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Airport Security / Airline Security / Travel Security / TSA / Travel Politics / Politics Travel / MSY / → All Tags
Last Friday a lunatic - we think it's fair to call him a lunatic - walked into Louis Armstrong International in New Orleans and began trying to hack up the place with a machete.
He used anti-wasp spray to keep security officers at bay, and it would later be discovered that the bag he was carrying was filled with Molotov cocktails. The attacker managed to badly injure a TSA worker before finally being brought down by a sheriff who was in the area.
And therein lies the debate that started on Monday: what would have happened had the armed officer not been there? TSA personnel are trained to handle rampages, and this article describes some of the tactics they used (one guy blocked the machete with a piece of luggage while travelers fled the area). But the only thing that stops an attack like this in its tracks is a well-aimed shot, and TSA agents aren't armed.
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?
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?
El Salvador Travel / San Salvador Travel / Central America Travel / Costa Rica Travel / Travel Politics / → All Tags
Is El Salvador the new Costa Rica?
The short answer is no. Let us explain.
Costa Rica is a wonderful place to be. There is no doubt about that. Gorgeous beaches and eco-adventuring are just some of the things that travelers have come to love about the country. It's been going strong for decades.
El Salvador is still only just beginning.
The country suffered a terrible civil war that lasted 12 years and finally ended in 1992. Since then, El Salvador has been rebuilding its infrastructure with the aim of attracting more tourism. And you know what? It's working. Driving some of the growth are tax cuts for businesses investing in tourism, which in turn help make visiting and enjoying El Salvador accessible and affordable for many first-time tourists.
Here's a feel-good story to ease you into the holidays.
The Obama administration is preparing to issue a new set of guidelines that will for the first time ban national security agencies from conducting profiling based on race, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. There are already rules going back to 2003 banning racial profiling by most parts of the federal government, but those rules don't apply to national security agencies and don't encompass religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. These new guidelines are aimed at shoring up those oversights.
All well and good, unless you're the TSA, and part of your job is to apply extra scrutiny to people originating in places like Syria and Yemen just in case they're terrorists. In that case you'd be kind of screwed, unless you could get an exemption from the new restrictions. Want to guess how this story ends?
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It's true. US visitors to Cuba are now allowed to bring $100 worth of Cuban cigars back into the country and it's all thanks to a little speech this morning by President Obama, to announce the resumption of US-Cuba relations for the first time since 1961.
This major development, which will see the reopening of a US embassy in Havana and easing of travel bans, came about thanks to talks orchestrated by Canada and Pope Francis in the Vatican. According to the NY Times, the final step occurred just this morning, when two world leaders picked up the telephone:
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If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
Would you enjoy the sunsets on a beach in Phuket? Maybe you’d prefer a diet of pasta and Chianti in a Tuscan village? For those wanting to experience life in another country, it can be difficult on pesky 30- or 90-day tourist visas. Do you really feel as if you experienced life in another city, or even country, based on these limited days? That’s not even enough time to learn how to properly order two Big Macs—one without tomato and one easy on the dressing—in a new language.
Operating outside of these visas can be difficult. Stay beyond those days and you risk deportation and the possibility of never returning to that beloved country. So, for those itching to get out of America, here are some spots where obtaining an extended visa is quite easy.
Oh, and we’re not talking about student visas or the like. If that were the case, you could easily relocate to Vietnam as an English teacher. These countries allow Americans to easily uproot and emigrate.
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?"
Last week, the 2014 World Travel Market Industry Report was released to the public. In short, it is an annual global survey of exhibitors and buyers that highlight travel trends, including who’s buying what and who’s going where and how they’re going about doing it. Like any industry report, it is to be analyzed and regarded as a single, general resource amongst a sea of information, but it is fun, and often useful, to step back and consider some of the major themes brought forth by the report.
The thing that jumped out at me has to do with the ever-emerging and ever-growing segment of peer-to-peer travelers. If an attitude of “ew, I don’t want to sleep in someone else’s bed” ever existed amongst travelers, it has certainly been silenced to the point of a whisper. Preference for vacation rentals, including the rooms to rent found on sites like AirBnb, have grown incredibly in the past decade.
Ebola / Africa Travel / Health Travel / Airports / Airport News / Airplanes / JFK / LOS / New York City / Travel Politics / Politics Travel / → All Tags
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.
Travel Politics / DAL / Dallas Travel / Texas Travel / Southwest / American Airlines / Airline News / Airport News / Airports / DFW / Wright Amendment / → All Tags
...As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas - even if the federal government has to force it to be.
The Wright Amendment was enacted in 1980 as a change to the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. It was all about protecting the risk and financial investment put into opening Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport in 1974, sheltering it from the older, smaller Love Field just a 21-minute drive away.
While the amendment was not technically created because of Southwest Airlines, the fear was that if Southwest, or any large carrier, continued to operate out of Love Field (previously the main airport in North Texas) it would decrease passenger numbers at the shiny, new and expensive DFW Airport.
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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.