Tag: Politics Travel

View All Tags

/ / / / / / / / / / /

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.

more ›

/ / / / / / /

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.

more ›

/ / / / / / /

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:

more ›

/ / / / / / /

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.

more ›

/ / / / / /

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.

more ›

/ / / / / / /

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.

more ›

/ / / / /

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.

more ›

/ / / / / /

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.

more ›

/ / / / /

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.

more ›

/ / / / / /

With Airlines Pushing the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, We've Got the DOT's Back

July 14, 2014 at 10:18 AM | by | Comments (0)

A few months ago, airlines responded to the Department of Transportation's request for more transparency in pricing by threatening that it would cost an additional fee for them to be upfront about their additional fees. Remember that? Well, get ready to roll your eyes once more. In the face of the DOT's proposal, airlines are lobbying Congress even harder to go the other direction, for the legal right to put an asterisk next to all their prices.

The bill, deceptively titled the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, was proposed by a House committee and, on the surface, says it wants to make taxes clearer on tickets. But what it actually does is allow airlines to advertise their base fares separately from taxes and fees. According to the Dallas Morning News, "the act aims to get rid of the Full Fare Advertising Rule, which went into effect in 2012. That rule requires airlines to show all mandatory federal, state and local government taxes and fees in their advertised fares."

more ›

/ / /

Judge Rules Flying is a Right, Not a Privilege for Americans

June 25, 2014 at 10:41 AM | by | Comments (0)

From increased fees to the elimination of in-flight meals, the evolution of the U.S. airline industry has indeed rained down frustration on American travelers. That side of the coin is looking dim for future travelers, especially with the recent news that Congress is now in bed with the TSA.

But a ruling by a Federal judge yesterday showed that good things can still happen within the airline industry when it comes to the treatment of its passengers. The case concerned the U.S. Government's no-fly list, calling it unconstitutional because it does not 1) give people on the list a chance to contest their inclusion upon it or 2) properly notify them of being added to the list. Taking it one step further in her justification, the judge ruled that these inadequate and unfair procedures have denied many Americans their right to travel.

more ›

/ / / / / /

New Investigation Discovers Rogue Drones are Buzzing Commercial Airplanes

June 24, 2014 at 4:42 PM | by | Comments (0)

Just posted online: part 3 of the Washington Post's "Hazard Above" investigative series on drones. Based on the premise that drones are "set to become a widespread reality in American skies," the Post spent a year investigating whether pilotless plane thingys will accidentally kill everybody. Over 50,000 pages of accident and other records were apparently examined and, indeed, it does turn out that we're all going to die.

We're paraphrasing and exaggerating for effect, of course, but not really.

more ›