Today was an extra special day for Dulles passengers at Gate C27. At about 12:00 noon, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority threw a surprise party for the passengers waiting to board United Airlines flight #1172 for Los Angeles. Nearby onlookers gathered to join in the festivities. The party included cake, beverages, and an extra surprise for one lucky passenger.
The occasion was to celebrate a momentous milestone: As of today, one-half billion passengers have traveled through Washington Dulles International Airport since its opening in 1962. With the assistance of United Airlines, which established a hub at Dulles 25 years ago, the traveler was selected to receive the symbolic honor as passenger number 500 million. He and his wife were presented with a framed picture of the iconic Eero Saarinen designed Airport Terminal, a parking voucher good for one free parking exit and a $50 gift card good at Dulles shops and restaurants. The United passenger gladly accepted the honor to the cheers and applause of his fellow L.A.-bound passengers.
How exactly was this lucky passenger chosen? Though it would be impossible to precisely identify passenger number 500 million some science was employed. The staff of Dulles made mathematical calculations based on historical passenger data and daily averages, and determined the 500 millionth passenger would likely enter the Airport today at about 11:14:32 a.m. Based on the time of day, it was assumed the passenger would board a flight departing around 12:30 p.m. A United flight to Los Angeles was selected from a group of scheduled flights and a passenger on that flight was chosen.
Throughout 2012 the Airports Authority is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Washington Dulles International Airport, the first U.S. airport designed for commercial jet travel. Dulles has hosted “Discover Dulles” events which give randomly selected people special access to events such as the Space ShuttleDiscovery landing and the arrival of the world’s first 747-8 passenger flight. Additional events for the remainder of 2012 are in the planning phase. The Airport was dedicated on November 17, 1962 by President John F. Kennedy with former President Dwight D. Eisenhower in attendance.
For more information about the history of Washington Dulles International Airport go to:http://www.mwaa.com/dulles/661.htm