Tag: Politics Travel

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How to Get a Visa to Visit Papua New Guinea

November 24, 2014 at 2:13 PM | by | Comments (0)

When it comes to new opportunities in tourism, Papua New Guinea might be the latest and greatest travel destination not named Myanmar. The latter’s recent surge is due to, among other political improvements, a complete restructuring of its tourism policies in 2013. In very much the same way, Papua New Guinea, after nearly four decades of struggling to find its footing as an independent country, has slowly been transitioning into a destination foreigners can feel comfortable visiting.

According to its Tourism Authorities, only 5,000 Americans visit PNG each year, putting those who make the journey in an exclusive class of travelers. Despite what you might assume from a generally poor population, the cost of living in Port Moresby is on par with other major cities around the world—think the high rates of New York and Paris—mostly thanks to the influx of foreign mining companies over the past decade, a list that includes Exxon and Mobil.

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Local News Panics After Discovering Old, Defunct TSA Program

November 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM | by | Comments (0)

Time for another edition of "People are Idiots, and That's Why We Can't Fix TSA." True story.

Many years ago DHS received a Congressional mandate to secure the nation's airports, which the department duly implemented by putting up TSA checkpoints everywhere. Critics of the agency almost immediately began to complain about its uselessness - "security theater" was a popular catchphrases - and some went so far as to accuse TSA of actively conspiring to destroy America.

After a while TSA responded with: "Listen, we can't just shut down inspections because Congress won't let us. How about instead we establish this new PreCheck system, where for only $85 you can pass a background check and breeze through security?"

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Step Back in Time to 1970s East Germany at These 5 Berlin Spots

November 11, 2014 at 10:22 AM | by | Comments (0)

Brandenburg Gate. Alexanderplatz. Checkpoint Charlie.

The 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall has done more than just shed a brighter light on some of Berlin's best-known tourist sites; it's wholly reignited interest in the brief history of the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik), aka East Germany. Although the DDR technically ceased to exist upon Berlin reunification in 1990 and East Germany feverishly adapted to Western fashion and culture, the particular details of DDR everyday life continue to fascinate.

A handful of Berlin sites continue to preserve DDR design, and anyone is welcome to visit. Here are five of our favorites:

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Another Day, Another Wave of Airport Ebola Panic

October 30, 2014 at 1:28 PM | by | Comments (0)

Boy this whole Ebola outbreak thing has been a real boon for travel journalism, eh? Nary a day goes by without an airport getting locked down because some nurse has a fever, or a plane getting emptied because some idiot makes a joke about feeling sick, or a state getting quarantined because some politician was psychologically scarred by watching Outbreak on a date in the '90s. We can't remember the last time there were so many stories about airports and airplanes and travel politics. It's really just a delight.

Seriously though, the only thing less fun than having Ebola is watching global commercial aviation try to scramble to deal with Ebola. People are not always very bright.

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Is Travel to Hong Kong Still Safe? An Update from the 'Umbrella Revolution'

October 7, 2014 at 10:44 AM | by | Comments (0)

As the "Umbrella Revoltution" in Hong Kong continues into its second week, is it still safe to visit the city?

Last week we said yes, and this week we stand by that verdict, but now have the first-hand experience to back it up since arriving to HK a couple days ago.

Things we have not seen: violence, police, more than a few closed roads, loud demonstrating.

Things we have seen: signs, a wall of post-it notes with inspirational quotes and Tupac song lyrics, protesters napping or reading in the midday sun, and news crews desperate for new video footage.

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Is Travel to Hong Kong Safe Right Now?

September 29, 2014 at 3:42 PM | by | Comments (0)

In light of this week's mass protests and #OccupyCentral movement in the heart of Hong Kong, some travelers may be worried about disruptions to their travel plans.

Approximately 70 people were arrested in Saturday's protests, and Sunday saw the movement spread to Kowloon, in the always-busy Mongkok neighborhood. An excellent and quick explainer of what's happening in Hong Kong can be found at CNN.com, and also via video on Vox.com. What's most important to remember is that the protesters are not violent; it's about voices, presence, and future freedoms for Hong Kong.

So, should you go? Yes, absolutely still travel to Hong Kong, but do know these things:

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Flight Attendants Absolutely Do Not Want In-Flight Cell Phone Use Legalized

September 25, 2014 at 9:29 AM | by | Comments (0)

Less than a year ago, the FCC floated the idea of allowing cell phone use in-flight, a movement that most, including us, think would be a terrible, terrible decision. This week, the Association of Flight Attendants, an organization that represents about 60,000 flight attendants working across 19 carriers, confirmed that it too thinks allowing passengers to use cell phones in midair would be absolutely insane.

Here's an update on the situation: This week, a bipartisan group of 77 House Representatives sent a letter to the Department of Transportation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Communications Commission that expressed their concerns over the safety and security issues in-flight cell phone use would bring up.

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New Law Would Ban TSA from Accepting IDs That Aren't IDs

September 11, 2014 at 4:51 PM | by | Comments (0)

What a strange little story. Over the summer news began to emerge that TSA was letting people confirm their identities, and then to board planes, using only Notice to Appear letters and paperwork. Those documents don't have photos or really any kind of security information - so that would have been problematic, which was one problem. But the story was actually much more about travel politics than about airline security, because it was wrapped up in the immigration debate. In any case it eventually made international headlines.

TSA for its part promptly denied that it was doing something as stupid as just letting people show random letters they could have printed at home. Agency spokespeople actually got kind of pissy about it - "completely wrong... never contacted us for a statement" - and made sure to let people know. Snopes.com rated the story flat out false.

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Airlines Suing TSA for Cheating on Controversial New Security Fees

August 1, 2014 at 8:30 AM | by | Comments (0)

As you know because you've been following along, the new TSA fees that we've been trashing since 2010 went into effect earlier this month. They had been jammed up for years by airlines - more on that below - but the administration finally managed to get them passed. The old caps, which had been set at $2.50 per flight segment with a $10 roof for a four-flight round trip, were abolished.

Would you believe that TSA may have taken advantage of the new situation to collect fees even higher than what Congress allowed? That's the argument being made by airlines, who are now suing the security agency. Game on.

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Misleading Airline Ads Closer to Returning as House Passes 'Transparency Act'

July 30, 2014 at 11:59 AM | by | Comments (0)

We've been keeping you up to date on the Department of Transportation's battle with the airline industry over the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, most recently explaining why we are backing the DOT and calling for the rejection of the Act.

On Monday, Congress voted to pass the Act, which would allow airlines to advertise rates online and in print with asterisks that do not include taxes and extra fees.

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If You Flew Yesterday, You Paid More for Your Ticket and Here's Why

July 22, 2014 at 4:48 PM | by | Comments (0)

There's no shortage of domestic and international travel politics stories floating around. There's the potential for a new Cold War because of the MH17 downing. There's the 24 hour FAA ban on flights into Tel Aviv. There's even the ongoing nonsense about how airport security officials are threatening to confiscate electronics that run out of battery power during trans-Atlantic flights, which is something that happens literally all the time.

But this story about hiking airline security fees is - rightly - driving people absolutely out of their minds. We flagged this for you last month as a heads up, but we've actually been tracking these legislative efforts since 2010. The Obama administration has tried to raise the fees that travelers pay for security through the normal budget process, outside the normal budget process, and probably at least once via occult wizardry. Every time it was justified as a way to make people travel more, which is not a very good argument because it's not how supply and demand works.

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Yes, There are TSA Agents Who Don't Know Washington DC is a Place in America

July 16, 2014 at 1:20 PM | by | Comments (0)

We like to think of ourselves as fair-minded, in the sense that we are equally likely to publish facepalms about TSA agents and about the passengers that they have to deal with. Last week we gave a shoutout to idiot travelers who were bringing fireworks on airplanes, and let this be your official notice that there are also apparently idiot travelers who are bringing credit card knives through security. Idiots.

Now let's talk about this incident, in which a Florida TSA agent refused to accept a Washington DC driver's license. In this case, the problem appears to have been that the agent did not know that Washington DC, the capital of the United States, was in fact a real place, in the United States. This kind of stuff happens so much that the District's delegate to Congress was getting into the debate months ago.

That's annoying, and the obvious reaction is to worry about those agents' overall competence in keeping Americans safe. But let's be clear about what that means.

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