Traveling by Air with Holiday Foods

We celebrate Thanksgiving with food, and lots of it! Driving with prepared Thanksgiving side dishes or leftovers is one thing, taking food items on a flight is entirely different. Thankfully, the TSA offers travel tips for flying with food.

Here are some best practices for traveling with food, courtesy of lohud.com.

More than 25 million people are expected to travel over Thanksgiving weekend with the Sunday after the holiday the busiest travel day, nearly a seven percent increase compared to last year. And more people than you may realize are flying with food, from side dishes like yam and stuffing, to fully cooked turkeys. In fact, at least four out of five people travel with some kind of holiday food, according to Lisa Farbstein, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which held an information session at Westchester County Airport on the do’s-and-don’ts of traveling by air with holiday foods.

The Westchester County Airport which usually sees 2,200 to 2,500 passengers a day, will see approximately 3,000, an increase of more than 20 percent, said Farbstein. That is why she stresses getting to the airport two hours early. With all those extra bags — and food — the TSA has a lot to screen.

Pies and pastries are the number one item the TSA sees and screens during the holiday, followed by meats. TSA also sees a lot of wine bottles, canned cranberry, cornbread stuffing mix, sweet potatoes and those crunchy onions that go on top of bean casseroles. Tara Gavin, a TSA agent at Westchester County Airport, said she especially sees packed food from college students travelling back to school after the holiday.

How to Pack Food for Flight

So, when it comes to food, what goes in your carry-on and what goes in your checked baggage? “If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it,” it’s technically a liquid and goes in your checked bag, said Farbstein.

Both she and Gavin suggest tightly packing what you can and wrapping it in a plastic bag (or two) for your checked baggage, to avoid leakage. After all, who wants a gravy spill on a new shirt, especially before the holiday? “I’ve even seen duct tape used,” said Farbstein. Similarly, you should pack carry-on food items in spill-proof containers and wrap them as best as you can, again using plastic bags within your bag.

Gavin said TSA agents won’t open your packaged food but will instead use a wand around it for testing. It’s best to put those items in a bin separate from the rest of your luggage when going through the security check. Note that even if you have TSA-Pre approval, you’ll have to go through the process.

Seeing all those homemade or store-bought goodies may make TSA employees hungry, said Gavin. “We may want to eat it,” she said, “But we won’t.”

If you have any questions regarding traveling with food over the holidays, go to @AskTSA on twitter. You can also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673.

Source: lohud.com

Holiday Flying Survival Tips

If you’re flying this holiday season, here’s some advice from expert travelers on how to fly smart and stay sane.

  • Book your flight and hotel now. Use websites such as Orbitz.com, Kayak.com, WhichBudget.com and LastMinute.com, FareCompare.com, Priceline.com and Yapta.com to search and compare the best airfares and times.
  • Book your flight early in the morning, so if a flight is delayed or cancelled, you’ll have a better chance of getting on another flight later that day.
  • Have your passport ready. If you’re traveling out of the country, make sure you understand the country’s passport requirements and have paperwork in order.
  • Avoid the busiest commuter times: Monday mornings, Friday evenings and Sundays. Instead, fly on the least crowded days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  • Don’t fly peak holiday travel days. During peak holiday travel season, the day before and after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are usually the busiest days to travel. Instead, fly on the day of a holiday. If you have to travel on a high-traffic day, fly early in the morning for fewer delays—afternoon flights tend to incur more delays and cancellations. Or, consider the red eye and fly overnight, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Avoid connecting flights if possible. The lower fare you may receive isn’t worth the extra work and stress if you miss the connecting flight. If you can afford it, book a flight with zero connections. If not, book them with plenty of time between flights as  weather, air traffic, crew connections and other factors affect airline schedules.
  • Pack carry-on only – it will save you the baggage fee and get you on the plane and out of the airport faster. If you’re going to have to check luggage, pay your baggage fee ahead of time online, it’s usually a bit cheaper. Also weigh your baggage ahead of time and make sure it is less than 50 pounds to avoid an additional fee.
  • Ship gifts ahead of time. Once your flight is booked, head to the post office and mail gifts to your destination ahead of time. You’ll have to pay shipping, of course, but you’ll save on extra baggage fees and negotiating that giant dinosaur through security check. An easier option, shop online for gifts and have them delivered to your destination. Gift-wrapping is available through many websites.
  • Bring your own snacks. You don’t want to get hungry on the road, so pack your favorite snacks in your carry on, so if you get hungry, you’re not at the mercy of the airline’s snack schedule. Also bring wet naps and hand sanitizer to clean your seat and tray table, as airplanes and airports are full of germs.
  • Pack some books and magazines and listen to your favorite music on your iPod or smartphone—they help make the time pass quicker. Remember, you can’t bring water through the security check, so buy a bottle once you get to your flight’s gate.
  • Print your boarding pass ahead of time. The night before or day of the flight, print out your boarding pass. Make sure your seat assignment is indicated on the airline’s check-in page.
  • Get to the airport as early as possible—at least two hours ahead of your boarding time (not flight time), if not more. If you don’t plan on printing out your boarding pass ahead of time, take advantage of the boarding pass kiosks at most check-in gates. They will save you time spent in line, and most gate employees are happy to help you get your pass. Have the credit card on hand with a name that matches the name on the reservation.
  • Know what to expect at the gate. To get through the gate as efficiently as possible, have your driver’s license and boarding pass in hand, remove metal jewelry, loose change, shoes, belt, jacket, cell phone and place them in the plastic bins, and open and remove your laptop. Remember to remain patient and polite—you don’t want to upset a TSA agent. Also, bottled water is not allowed through security, so wait to get to the gate to buy water, coffee and other snacks.
  • Eat well and stay rested. One of the keys to reducing stress and staying healthy on the road is to take good care of yourself. The holidays are a minefield of sugary junk foods and alcohol, so try and balance it out with lots of fruits, vegetables and water. Be prepared and pack healthy snacks to bring on your drive or flight. Bananas, apples and healthy snack bars are good travel options. Also drink plenty of water and get enough sleep—two key factors in keeping your immune system strong and staying healthy. Turn off your phone and computer close to bed time, and start “powering down” from your long days.
  • Don’t forget that Hoyt Livery now makes booking all your ground transportation easy. From home to the airport, to your destination city, we can arrange it all in over 450 cities in the US and Canada. Safe travels and enjoy your holidays!

Expert Tips for Traveling Abroad

If you plan on flying out of the country, these industry expert tips will teach you what to do in advance, help you reduce stress and stay safe when traveling abroad, courtesy of travelzoo.com.

Your Health and Safety

Check in with your doctor. If you’re on prescription or other regular medication, make sure you have enough to last your trip and even consider packing extra. Check in with your primary care doctor to make sure you’ve renewed all essential prescriptions. Also, ask your medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies. If it doesn’t, consider supplemental insurance.

Register with your embassy. It’s a good idea to let your embassy know where you’re traveling, so if there’s a problem in the country, it will make it easier for your government to contact you, your family, and get you to safety.

Plan on Sightseeing

International travel is a rare treat, so take some time in advance to research the city you’re going to on the Internet, or better yet, order a guidebook on the area. Guidebooks usually include interesting facts, annual events, and maps. Also download apps before you travel. Avoid downloading charges from your wireless carrier and get your apps before you leave.

Buy tickets now for places you know you want to visit or see. By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you.

Research events that will be taking place while you’re there. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing the best events going on in the city — fun things like festivals, ceremonies, and natural events. Also be sure to research a few national dishes to try. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing some of the culinary delights it’s known for.

Luggage and Packing

To check or not to check? If you can swing it, opt for carry-on only — you’ll get on and off the plane faster, and reduce the chance of lost or stolen luggage.

Bring extra copies of your passport. If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship, so bring multiple copies of your passport and leave them in several places when traveling. For extra backup, leave a copy of your passport at home or with someone you trust. Consider making an electronic copy you can store in your email account as well.

Bring snacks. Traveling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a challenge. Bring small snacks for long flights to hold you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.

Cash and Cards

Learn monetary conversion in advance. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at.

Convert money at a bank or ATM. Once there, the conversion centers in the airport or around the city tend to be huge rip-offs, so go to a bank or ATM in the city you’re visiting. You won’t get charged as many fees and the conversion will be exact.

While at the bank, withdraw some cash; not every place takes credit cards, such as trains or bus stations.

Make sure your credit card will work. European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards.

Also let your bank and credit card provider know you’re traveling. Fraud alerts are triggered by unusual transactions, such as spending $1,000 in Germany, for example, so let your bank and card company know you’ll be traveling in advance, so they don’t shut down your card when you’re on the road.

Check the country’s entrance/exit fees. Also note that some countries require travelers to pay a fee to enter or exit the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200.

Get Technical

Bring a phone charger adapter. Different countries have different size electrical outlets and voltages, so if you want to use your favorite hairdryer or charge your phone, make sure you have an adaptor.

To avoid expensive roaming charges, activate your phone’s global capabilities. There’s usually a charge for doing so, but it’s much less than the roaming charges you could incur.

Source: Travelzoo.com

What to Know about the Global Entry Program

If you travel abroad regularly, you may want to consider applying for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program, which allows eligible flyers to take expedited lines at the airport when returning to the U.S. Here’s how Global Entry works, courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Global Entry Program:

What It Is

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Global Entry program allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the U.S. through automatic kiosks at select airports.

At airports, program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.

While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.

How to Sign Up

Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.

To begin, create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account. Once you log in, complete the application. A $100 non-refundable fee is required with each completed application. American Express members can get a fee credit if they use their card when filling out the application.

Customs will then review your application. This will include a thorough background check involving law enforcement, customs, immigration, agriculture, and terrorist databases as well as biometric fingerprint checks.

Once you’re conditionally approved, your TTP account will instruct you to schedule an interview with a Customs agent at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.

For the Global Entry interview, bring a valid passport and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your machine-readable permanent resident card (green card).

Who is Eligible for Global Entry?

Americans as well as citizens from the following 11 nations and territories are eligible for Global Entry: Argentina, Colombia, India, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

Canadian citizens and residents are eligible for Global Entry benefits through membership in their country’s NEXUS program.

If you have been convicted of a crime, or have criminal charges pending or are under investigation, you may not be eligible for Global Entry. If you are denied for the program and you feel the decision was in error, you can provide additional documentation to the CBP Trusted Traveler Ombudsman to request reconsideration.

Just send an email to the CBP Trusted Traveler Ombudsman at: cbpvc@cbp.dhs.gov, “Attention: CBP Ombudsman.”

Global Entry Cards

If approved, you will be issued a radio frequency identification (RFID) Global Entry card. To activate your card, log into your TTP account and click on the “Activate Membership Card” button.

While the cards are accepted at U.S. land and sea ports of entry, Customs can process you without one, as long as you have your ID and other travel information. The cards are only required for expedited entry at the SENTRI and NEXUS lanes coming into the United States.

The cards are not accepted at Global Entry kiosks. Those require passports or green cards.

Can Family Members Travel via Global Entry?

Yes, if those family members have their own Global Entry memberships. Minor children 18 years or younger are required to have parental or legal guardianship permission to sign up for the program.

Each family member that you wish to add to the program must create a TTP Account and fill out a separate application.

Head-of-the-Line Privilege

The head of the line privilege is a perk available only at U.S. airports with Global Entry kiosks. The head-of-the-line privilege is reserved for program members if the kiosks are not working for some reason. The privilege can also be instituted if a member gets referred to a CBP officer, and at the exit points.

For more information on the Global Entry program, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

TSA Installs New 3-D Security Scanners at JFK, Spots Explosives Better

The Transportation Security Administration has taken steps to improve airport security at John F. Kennedy International Airport with new checkpoint technology.

A new computed tomography (CT) checkpoint scanner provides advanced 3-D imaging and will replace aging X-ray scanners with 3-D scanners, according to a CBSnews.com article.

More effective at detecting bombs

The new 3-D scanners—which are being rolled out at a checkpoint at the American Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City—use the same technology as CT scans and would change the way bags are scanned at airports across the country.

The brand-new Analogic 3-D CT scanner can see through just about anything in a carry-on bag to spot a potential threat, and the TSA believes that the new scanners will be able to spot explosives more effectively than older machines.

Concerns about certain explosives getting by some older X-ray machines prompted the TSA to ask flyers to take devices larger than a phone out of their bags, and remove food, liquids, and recently, powders. This new scanner technology may bring all that to an end. TSA Administrator David Pekoske commented, “What it’s capable of doing is detecting a wider range of explosives, which is very important, as well as a much lower weight of explosives…they’re just much better at detection, so you really get better security faster.”

And Jose Freig, American Airlines’ head of security, painted a future image for travelers: “Just getting to that point when, in a non-precheck lane, you’re able to keep your liquids, gels, aerosols, and laptops and electronics in your bags. It’s a new era, if you will, and we’re really excited about it.” American Airlines donated eight of the scanners to the TSA, each costing around $300,000, including the one at JFK.

How the new scanner works

The Analogic scanner works like a CT machine in a hospital, seeing through even a cluttered bag and giving screeners the ability to zoom in and rotate the bag for a 360-degree view. The scanner creates a clear image of a bag’s contents by shooting hundreds of images with an X-ray camera. The system can automatically detect explosives, including liquids, and help provide TSA officers with the three-dimensional views of the contents of a carry-on bag. TSA agents have found the 3-D scanners speed up the screening process by reducing the need for secondary bag checks.

Scanner rollout in progress

The TSA has also tested implemented CT scanner checkpoints at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Logan International Airport in Boston.

The TSA plans to have 15 scanners deployed to airports by the end of the year, and are authorized to buy up to 240 in 2019. They’ll need about 2,000 to cover every airport checkpoint in the country.

Congress is pushing the TSA to get these out there as quickly as possible, but it’ll take years to replace the old X-ray machines at every airport.

“It’s revolutionary,” says TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We think in perhaps five years or so, the passengers won’t have to take anything out of their carry-on bags.”

Source: CBSnews.com

TSA May Start Screening Snacks

Frequent flyers be aware that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may start asking you to take snacks out of your bag so an agent can get a closer look at your goodies, according to Today.com.

Why the increased inspections.

For years, the TSA has been evolving its security screening procedures, including larger electronics such as laptops, liquids, batteries, and shoes. In addition to these items, TSA has now stated that passengers may also be asked to remove other items, such as food and powders from carry-ons because those additional items may clutter bags and obstruct the X-ray scanner from getting a better image.

The Washington Post reported that new, high-tech scanners search for organic compounds in explosives, which sometimes leads to false alarms when scanning food items. As a result, an agent may need to do a hands-on bag check, which makes the screening process slower.

Though not mandatory—there has been no nationwide policy change requiring people to remove food from their carry-ons to get through security—as of yet, more travelers have been noticing the enhanced security measures recently, and many others are claiming they’ve had their snacks inspected before flying. A TSA representative commented, “This isn’t always necessary, but it does help X-ray operators get a clearer view of the contents of the bag and speeds up the screening process.”

Plan ahead to remove food.

That said, as removing foods from your carry-on and placing them in a bin takes additional time, it’s a good idea to plan ahead in preparation. The TSA recommends organizing your bags with the screening process in mind, which they say will help keep lines moving.

Place snacks where they are easy to access in case you need to remove them. One travel blogger noted, “It is much easier to remove one large Ziploc bag where all the snacks are contained than it is to hunt in 14 different pockets for snacks scattered across your luggage.”

It’s important to note that the snack-related security changes won’t affect the type of foods you can carry with you, which include cakes, pies, bread, doughnuts, fruits and vegetables (when flying domestically).

Passengers are permitted to bring outside food on planes, although there are restrictions on fresh produce and meats when traveling to some international destinations, and any food that could be considered a liquid (including spreads like peanut butter) can only be carried on in servings of less than 3.4 ounces.

Once passengers have successfully passed through security, their food is safe from any other inspection.

The TSA website gives information on what is and is not permitted on flights, so it’s always beneficial to plan ahead as much as possible. If you’re not sure if your food item is allowed (lobsters are, by the way, but ice cream is not), search the TSA’s What Can I Bring? list.

Also read these additional flight packing tips:

Get a good carry-on bag.

It’s called a 22″ spinner carry-on bag. It’s the bag you see speedily rolling behind many pilots and flight attendants as they make their way to their next gate. Look for a sturdy, well-designed but lightweight bag with roomy pockets and a wide wheelbase. Spinner carry-ons get their name because of their four wheels. Bags with four wheels are easier to move around than those with just two. Airlines require carry-on bags that are small enough to fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment. Maximum size limits are typically 22″ long x 14″ wide x 9″ tall and 40 pounds. That’s why the 22″ spinner is a popular carry-on size. Most airlines allow you to carry on one small bag plus one personal item, including a laptop, purse or briefcase as long as it doesn’t exceed 36″ total and fits under the seat in front of you.

Understand what you can pack.

While you’re allowed to carry liquids, gels, and aerosols in your carry-on bag, there are restrictions you must be aware of before you pack. According to the TSA website, all liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce (100ml) or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or rolled up are not allowed. All liquids, gels, and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. For more details about what you can carry on an airplane, visit TSA.gov/311.

Utilize all the space.

The key to maximizing space in a 22″ spinner carry-on is to roll your clothes into “tubes” instead of folding and stacking them like they do on shelves. Rolling saves space and also helps prevent wrinkles. It’s also easier to select what you want to wear from your bag without unpacking the whole thing. Roll several items together to prevent more wrinkles. Don’t pack them in the carry-on bag as soon as you roll them. Once all the clothes are rolled, stand the carry-on up and pack heavier things such as shoes and books first at the wheel-end of the case so they don’t move around and crush the other items. One flight attendant claims she can pack clothes for 10 days by rolling instead of folding them. Another advocates the use of vacuum space saver bags.

Wear your nice, and harder to pack clothes and shoes on the plane. They won’t wrinkle or take up space in your carry-on. Even if you’re able to pack everything you want in the bag, keep in mind the typical 40 pound weight limit.

Source: Today.com

How to Wear an Airline Oxygen Mask

We’ve all set through the flight attendant safety briefings before takeoff, including how to properly wear an airline oxygen mask in case of an emergency. But were we actually listening and paying attention?

Last April, when an engine on Southwest Airlines flight 1380 failed and broke apart, tragically killing a passenger and forcing an emergency landing, photos emerged showing the vast majority of passengers wearing their oxygen masks incorrectly—some had them on upside down, many didn’t have the mask covering their noses.

So, do yourself and the passenger next to you a favor and take a minute to read the following on how to properly wear an airline emergency oxygen mask, courtesy of stuff.com.

Pay attention—even if you’ve heard it before

Grant Amos is principal director of Flying Without Fear, an Air New Zealand program to help flyers become more informed, safe and comfortable airline passengers.

“Humans tend to operate on the basis that ‘It won’t happen to me, and if it does, I’ll be fine in an emergency because I’m sure I’ll know what to do,’” Amos says. “There is that concept that ‘I’m sure I’ll be able to handle it’ people don’t fully understand what they’re getting involved in.” Amos said the Southwest flight proved that many U.S. passengers didn’t know what they were doing.

Flying has been made very easy and seamless, Amos says, and as a result “passengers lost sight of the fact they they’re not in their living rooms—and if something goes wrong they have to know what to do—properly.”

While frequent flyers may assume they already understand all the standard safety precautions, equipment and procedures vary between airlines and airplanes, so it pays to pay attention each and every time you are on a plane and the flight attendant goes through the mandatory safety briefing.

Should an emergency, or even very rough turbulence, occur, a well-briefed passenger will depend less on crew members, stay calmer, avoid panic, and have a greater chance of survival.

How to properly wear a mask

On the Southwest flight, many passengers were holding the mask by hand over their mouths,” Amos reports. “Some of them were too busy worrying about selfies and sending texts to worry about oxygen – when getting oxygen was the most crucial thing,” he adds.

An aircraft’s oxygen mask should be worn over your mouth and nose, and the elastic band should be around your head.

A recent Air New Zealand safety video says: “If you need some 21st century air, oxygen masks will fall down from above. Just pull down on the mask, and place it over your nose and mouth. Pull on both sides of the elastic to tighten it. Don’t worry if the bag doesn’t inflate, oxygen will flow easily. And make sure you’ve got your own mask on before helping children, or those who are less able.”

Count the rows to the doors/exits

What else can flyers do besides pay attention to the safety briefing? The Federal Aviation Administration advises flyers to count the number of rows between them and the nearest exit upon boarding the flight, according to Condé Nast Traveler.

Business Insider reported that John Chesire, a retired airline captain, pays special attention to each airplane’s aisles to be prepared for emergencies. “For one thing, I always look around to find the nearest emergency exit,” Cheshire wrote. “Then I count the number of seats between me and that exit. It only takes a quick glance. I do this so if ever necessary, I can in the dark, or under water, or if there is smoke, or if upside down, I know beforehand where the exit is, and I can blindly count the number of seats by touch to reach that emergency exit row, because I have counted them,” Chesire added. “It’s quick and easy to do, every time.”

Also try to remember a second and third exit from the plane in case the aisle closest to you is blocked. And, according to The HuffPost, if you want to further protect yourself as a passenger, consider studying the safety card in your seat-back pocket. Even if you’re able to count ahead and reach the exit aisles in the event of an emergency, some exits open differently depending on the type of plane.

Source: Stuff.com

How to Protect Your Stuff at the Airport

When you’re flying, your personal belongings can be lost between point A and point B—but air travelers should also be aware that their property can go missing while passing through airport security.

It’s true. The Daily Mail reported that thieves are targeting tourists and other travelers at Gatwick Airport just outside London, England—they’re brazenly stealing personal items from the security checkpoint conveyor belt, such as laptops, cosmetics, jewelry and even a loved one’s ashes have all gone missing, the Mail reports.

But fear not, travelers, here are five ways to protect your stuff at security, courtesy of Clark.com and writer, Craig Johnson.

Keep an eye on those laptops

As far back as 2008, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that more than 10,000 laptops were stolen every day, according to PCWorld. And a 2017 study conducted by Stratos Jet Charters, an air charter service, showed that it’s extremely difficult to get reimbursed by the TSA once an item is reported as missing or stolen. Nearly 70 percent of the claims were denied, while fully-approved claims tallied less than 32 percent, according to the Stratos study.

While there are many studies and statistics on a wide array of aviation-related topics, there is surprisingly little tracked regarding in-airport theft. In fact, officials frequently count missing belongings, reported thefts and related claims in the same category.

Stay aware at the security line

A hot spot for in-airport theft is the TSA security line. Think about it: thousands of air travelers trustingly place and leave their belongings behind on the conveyor belt as they pass through the TSA security checkpoint. As owners are distracted, thieves can help themselves to valuable laptops and other items.

For example, one traveler reported that her bags made it through security quicker than she did, and that’s when she noticed her laptop went missing. After three days of emails, she finally was put in contact with the terminal manager, who told her there was nothing he could do.

What makes it even more difficult is when a traveler doesn’t realize their item is missing until after the flight and they are at their destination. Where did it go missing? Was it at the airport, during the flight, or on the ride home? Then there’s the matter of whom do you call — the police, the airline or one of several agencies in the mix?

To help protect your belongings, here are some good security tips to remember:

  • Keep a list of your belongings. To help you stay focused en route, write down a list of your belongings on a piece of paper, and keep it in your pocket when traveling. You can keep it in your hand along with your boarding pass and ID while being processed through security or even in your phone. Then when you pass through security, refer to the list and make sure you have everything then and there.
  • Take pictures of your stuff. Another quick and easy way to keep track of your belongings is to take photos of them with your phone. Before leaving for the airport, shoot quick pics of all your bags and the contents within. If you have to prove something went missing, you have proof.
  • Slow down and pay attention. It’s easy to rush when you’re traveling, but that’s when mistakes happen. Stay aware of what’s in your hands, pockets and bags, as well as your surroundings. Don’t leave your luggage unattended and do your best to keep your eyes on your stuff as it passes through the security checkpoint.
  • Use the buddy system. If you’re traveling with a friend, talk ahead of time about keeping your eyes on each other’s bags, as well as your own. Four eyes are better than two. This will be especially helpful as you pass through the security checkpoint.
  • Don’t draw attention with fancy bags. You may want to leave the Louis Vuitton luggage at home—it will attract the wrong kind of attention. Instead, opt for small, unassuming luggage that you can identify easily. When it goes through security, be quick to locate it along with the rest of your stuff.

Source: Clark.com

Bradley Airport’s Expansion Plans Underway

Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT is known as an “easy in and out” airport among business and leisure travelers in the region, but the small and manageable reputation of Bradley may be changing in the coming years, as they recently announced plans to transform the mid-sized airport into a major New England hub.

“It’s so much more convenient to fly out of Bradley than having to go to New York or Boston if you want to go anywhere direct,” say Roberta O’Brien, of Rocky Hill. But Bradley travelers may be in for some temporary bumps, as officials unveiled a $1.4 billion expansion plan that could make Bradley competitive with the Logan’s and the Kennedy’s of the northeast. From the terminals, to the car rental lot, to the parking garage and the roads that lead to the airport, Bradley will be under construction over the next 20 years.

The expansion, in part, is taking place due to population growth in the region. “There are 4.4 million people that live within our market area so if we can keep developing the airline services here, we’ll keep bringing passengers to the airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director at Bradley International Airport.

“I do believe this airport could be a 10 million passenger airport so when you start to talk about the activity of that level you really need to take a hard look at the infrastructure,” Dillon said.

Some of the biggest visible changes at the new Bradley will be at the terminals. The plan is to have Terminal B connect with Terminal A. Also, a new rental car lot will be built on the property, eliminating the shuttles.

Construction under way

Locals and air travelers in and out of Bradley will already see Bradley’s plans underway, as construction has begun on the Route 20 connector road.

According the official Bradley International Airport website, the Connecticut Airport Authority is beginning the reconstruction and realignment of the main airport entrance roadway, Route 20 and Schoephoester Road. The work will involve the realignment of Schoephoester Road along with a portion of the airport’s lower roadway system, as well as the construction of a modern roundabout.

The project will provide a new entrance to the airport from Route 20 and open up a 19-acre site for the future development of Bradley’s ground transportation center.

The construction will not interrupt access to the airport from the Route 20 connector, but there may be slight delays due to the shifting and reduction of lanes. Construction signs and variable message boards will be present along the roadway to alert motorists of any changes in traffic patterns.

The project will consist of six phases of work and is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2018. Regular updates will be provided to the public during this time period.

When completed, this road expansion will improve traffic and make room for a new rental car lot.

International carriers like Aer Lingus have already broadened their flight offerings in and out of Bradley, and the expansion could make Bradley more attractive to other airlines and destinations.

“Any airport has to have the market to be attractive to the airlines and we certainly have that,” Dillon said.

While some travelers are welcoming the changes, others say they’ll miss the ease of navigating the smaller terminals. “I’d like to keep it on a smaller level. I like to fly out of Westchester just for the convenience of how small and how quick and easy it is to get in and out,” said Steve Confortini, of New Milford.

Bradley Airport officials say the goal is to keep the convenience level intact. The Federal Aviation Administration will need to approve this plan, but officials say they are confident it will be approved.

Source: Information courtesy of WFSB.com.

Airline Quality Has Improved, Study Shows

Despite some scary events and bad PR in the past year, U.S. airlines improved in overall quality last year, according to the annual Airline Quality Rating (AQR) report, released in May.

The 2018 AQR report by researchers at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a statistical study of major airline performance, objectively comparing airline quality.

The study indicates that as a whole, the 12 largest U.S. airlines improved their performance last year in three of the four categories tracked, making 2017 the best year for overall airline quality in the 28 years of the report. That said, the report’s authors caution the results do not necessarily mean commercial airline travel has dramatically improved in significant ways.

“The industry is improving, but there are still a lot of frustrated travelers out there,” says Brent Bowen, dean of aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and one of the report’s lead authors.

According to the Airline Quality Rating (AQR) website, the report is the most comprehensive study of performance and quality of the largest airlines in the United States. The rating is a multifactor examination of the airlines based on mishandled baggage, consumer complaints, on-time performance and involuntary denied boardings.

Overall airline industry findings

  • The 2017 score is the best AQR score in the 27-year history of the rating.
  • The industry AQR score has improved each year for the past three years (2015, 2016, and 2017).
  • Taking all 12 rated airlines together, the AQR score for the industry improved from a level of -0.95 in 2016 to -0.79 in 2017.
  • Improved performance was seen in three of the four areas tracked.

Specific areas of improvement

  • The industry mishandled baggage rate was better, decreasing from 2.70 per 1,000 passengers in 2016 to 2.46 per 1,000 passengers in 2017.
  • Involuntary denied boardings by the industry improved to 0.34 per 10,000 passengers in 2017 from 0.62 per 10,000 passengers in 2016.
  • The consumer complaint rate across the industry declined to 1.35 per 100,000 passengers in 2017 from 1.52 per 100,000 passengers in 2016.
  • The 10% decrease in the rate of consumer complaints in 2017 suggests that improved performance in important areas to consumers has been noticed.
  • Of the 11,570 complaints registered with the DOT regarding all U.S. domestic carriers, 74% were for flight problems, baggage problems, reservation, ticketing and boarding issues, or customer service problems.

Specific airline results

  • Nine airlines showed improvement in AQR scores in 2017: American, ExpressJet, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, SkyWest, Southwest, Spirit and United.
  • Frontier had the largest improvement in their AQR score in 2017.
  • Three airlines—Alaska, Delta and Virgin America—all declined in their 2017 AQR score from the previous year. Virgin America had the largest decline in AQR score for 2017.

Areas for improvement

As an industry, the AQR criteria show that on-time arrival percentage was down (80.2% in 2017 compared to 81.4% in 2016).

Other areas where airlines could improve, according to author Bowen and other researchers, include a lack of transparency in airfares, annoyances like cramped seats and extra fees for almost everything, as examples of elements of airline travel that are wearing on travelers despite the performance improvements.

Source: Airline Quality Rating (AQR) report