ICBM: A rocket that blasts into space and arcs back down into the atmosphere to arrive at your
target destination. Does it have potential as a passenger craft? Depends how tough your passengers are. The good news: it’s so fast you won’t have to worry about airline food. The bad news: you’re probably going to have to be encased in foam or liquid to survive the g-forces, so forget about asking for a pillow. Tickets will be expensive, and insurance will be out of this world.
Tech Level: High. The rocketry part became possible in the twentieth century. The human survivability part is still pending.
Appeared In: I’m still checking. Seems to me that one of the early SF authors proposed rocket travel between the continents, with Winnipeg as the North American terminal, but I haven’t been able to confirm it.
For Your Plot: Accident-wise, your human character will either make it, or she won’t. Robots and cyborgs might do better. Might actually be more fun on Mars, where the gravity is lower and the distances are less. Also, the atmosphere is much thinner, making it harder for discount airlines to compete.