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How Bad is Security? Depends — For Some, Not Bad at All

December 31, 2009 | Posted in: Security,Travel Safety | 14 comments

security terror

My editor says a family member flew cross country on connecting flights and had little trouble. Here’s her story:

I can’t speak for everyone of course, but I can tell you about a relative’s flight from Los Angeles to Hartford (with a stopover in Dallas) — and what I can tell you is, it wasn’t too bad. In fact, it was pretty routine.

The flights took place on Monday, Dec. 28: My relative did get to the airport two hours ahead of time, instead of the usual one hour — with the result that he had an extra hour to hang around LAX.

The security lines seemed to go forward normally; the only thing different (compared to his flight to Los Angeles on Dec. 24) was that his small “personal” bag had to be checked — the one carryon rule was strictly enforced.

He was not given any extra screening, and saw no one else being patted-down or otherwise pulled from the line. The LA flight departed on time, and the Dallas flight was briefly delayed due to weather.

We still recommend you get to the airport much earlier than usual since security can be unpredictable these days — and, according to some reports, time-consuming and inconvenient — but, as this story shows, that’s not always the case.

Chris Elliott, Busy with TSA Madness, Honors RickSeaney.com

December 31, 2009 | Posted in: DOT,List,News | 0 comments

chris elliott tsa madness honors rickseaney.com

UPDATE: The TSA has dropped its subpoenas for Chris Elliott and Steve Frischling.

Christopher Elliott, one of the best travel bloggers out there — is currently embroiled in “issue” with the TSA (he posted a new security directive and has since been subpoenaed).

One wonders why the agency is spending such energy on this particular matter, when there are perhaps more pressing concerns out there, but I digress…

Anyway, Chris recently put up a post about the Ten Travel Blogs You Should Bookmark in 2010, and I am proud to say Rick Seaney is among them:

“Rick’s the go-to guy for airfare information. He also writes about important airline news that affects consumers, which is probably why I find myself reading it so often.” Christopher Elliott, Dec. 30, 2009

Thanks for reading, Chris. And do let me know when you set up your legal defense fund.

Seven Top Weird Air Travel Stories of 2009 — with Updates

December 31, 2009 | Posted in: Favorites,List | 0 comments

seven top weird air travel stories 2009 updates

These aren’t exactly the “top” air travel stories of the year — this list does not include actions by the Dept. of Transportation or the foiled would-be terrorist — but they are weird, and some made us laugh.

1. United Breaks Guitars — You don’t mess with mild-mannered singer/songwriter Dave Carroll and get away with it. After United Airlines’ baggage folks broke his guitar, Carroll got no help from the airline. Then he wrote a song/created a video about the incident which became a huge hit, and suddenly, United was Dave’s BFF.

UPDATE: The singer is doing well and about to release the third song in his “United Breaks Guitars” trilogy — and if you missed someone on your Christmas list, Dave now sells “United Breaks Guitars T-Shirts”, attractively priced at $19.95.

2. Chihuahua Airlift — Actress Katherine Heigl helped pay for a glut of Chihuahuas to be flown from crowded LA pounds to new homes in New Hampshire (don’t worry, the little yappers were outfitted with coats).

UPDATE: More of the little dogs have since been flown to new homes, plus, a Katrina-survivor Chihuahua is now starring in a new 2010 calendar that will donate money to Chihuahua rescues.

Keep reading for updates on the liquid soap-swilling passenger, the drunken pilot and more…

Seven Top Weird Air Travel Stories of 2009 — with Updates

Week of Winter Airfare Sales

December 30, 2009 | Posted in: Airfare News | 0 comments

winter airfare sales
It’s been a good week for winter airfare sales.

Southwest Airlines kicked off deals as low as $59+ one-way, and several carriers quickly matched. Midwest Airlines is offering great deals for Milwaukee travelers, and United Airlines has been busy, launching an international sale and a substantial winter domestic airfare sale that also brought on the matching. I broke down the United sale in my United Domestic Winter Sale City Rundown. Take a look to get an idea of which cities are seeing the biggest price drops.

The post-Christmas week has offered some gifts for air travelers. Visit our Deals Blog for a look at all the recent winter airfare sales.

TSA Extends Security Directive, Subpoenas Writers

December 30, 2009 | Posted in: Security | 0 comments

The TSA’s latest directive (SD-1544-09-06) that called for heightened security measures after the Northwest Airlines incident on Christmas Day has been extended. The directive was set to expire yesterday (Tuesday), but now it will continue through tonight:

“A new directive will be issued by Wednesday night, the TSA said. One TSA official told CNN that any changes are likely to be minor, but that discussions are ongoing.” (from CNN)

The directive has caused more than a little bit of a stir among travel writers. If you haven’t heard, Chris Elliott (@elliottdotorg on Twitter) and Steven Frischling (@flyingwithfish on Twitter) received and posted the directive. Since posting, they have both been visited by TSA agents and subpoenaed as the TSA tries to discover who within their organization leaked the directive to the two writers. According to Chris’ latest update, “They have taken @flyingwithfish computer.”

I wonder if “minor” changes to a convoluted directive will accomplish anything. I also wonder why more effort seems to have been put into getting information from two travel writers than it was into keeping a dangerous man off of a plane.

South America 2010 Price Chart

December 30, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Travel Tips | 2 comments

Earlier in the week, I highlighted my Europe 2010 Price Chart in the hope that it would give travelers a better chance of finding the best times to fly to Europe in the upcoming year. I also wanted to do the same for those of you thinking about taking a trip to South America.

The South America 2010 Price Chart (click link for full-size chart) shows the average cheapest total roundtrip price on non-stop flights from the U.S. to South America. It’s broken down by airline and by week (from Feb. 22 – Aug. 16). It’s pricey out there, but this should give you a better idea of the cheapest times to fly to South America.

South America 2010 Price Chart

AirTran Moves In on Milwaukee

December 29, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News | 0 comments

AirTran Milwaukee Hub
AirTran has been growing its operations in Milwaukee for some time, but things look like they might start to get a little more heated:

“AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc., announced that the airline will open both a pilot and flight attendant base in Milwaukee to support its increased operations. The flight bases will open in April 2010 and will consist initially of 50 pilots to support Boeing 737 flying and a minimum of 50 flight attendants to support both Boeing 717 and Boeing 737 operations.” (from PR Newswire)

AirTran’s focus on Milwaukee brings them into direct competition with a number of carriers. Southwest Airlines moved into the Milwaukee market, and Milwaukee still serves as a hub for Midwest Airlines. As we’ve said before, competition is generally a good thing for travelers. As AirTran continues to solidify its place in Milwaukee, consumers could see some solid airfare deals.

Traveling between Canada and U.S.? Expect Delays

December 29, 2009 | Posted in: Security | 2 comments

Airport security measures
Yesterday, we did a post about WestJet’s new “no carry-on” policy. I wanted to update that to include a look at the new “temporary” security measures for all Canadian flights into the U.S. In case you missed the initial release, here it is:

“U.S.A. bound passengers are permitted zero carry-on bags effective immediately and lasting for several days. Passengers traveling within Canada are still permitted two carry-on bags (although to make the screening process most efficient, no carry-on is preferred). These rules will be strictly enforced during this period. There will be no flexibility.” (from CATSA)

Traveling between Canada and U.S.? Expect Delays

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