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And Now, a Local News Roundup of Stupid Travelers Caught by the TSA

September 18, 2013 at 5:44 PM | by | ()

Just for the record: yes, we know that quirky airport security stories about weapons confiscations are often a result of TSA's press outreach strategy. We've actually written about how it works. TSA officials want Americans to think that people are trying to bring weapons on board airplanes - because how else are they going to justify their existence - and it's hard to get national reporters interested in one-off stories. So you end up with a bunch of articles in city and state-based outlets that describe city and state-based incidents.

But that doesn't mean that some of the stories aren't genuinely fun. Take this local Baltimore story about BWI workers discovering that a woman was trying to smuggle a pink stun gun on an airplane. Just the visual is kind of giggle-worthy, which is probably how it ended up jumping into national blogs. Well done, TSA PR.

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Limited-Edition Gourmet Meals at Airports. We've Now Heard of Everything.

January 30, 2013 at 9:32 AM | by | ()

HMSHost—you know them from airport restaurants everywhere—is teaming up some new up and coming chefs, as they just tapped the Culinary Institute of America for some new menu ideas. They held a little contest for some new and tasty recipes, and two students—Jessica Hargrove and Lauren Fury—came out on top. Among some other stuff their culinary creations will now be featured at airports across the country, so it’s time to dig in during your next layover.

The winning dishes are Toasted Flatbread Mac n’ Cheese and Chicken and Waffles, and will be available at select restaurants through the end of February. For those looking to indulge in the macaroni and cheese dish, you can expect the usually stuff piled onto a whole-wheat flatbread topped with candied bacon—nice. As for the chicken and waffles it’s pretty much what it sounds like, but there’s also white gravy, maple syrup, and green onions to top things off.

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A Modern Pegasus: How One Little Horse Flew on Southwest Airlines

June 28, 2012 at 1:20 PM | by | ()

True frequent flyers may believe they've seen everything on planes, but travelers at three different airports on Tuesday were treated to something really rare—a service animal boarding a Southwest Air flight. This wasn't just any service animal, however; this was a mini-horse named "Cali," being filmed for a documentary.

Cali's story isn't so different from that of a seeing-eye dog in that she was trained (in Saratoga Springs, NY) and now finds a home helping a blind girl through life. Her owner, Mona Ramouni, is a grad student at MSU in Lansing, Michigan. So, when the Australian show "Sunday Night" decided to focus on Mona and Cali's story, it was only natural to return to where it all began, in Saratoga Springs. For this, the horsey would have to fly.

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TSA Fires Whistle-Blowing Employee After Witchcraft Accusations

April 8, 2011 at 2:43 PM | by | ()

There are stories where we have to spend some time unpacking why specific TSA behavior is counterproductive or stupid. The controversies over pay/performance bargaining rights and private screeners are not straightforward, and so paragraphs have to be spent on arguments and counterarguments. This isn't one of those posts.

Carole Smith, a practicing Wiccan, was a TSA employee who worked at Albany Airport for 7 months. During that time supervisors rated her performance as "satisfactory," with points taken off for once forgetting her nametag and for occasionally being a few minutes late. Her work was otherwise exemplary. She passed her skills test on the first try, and she was in the top 10 percent at the airport for catching weapons—something TSA workers are notoriously horrible at.

Nonetheless Smith was fired after Mary Bagnoli, a co-worker, accused her of casting a spell on Bagnoli's car heater, causing it not to work. Quote unquote: "Bagnoli reported that she was afraid of Smith because she was a witch who practiced witchcraft."

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