Tag: Travel Safety

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How Facebook's New 'Safety Check' is Aiding Travelers Following the Nepal Earthquake

April 25, 2015 at 10:06 PM | by | ()

I was boarding a plane when it happened, the Nepal Earthquake, that is.

I wasn't in Kathmandu. I was in Abu Dhabi, readying for a 15-hour flight back to the U.S., but I knew that one of my good friends was in Nepal and had been traveling around some of the areas most effected by the 7.8 earthquake and its aftershocks. How bad was this really? Was he safe?

While initial reports of the earthquake's magnitude rolled down my Twitter stream, a Facebook notification appeared just before the crew made the announcement for electronic devices to be turned off for take off. That notification, a green exclamation point icon, instantly shared that my friend had used the social network to "mark himself safe." I sighed with relief and turned off my device, beginning the long flight less anxious with the knowledge that he had reached out, somehow, to share his status.

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Follow the TSA Before the Start of Summer Travels

April 24, 2015 at 3:53 PM | by | ()

This is a public service announcement: the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is hip to social media.

Perhaps you already follow their stellar Instagram account? That's @TSA, naturally, with 263,000 followers enjoying near-daily images of confiscated weapons that'd be more at home in Game of Thrones than in a carry-on bag.

But do you follow their tweets? The game is different on "the twitter" for the TSA, which utilizes the social network to relay important changes in policies, notifications and reminders of rules around heavy holiday travel periods, and other fun facts (depending on your definition of fun).

The news this week may be trivial—the administration's original "@TSABlogTeam" is shutting down to consolidate into the sleeker "@TSA" handle—but it's as good a time as any to remind that the account is worth a follow...if only to read their tweeted regulations on having fruit pies in your carry-ons during Thanksgiving season.

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Does Violence Keep You From Traveling to Certain Regions?

March 25, 2015 at 10:30 AM | by | ()

Traveling abroad should be fun, but often times, the countries we've been dreaming about visiting can be dangerous whether it be because of Mother Nature or political unrest. Our contributor, Linda Marsicano, is having second thoughts about returning to India after watching a powerful documentary about the treatment of women there. Here are her reasons why:

I visited India with my family as a kid and treasure memories of seeing the Taj Mahal and the other unique experiences we had as a family during the trip. Now with daughters of my own, I figured one day when they are old enough to appreciate it, we’d go back so they too can share that experience.

And then I watched “India’s Daughter,” a BBC documentary about the brutal gang rape and murder of a female med student in Delhi in 2012, which can be viewed in its entirety here. It details the cultural attitudes toward women and the seeming “justification” for the brutalization of women who dare to do simple things like be out at 8:00 pm without a husband or male relative.

It’s a disturbing film – and to make matters worse, instead of embracing the documentary India has banned it. While India is not on the State Department travel warning list, I personally would not be comfortable traveling there and certainly would not take my daughters there.<

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What's The Deal With Grand Case in St. Martin--Safe or Unsafe?

Where: Grand Case
January 30, 2015 at 12:15 PM | by | ()

A tipster recently returned from Grand Case on the French side of St. Martin with a rather gloomy report.

He opined that while the restaurant scene is still among the best in the Caribbean, there is an obvious high presence of security and a “definitive edginess about it we’ve never experienced before.” Likening it to the vibe in parts of St. Thomas, this tourist said he didn’t feel safe and will likely not return, although the island had previously been among his favorite spots.

We’ve had our own experiences in Grand Case. When we first visited in 1998 to obtain scuba diving certification, it was delightful. The Hotel L’Esplanade was the perfect boutique accommodation--and we understand it still is. We returned in 2004 hoping for the same magic. While the hotel was still top notch as was the food, something was amiss. Cars seemed to “cruise” around, we saw multiple car windows that had been smashed and we found ourselves being less carefree and more cautious.

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FAA Safety Workers: Not Working Safely or Safely Not Working?

January 22, 2015 at 10:30 AM | by | ()

There is some scary stuff going on in American airports right now. The terrorist attacks in France understandably put airport security officials on edge, and then Al Qaeda published a bomb recipe for the creation of detection-proof explosives.

That one-two had TSA personnel scrambling to boost security. Most visibly, travelers began to see heightened random inspections. But Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson brushed off complaints by tersely stating that "the reasons for these measures should be self-evident."

In a situation like that, you want to allocate resources as efficiently as possible. There are things that look important but are trivial, and things that look trivial but are important. One of the concrete goals is to avoid unnecessary searches.

So everybody was super-thrilled to learn that the FAA was suspending a long-running program under which their safety inspectors were allowed to skip TSA checkpoints. Apparently the system was used by at least one person to bring guns on board airplanes. Oops.

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Meet the Politur, El Salvador's Police Force Just for Tourists

December 26, 2014 at 3:12 PM | by | ()

"Isn't it dangerous there?"

That was far and away the most common response regarding our recent trip to El Salvador, both before and after. Fair enough, since bad news usually travels better than good.

Yes, there is an ongoing gang problem throughout the country, but the vast majority of violence occurs between the gangs and so rarely involves tourists and locals.

To combat misconceptions, increase public safety, and aid the growth of tourism, El Salvador has a special department of the National Civilian Police. They're called the Politur and they're here to help.

Established about 7 years ago, the Politur are professional police officers specially trained to offer safety for tourists. Currently there are about 500 officers throughout the country, who chiefly patrol areas frequented by visitors. The Politur's jurisdiction includes areas like the national parks, airports, city centers, and major hotels.

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This is What Happened When a Boeing 777 Hit Severe Turbulence

December 16, 2014 at 6:37 PM | by | ()

What crazy force is powerful enough to lift a 200lb galley cart off its wheels and toss it around an airplane cabin? The answer: turbulence.

It can happen to any aircraft, at any location, and today 240 passengers and 15 crew onboard an American Airlines Boeing 777 found this out firsthand.

The flight—AA 280 bound from Seoul's Incheon Airport to Dallas-Ft Worth—didn't complete its 12-hour nonstop route, instead diverting to Tokyo-Narita after severe turbulence injured 14 onboard, with 5 eventually needing further assistance at a hospital. The passengers will spend the night at a hotel before continuing on to Dallas tomorrow. The photos shared from the flight come from a passenger seated in First Class; we can only wonder at the mess Economy endured.

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US Limits Potential Ebola Travel to Just Five Airports

October 23, 2014 at 4:40 PM | by | ()

We've made a sustained effort to calm you down over Ebola. As the Internet will be more than happy to explain, more Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died of Ebola. So as we move forward in this post, let's keep eventhing in perspective.

Have you heard, though, that all of the TSA stations in Cleveland International had to be disinfected inch by inch because an Ebola patient passed through just one of them on the way to Texas? It was simply a precaution of course - the literal actual quote from the agency's spokesman was that "it's nothing official" but rather just "something that our folks wanted to do" - but it happened and it brings up a good point. Ebola is spreading beyond West Africa partly because of air travel, and even the suggestion of Ebola is enough to bring anything its associated with to a grinding halt. So isn't Ebola eventually going to grind air travel to a halt?

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Are You Taking These Smart Precautions Before Your Trips?

October 10, 2014 at 9:00 AM | by | ()

On the heels of this latest Ebola scare and the ongoing violence in the Ukraine, it's about time to review a few travel safety tips. Of course situations easily fluctuate, and it's just common sense to stay aware of the political climate and social challenges of any destination. Here are some basic precautions to take:

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US Airports Begin Extra Health Checks for Ebola

October 8, 2014 at 5:56 PM | by | ()

Whether you realize it or not, international airports are screening for health issues of incoming passengers. Typically it's just trained officials eyeballing the stream of arriving passengers, sometimes with the help of temperature sensors, looking for any telling signs of deteriorating health before an unwell person passes through customs and out into the public.

Owing to the recent threat of Ebola, however, those checks are about to become more obvious, and more specialized, at least temporarily.

According to the NYT, five US airports will begin screening passengers arriving from West Africa with new procedures, including a contactless thermometer to test for fever, and a questionnaire to determine a person's risk.

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

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

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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Travel Photographer Creates Mindblowing Drone Video of China

August 29, 2014 at 1:14 PM | by | ()

We've talked before about how drones are are set to upend the travel world, from travel photography to travel safety. Sometimes the developments are newsy, like when the federal government banned drones inside national parks out of safety and noise concerns. Other times they can get kind of worrying, like when we gave you the heads up that idiots are using hobby drones to buzz commercial aircraft.

But overall, the trend in the travel world is the same as everywhere else: innovation then disruption then regulatory concerns and then innovation. People are finding lots of new ways to do old things. Travel photography is just one of the more obvious examples.

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