The TSA will award a total of $15,000 to folks who can come up with ideas on how to handle lines. The agency promises at least one recipient will receive $5,000; others can receive $2,500 up a total of $15,000
I have to tell you, I’m not impressed with the award amount, but be that as it may, we already have lines at larger airports for first-class flyers, elite-level flyers, TSAPre-registered flyers. Lines for active military personnel, airline crews, and passengers in wheelchairs.
I think the TSA should start by letting its employees use more common sense on the job, generally speaking, but perhaps you have a specific, creative idea on how to move those security lines more quickly. Those small holders that look like water bowls for dogs, for example, were a good idea; previously, we had to dump coins and keys into those big bins and then spend time clumsily retrieving those items.
If you have an idea, here’s where you can submit it.
I needn’t have worried.
I especially thought about this four years ago when I began my weekend radio show. Would I be able to come up with enough travel news, deals, and interesting guests to build a robust show every week? Or to write these “Travel Minutes” five days a week?
But travel is a fast-evolving world, some of it even good for travelers. And it’s often little things . . . Southwest Airlines decides to replace its leather-covered seats with slimmer seats to fit more passengers on planes and the company donates the leather to an African social enterprise group called Alive & Kicking that turns that leather into soccer balls. (The nonprofit organization has a great slogan: “The balls make a difference.”)
Delta unveils a new entertainment system that allows you to stream TV shows, movies, and games via your personal digital device. Carnival Cruises forbids smoking even on cabin balconies beginning October first. Uncle Sam urges travelers to avoid three Western Africa countries due to the spread of the Ebola virus.
Travel—a story that never ends.
I love stories of folks who walk away from their day-to-day lives to travel the world or live in a new places for months or years. Louise Lague and Tom Lichty did it after age 60. Mike and Anne Howard decided a ten-day honeymoon was too short, so they hit the road for nearly two years. And we can all learn from them.
Lague and Lichty have written a very helpful book that you should read if you’re thinking of taking a year of so off. It’s called The Expert Almanac, and you can pick it up quite cheaply here on Amazon. It’s a step-by-step diary by the husband-and-wife team on how they rented homes in Spain, Mexico, and Crete for a year.
Their chapter 28 on how to find an apartment abroad and what kind of USB charger you ought to buy is worth the price of the book alone.
Mike and Anne Howard have a robust blog describing their travels through 33 countries. And for a modest fee, they’ll consult with you on how to save on airfare—never buy an around-the-world ticket, for example. Start by visiting their website, here.
Last month, I was in LA when a lightning strike killed a young man on Venice Beach. That tragedy was another example of, “You just never know,” and you can’t choose when you die. And it made me think of those three airplane accidents last month.
There’s always a percentage of fliers who board a plane nervously–a quarter to a third of passengers on any given plane are a bit afraid of flying. They wonder if maybe Lord Kelvin, president of the Royal Society of London, that gathering of the world’s preeminent scientists, wasn’t right when he wrote in 1876, “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”
We not only know Lord Kelvin was flat wrong, but did you know that more people died in the US from falling out of bed last year—400—than died worldwide in air crashes. That more people—300—drown in a bathtub every year. And that’s 300 more people than have died as airline passengers in the last four-and-a-half years flying aboard US carriers.
Airline safety has come a long way since 1985 when aviation accidents killed almost 2,500 people. Fly without worry. But drive very carefully—that’s what kills 30,000 Americans a year.
Ever wonder where that plane that flies over your house at three o’clock every day is coming from or going to? Yeah, there’s an app for that.
Lee Armstrong is a British computer programmer who wondered the same thing, so he started sprinkling devices on high places around the world that read the signals aircraft automatically send out regularly identifying who they are, where they’re flying to and from, how high they are, and other details.
The result is an app and web site called Planefinder. Click on it, and you’ll see in real time every plane in the sky except in some places where Lee doesn’t have receivers, such as rural parts of Africa or China.
While writing this commentary, I clicked on a plane flying from Australia and found it is Hawaiian Airlines Flight number 452 en route from Sydney to Honolulu. It’s cruising along at 531 miles per hour at 41,000 feet. It’s a two-engine, Airbus 330-200.
After the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the airline didn’t stop using the flight number, so for days, folks sent emails to Armstrong saying, “Hey, I found that plane.”
Sadly, of course, they hadn’t, and Malaysia Airlines soon retired the flight number.