When can an American city say it's made its mark in the world? When its NBA team makes it to the finals? When it hosts the Olympic Games? When a guy who hangs out there a lot runs for president?
How about the ease of your ability to get direct flights to popular international destinations? Using that metric, Salt Lake City can claim to have arrived on the world stage. Salt Lake International Airport has become increasingly more international in the last year, adding direct flights to Amsterdam last May, and London just last month. SLC now has 59 international flights per week to 10 different destinations in Europe, Canada and Mexico.
The obvious advantage of direct flights is that they take much less time and eliminate the hassle of having to switch planes. This is particularly important on the way home, when a layover means having to get your bags, go through U.S. customs, take your bags back through security and then catch your flight. Everybody's got some version of the horror story of spending five hours waiting in multiple lines at John F. Kennedy International Airport or O'Hare when they were coming back to the U.S.
Here are the 10 destinations available from Salt Lake International Airport where you'll need to bring a passport. Prices listed are for basic economy seating (at press time), round-trip, summer travel booked weeks in advance, and are not set. Prices for flights can vary widely, and the following times are approximations.
While the European flights are offered through Delta, the airline often partners with other carriers such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for trans-Atlantic flights.
Travel Tip: After doing a red-eye flight to London, Paris or Amsterdam, the last thing you'll want to do is make a transfer, catch a train or wait hours until your hotel room is ready. You'll probably want a nap and a shower ASAP. Fortunately, all three European destinations listed above have a Yotel (Yotel.com) right in the airport. A Yotel standard "cabin" is seven square meters (yes, meters—this is Europe) with just enough space for a bed, TV, bathroom and shower. They are rented out on a four-hour basis so you can catch a nap, take a shower, check in on free Wi-Fi and grab something to drink before hitting the town.
Travel Tip: The two direct destinations north of the border share the distinction with Salt Lake City of hosting a Winter Olympics. In our travels to Canada, we've found that the stereotype about Canadians being really friendly people is very true. For some uniquely Canadian summer travel, check out the Calgary Stampede (July 8-17, 2016; CalgaryStampede.com) when the entire city turns into a gigantic 10-day celebration of rodeos, shows and activities. The Vancouver Bay is the perfect place to watch the annual Honda Celebration of Light international fireworks competition (July 23, 27 and 30; HondaCelebrationofLight.com) while dining on some of the best dim sum in North America.
Travel Tip: Mexico continues to draw millions of American tourists per year. Salt Lake City is uniquely situated for easy visits to Mexico's variety of beautiful destinations through quick flights. Talk of travel to Mexico for any other tropical area in the summer of 2016 must also include mention of the Zika virus, which has been a concern for many travelers in many destinations. Those with questions about travel to any place where the virus may be an issue should check for updates at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.gov) and the U.S. Department of State (Travel.State.gov) or a special page on the Zika virus created by the White House (WhiteHouse.gov).
Keep in mind that airlines only keep routes open if people are using them. Delta offered a nonstop flight to Tokyo in 2009, but later cancelled it due to the sluggish economy, H1N1 virus scare and general lack of demand. So keep the SLC-to-the-outside-world options open by booking your flight and showing up in a T-shirt proudly listing the great travel destinations of the world: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Salt Lake City.
Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin trek around the globe near and far and host the Travel Brigade Radio Show and Podcast. You can find them at TravelBrigade.com.