Korean Air this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, although its roots reach down to 1946, when Korean National Airlines (KNA) was founded. Hong Kong was an early international destination for the privately owned carrier and, during the late 1950s, a non-stop DC-4 flight left Kai Tak every Wednesday at 10am, reaching Seoul at 5.30pm. KNA was nationalised and renamed Korean Air Lines (KAL) in 1962, then privatised again in 1969, 50 years ago. The carrier (renamed Korean Air in 1984) recently unveiled a celebratory paint job on the first of 10 aircraft to be so decorated this year (below). Alongside a symbolic “50” is the slogan “Beyond 50 years of Excellence”, emphasising, says a press release, its “contributions during the last 50 years to Korea’s airline industry”. Founded in 1974, British Airways turns 100 in 2019 – how does that work? Anyone who can remember the KAL of the 70s, 80s and 90s might raise an eyebrow at that. Not that it was a bad airline; I enjoyed a memorable flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles on August 31, 1988 – the same day a Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) plane crash-landed at Kai Tak airport, killing seven. CAAC (which was broken up later that year) was renowned for its poor safety record; according to aviation-safety.net, it suffered 10 fatal crashes in the 70s and 80s. KAL’s record, though, was not much better. From 1971 to 1999, says the same source, the airline had 10 fatal incidents, causing more than 700 deaths – and three of those were cargo flights with no passengers. A terrorist bombing in 1987 killed 115, and two KAL flights were shot down over Soviet Union airspace, in 1978 and 1983, killing two and 269 people, respectively. Most of these 10 tragedies, though, were put down to pilot error and an authoritarian Korean cockpit culture of total deference to the captain. When a cargo flight banked into the ground seconds after take-off from London Stansted airport on December 22, 1999 (see “Cultural Norms Cloud Cockpit Communications” on YouTube), sweeping changes were demanded and made, with the help of code-share partner Delta Air Lines. Now one of the safest airlines in the world, Korean Air has not had a fatal crash for almost 20 years – an anniversary that will probably be more quietly celebrated by KAL come December. Cycle Japan with two-wheeled tours from SpiceRoads Cycle-touring company SpiceRoads is running a six-day “Kyushu Onsen to Onsen” trip across the top of Japan’s most southwesterly major island. Starting in Fukuoka and ending in Beppu, via scenic destinations such as Hita and Kunisaki, cyclists will be riding an average 55km a day, and overnighting at reviving hot-spring resorts and hotels along the way. Prices start from US$2,220 including bike hire, five nights’ accommodation with meals and a support vehicle, but no flights. Upcoming departures are scheduled for March 18 and 25, April 1 and 8, and May 13. For a full itinerary and other details visit the SpiceRoads website. Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels San Francisco opens Richard Branson suggested his new company, Virgin Hotels , would turn the hospitality industry “on its head” when he launched it back in 2010, and about two dozen hotels were reportedly expected to be open by 2017. One Virgin Hotel did eventually open – in Chicago, in 2015 – but the Virgin Hotels San Francisco, which just officially launched, a couple of years late, is only the company’s second property. A Dallas hotel is expected for later this year, with openings in New York City, Las Vegas and Nashville promised for 2020. Those last three were, however, originally scheduled to launch two or three years ago. Deal of the week – two nights in Da Nang, Vietnam Tiglion Travel ’s two-night package to Da Nang, in central Vietnam, includes among its hotel options the unusual-looking Mercure Da Nang French Village Ba Na Hills. Ba Na Hill Station was established 100 years ago by the French, fell into decay after they left, and was recently redeveloped as a French provincial village theme park. The Mercure is priced from HK$2,990 per person (twin share) but is available only until the end of this month. More traditional resorts at sea level, and offered until April 30, include the Haian Beach Hotel and Spa (from HK$2,790), Hyatt Regency Da Nang Resort and Spa (from HK$4,290) and the Sheraton Grand Da Nang Resort (from HK$4,390). Flights with Cathay Dragon, daily breakfast and airport transfers are included.