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Concorde: Speed and luxury

Concorde: Transatlantic return tickets cost about $10,000  

LONDON, England -- Flying on Concorde is the preferred choice of celebrities and the wealthy.

Crossing the Atlantic at 1,350 mph while cruising above turbulence at nearly 60,000 ft, with an average flight time of about 3.5 hours, passengers arrive at their transatlantic destination twice as fast as regular jetliners.

A return ticket from Paris or London to New York costs about $10,000 -- roughly 25 percent more than first class on other planes.

It is said that Air France and British Airways, the only two companies that run Concorde aircraft, need to fill just half of each of the aircraft's 100 seats for a flight to break even.

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The aircraft's sleek design and jet-set image was enhanced during the Live Aid event in 1985 when pop star Phil Collins flew Concorde so that he could perform live at both the UK and US venues, in London and Philadelphia, on the same day.

During the Millennium Eve celebrations in London, a Concorde was given permission to fly above the River Thames at a height of just several hundred feet.

But superstar Diana Ross had a less satisfying experience on Concorde when she was arrested and escorted off the plane at Heathrow Airport, London, in September 1999.

The singer was preparing to fly to New York when she was detained for five hours by police in connection with an alleged assault on a female airport security officer. Afterwards, a police spokesman said she had been cautioned and would face no further action.

Former British minister Jack Cunningham also ran into trouble after taking a flight on the world's fastest passenger plane.

Cunningham was the Labour government's Cabinet office minister in 1998 when he was criticized by political opponents -- and also some colleagues -- for flying to Washington via New York by Concorde at the taxpayers' expense.

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