Tag: Travel Politics

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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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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.

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Yes, It's True. TSA's Old Body Scanners are Now Being Used in Prisons.

May 29, 2014 at 3:39 PM | by | Comments (0)

We saw this story break two weeks ago on the insidery Federal Times, which is a place where DC bureaucrats go for hour-by-hour updates on all the things they've broken that day. At the time we hoped the news wouldn't get wide traction, partly because it's not actually that interesting but mostly because we knew that Internet conspiracy theorists would blow it completely out of proportion (actual email sent around Jaunted HQ in case it became a thing: "Suggested hed for scanner/prisons post: TSA scanners first tested on sheeple, now used on convicted felons!").

Anyway here we are. You can now read all about how the government yanked TSA's full-body scanners out of airports and then sent for use in prisons. The story is on Slate and at TIME and posted to the LA Times or on The Blaze and screw it here's the Google News Search. As we read on one conspiracy theory forum, it all proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the government was trying to break the will of its citizenry in preparation for giving our children school lunches loaded with GMO tomatoes (give/take).

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The FAA Crash That Shut Down Southern California Could Have Been Much Worse

May 13, 2014 at 4:47 PM | by | Comments (0)

Sorry. We know that we're beating this thing into the ground, but it's one of those travel news things that begins as an off-beat story and evolves into a bona fide airplane security firestorm. Of course we're seeing more and more of those stories, but this one is kind of special. Without giving away any details, the most recent Reuters expose includes the phrase "the same vulnerability could have been used by an attacker in a deliberate shut-down," where the thing getting "shut down" was a part of America's air traffic control system. There's a reason people are still talking about this incident.

Just to catch folks up. Two weeks ago something caused the FAA to issue a ground stop across four airports across the greater Los Angeles area, including at LAX, for about an hour. Reporters asked the agency to explain the order, and got more or less nowhere. Another way of describing that move: the FAA shut down most of Southern California's airspace and declined to explain why. Later journalists found out that the military was flying a U-2 spy plane in the area, and that its flight plan caused the FAA's flight tracking server to crash. Cue the batshit crazy conspiracy theorists, who declared that alien signals from the U-2 had beamed autism-filled vaccines into their kids (or something; we didn't read very closely).

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The Convoluted Tale of a US Spy Plane and an FAA Ground Stop

May 6, 2014 at 6:32 PM | by | Comments (0)

When last we left off, the FAA had just gotten over imposing a ground stop on four Southern California airports - LAX, Burbank, Ontario, and John Wayne - because of unnamed "technical issues." Or maybe it was because of mysterious "computer issues." Or maybe because of "the system" that managed the airspace for a particular air traffic control center. The agency wasn't exactly being helpful or clear on why they decided to ground, delay, or divert hundreds of flights. That frustrated at least one local outlet to the point where they kind of snarked that the FAA was sending journalists to functionally useless websites.

We'll remind you that a ground stop is a big deal. It's not just that planes get frozen on the runway at whatever airport gets slapped with the stop. It's that any plane anywhere in the country bound for the ground-stopped airport also gets grounded. These things cascade very, very quickly.

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This Wasn't Exactly a Banner Week for the FAA and TSA

May 1, 2014 at 4:46 PM | by | Comments (0)

What is it about the various government agencies charged with overseeing American travel, do you think, and how they're gratingly bad at what they do? We assume there are parts of the federal government where bureaucrats get things done roughly as well (or not) as they would if they were working anywhere else. But hot damn, do the FAA and TSA screw things up occasionally.

The FAA is an agency that is - literally and metaphorically - standing in the way of the future. It's not just that it took them two years to even draft a policy on in-flight electronics, to the point where the FCC had to initiate a formal procedure to ask them what the hell was taking so long. These are people who are so incompetent that they might end up delaying futuristic private spaceflight just because, hey, they're not sure what they think about all that yet. But at least they keep the planes in the air, right?

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Double Check Visa Requirements Before Deciding on a Destination

April 30, 2014 at 3:07 PM | by | Comments (0)

When it comes to planning a trip overseas, too much information is never a bad thing, especially as it pertains to the details of crossing borders.

United States citizens are lucky enough to be able to travel around the world nearly unfettered, but there are exceptions here and there, with visas and/or fees required in certain countries. Luckily our buddies at CN Traveler have the latest visa requirements.

Check out the full story and double-check the details for your next trip. And always always do double-check with the latest news from the US Department of State before departing.

[Photo: Jaunted]

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The Latest TSA Scandal Sweeping the Internet is Hardly a 'Scandal'

April 29, 2014 at 12:10 PM | by | Comments (0)

How is this nonsense still a story? How - after it broke more than a week ago, and was already hopelessly tired back then - are journalists still producing new copy about "outrage" and "fury"? What details remained unexplored through the first three dozen articles, such that we needed more information a week later?

If you don't troll conspiracy theory forums or have a Google Alert set up for TSA, you might not know about video documented barbarism under discussion. You'd be the only one though, since the YouTube upload has been viewed by over 200,000 people in the last 10 days. It's at the bottom of this post too. You're welcome.

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Investigation: Report on TSA Scanning Technology Was Secretly Altered

April 24, 2014 at 5:02 PM | by | Comments (0)

This story goes way beyond travel politics - it's likely to reignite a long-simmering national scandal - but there's enough travel news in it that we figured we'd put it on your radar.

For the last year Congress has been conducting a bipartisan investigation into whether a previous inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, Charles K. Edwards, modified or delayed his investigations at the behest of administration officials. Edwards's job during his tensure, which went from 2011 to the 2013, was to keep DHS honest.

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Government Study Proves TSA Behavior Profiling is Useless, TSA Expands It Anyway

April 17, 2014 at 3:43 PM | by | Comment (1)

Last fall the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a study showing that TSA's behavior profiling program - creatively named "SPOT" - was useless. The technical language was that the project succeeded in catching bad guys at a rate only "slightly better than chance," but that's GAO code for "worthless."

Naturally people assumed that the program would be scaled back. Instead - per a Washington Times report from last week that made its way around the Internet - TSA has expanded the program to BWI. Because why should a failure, especially a failure that members of Congress blast as "an intrusion into the privacy of the flying public," prevent programs from steamrolling forward?

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