Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa
Federal health officials in the United States advised Americans to avoid nonessential travel to the West African countries Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia because of the Ebola virus outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a “Level 3” warning, its most serious type of travel notice, indicating “high risk” to visitors in the affected countries. This kind of advisory is uncommon and reserved for grave situations: It has been used in the past for the outbreak of the highly contagious respiratory disease SARS, and for the earthquake in Haiti.
US airline passengers pay more for security fees as of July 21, 2014
Fliers formerly paid $2.50 for each leg of a connecting flight, capped at $5 per one-way trip. Effective July 21, the fee is a flat $5.60 per one-way trip. The $5 cap on one-way travel disappeared. Congress approved the higher fees as part of the bipartisan budget act approved in December. The money will go to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury to be used to offset TSA costs for providing aviation security and to reduce the federal deficit. The security fee has been built into airfares since the TSA was created after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Statement by Homeland Security Secretary Johnson (July 2, 2014)
"DHS continually assesses the global threat environment and reevaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security. As part of this ongoing process, I have directed TSA to implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States. We will work to ensure these necessary steps pose as few disruptions to travelers as possible. We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry. These communications are an important part of our commitment to providing our security partners with situational awareness about the current environment and protecting the traveling public. Aviation security includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by an evolving environment. As always, we will continue to adjust security measures to promote aviation security without unnecessary disruptions to the traveling public."
The locations most likely affected by this alert in Europe are:
The locations most likely affected in Africa by this alert are:
Tom Ollinger, EWA President, recently returned from an industry inspection tour of the Maldives and Sri Lanka. His photo galleries (including an industry trip to Munich) are at- https://www.flickr.com/photos/theollingers/sets/72157645362328716/
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Airport security lanes
Fliers gripe that getting through airport security lines can be too slow. Now, it may be fliers who are slow to sign up for a program to speed them through the lines. The Transportation Security Administration is aggressively trying to encourage more people to sign up for TSA Precheck. But the effort has run into traveler confusion and aggravation.
Trying to hook new enrollees, TSA has been funneling regular travelers into Precheck lanes for a sample of swifter security. Some of the newbies get confused, however, and end up clogging the expedited lanes, angering Precheck veterans. And some regular travelers are getting the free perk so often they conclude they are already in the program and don't need to enroll.
Precheck, launched in 2011, is much-loved among travelers because they don't have to take off their shoes and light jackets, don't have to pull liquids and laptops out of baggage, and can walk through metal detectors rather than standing spread-eagle for full-body scanners. By doing background checks on Precheck enrollees and constantly scanning law-enforcement databases, TSA offers what is essentially pre-9/11 screening to "trusted travelers."
The program started by invitation only. Participating airlines could identify fliers with long-term travel records and top-tier status who met TSA criteria. The program expanded to include people enrolled in Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program for trusted travelers. Global Entry requires a background check, fingerprinting and interview with a Customs officer.
TSA wants lots more people enrolled in Precheck to make better use of its designated security lanes, which currently number 590 at 118 U.S. airports. Since December, TSA has encouraged travelers to apply to the program directly. The agency is opening enrollment centers across the country, letting people who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents to make an appointment or drop in and have fingerprints taken digitally. The $85 background-check fee buys five years of enrollment.
"It's one of the last great bargains the U.S. government is offering," TSA Administrator John Pistole joked at an enrollment-center opening last week at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. TSA said more than 1.2 million people as of December were able to use Precheck, mostly because they had enrolled in Global Entry. Since TSA began taking applications directly, some 170,000 additional people have signed up for Precheck. The program appears on track, but if more travelers don't sign up TSA will have to scale back the number of Precheck lanes at airports, Mr. Pistole said. TSA hasn't set an optimum number of enrollees for the program, he said.
Global Entry, which costs $100 for five years, is an even better deal for people also planning travel outside the U.S. because they also get included in Precheck. But the application and interview process is more extensive for Global Entry. Mr. Pistole says TSA wanted the Precheck enrollment to be quicker, easier and open to citizens who don't have passports.
To entice travelers into Precheck and test TSA's ability to handle more people, the agency has been selecting regular passengers to go through Precheck security lanes and get it printed on their boarding passes. Selection is based on criteria like passengers' travel history and the route being flown. TSA officers trained in behavior detection also can move passengers they deem low risk from regular queues into Precheck lanes.
United is preparing to operate two of the world’s longest 787 flights. United’s Los Angeles-Melbourne flight, scheduled to begin service Oct. 26, would travel 7,927 miles, currently the longest plan route to be operated by the 787 family. The flight would operate six days a week. United’s San Francisco-Chengdu flight, scheduled to begin service June 9, would not only be the first non-stop flight ever from the U.S. to Chengdu, but also would be the longest 787 flight to operate non-stop in both directions, at least until the Melbourne flight begins. The route is 6,857 miles. The flight would operate three times a week, pending government approval. Currently, the two longest 787 flights are operated by Ethiopian Airlines, but both stop in Rome on westbound routes from Addis Ababa to Washington, DC (IAD) and Toronto. Addis-Washington is 7,182 miles, while Addis-Toronto is 7,143 miles. The third longest 787 flight, operated by AeroMexico, operates Mexico City-Tokyo but makes a westbound stop in Tijuana. All three flights operate non-stop when eastbound.
Boeing has taken orders for 1,031 Dreamliners and has delivered 133 aircraft to 17 customers, led by ANA with 27 and Japan Air Lines with 15. United, which seats 219 passenger on its 787s, has taken delivery of 10 aircraft. By contrast, low-fare carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle has 291 seats on its 787s. Boeing rolled the first 787-9 out of the paint hangar, painted in a black color scheme for launch customer Air New Zealand. The fuselage of the 787-9 is stretched by 20 feet and would accommodate up to 40 additional passengers and fly an additional 300 nautical miles. Included in the 787 orders are 405 orders for 787-9s.
The airline mileage game Southwest, Delta and JetBlue have changed to revenue-based frequent-flier rewards thus tempting business travelers to wait and make last minute bookings in order to book higher fares and thus receive a much higher level of mileage points. Other domestic airlines are expected to follow. Under new airline policies that reward travelers based on fares, not distance, fliers have incentive to book expensive tickets close to the departure date rather than plan ahead with cheaper advance-purchase itineraries.
The Business Travel Coalition, a lobbying group of travel managers and travel agencies, polled 66 industry executives this week and found 84% believe the new way of calculating frequent-flier rewards will lead to higher travel prices. According to the Wall Street Journal, some corporate travel managers suspect travelers are starting to delay bookings or make superfluous trips because airlines have made it tempting to do so.
EWA recommends that travelers book as early as possible unless there is a strong likelihood of schedule changes including cancellations.
The Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 will prevent airlines from incorporating government taxes in advertised prices. It will reverse the Department of Transportation’s 2012 Full Fare Advertising Rule that required federal taxes and fees to be included in the base price of any advertised fare.
The 2012 law gave airlines the power to include taxes and fees in a ticket’s advertised price, reducing transparency for customers in the estimation of the bill’s sponsors.
“Americans are paying higher and higher government imposed taxes and fees to travel by air,” said Chairman Bill Shuster of the House Transportation and Infrastructure, who said that this fact “is being hidden from them.”
Typically, around 20% of a ticket’s price is comprised of federal taxes, which, by being included in the overall cost, are somewhat inherently hidden from passengers. Shuster said that the new legislation “will allow consumers to see the full breakdown of their ticket costs, so they know how much they’re paying for the service, and how much they’re paying in government imposed taxes and fees.”