Press Releases

USA TODAY Continues 25th Anniversary Celebration With Weekly Top 25 Lists

Today's List: Top 25 Travel Milestones

Aug 7, 2007


USA TODAY turns 25 years young this September, and to continue the celebration, The Nation's Newspaper will look back at the Top 25 Travel Milestones.

From online booking and paperless tickets to those frustrating TSA screening lines, the travel landscape has shifted dramatically over the past quarter century. The USA TODAY travel team has picked 25 pivotal changes that transformed the way we travel. Share your choices at

Every week for 25 weeks, USA TODAY will offer an exclusive color page of Top 25 anniversary memories -- 25 lists over 25 weeks designed to spark conversation and debates. The Top 25 conversation continues today with the Top 25 Travel Milestones. Here are the top 10:

1. Online booking Computer geeks with an affinity for alphabet soup fare codes could access flight information as early as the mid 1980s, but PC Travel's nationwide debut in 1994 helped jump-start the growth of online booking sites such as Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz and dozens of others -- including Priceline and its revolutionary "name your own price" concept. This year, Internet sales will represent more than half of all travel bookings. 2. TSA airport security Created after 9/11, the Transportation Security Administration drastically altered the carry-on rules. Now passengers wait in line, shoeless, jacketless and clutching toiletry-filled transparent baggies. 3. Airline e-tickets Ticketless air travel began in early 1995 when Southwest began selling "paperless" tickets via its own computer system at airports. A family from Washington State bought the first paperless tickets ever sold via the Internet from Alaska Airlines in December 1995. 4. Roll-aboard luggage Working out of his garage in 1987, Northwest Airlines pilot Robert Plath affixed wheels and a pull-out handle to a suitcase, creating the first rolling, vertical carry-on. Available only to the airline industry at first, he began mass marketing his Travelpro Rollaboard in 1991. 5. Smoke-free flights Northwest Airlines became the first major U.S. carrier to ban smoking on its North American flights in 1988. At the same time, a federal regulation took effect to bar lighting up on flights of less than two hours. In 1995, Delta was the first to ban smoking on all flights. 6. Boutique hotel chains In 1983, Bill Kimpton opened his second San Francisco hotel, effectively launching the USA's first boutique lodging group. Kimpton Hotels jump-started the move toward high style, personalized service and individual design in small- to medium-size urban lodgings. 7. Airports as malls Pittsburgh's airport pioneered a revolutionary concept in 1992: guaranteed street pricing in its shops and restaurants. This brought in major chains led to the "mallification" of U.S. airports. 8. Indian casinos Once considered illicit outlets for crooked mobsters, casinos spread nationwide after a 1988 federal law sanctioned Indian gaming on reservations and tribal land. Today, about 40% of the nation's 562 tribes run gaming operations in 28 states. 9. GPS car navigation systems We were lost, and now we're found, thanks to these all-knowing devices, which began popping up in cars in the 1990s. Tapping U.S. satellite signals, they offer befuddled travelers turn-by-turn directions. 10. Self-service ticketing kiosks Do-it-yourself ticketing kiosks started appearing in airports in 1994, although Southwest had a rudimentary self-ticketing machine as early as 1979.

Find the full list in today's editions of USA TODAY and on A new Top 25 list will run every week through September 10th.

USA TODAY, the nation's top-selling newspaper, will be celebrating its 25th anniversary on September 15th, 2007. It is published via satellite at 36 locations in the USA and at four sites abroad. With a total average daily circulation of 2.3 million, USA TODAY is available worldwide. USA TODAY is published by Gannett Co., Inc. . The USA TODAY brand also includes:, an award-winning news and information Web site that is updated 24 hours per day; USA TODAY Sports Weekly, a magazine for enthusiasts of college and professional football and baseball; USA TODAY Mobile, offering up- to-the minute news and information on a variety of mobile platforms and devices; and USA TODAY LIVE, the television arm of the USA TODAY brand that brings the spirit and quality of the newspaper to television.

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