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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.
Thailand Travel / Travel Safety / Tourist Court / Crimes / Travel News / Pattaya Travel / → All Tags
Regardless of how this all plays out and whether or not you believe it's the best way to go about it, you’ve got to hand it to them: Despite the fact that most tourists have no problems in Thailand, that certainly isn’t stopping the country from taking complaints seriously.
Last week, in what could be a benchmark move for the travel industry, a pilot “tourist court” was launched in Pattaya to help mediate “small claims” from tourists. While there have been a few mainstream cases to come out of Thailand over the past few years, this court will be responsible for handling more mundane disputes, including rip-offs and robberies. “Serious” offenses, like getting your tail whipped by a gang or something, will still be handled by the regular judicial system.
This move comes in response to the ever-growing amount of problems with tourists being scammed by tourism operators, including jet ski and car rental companies, taxi drivers and tuk-tuks.
George Clooney got himself into some hot water this week in Venice. The debonaire actor was in town to promote his upcoming movie Gravity with co-star Sandra Bullock at the Venice Film Festival when he nonchalantly took the wheel of a water taxi.
As is the case everywhere he goes, the locals were so blinded by Clooney's charm offensive they didn't even realize he was breaking the law in the process well, all except one. After seeing George steering the boat, lawyer Mario D'Elia asked authorities to find out if he had the appropriate nautical license and a permit to pilot a water taxi. “I asked the authorities to go to the Hotel Cipriani to see if Clooney has a nautical license,” D’Elia told the local paper.
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We were robbed. It may have happened just over a year ago, but we still live with the effects (like a fear that comes while biking and we hear a moped motor approaching). Read the full story, but also take away whatever knowledge you can from our horrible experience in order to prevent it happening to you while away from home.
Only a few days ago, Lifehacker posted a brilliant list of tips for travelers toting nice cameras, including how to deter would-be thieves. In this vein, we're revisiting our own 8 safety tips to avoid being mugged abroad:
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Airfares from the US to Lima, Peru have been shockingly low latelywe're talking $500 roundtrip on a route that's typically at least $800and some of the reason is likely due to a (now lifted) travel warning from the US Embassy in Peru to Americans traveling in the Machu Picchu/Cusco area.
This week that warning ended, after a couple feared to have been kidnapped was actually found, happily traveling still, just through areas with no internet access. There is a rebel group (named Shining Path) still threatening the area in general, but the situation is once again safe for tourism.
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In case you've been living in a cave (or, more likely, traveling all day), the biggest news right now is that of the massive diamond heist pulled off on the tarmac at Brussels Airport. Essentially, a gang of eight masked men drove through airport fences and right out to the cargo hold of a Switzerland-bound Helvetic Airways plane. Dressed as policemen, they held the airport workers at gunpoint while removing a haul of 120 packages and $50 million (some estimates say it's more like $350 million) in uncut, unregistered diamonds from the Fokker 100, before speeding off. All the while, passengers on the plane were oblivious to the drama playing out only meters away.
The diamonds were originally headed from Antwerp to Zurich, but their whereabouts lie somewhere entirely different now, and since the only clue is a burned-out vehicle discovered near the airport, there is little hope of recovering the haul.
So. Doesn't this sound like the makings of an awesome movie or what?!
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For some reason there are a lot of travel politics stories floating around today, not a few of them about the tourism industry. But as much as we'd like to spend a few paragraphs unpacking the recent industry-related discoveries made in Yemen and India and Bangkokthat persistent crime and open violence tend to dampen tourism revenuewe've got to talk about this moron who allegedly slapped a crying toddler as the Delta plane they were aboard was descending into Atlanta. Not his toddler, incidentally.
The facts as reported are pretty straightforward. Joe Rickey Hundley was on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta. He was sharing a row with Jessica Bennett and her 2-year-old toddler. As the plane dropped altitude Bennett's toddler started crying and wouldn't stop. Heated words were exchangedBennett claims Hundley used a racial slur, a charge he denies but that a witness confirmsand eventually Hundley slapped the kid.
We don't really like to delve into travel politics too much. We'll post news for you when it's suitably important or suitably weird or suitably an opportunity to score good hotel deals by taking advantage of regional unrest. But on the whole we prefer to give you travel advice on, and pictures of, very cute baby leopards.
In this case the story involves taking the deadly serious situation with Iran and adding an element of south Florida craziness. South Florida, of course, is the part of the United States where the newest very sad fad is to rent tiny alligators to miserably swim around the pool during children's birthday pool parties. Now take that kind of sensibility and combine it with one of the most unstable geopolitical situations on earth. The results aren't technically entertaining, but they're at least worth flagging as things that actually exists.
Illegal snacking in Piazza Navona
What's the Italian for "no snacking?"
We have no idea, but travelers are about to find out as Rome has enacted a new law banning the activity of eating snack foods within the historic center city.
Chow down on some cioccolato in vicino of the cobblestoned streets and you'll be liable to pay a fine, which ranges from €25 to €500, though what exactly you'd have to do to warrant the €500 penalty is not stated (perhaps pour a banana split on Neptune in the Fontana di Trevi and then lick it off?!)
It's a law that specifically targets careless tourists, and Telegraph UK explains where you'll have to keep that gelato gluttony in check:
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The AirTrain to New York City's JFK Airport is an awesome thing. For $5 (after exiting the subway and paying that $2.25 fare), you get a straight shot to JFK's terminals from Jamaica Station in Queens. The airport is lucky to have such a system, since most international airports leave tourists to fend for themselves with cabbies or bus networks. Still, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
The JFK AirTrain has fallen victim to a scam involved unlimited-ride Metrocards. Here's what happens: tourists take the subway out to transfer to the AirTrain at Jamaica Station. They exit the subway and head for the AirTrain turnstiles, Metrocard in hand and ready to pay the $5 fare. Whoopsiesthe MTA's so-called "unlimited" ride cards can't be used for the AirTrain. Locals know this and, seeing a quick way to make a buck, they swoop in to smooth-talk those tourists into giving them the cards, for free, because they are essentially useless to travelers departing NYC. If they get a few regular cards with leftover value, then ever better; they've conned people out of money they could've used to pay the AirTrain fare.
Confused? It's a confusing system being exploited by a conniving, widening circle.
Now here's the big problem:
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By now most people know better than to even bother reading those emails that begin with a plea to help an African prince claim his rightful inheritance and end requesting bank information or up-front cash. Alas, as we collectively grow smarter about email scams, the scammers seek to stay one step ahead, evolving their scams with better English and more plausible schemes.
A recent such scam fell into our own inbox and, though we'd typically click "delete" in a flash, this one caught our eye for its mentions of the United Nations, Des Moines International Airport and the Treasury Department. Hmmm.
The sender, a "Mr. Scott C. Tooley, Assistance Inspection Director, Des Moines International Airport" (firstname.lastname@example.org), makes a lengthy and detailed case for getting you involved in an unclaimed shipment of cash left at the airport by a diplomat. He requests a 30% share of what should be "$1 Million to $1.5 Million" in two "Metal Trunk Boxes." Of course this would leave you accepting a box or two of cash of at least $700,000 after paying fees of $3,800. Spoiler alert: It is not real. It is a scam, duh.
Singapore is a fine city. You've got it. And while it's certainly a metropolis on our list as one of the coolest cities on the planet, we haven't used the word "fine" that way. We mean "fine" in that the city is notoriously full of little and not so little punishments for breaking civil laws within the borders of the city-state.
If you've been to the Southeast Asian city, you might remember how clean and orderly it is. That's because anyone caught littering is smacked with a fine of $1000 SGD ($802.56 USD). This law, enacted in 1968, goes for locals and tourists alike, so consider yourself warned. The hit to the wallet isn't the end, either; offenders need to perform a few hours of community service as penance.