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Sorry, underage drinkers: Air travelers will have to leave their fake IDs at home starting early next year, as the TSA plans to introduce 30 document-scanning systems that will make it easier for screeners to spot fraudulent documents.
TSA employees at select U.S. airport checkpoints will use the machines to verify boarding passes and passenger IDs, such as driver’s licenses. TSA Administrator John Pistole said that the move was all about “facilitating risk-based security, while making the process more effective,” according to Bloomberg.
The announcement comes after an incident in June in which a Nigerian man passed through a checkpoint at JFK Airport in New York and took a Virgin America flight to Los Angeles using another passenger’s boarding pass.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s revised regulations aimed at boosting airline passenger protection, announced in April, finally take effect today. Among the new rules, passengers are entitled to a refund of baggage fees if their bags are lost, increased compensation if bumped from oversold flights, and more effective notifications and handling of lengthy tarmac delays.
While airlines are already obligated to reimburse passengers for loss, damaged, or delayed baggage, they must now also prominently disclose all optional fees on their websites. These include fees for baggage, meals, canceling or changing reservations, and upgraded seating.
The Federal Aviation Administration went into a partial shutdown at midnight Saturday after congress failed to resolve a dispute over a $16.5 million cut in subsidies. Although this has brought about some good news for flyers – namely, that the government won’t levy certain airline taxes during the shutdown – it has also put nearly 4,000 FAA employees on furlough and halted a number of construction projects at airports across the country. It’s unclear how long the shutdown will last, so here’s what you need to know if you’re flying or planning to book air travel in the near future.
Safety Operations: This is a partial shutdown, so know that airports are still open, flights will still take off, and essential safety roles, such as air traffic control posts, will remain staffed.
JetBlue’s Over the 405 sale – with tickets from Long Beach to Burbank priced at just $4 and $5 – sold out yesterday within hours of its announcement. But if you missed it, fear not – the airline has concocted another way to flee L.A.’s impending Carmageddon.
Book flights from Long Beach, Burbank, or LAX this weekend to anywhere JetBlue flies, and the airline will slash, appropriately, 40.5 percent off the ticket price (not including taxes).
We think a shut-down expressway is as a valid an excuse as any to embark on a spontaneous trip, but keep in mind that though the discount is generous, the markdown is off of pricier last-minute fares.
Fancy a pre-flight tipple? Throughout the summer, select Delta Sky Clubs are hosting tastings featuring Tequila Avión – a new edition to the airline’s airport lounge menu – in creative cocktails designed by expert mixologists. Sample city-specific libations like the Flying Watermelon (tequila, watermelon juice, lime juice, agave nectar, and basil) or the Tailwind (tequila, lime juice, cucumber, and mint). Watch for the free cocktails at happy hours at select Sky Clubs in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York (at JFK and Laguardia); swing by on Thursdays from 5-7 pm, except at LAX where tastings run from 7-9pm.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights.
Richard Branson’s fashionable Virgin America has long been a Savvy Flyer favorite for its seatback on-demand TVs, comfy leather chairs, and premium drink selections (think Ghiradelli hot chocolate, Blue Moon, and Honest Tea). Our only complaint: The California-based airline should service more airports.
The airline took one step to remedy that today when it launched service from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. For now, the routes head west daily from ORD to San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX), though we have our fingers crossed for East Coast connections in the future.
To celebrate, Virgin is slashing fares from Chicago to five cities, plus offering triple mileage points on Windy City flights. Travel is valid between June 1 and June 30 or August 24 and November 16, and you must book by May 31.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has long been one of our favorites (it made the cut in our Top 10 Airports for Shopping and our Top 10 Airports Worth the Layover lists), and yesterday it opened yet another ingenious amenity: an indoor-outdoor park.
Located after security in Lounge 1, the Airport Park – a lounge area stocked with eateries and seating areas for passengers – convincingly replicates an urban park. Inside, travelers can lounge on park benches and chairs upholstered with ivy, as projections of butterflies and a soundtrack of animals, bicycle bells, and playing children simulate a sunny afternoon outside. Outside, a small, Astroturf-paved terrace lets jet-lagged travelers soak up proper sunshine.
Appropriately, the entire operation has an eco-friendly theme. Travelers may charge cell phones via bikes that generate their own power; the park uses LED lighting as much as possible; and fair trade coffee, fresh juices, and hamburgers on organic buns are for sale at the Park Café.
As Japan continues to struggle with the aftermath of last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami, it is clear travel to and from the country will not return to normal for some time. Most airports – including those in Tokyo – have reopened, and most public transportation in the capital has resumed. However, damaged roadways continue to disrupt overland transport.
UPDATE: The Japan National Tourist Office has posted information about travel to and within the country, as well as created a page with important links for those who are still in Japan. You can also find the most current information on what’s going on in Japan on the website of the Embassy of Japan in the U.S.
Whether killing time or scrambling to find last-minute souvenirs, most of us are at one time or another saved by airport shopping. Yes, every airport comes with the standard magazine stands and tacky gift shops, but our top 10 airports for shopping take their retail seriously. We’re talking endless duty-free arcades, luxury boutiques galore, and, maybe most notably, small local retailers that supply homegrown items unique to the destination itself. And isn’t that what souvenir shopping is all about? These gateway hubs span the globe, from Portland to Dubai, and offer the traveler more than just a distraction before boarding – they provide a viable (not TSA-related) reason to arrive the recommended three hours before (international) departure time. Get a sneak peek at the goods with our Top 10 Airports for Shopping slideshow, then read our Top 10 Airports for Shopping article to plot your next layover.
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Jamaica is set to open its third international airport on January 12. Formerly known as the Boscobel Airstrip, the new Ian Fleming International Airport (OCJ) has been overhauled and expanded to accommodate private international aircraft, as well as small domestic planes. The airport is located just 10 minutes from the famed GoldenEye Hotel & Resort in Oracabessa, and tourism officials hope that the airport with offer jet-setters quick and easy access to resorts on the North Coast. It will become the island’s main port of entry for private jets entering Jamaica and may in the future support domestic shuttle service to other parts of the island.
The airport is named for author Ian Fleming, who penned all 14 James Bond novels in his home at GoldenEye and played host to the international glitterati of the 50s and 60s. The airport’s opening will be officiated by the island’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding and will be attended by current GoldenEye owner and founder of Island Records, Chris Blackwell.
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