What happens to an airport when all the flights stop?




Jack's Flight Club ✈️ Travel News & Inspiration

Happy New Year, intrepid JFC-ers!

As the dust settles on another season of Whamageddon and never-ending cheese boards, it’s about time we start looking ahead to all the exciting travel opportunities open to us in 2023. And since international travel was still on shaky ground this time last year, it only feels appropriate that we should be thinking big this turn around the sun.

There’s great inspiration to be found among Lonely Planet’s ‘2023 bucket list trips you should start planning now’. They focus on some of the year’s biggest events - be it WorldPride in Sydney or the Rugby World Cup in France - as well as those annual natural phenomena that only come round at a certain time of year, like the spectacular Yosemite firefall.

For memorable railway journeys in Europe and beyond, CNN Travel has set us on track (sorry) with all the most exciting routes opening this year. Highlights include a new panoramic train route in China to connect the city of Dujiangyan with the epic Mount Siguniang and its local panda sanctuary, as well as the Tren Maya project linking the most iconic locations in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. They save the best for last, though, with truly unforgettable train tours through New Zealand.

If you’d rather use 2023 as time to plan for 2024’s big adventure, CN Traveller has your back with ‘ 13 trips to book a year in advance’. With some of the most popular and downright jaw-dropping destinations often selling out a good 6 months in advance, we’re definitely not against a little advice on how to go snow leopard tracking in the Himalayas or stay in a Buddhist temple in Korea.

As always, the crew of the good (air)ship JFC are here to help out with a spot of travel inspiration. They’ve shared a few of their 2023 travel plans and goals below to help you get started on your own.

We have also decided to take The Detour on the virtual road this year in our new weekly feature, "Around the States in 50 Editions". The USA always comes near the top when we survey JFC-ers’ most desired destinations, but we know that you want to get off the beaten track a little, too.

With that in mind, we’ll be looking at some of the most interesting and underrated things to see and do in a different US state each week. And just to make sure we don’t play favourites, we’ll be using a random US state generator to send us on our way. Oooh, the anticipation!

Here’s to another year of safe landings,


Inspiration From The Flight Deck


What Happens To An Airport When All The Flights Stop?

Both Doncaster and Southend airports welcomed their final commercial flights at the end of last year. For them, it was the slow recovery after a difficult couple of years of pandemic travel restrictions that put the final nail in the coffin. Other airports just never really take off.

So what’s next for an airport without planes? That is, aside from seeing out its days as an eerie and abandoned potential horror movie set. Well, one of the most popular ways to reimagine an airport and its vast open space is as a park.

Tempelhof Airport in Berlin was an important asset to Germany’s National Socialist government in the 1930s, before seeing monumental success as the site of the Berlin Airlift during the Cold War. Since eventually closing for good in 2008, Tempelhof’s 386 hectares of outdoor space have been reclaimed for exercising, gardening and BBQing. The former runway is particularly popular on a windy day, when the conditions are - unsurprisingly - ideal for flying kites.

The airport building is still also well-preserved and open for tours, which we highly recommend if you get the chance.

Berlin isn’t alone, either - airports around the world have been turned into recreational spaces, from Floyd Bennett Field in New York, to Old Chiang Rai Airport in Thailand, and even Croydon Airport in London.

Another kind of park landed at New Orleans Airport last year, when Red Bull took over its old terminal building and gave it a whole new purpose. For one weekend only, baggage carousels, check-in desks and jet bridges became one really unique skate park. We hope everyone remembered their boarding passes...!

Hong Kong’s Kai Tak airport was famous for its hair-raising approach that required pilots to undergo special training. After closing in 1998 to make way for the new Hong Kong Airport, it seemed fitting that the site become more than just another green space. Kai Tak now primarily serves as a futuristic cruise ship terminal, complete with rooftop garden terrace - though plans for a runway park seem to be in the works as well.

Stapleton Airport in Denver, Colorado, took an entirely different direction after it closed in 1995, however. Having lain empty for 22 years, the airport control tower was eventually converted into a restaurant and bowling alley in 2017. Unfortunately, the pandemic brought that to a swift end in 2020, leaving pins un-struck and the putting green un-putt for two years.

That is, until the next most millennial business imaginable moved in - an aviation themed brewery named FlyteCo. If there’s anywhere you absolutely have to order a flight of beer, we suppose it’s this place.


Around The States In 50 Editions: Minnesota

Each week in 2023, we’ll be going on a whirlwind tour of a different randomly generated US state. This week, we’re heading to Minnesota.

According to Explore Minneapolis, Minnesota’s number one tourist attraction is the Mall of America - yep, that’s right, a shopping mall. But it’s not just any mall! It’s the largest mall in the USA… excuse us if we don’t seem thrilled.

In our opinion, that’s truly doing Minnesota a disservice. Outdoorsy types and road trippers will feel right at home, with scenic drives north along Lake Superior towards Canada serving up spectacular waterfalls, a rare black-sand beach, hiking trails through the Sawtooth Mountains, and plenty of tasty beer.

For a spot of indoor adventure, you’ll want to pop your head lamps on for some caving. The largest and best-known cave system is the Niagara Cave, where you can mix geology with nuptials at the subterranean wedding chapel.

Anyone who likes snooping around other people’s homes should schedule in time for a historic house museum or two. James J. Hill House is everything you could want from a haunted mansion, with an added side of historical significance thanks to its former owner earning himself the nickname "The Empire Builder". Afterwards, slip on your raspberry beret and head to Paisley Park for a tour of Prince’s home and recording studio.

There are several more intriguing museums across the state, but if we had to pick just one to spend an afternoon at, it would be the Spam Museum. There’s a certain draw to learning about the misunderstood food and its WW2 history, but it’s the free samples and opportunity to pretend we’re in a Monty Python sketch that we’re really interested in.

Plus, it's rare to see a museum with so many rave reviews on TripAdvisor - bravo, SPAM!

Our Pick Of The Clicks

All the important (or silly, or strange) travel news from across the web this week.

While Beijing as dropped its zero-COVID policy, and the border between China and Hong Kong is set to reopen on Sunday, governments around the world this week introduced new COVID testing requirements for anyone flying in from China.

Good news for anyone who can't wait to visit, though - you can get up close and personal with the people of Shanghai from the comfort of your couch through this 195 billion pixel panoramic image.

The world's most punctual airlines of 2022 have been named, and you may have never even heard of the winner. Top place went to Brazilian low-cost carrier Azul, who came just head of Japanese airlines ANA and Japan Airlines. Delta, United and American Airlines managed to do the USA proud by coming in 5th, 8th and 10th respectively, while no European airlines got a mention.

If you absolutely must be on time somewhere in Europe, you'll want to hedge your bets with a Spanish airline. Iberia, Air Europa and Vueling performed best across the continent.

Japan is taking eco-friendly and making it cute. The tiny tourist train that takes visitors on a 30-minute ride around the sights of Takachiho is now fuelled by leftover ramen broth and used tempura oil.

What a souper initiative!

Dubai has announced that it is scrapping its usual 30% tax on alcohol, as well as dropping the fee charged to residents who want an alcohol licence, which is necessary if they want to drink at home. The move seems to be an attempt to boost tourism and encourage more foreigners to move to the city.

And finally, it's a happy ending for a pup named Polaris, who was abandoned at San Francisco Airport late last year. United Airlines worked with the San Francisco SPCA to get the dog USA-ready, before one of their own pilots decided to adopt him. We'll be calling him Captain Pawesome from now on!