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There are small TSA screw-ups, like screwing up a PreCheck procedure. There are big TSA screw-ups, like publishing classified info in the dumbest way imaginable. And then there are the screw-ups that make you sit up, kind of tilt your head sideways, and ask yourself how anybody could be so bad at their jobs.
A TV station in Texas did some digging about possible security vulnerabilities at DFW and found what might be generously described as a total clusterfuck: "lost and stolen airline uniform shirts, an entire FedEx pilot's uniform, missing TSA badges and even a federal flight deck officer's credentials and badge, which allow a pilot to carry a gun on a plane." And that was just one airport. The station uncovered similar problems, specifically having to do with lost badges, across the country.
Economy Class Travel / Airbus / A380 / Seats / AIX / Bad Ideas / → All Tags
We've got good news and bad news to share from the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) this week, in Hamburg, Germany.
First, let's get the bad news out of the way. Airbus showed off a new seating option for airlines to try in their A380s: 11-across in economy class. That means 11 seats in one aisle, arranged 3-5-3, with so many middle seats it'll make your head spin.
The good news is that no airline has ordered the 11-across layout (yet), so it's safe to say this isn't something you need to worry about encountering when trying to chose a seat on your next superjumbo flight.
The real issue the general press is failing to understand with this configuration isn't the how-horrible factor of being faced with more middle seats, but how nasty all of a sudden the window seats become.
TSA Rants / TSA / PreCheck / Bad Ideas / Politics Travel / Travel Politics / Airport Security / Airline Security / → All Tags
Either the TSA is actively trolling the American people, or these guys actually are so incompetent they could screw up a one car parade.
You guys obviously know about PreCheck and PreCheck lines, and you've probably heard about how some airports send passengers randomly into the PreCheck line to speed things up. The idea is that if you randomly send every 10th or every 20th passenger through expedited screening, what are the odds that the person you randomly selected is actually a terrorist? Want to guess how this turns out?
A new report, published last week by Homeland Security, revealed that the system sent a notorious felon and terrorist through a PreCheck line. This guy was so famous that he was recognized by sight by the officers in the PreCheck line. They alerted their supervisor, who of course ordered the officer to let the terrorist continue on his way. Stellar work from start to finish from America's exquisitely staffed airport security agency.
The TSA's response, by the by, is that it "takes its responsibility for protecting the traveling public very seriously." Feel better?
File this one under "what the hell were they thinking?"
American Airlines got a request from a an Illinois family whose young daughter had died. Understandably, they were too crushed to take the vacation they had all planned to take together, and they were hoping to get their airline tickets refunded. This matter should have been handled immediately, quietly, and in its entirety.
So of course that's not at all what happened. Instead, the airline sent an apologetic note, expressing their sorrow for the death of the girl but firmly explaining that the tickets were non-refundable. Mom shared her story on her Facebook page, and from there nature took its course.
An online rage mob formed (kind of appropriately, in this case) and on Tuesday American ended up providing the refunds.
Quote unquote "We fully refunded [her] ticket last night and apologized to [the family] for not doing so immediately when she first contacted us." No kidding.
Travel News / Bad Ideas / Travel Humor / Emergencies / Delta Airlines / LGA / New York Travel / Runway Accidents / Airplane Emergencies / → All Tags
We assume that you've already read our coverage of last werk's runway-skidding Delta flight at LaGuardia Airport, unless you're likely to fly into LGA some time in the near future, in which case we hope you avoided that post (we love clicks as much as the next travel news site, but those are some genuinely hair-raising images; we're more than willing to sacrifice a couple pageviews for your mental well-being).
But at least one humorous moment did come out of the near-disaster.
Travel Rants / Bad Ideas / Travel Politics / Cigarettes / E-Cigarettes / E-Cigarettes on a Plane / Smoking / → All Tags
TGIF and thank god for another entertaining travel rant, this time courtesy of our long-time ranter, er, contributor, Omri. #Fistpump
A few years ago, we described our feelings about what was then a growing movement to ban e-cigarettes on planes. My feeling? A ban would be silly and pointless and completely unenforceable.
Don't get mewrong, it's not that I think e-cigs are 100% safe. There are some metals in the vapor, as a result of heat applied to the device itself, that aren't great for you.
But when you consider what's already in the air you breathe on airplanes, to say nothing of what's literally crawling around on the seats and tray tables, I just can't bring myself to care all that much.
We realize that America long ago gave up on "live and let live," but really? Banning e-cigs on airplanes? Have we solved literally every other problem, everywhere in the world?
Maybe you guys were feeling good about the new FAA numbers on unruly passengers, which show that less of you were assholes in 2014 than any time since at least 1995. (Conrad Hilton obviously is not included in this stat.)
If the figures are to be believed, there were "only" 121 times when passengers tried to "assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember's duties aboard an aircraft being operated."
Except those numbers are bunk. As the New York Times explained earlier this week, the entire reporting system seems designed to prevent the FAA from getting a complete list of how many passengers get out of hand.
Just for starters, the reports have to come from flight attendants, whose job it is... to prevent passengers from getting out of hand. Asking them to file a report about an incident is asking them to file a report about how they failed to do their jobs. That doesn't seem very smart, and so the NYT is probably right in reminding readers that you guys are still assholes.
It's that time of the year again, the time when the year just plain ends. Alas, we can't just let 2014 go that easily, especially since travelers spent it both up in the air and up in arms over a crazy range of topics. Now we take a brief look back at the best and worst of 2014 with the Jaunted Travel Awards,or as we fondly refer to themThe Jauntys.
“Sexy” Halloween costumes aside (groan), here are some flight attendants who actually made tongues wag in 2014.
Lap dancers, pinup models, drug mules — oh my!
Dani Grant, founder of Hackers NY, published a short, to-the-point Medium post this morning, alerting the public to a serious issue in the security of mobile boarding passes. And you don't need to be a hacker to understand it:
On Delta, you can change the URL of your boarding pass and get someone else’s boarding pass. Even if they’re on a different airline. You can check in as them and change their seat.
It's apparently time for the annual deluge of articles explaining why you should kill yourself instead of traveling through an airport this Thanksgiving. We faithfully catalog these things every year in our Thanksgiving travel category, alongside holiday travel ideas for people who will not be passing through airports (and thus are not better off lighting themselves on fire). Let's get started, shall we?
Published a few hours ago by the Associated Press: "Get Ready for Crowded Airports This Thanksgiving." The article runs down numbers from a just-published study by the trade group Airlines for America.
24.6 million people are going to try to make their way through airports in the week and a half around Thanksgiving. That's one and a half percent more than last year. Analysts predict that 2.6 million of those people will try to board U.S. airlines just on the Sunday immediately after Thanksgiving.
Vienna. Just think of the city for a second and launch into daydreams of sumptuous cakes devoured in plush cafes, and evenings spent at the theater or opera, hobnobbing with the literati.
While Vienna indeed offers all that and more, there's just one big problem: for about two weeks Vienna is kind of a dud.
Learn from our mistakes, and avoid the first two weeks of November, any/every year. Here's why:
Travel Tech / Windowless Planes / Technology / Airplanes / Travel News / Bad Ideas / Virtual Balcony / → All Tags
"It's too bright! Close the window, please." - your annoying seatmate
Despite recent reports that "windowless planes" are the wave of the future, air travelers have a love-hate relationship with airplane windows and turning the whole fuselage into a portal to view the sky around you just will not fly (pardon the pun).
You can thank British firm CPI (Centre for Progress Innovation) for the concept and, while it's a fun daydream, there is no way a plane with screens in place of windows will be happening in our lifetime. Here's why: