. The Quantum Class brought bumper cars and circus school” explains McDaniel.

To this you can add a full assortment of gastronomy options (18 restaurants,) a realistic indoor skydiving simulator or “North Star” and a jewel-shaped glass capsule that rises more than 300 feet in the air providing guests with 360-degree views.

The Bionic Bar, where a robotic barman prepares the cocktails, is also worth a mention.

As it’s specially designed for the Asian market, Quantum of the Seas usually cruises out of China, and some features were adapted to meet local tastes and consumption habits such as a larger casino and more Asian food options.

8. Anthem of the Seas

Anthem of the Seas is the only Quantum Class that usually sails Atlantic waters. The ship took it’s maiden voyage, an eight-night cruise to France and Spain from Southampton, in April 2015.

It became the largest cruise ship to ever visit a Canadian port when sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2016.

9. Ovation of the Seas

Launched in 2016, this ship alternates between both ends of the Pacific, spending the Northern Hemisphere summer in Seattle for cruises into Alaska, and the rest of the year in Sydney, Australia.

As with its sister ships, Ovation of the Seas holds Royal Caribbean’s most advanced staterooms ever, including the industry’s first-ever Virtual Balcony staterooms, and a branch of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver restaurant’s Jamie’s Italian.

10. Norwegian Joy

This 1,094 foot vessel was custom built for China and has been styled exclusively for Chinese travelers, with a design by artist Tan Ping emblazoned across its hull.

Cruising between China and Australia, the Norwegian Joy has been in service since 2017 and can hold a maximum of 3,883 guests.

The official language onboard is Mandarin.

11. Norwegian Escape

In 2015, the Norwegian Escape became the first NCL ship to be delivered with an Exhaust Gas Cleaning (EGC) system, a technology that “scrubs away” sulfur oxide and other noxious particles.

This system has since been retrofitted or added to other vessels, making it possible for them to sail in areas such as Alaska, with very strict environmental regulations.

The ship is based in Miami and offers cruises to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

12. Liberty of the Seas

Another mega ship of the Royal Caribbean Fleet, Liberty of the Seas added some tonnage after undergoing renovation in 2016, thus surpassing its Freedom-class sister ships Freedom of the Seas and Independence of the Seas.

Among the entertainment features onboard are a FlowRider surf wave generator, 3D movie theaters and the Tidal Wave, which was the first boomerang-style slide at sea when it was fitted.

There’s also a well-regarded three-story dining room, with each level named after an Italian Renaissance painter.

13. Norwegian Epic

With a maximum capacity of 4,100, Norwegian Epic is a ship that partakes of the Norwegian freestyle cruising philosophy, doing away with formalities and schedule rigidities.

Its onboard entertainment, which includes Broadway shows like “Ballroom Blitz” and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” has received by several industry awards, such as the “Best Cruise Ship Entertainment” prize from travel guidebook series Frommer’s.

Solo travelers keen to socialize will be glad to know that smaller studios with a shared private living room have been added onboard.

Meanwhile, guests struggling with the warm temperatures outside can cool off in the vessel’s ice bar where the temperature is always 17 degrees Fahrenheit.

14. Freedom of the Seas

Like the majority of the other vessels listed, Freedom of the Seas was the world’s biggest cruise ship when it first came onto the scene.

It recently moved from Florida to its new home port of Puerto Rico, taking on seven-night Southern Caribbean cruises.

While onboard, guests can enjoy the FreedomFest. Held in the promenade, the event brings together all the best things on the ship, such as the best food options as well as live demonstrations of activities on offer.

15. Independence of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Freedom-class ships were the largest passenger ships in the world until the cruise liner launched its Oasis-class ships.

But while they’ve been overtaken by far newer and larger ships, the Liberty of the Seas and the Independence of the Seas still made it on to this list.

The 15-deck Independence of the Seas, which measures 1,112 feet, is in 15th place.

It currently operates out of Port Everglades, Florida during the winter and Southampton, England in the summer.

10 things that happen before your plane can take off

(CNN) — Sitting in the terminal building waiting to be called for our flight is a regular occurrence for most of us — but what’s really going on out there on the ramp while we’re inside staring at our phones?

The jet that will carry you to your destination has likely just arrived from somewhere else. When it lands, it’ll undergo a turnaround, changing from an arriving to a departing flight.

There are vehicles and people on the ramp, ready to get your flight back in the air quickly — after all, a plane doesn’t make money sitting on the ground.

Here are the 10 steps from arrival to take-off:

1. Parking the plane

As soon as a plane lands and clears the active runway, the pilots receive taxi instructions from ground controllers. Large airports can have complex and confusing taxiway layouts, while some airports simply have a runway and a ramp area.

Approaching the terminal, the pilots look for the flight’s assigned gate and watch for the ramp team leader to start waving illuminated, bright orange batons.

There could be a lead-in lighting system to help the pilots line up at the gate, or they might just follow the instructions from the ramp lead.

As the plane slows to a stop, the target for the nose wheel is a painted line on the ramp, matching the type of aircraft. That’ll put the plane in the right spot for the passenger boarding bridge.

2. Hooking up the plane

The plane’s engines provide thrust and electrical power while in flight, but all passenger planes have a small jet engine which generates electricity when the plane is parked — an Auxiliary Power Unit, or APU.

The APU is in the tail cone, and the pilots start it up to feed power to the plane’s systems.

But an APU uses costly fuel from the jet’s tanks, so many airports provide a ground power system, or there’s a generator cart parked at the gate. Once the plane’s access panel is opened and the connection is made with a heavy-duty cable and plug, the source of power is switched, and the engines are shut down.

3. Connecting the air-con

The APU also energizes the plane’s climate control systems, hopefully keeping the cabin at a nice temperature while parked. Like ground power, some airports provide conditioned air through large-diameter flexible ducts that plug into a port on the belly of the plane.

Or you might see a truck-mounted unit doing the job, with a duct snaking to the plane. Large, wide-body aircraft need two air connections to keep the cabin comfortable.

4. De-planing

The passengers inside the plane have jumped up, and they’re waiting impatiently in the aisle to get off — right now.

If the gate is equipped, a passenger boarding bridge is positioned by the forward left-side doors.

Otherwise, truck- or cart-mounted stairs roll up, and passengers experience the excitement of walking down the stairs and onto the ramp, being able to look back at their aircraft.

Smaller regional jets and turboprops sit close to the ground, and have stairs built into the inside of the plane’s doors, with just a couple of steps to the ramp.

5. Unloading the luggage and cargo

10 things before plane takes off 7

Pods filled with passengers’ bags are handled by a purpose-built machine.

Howard Slutsken

On the right side of the plane, the ramp team has swung into action. After opening the doors to the baggage and cargo holds, a belt-loader or a pod-loader is positioned, depending on the aircraft.

“Rampie” is the industry term for airline employees who load and unload planes.

The rampie inside the belly of a single-aisle plane places each piece of luggage onto the belt, and their partner takes it off the belt and puts it into a baggage cart.

The carts head to the baggage room, and the luggage is dropped onto a conveyor, hopefully showing up on a carousel soon after you’ve arrived.

Wide-body planes carrying hundreds of passengers needed an efficient way of handling luggage and cargo, so baggage and cargo pods were developed back when jumbo jets first appeared.

Pods are filled with passengers’ bags, and handled by a purpose-built machine. One rampie can operate it, and make the pods dance on the loader’s platform or in a plane’s holds by activating powered wheels.

6. Stocking up with food

Catering trucks join the crowd outside the plane’s fuselage. Rising on a scissor lift, the truck’s box matches the height of the plane’s galley doors.

The catering crew replaces used galley carts with newly stocked ones, each cart coded for a specific location in the galleys.

To service the double-deck Airbus A380 mega-jet, catering trucks reach way up, to the upper galley doors.

7. Cleaning the toilets

Perhaps it’s not the most desirable ramp job, but somebody’s got to empty the plane’s lavatory holding tanks, and refill the fresh water system. Just like a recreational vehicle, this doesn’t happen during every stop.

Rampies position a truck- or cart-mounted tank and pump unit, and connect hoses to do the work.

8. Refueling

Like your car, a plane’s fuel tanks aren’t necessarily filled at every stop.

An airline’s operations team will have figured out how much fuel is needed for each leg of a plane’s daily routing, and when to refuel.

Big tanker trucks connect to the plane’s fuel system under the wing, or a pumper truck will hook up to a fuel hydrant in the ramp, then to the jet’s tanks, and pump away.

9. Pushback

Pushback is when an aircraft is pushed backwards away from the airport gate by vehicles called tugs or tractors.

Closer to departure, an aircraft tug will park right in front of the nose wheel.

The tug might be directly attached to the plane’s nose gear with a tow bar, or could be a “wheel-lift” tug. These tugs cradle the nose gear, then lift it up before moving the plane. That gives the tug driver control over the plane’s direction during pushback.

New taxi technologies are appearing, like pilot-controlled tugs, and electric motors mounted to the plane’s landing gear. Both promise to save fuel, and reduce airport noise.

10. Boarding and take-off

The crew has finished all the pre-flight preparations, the cabin door is closed, and you’re settled into your seat. Your journey begins with a gentle push, in reverse, and you’re anticipating the adventures to come.

Make sure you wave goodbye to the rampies — they’ve worked hard to get you on your way.

20 planes for flying buffs — from Boeing to Airbus

(CNN) — We’re flying more than ever.

At any one time, the skies are buzzing with activity — air traffic measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometers has grown 85% in the past 15 years and Airbus’s Global Market Forecast 2015 predicts it will grow 145% by 2034.

The air traveler of today has a wide spread of frequencies, connections and types of service available to them — but there’s one area where choice has narrowed.

Growing consolidation in the aircraft manufacturing industry, driven by its huge capital requirements and massive economies of scale, means we’re flying in an increasingly narrower range of airliner types.

While there’s much to admire in the most recent aircraft models, those looking for unconventional flying experiences will have to try harder.

Here, in part one of our selection of iconic aircraft today’s aviation enthusiast may still be able to fly in, are 20 of our favorite planes from the last 50 years.

de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter

First flight: 1965

Often used as a commuter aircraft providing service to small communities, the Twin Otter is a small, solid aircraft that’s nevertheless capable of the most incredible landings.

For example, it provides service to the Caribbean island of Saba — which has the shortest commercial landing strip in the world — as well as nearby Saint Barts, where pilots must undergo special training before they’re permitted to land.

Flying into any of these airports on a DHC-6 is an experience no aviation enthusiast will want to miss.

Boeing 737

First flight: 1967

This aircraft is surely familiar to today’s frequent flyer. The Boeing 737 is the best-selling airliner of all time.

Some 9,000 of them, which come in many variants, have been built since 1967, making it ubiquitous in all corners of the globe.

Which means you’re unlikely to run out of opportunities to fly in a Boeing 737 anytime soon.

As it approaches its 50th anniversary, the Boeing 737 is still going strong: the updated MAX version first flew in January 2016 and already has an order book numbering in the thousands.

Boeing 747

First flight: 1969

Few aircraft have achieved the iconic status of the Boeing 747, commonly known as the Jumbo Jet.

Its easily recognizable shape, with two decks on the forward section, helped it gain popularity, but the Jumbo is impressive for other reasons as well.

Its capacity, reach and reliability have made it a “queen of the skies” for over four decades.

Despite the fact that its latest iteration, the Boeing 747-8, hasn’t been a huge commercial success and many airlines have started to withdraw earlier versions of the type, there are still so many Jumbos in service that opportunities to fly on a Boeing 747 will be around for decades to come.

Some of the largest operators right now include major airlines such as British Airways and Lufthansa.

Ilyushin Il-76

The Il-76: Used for firefighting, emergency response transport and music videos.

The Il-76: Used for firefighting, emergency response transport and music videos.

Paul Kane/Getty Images

First flight: 1971

Although its primary role since entering service with the Soviet Air Force in 1974 has been military transport, the Il-76 is capable of performing a multitude of other roles, from firefighting to passenger service.

The Il-76 is a reliable, solid, four-engine aircraft, able to operate from unpaved, short runways or drop paratroopers or supplies in war zones. It’s still in production, although very few of them are in service as civilian airliners.

Short of joining the Russian army, the easiest way to fly on an Il-76 is to go on a North Korean aviation tour or get in touch with Alrosa, a Russian airline that still operates the type.
An Il-76 MDK was the setting of a recent music video by band OK Go, known for their viral hits.

Antonov An-72/An-74

First flight (An-72): 1977

First flight (An-74): 1983

This is possibly one of the weirdest-looking aircraft out there. The An-72 and its later version, the An-74, are nicknamed Cheburashka because the engine configuration, with two jet engines mounted on top of the fuselage, makes it look like a popular Soviet cartoon character of the same name.

You can fly on one as part of a tour to polar research station Barneo, built every year near the North Pole by the Russian Geographical Society.

Camp supplies are delivered by An-74 that lands on drifting ice.

Flights are usually operated by Russian airline UTair Cargo.

Several tour operators offer trips to the Barneo polar station, including Polar Cruises.

BAe 146/Avro RJ

First flight (BAe 146): 1981

First flight (Avro RJ): 1992

This British short-haul airliner and its later derivative, the Avro RJ series, feature a very distinctive design, with a high-cantilever wing and four engines underneath it.

Some versions were called Jumbolino because of its four engines and wide cabin, both unusual in a regional airliner.

Although its global fleet has been dwindling since production stopped in 2003, there are still a good number of them around, with Swiss, Brussels Airlines and CityJet being the primary operators.

The most glamorous role for the type, however, has been service with the RAF Royal Squadron.

ATR 42

Nigerian Airforce ATR 42-500 Maritime Patrol Aircraft acquired to fight maritime crime in collaboration with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is displayed at the airforce base in Lagos on August 19, 2014. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) recently acquired satellite surveillance system and other applications to further strengthen its joint operations with the navy and airforce in order to effectively respond to distress calls and combat sea piracy within Nigerian territorial waters and beyond. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

A Nigerian Airforce ATR 42-500 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, displayed in Lagos in 2014.


First flight: 1984

What Airbus is to jets, ATR is to smaller, turboprop aircraft.

In the early 1980s French firm Aerospatiale (now part of Airbus) and Alenia, of Italy, joined forces to design a regional propeller aircraft.

The result was the ATR 42 and, later on, its larger derivative, the ATR 72, both wildly successful in their market niches.

Several airlines fly the ATR 42. Among the largest operators are Aeromar in Mexico and HOP!, Air France’s regional subsidiary.

Airbus A320

First flight: 1987

If the Boeing 737 is included in this list, the Airbus A320 has to be here too.

Although it first flew in 1987 — two decades later than its archrival — the A320 has managed to catch up with the Boeing 737 and even outsell it.

“The A320 was Airbus’ response to the Boeing 737 and, with its fly-by-wire and side stick controls, pioneered a new approach to commercial aircraft,” said Andy Foster, senior lecturer in Air Transport Management at Cranfield University,

The A320 has spawned a whole family of aircraft, from the smaller A318 and A319 to the stretched A321, which gives airlines plenty of flexibility when planning their fleets without sacrificing the efficiency gained from sharing a common technology.

As is the case with the Boeing 737, the A320 is still an evolving aircraft. Deliveries of its latest iteration, the re-engined A320neo, are just starting.

An-225 Mriya

First flight: 1988

Because of the buzz it generates, you may be forgiven for thinking that the Airbus A380 is the largest aircraft in the world.

In fact, that honor belongs to the Antonov An-225 Mriya.

This six-engined giant was originally designed to carry the Soviet space shuttle on its back but was later converted to airlift cargoes that no other aircraft is capable of carrying — a job it still performs to this day.

No wonder the only An-225 in existence becomes an immediate sensation with plane-spotters wherever it lands.

The bad news is that getting to fly in it is a challenge. You’ll need to convince Ukrainian cargo operator Antonov Airlines to give you a lift.

Ilyushin Il-96

First flight: 1988

The swan song of the Soviet civilian manufacturing industry, this long-range, four-engined wide-body airliner first flew when the USSR was in its last throes.

It entered service with Aeroflot, the flag carrier of the new Russian state, in 1992.

One of the most notable features for passengers is the cabin’s unusually high ceiling.

Although technically still in production, only 29 of them have ever been built.

Aeroflot stored its Il-96 fleet in 2014, leaving Cubana de Aviacion as the sole operator of the type.

Airbus A340

First flight: 1991

The A340 is a four-engined long-haul airliner that was designed by Airbus in the 1980s to challenge the American-made models that dominated the market at the time.

Typically flown in configurations ranging from 260 to 350 seats, it competed in a segment between the larger Boeing 747 and the smaller Boeing 767.

It was produced in several versions. The A340-600, for example, is a sight to behold, with its long, slender fuselage, while the A340-500 specialized in super long-haul routes, such as Singapore to New York.

The A340 fell out of favor because twin-engine jets such as the Airbus A330 or the Boeing 777 could do the same job while consuming less fuel.

Many airlines have been phasing them out but there are still more than 200 crisscrossing the globe.

Bombardier CRJ

UNDATED: In this handout from Independence Air, an Independence Air Bombardier CRJ jet, part of a fleet of 87, sits on a tarmac. Independence Air is creating the largest low fare airline hub in the U.S. at Washington's Dulles International Airport. (Photo by Independence Air via Getty Images)

An Independence Air Bombardier CRJ on the tarmac at Washington’s Dulles International Airport.

Independence Air via Getty Images

First flight: 1991

This aircraft family has made a big contribution to the popularization of the regional jet concept.

Canadian manufacturer Bombardier has developed different sizes of this stylized aircraft, from the 50-seat to the 100-seat categories.

The planes are marketed as CRJ and include a number that designates their capacity — CRJ700 for the 70-seater, CRJ900 for the 90-seater and so on.

Hundreds of CRJs are currently flying, with the type being particularly popular among feeder airlines across North America and Europe.

Boeing 777

Upon hitting the skies in 1994, the 777 became the widest, most spacious jetliner in its class.

Upon hitting the skies in 1994, the 777 became the widest, most spacious jetliner in its class.


First flight: 1994

Typically carrying between 300 and 450 passengers over long distances, lots of superlatives can be used to describe the Boeing 777 (or Triple Seven as it’s popularly known): first commercial airliner to be 100% digitally designed, airliner with the largest turbofan engines, best-selling wide-body airliner.

Boeing is already working on the Boeing 777X, which is meant to enter service in 2020 and will be the world’s largest twin-engine jetliner.

The Boeing 777 has been a favorite with many airlines, including British Airways, Emirates and Air France.

Embraer E-Jet

First flight: 2002

With its E-Jet family, which includes the E170/175, seating 70 to 80 passengers, and the E190/195, that stretches to the 100 to 120-seat range, Brazilian manufacturer Embraer has grabbed a significant share of the regional jet market, in fierce competition with archrival Bombardier.

Robert W. Mann, a consultant and former airline planning executive, credits the E-Jet with bringing a “mainline look and feel” to the regional airline space at attractive unit costs.

A new generation of the family, the E-Jet E2 is being developed by Embraer and is expected to enter service in 2018.

With over 1,000 E-Jets delivered since 2004, it shouldn’t be too difficult to fly on one of them.

Antonov An-148/158

First flight (An-148): 2004

First flight (An-158): 2010

Here’s another product of the Antonov design bureau that may attract the interest of aviation enthusiasts because of its relative scarcity — only around 40 have been built so far — and its unconventional look, somehow reminiscent of the BAe 146.

Yet getting a ride on this regional jet isn’t that complicated.

You just need to book a ticket with Rossiya or Angara Airlines of Russia, Cubana de Aviacion or Air Koryo.

Airbus A380

First flight: 2005

This huge double-decker airliner has become an icon in its own right.

Despite its size, the A380 is a very quiet and amazingly maneuverable aircraft.

It’s certified to carry over 800 passengers, although the typical configuration is for between 450 and 600 seats. The A380 is, thus, the aircraft of choice for high density long-haul routes.

Emirates is, by far, the largest operator of the type, but to see all routes flown by the A380 you can check out the Airbus website.

Sukhoi Superjet 100

First flight: 2008

The Superjet represents Russia’s comeback to the civilian aircraft-making scene.

Manufactured in partnership with Alenia of Italy and several other foreign aerospace firms, the Superjet is a clean-sheet design that targets the growing regional jet market for aircraft with fewer than 110 seats.

There are quite a few ways to fly in the Superjet.

While most are operated by Russian airlines, Aeroflot being the largest, it’s possible to fly the type in other regions, for example, with Interjet in Mexico, Sky Aviation in Indonesia and, soon, Cityjet in Western Europe.

Boeing 787

First flight: 2009

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner represents a significant milestone in the history of aircraft manufacturing, being the first to make extensive use of composite materials.

By making the aircraft lighter, Boeing was able to offer airlines a long-haul aircraft efficient enough to connect many secondary markets directly and profitably, bypassing congested hubs.

You can see how many Dreamliners are up in the air at any one time and which airlines are flying them on Boeing’s Dreamliner tracker.

Airbus A350 XWB

First flight: 2013

Launched in response to the initial success of the Boeing 787, the A350 is a wide-body long-haul airliner that seats between 280 and 400 passengers.

It therefore occupies the market space immediately below the larger A380 and is in direct competition with Boeing’s Triple Seven and Dreamliner models.

Nearly 800 have been ordered so far and deliveries have been taking place since 2015.

It’s already entered service with Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Finnair, TAM and Singapore Airlines, with many more airlines due to receive theirs soon.

Bombardier CSeries

First flight (CS100): 2013

First flight (CS300): 2015

This family of aircraft, which includes the CS100 and CS300 models, is Bombardier’s attempt to break into the medium-sized airliner market (between 110 and 160 seats) and compete head-on with Boeing and Airbus.

You’ll have to wait a few months to fly it commercially.

Entry into service is planned for July 2016, with Swiss Global Air Lines being the launch carrier and airBaltic following suit before the end of the year.