If you’ve flown out of Denver International Airport recently, you may have noticed that airport security has gone to the dogs… bomb-sniffing dogs, that is. In an effort to speed up security lines, the Transportation Security Administration is testing out a new program featuring passenger-screening canines (or PSCs) at several major airports throughout the United States.
The new program, which rolled out this summer, allows passengers who have passed canine inspection to move into the TSA’s Pre-Check line, where they can pass through the standard x-ray screening process without having to remove their shoes, electronics and so on. The TSA’s canines are trained to sniff for explosives, not drugs.
According to Carrie Harmon, a TSA regional public affairs manager based in Denver, “The canine can also detect an explosive odor or scent trail, after a person has transited an area, and subsequently follow the scent trail to the explosive source, even if the source is mobile.”Aviation expert Mike Boyd agrees, stating, “The dog takes care of that very, very effectively. The only reason we take off our shoes and do all that over stuff is because the other machinery really doesn’t know how to look at it. So this makes a lot of sense for everybody.”
Although this particular program is new, the TSA’s canine program isn’t. In fact, airport security officials have used canines to detect contraband and suspicious behavior since before the TSA even existed. According to Jeff Price, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver and the author of a textbook on aviation security, “The canine program has been around since the early ’70s. There is a lot of research over the course of the past five decades that the dogs are accurate. They’re the gold standard right now.”
So far, the response to the TSA’s new screening program appears to be quite positive. As one passenger tweeted, “Straight through security in two minutes with shoes on and laptops/liquids in bag. Testing new security procedures at Denver. Nice job.” According to Carrie Harmon, the TSA hopes to expand the program to more airports in the near future.
If you’ve ever wondered why airlines board flights the way they do, you’re not alone. After waiting to board (and disembark from) one too many flights, University of Illinois astrophysicist Jason Steffen decided there must be a more efficient method, and decided to see if he could find it. His recommendation? The best system would be to space the boarding passengers two rows apart, while filling window seats first, then middle and aisle seats.
It doesn’t take an astrophysicist to realize that most boarding methods are inefficient, as most passengers must block the aisle while stowing their baggage in the overhead compartments. Perhaps even more frustrating is the process of exiting the plane – those stuck in the rear of the plane must wait for everyone on the flight to retrieve their carry-on bags from the overhead bins.
Currently, the vast majority of airlines board in groups, with first-class and other elite passengers boarding first. From there, some airlines opt to board from the rear to the front, while others fill the window seats, then the aisle. Other airlines (such as Southwest) allow passengers to sit wherever they please – and pay extra for the opportunity to board first.
Some airlines are testing out new boarding methods. For example, American Airlines is allowing passengers without carry-on luggage to board first. United has cut down their boarding groups from seven to five and have added additional boarding lanes to cut down on traffic jams at the gate. According to United’s CEO, this method has already resulted in a 60% decrease in boarding-related departure delays.
The time delay isn’t just frustrating for passengers, it’s also costly to the airlines themselves. Researchers from Northern Illinois University recently found that every minute added at the gate resulted in a $30 increase in costs. It can also result in flight delays and missed connecting flights. In other words, it’s in an airline’s best interest to test better methods.
Do you have any thoughts on how airlines can improve the boarding process? Share with us in the comments section.
Photo credit: camknows (Flickr, Creative Commons)
Anyone who’s flown at least once can vouch for the fact that airports can be almost expensive as an amusement park. Out of all of the products for sale within airports, beverages may quite possibly be the most inflated in price. In fact, depending on the airport and the kiosk you purchase it from, a regular-sized bottle of water may cost you five dollars or more. With pricey add-ons such as these, it’s getting more and more difficult to stay within budget while traveling.
Why is the price of beverages so inflated in airports? Simple: supply and demand. Unfortunately, because Travel Safety Administration rules prevent passengers from bringing drinks through security, those who wish to carry a bottle of water with them onto their flight must suck it up and pay the price. While filling a water bottle in the bathroom is an option, it’s not easy. Airport sinks can be quite shallow, and the motion-sensor faucet makes it difficult to get a steady stream of water.Thankfully, airports have begun to take note of this issue and many have begun installing water bottle filling stations throughout their terminals. In 2010, Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports and San Francisco International Airport installed refillable water bottle stations throughout their facilities in an effort to not only accommodate customers, but also to cut down on landfill waste.
“Together, the two stations at O’Hare saved 220,717 bottles [within the first year of the program]” Gregg Cunningham of the Chicago Department of Aviation told MSNBC back in 2011.
Although it’s taken a few years for other airports to catch on, the trend has finally caught on. As of June, Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport began installing 52 bottle refill stations throughout the airport. Many of the existing water fountains will be retrofitted with anti-microbial copper faucets. The airport is looking to include touch-free refill stations as well.
Because these water bottle refill stations have been so well-received in existing airports, many others are expected to follow suit. Next time you’re getting ready to enter a TSA security checkpoint, dump your water but retain the bottle. You just may save yourself a few bucks.
- Airport Snacks on a Budget (livingbigonabudget.com)
- Franklin and Marshall adds new water-filling stations (wgal.com)
Travelpro Announces “Win a Trip to Vegas” Sweepstakes in Celebration of Upcoming Comedy, “LAST VEGAS”
(Boca Raton, Fla.)—Travelpro, the original inventor of Rollaboard luggage and a leader in innovative, high-quality luggage design, is proud to announce its “Win A Trip to Vegas” sweepstakes in celebration of the upcoming CBS Films’ motion picture comedy “LAST VEGAS,” in theaters November 1, 2013.
Starring four Hollywood legends like you’ve never seen them before, “LAST VEGAS” tells the story of Billy, Paddy, Archie and Sam (played by Academy-Award winners Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline), best friends since childhood. When Billy, the group’s sworn bachelor, finally proposes to his thirty-something (of course) girlfriend, the four head to Las Vegas with a plan to stop acting their age and relive their glory days. However, upon arriving, the four quickly realize that the decades have transformed Sin City and tested their friendship in ways they never imagined. The Rat Pack may have once played the Sands and Cirque du Soleil may now rule the Strip, but it’s these four who are taking over Vegas.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, While You Were Sleeping) from a screenplay by Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love; Tangled), “LAST VEGAS” co-stars Oscar-winner Mary Steenburgen (The Help), Jerry Ferrara (Think Like A Man), Romany Malco (Weeds) and Roger Bart (Political Animals). To learn more about the film and see the trailer, go to the Last Vegas movie website.
“For twenty five years, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers worldwide,” said Scott Applebee, Travelpro International’s Vice President of Marketing. “We are happy to send a winner to experience the sights and sounds of Vegas and make their own lasting memories like the Hollywood legends in the film.”
The Sweepstakes winner and guest will fly roundtrip and stay at the fabulous ARIA Resort & Casino and see Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil, presented exclusively at ARIA Resort & Casino, and featured in “LAST VEGAS.” Additionally, the winner will receive two pieces of Travelpro luggage. Look for Travelpro luggage in the movie and at retailers nationwide and online.
One trip for two (2) to Las Vegas includes:
- 3 nights in a corner suite at ARIA Resort & Casino
- Roundtrip airfare for 2
- 2 tickets to Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil at ARIA Resort & Casino
- 2 pieces of Travelpro luggage
The sweepstakes runs from October 16 through December 2. To enter, simply register at TravelproLastVegas.com. Visit this same site to view the complete sweepstakes official rules. No purchase is required to enter the sweepstakes.
Travelpro’s “Last Vegas” promotional and product placement deal was developed by LINK Entertainment Marketing, the leader in connecting brands with the emotional engagement delivered through the power and storytelling of entertainment.
For twenty five years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travelers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard wheeled luggage, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers worldwide. Travelpro is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently understanding and exceeding their needs. Travelpro was honored to receive the New Product Innovation Award from the Travel Goods Association (TGA) in March 2013 for the revolutionary Platinum Magna luggage collection.
If you walk down the street in any major city as the workday is ending, you’ll notice one major trend: backpacks and messenger bags have become a popular replacement for the briefcase. What started as a Gen Y trend has been adopted by professionals of all ages. If you’re still holding onto your hard briefcase (literally), here are four reasons why it’s time to let go and pick up a backpack or messenger bag instead.
1. Better for city commuters
Backpacks, messenger bags and business briefs are a better option for those who get to work by train, bus, or on foot. When you don’t have a car to tote things around in, and you need to fit a number of items into your bag, a hard briefcase can’t hold a laptop, lunch, gym clothes, etc. as easily as a backpack or messenger bag can.
2. Less cumbersome
Let’s face it, a boxy briefcase isn’t the easiest thing to carry. They’re clunky, cumbersome and make it that much more difficult to juggle your smartphone, coffee and morning paper. A backpack or messenger bag can free your hands to send out emails, juggle whatever your boss throws at you, or earn brownie points by holding the door open for colleagues.
3. More fashionable
Overall, workplace attire has become more casual in the last decade (good riddance to the power suit!). Unless you’re in a position that requires more formal attire (lawyer, CEO, etc.) you’ve probably noticed that the vast majority of your colleagues have stopped carrying briefcases in favor of backpacks and messenger bags. As more and more Gen Y employees enter the workforce, this trend will continue to grow.
4. More comfortable
Many people find backpacks to be a more comfortable alternative to briefcases and laptop bags due to the fact that weight is spread over the entire back as opposed to one side of the body. For those who frequently suffer from shoulder pain or experience hand discomfort when carrying a briefcase, a backpack may be a better option.
Many professionals are hesitant to switch over from a briefcase or laptop bag because they fear they’ll look too unprofessional or juvenile carrying one. The truth is, professionals of all levels can pull off a backpack or messenger bag – it’s all about selecting the right style and design.
While younger professionals or those who work in an extremely casual environment can pull off most styles, many professionals should opt for a more structured, well-made design, such as TravelPro’s Business Backpack or Messenger Brief.
For short trips, many people are now opting to pack all of their essentials in a carry-on bag instead of checking their luggage. Not only does this help save money (up to $50 or more per person, depending on the airline) it can also save time and the nightmare of having your luggage go missing.
If you’re headed on a quick weekend trip, you may find yourself struggling to decide on the most versatile clothing item in your wardrobe. If you have to select one pair of pants to bring along, which is better, slacks/trousers or jeans? Whether you’re a man or a woman, it all boils down to the type of trip you’re about to embark on.
When to pack slacks
If you’re packing for a special event (such as romantic weekend getaway or an out-of-town wedding) or for a business function (such as an industry conference or meeting), slacks/trousers are your best bet. When selecting which pair to bring, go with a neutral and more versatile color such as khaki or beige, which can be dressed up with a button-down shirt or blouse, and can just as easily transition to a more casual look when paired with a t-shirt or tank top.
When to pack jeans
On the flip side, if you’re heading out of town for a quick beach vacation, hiking trip, or weekend trip to the country, you’ll want to ditch the slacks and pack jeans instead. While you may be tempted to bring your most comfortable pair, choose carefully! Instead of packing your most casual pair of jeans, opt for a nicely-cut dark wash jean that can be dressed up should the need arise.
Pack this, not that
If you aren’t quite sure what your trip will entail, the TravelPro team recommends that you leave your jeans at home and play it safe by packing slacks, which are lightweight and much more versatile, no matter what situation you find yourself in.
- What am I Going to Wear to Work Tomorrow? Jeans that Work in the Workplace (bridgetteraes.com)
Whether you’re looking to cut down on baggage fees, or are about to go backpacking abroad, or simply want to lighten your load while traveling, one thing’s for certain: when it comes to packing light, every ounce and inch matters.
Outside of the essentials, books are one of the more popular items that people pack. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, visiting seaside or cityscape, a good book comes in handy — especially when waiting in an airport or sitting on a flight. It’s no wonder that airports around the world feature bookstore after bookstore.
Unfortunately, reading material can also weigh you down. A lot. The obvious alternative is to bring along a tablet, but is that really a better solution? Some of our frequent travelers at Travelpro decided to weigh the pros and cons and decide which is the better choice to pack, a book or a tablet?
Packing a book
A good, old-fashioned book has one major thing going for it: it’s not electronic. You don’t need to worry about battery life, finding an outlet or connecting to wifi. And you definitely don’t have to worry about in-flight electronics restrictions. Also, books are relatively inexpensive to replace. If you leave your book on the plane or at the beach, no big deal – you can buy a new one. Oh, and call us old-fashioned, but flipping through a real book is so much more satisfying than swiping across a screen.
On the downside? Books are bulky, and can also be quite heavy. If you’re a voracious reader embarking on a long trip, you can expect to add a few good pounds to your baggage in reading material alone. Also, once you’ve packed a book and boarded the plane, there’s no turning back. If your choice of reading material is not what you expected, you’re either stuck buying more books (i.e. adding more weight to your bag) or sticking with a bad read.
Packing a tablet
At face value, a tablet or e-reader seems to be the most logical option for travelers looking to lighten their load. After all, you can have an entire library at your fingertips on one lightweight device. In addition to books, with some tablets you can also watch movies, listen to music, surf the internet and get some work done.
On the downside, a tablet requires battery life, an electrical outlet to charge on, and depending on what you’re attempting to do, wifi connection. If you’re traveling off-the-grid, you may be out of luck. You’re also out of luck during takeoff and landing while in-flight. (The in-flight magazines are there for a reason, though.) A tablet can also be a poor option for those that aren’t tech savvy. Oh, and if you’re forgetful, forget about it – lose a tablet, and you’re out a good chunk of change.
While it ultimately depends on your destination (i.e. ability to access power and wifi), the Travelpro team suggests you bring a tablet and send the paperbacks and hardcover books packing (figuratively, of course). Since we’re all about packing light, you can keep your load light and still carry 20, 30, and even 50 books at a time in a single tablet.
- Kindle vs. Paperback (negaublog.wordpress.com)
- How to Turn Your Nook Color into an Android Tablet (rasmussen.edu)
- Hands On the New Kindle Fire (epicagear.com)
- My Travel Day Essentials (diditravels.wordpress.com)
- Justifying Kindle (writingthursday.wordpress.com)
- Kindle Fire HD vs. iPad (reviews.cnet.com)
Let’s face it, there are inevitable things in life: death, taxes, and getting scolded by a flight attendant for not shutting off and stowing away an electronic device during flight takeoff and landing. If you’re a frequent flier, you’ve likely overheard a fellow passenger being admonished for breaking the rules (and if you’re a tech rebel, you may have even been scolded yourself!) Fortunately for tech addicts, the Federal Aviation Administration is now reconsidering its rules.According to recent reports, an FAA advisory group is asking that the ban on in-flight personal devices be relaxed. In a recent statement made to the Washington Post, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said. . .
The FAA recognizes consumers are intensely interested in the use of personal electronics aboard aircraft. That is why we tasked a government-industry group to examine the safety issues and the feasibility of changing the current restrictions. At the group’s request, the FAA has granted a two-month extension to complete the additional work necessary for the safety assessment. We will wait for the group to finish its work before we determine next steps.
So why are passengers required to turn off their electronic devices in the first place? In short, some electronic devices are believed to emit certain amounts of RFI (Radio Frequency Interference), but many experts claim that this appears to be an outdated rule. According to a TechCrunch blog post, the rule was implemented in the sixties, when electronics more easily interfered with the electronic equipment in the plane’s cockpit, posing a clear threat to the safety of everyone on board.
If you’re worried about the implications of allowing electronic devices to be used during takeoff and landing, consider this: a recent survey conducted by the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), roughly one-third of airline passengers admitted to keeping their electronic devices on.
If you’re excited at the prospect of using your cell phone undisturbed during your next trip, cool your jets. The new rules (which have been proposed to allow usage of devices such as e-readers) will likely still prohibit cell phone usage. The FAA advisory group is waiting until September to deliver their official recommendations.
- FAA may relax rules for gadget use on planes (venturebeat.com)
- Does it have an “Off” switch? (paxview.wordpress.com)
- Do You Really Need To Turn Your Cell Phone Off During Flights? (amresolution.com)
- Tests Show That Your Amazon Kindle Isn’t Going to Bring Down an Airplane (theatlanticwire.com)
Imagine this: it’s a beautiful day in New York City. You have the entire day off, haven’t made any plans and are itching to get out. With a desire to break the routine and do something a little different, you hop on a train headed for Los Angeles and within an hour, you’re walking down Venice Beach. If you think this sounds like a scene out of a vintage sci-fi novel, think again. High-speed train travel is a real possibility, and it may come sooner than you think.
Recently, Japan unveiled plans for a magnetic levitation, or “maglev” train. The maglev train (which will travel between Tokyo and Osaka) is expected to travel 100 MPH faster than current bullet trains, will cost $64 billion, and is expected to take over thirty years to complete.Thankfully, if you want to take a maglev train for a spin, you don’t have to wait that long – visitors to China can take a ride on the Shanghai Maglev Train (SMT), which runs at a top operational speed of 268 mph.
Wondering when you can expect to see high-speed train travel hit the United States? This summer, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to provide $68 billion in funding towards a high-speed train that will travel between Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
While this plan will help revolutionize train travel in the United States, Elon Musk (founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors) recently revealed his idea for a new mode of transportation called the Hyperloop, which will run off of solar energy, go twice as fast as an airplane, and travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles in about thirty minutes.
While such ideas have been floating around for decades, they’ve been slow to implement. According to physicist R.M. Salter (who proposed a detailed underground tube system in 1972), “History has shown that some obvious projects, such as tunneling under the English Channel proposed in the time of Napoleon, can be delayed for centuries because of political pressures” – and, of course, money.
Now that similar projects have already been put into motion, we hopefully won’t have to wait a few hundred years for such innovation to take place within the US.
Would you ride a maglev train if it was available to you? Leave a note in the comments section and tell us what you think about the future of train travel.
- Hyperloop vs. world’s fastest trains (cnn.com)
- Hyperloop: San Francisco to L.A. in 30 minutes (cltv.com)
- Can Elon Musk’s Superfast ‘Hyperloop’ Transit System Really Be Built? (livescience.com)
- World’s Fastest Train to Resume Trials as Japan Plans New Line – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)