Tag Archives | Air Travel

How To Israel-ify America’s Airport Security

c1a61f52fdee1e3e142f9c0130e7_grandeSecurity screening at North American airports is inconvenient and invasive, yet at times seems as if it’s all for show. How could it be done better? In Israel, they examine behavior rather than shoes or crotches. The Toronto Star enlightens us:

While North America’s airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel’s, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience. Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel’s largest hub, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002. How do they manage that?

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

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TSA to Punish Passengers who Opt-Out of Virtual Strip Search with Non-Virtual Groping

TSAJeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic has published a piece on his experience opting-out of the back-scatter body scanners at Baltimore-Washington International:

At BWI, I told the officer who directed me to the back-scatter that I preferred a pat-down. I did this in order to see how effective the manual search would be. When I made this request, a number of TSA officers, to my surprise, began laughing. I asked why. One of them — the one who would eventually conduct my pat-down — said that the rules were changing shortly, and that I would soon understand why the back-scatter was preferable to the manual search. I asked him if the new guidelines included a cavity search. “No way. You think Congress would allow that?”

I answered, “If you’re a terrorist, you’re going to hide your weapons in your anus or your vagina.” He blushed when I said “vagina.”

“Yes, but starting tomorrow, we’re going to start searching your crotchal area” — this is the word he used, “crotchal” — and you’re not going to like it.”

“What am I not going to like?” I asked.

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How The JetBlue Flight Attendant Became An Internet Hero

Why we love the Internet! Story everywhere, but this is from the New York Post:
Move over Chesley Sullenberger, make room for Steven Slater. The JetBlue flight attendant who went berserk has become an overnight Internet hero to workers everywhere after arguing with a passenger, then escaping down the plane's inflatable emergency chute at JFK Airport clutching a beer. A day after the attendant-turned-wing-nut had a meltdown on a flight from Pittsburgh, eight Facebook fan pages have been created overnight in Slater's name...
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Feds Admit Storing Checkpoint Body Scan Images

TSA's X-ray backscatter scanning with "Privacy Filter" (Credit: TSA.gov)

TSA's X-ray backscatter scanning with "privacy filter"

Declan McCullagh reports on cnet News’ Privacy Inc:

For the last few years, federal agencies have defended body scanning by insisting that all images will be discarded as soon as they’re viewed. The Transportation Security Administration claimed last summer, for instance, that “scanned images cannot be stored or recorded.”

Now it turns out that some police agencies are storing the controversial images after all. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.

This follows an earlier disclosure (PDF) by the TSA that it requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for “testing, training, and evaluation purposes.” The agency says, however, that those capabilities are not normally activated when the devices are installed at airports.

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FAA Under Pressure to Open U.S. Skies to Unmanned Spyplanes

Drones Over America

Photo: Ross D. Franklin

Joan Lowy writes on the AP via Yahoo News:

Unmanned aircraft have proved their usefulness and reliability in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the pressure’s on to allow them in the skies over the United States.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been asked to issue flying rights for a range of pilotless planes to carry out civilian and law-enforcement functions but has been hesitant to act.

Officials are worried that they might plow into airliners, cargo planes and corporate jets that zoom around at high altitudes, or helicopters and hot air balloons that fly as low as a few hundred feet off the ground.

On top of that, these pilotless aircraft come in a variety of sizes. Some are as big as a small airliner, others the size of a backpack. The tiniest are small enough to fly through a house window.

The obvious risks have not deterred the civilian demand for pilotless planes.

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A 26-Foot-Tall Anubis Statue Installed at Denver International Airport

anubisVia Red Ice Creations:
Ever since it was first installed at Denver International Airport, the 32-foot-tall blue "Mustang" has been the talk of the town, but a new addition is sure to get plenty of attention. A crew is installing a seven-ton, 26-foot-tall concrete sculpture of an Egyptian god at the airport. Anubis, a statue with a jackal-head, will be built south of the Jeppesen Terminal. Although part of the lore of the 9,000-pound "Mustang" is that its creator, Luis Jiménez, was tragically killed while making the piece, Anubis may be even more notorious. He's the Egyptian god of death and the afterlife. It's being put in to preview the Denver Art Museum's King Tut exhibit. The exhibit runs June 29 through Jan. 9, 2011, and Anubis will be standing guard during that time...
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Ash Cloud Disrupts Travel for 2nd Day

Just when you thought air traffic was back to normal …  I’m headed for Europe this week, and I hope Vulcan will hold his wrath long enough for me to get across. CBC News Reports:

from C.G. Newhall at Wikimedia Commons

Air traffic to and from European destinations was disrupted by a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland for a second consecutive day Sunday.

The cloud is lingering over northwestern Scotland and a finger stretches into the airspace over northwestern Spain and Portugal.

An isolated cloud is affecting southern France and northern Switzerland, while another hangs over southern Switzerland, northern Italy, southern Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria.

Roughly 1,000 fewer flights took place in European airspace on Sunday, a drop of four per cent from the usual number for this time of year.

Hundreds of flights were canceled Saturday as plumes of ash again blew toward western Europe.

Spain closed 19 airports, while dozens of flights were also canceled in Portugal.

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Volcano Air Traffic Ban In Europe May Cause Higher Temperatures

Approximate drawing of estimated ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption as of 17 April 2010 at 18:00 UTC. Source: UK Met Office (CC)

Approximate drawing of estimated ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption as of 17 April 2010 at 18:00 UTC. Source: UK Met Office (CC)

Yes, you read that correctly. The volcanic ash cloud over Europe might be expected to block sunlight and lower continental temperatures in a sort of nuclear winter scenario à la The Road, but according to this report in the Daily Mail the opposite may be true:

Temperatures in Europe could rise as a result of planes being grounded across the continent, according to research.

A study conducted after commercial flights were grounded for three days following the September 11 terror attacks found the average daily temperature range in the U.S. rose markedly – exceeding the three-day periods before and after by 1.8c.

Scientists claimed this showed that clouds formed by the water vapour in the exhaust from jet planes have a small but significant effect on daily temperatures.

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