Tag: travel

The USA Today reports that the TSA plans to install 150 security machines at airport checkpoints that enable screeners to see under passengers’ clothes.

The installation will vastly expand the use of the controversial body scanners, which can reveal hidden bombs and knives. But the devices have been labeled as intrusive by some lawmakers. The House of Representatives in June overwhelmingly passed a measure that would restrict their use by the TSA to passengers flagged by other types of screening, such as metal detectors. The measure is pending in the Senate.

The $100,000 scanners shoot low-intensity X-rays that penetrate clothing, bounce off a person’s skin and create images that show solid objects as dark areas. The TSA machines have privacy additions to create images that look like etchings. Screeners view them on a monitor in a locked room near a checkpoint and delete them immediately after viewing.

Although the machines use X-rays, a 2003 report by the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements, which Congress created to develop radiation guidelines, said people can safely be scanned by the machines up to 2,500 times a year.

The TSA has been testing scanners since early 2007, mostly on passengers who set off a metal-detector alarm and are taken aside for additional screening. The new scanners will be installed beginning early next year and will be used in place of metal detectors at checkpoints.

Passengers may choose to avoid the scanners and be screened by a metal detector, but those who do will be pulled aside for a pat-down.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Delta Air Lines has completed the integration of its frequent flier program with that of its subsidiary, Northwest Airlines.  The combined program has more than 70 million members.  The Chicago Tribune also reports that that about half of the old Northwest Airlines planes that will get Delta’s colors have been repainted, and the rest will be finished by mid-2010.
  • Fortune Magazine offers a good read about “Making business travel fun and easy.”
  • Late-night host Conan O’Brien was banned from Newark Airport after the comic took a swipe at the Garden State’s largest city.  “The mayor of Newark, N.J., wants to set up a citywide program to improve residents’ health. The health care program would consist of a bus ticket out of Newark,” O’Brien cracked last week.  Only Newark Mayor Cory Booker wasn’t laughing.  In a YouTube video, Booker blasts “The Tonight Show” host and informs O’Brien that he isn’t welcome at the city’s bustling airport.  “Try JFK, buddy,” Booker said.  Booker must have seen a swell in traffic to his website because, more recently, he’s released another YouTube video where he “extends” O’Brien’s ban to all of New Jersey.  (I wonder if we’ll see a third video where the good mayor extends the ban to the entire tri-state region?)

Airlines Planning New Holiday Travel Surcharge

Justin Bachman from BusinessWeek.com’s Traveler’s Check blog, reports that, “a new $10 surcharge for three popular travel dates this winter could make visiting family more expensive. American Airlines imposed a $10 charge on domestic flights for Nov. 29 (the Sunday after Thanksgiving) and on Jan. 2-3, the weekend that many people will be returning home from Christmas and/or New Year’s holiday celebrations. United matched the new charge late Thursday, and on Friday Delta and US Airways said they would follow.

…The fee – while potentially annoying to millions of travelers – demonstrates that airlines see much firmer demand this winter as more people plan to travel this year. In 2008, amid government bailouts of the financial system and enormous losses for stocks, airlines were devastated by weak demand and fearful consumers.”

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

* The Baltimore Sun notes that “if college students with an itch to travel apply their smarts, they can save hundreds of dollars on airfare, whether they are going home for Thanksgiving or planning for spring break.”

* United Airlines announced this week that it would add two new routes from Denver, saying it will add two daily round-trip flights to Midland, Texas, and one to Louisville. United will be the sole nonstop option on both routes, which start Dec. 17th. The new routes, of course, come as United, Frontier and Southwest engage in an increasingly competitive effort to carve out a piece of the Denver market.