In 2020, a long-dormant name that was once ubiquitous in air travel made a comeback. Early that year, a new version of Eastern Airlines made its first flight, traveling from Guayaquil to Miami. For some observers of the air travel space, this was a big deal — Eastern was a prominent airline for decades, until its original iteration ceased operations in 1991.
This new version seemed a bit more modest in its goals, which largely involved budget travel between the United States and several destinations in South America. Still, that seems like a perfectly solid niche to fill — and if that can be accomplished while also hearkening back to a familiar name in air travel, what’s not to like?
You’d think so, anyway. But a number of recent reports suggest deep-seated logistical challenges faced by the reborn Eastern Airlines, some of which are making for troubling experiences for travelers.
A recent article by Elena Clavarino at Air Mail features some alarming details, including Clavarino’s own unsettling depiction of a Miami-Montevideo flight. At least, that was the plan; instead, the flight waited for several hours on the tarmac before taking off and then making an emergency landing back in Miami — at which point most of the plane’s tires collapsed. And, at some point, there was a fire on board the flight.
Any one of these sounds like a nightmarish experience; all of them happening on the same flight suggests something more is amiss. As Clavarino notes, the airline uses 767-200s, a model which dates back to the mid-1980s and lacks several features that modern air travers are used to.
The Air Mail article isn’t the only high-profile account of a nervewracking Eastern flight; in early 2020, The Points Guy also published an alarming look at what the airline had to offer. It’s a strange time for air travel, to be sure — but it also isn’t clear if these are the growing pains of a new airline or something much more troubling.
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