Spirit making every inch count with comfier seats

Things are really popping off at Yellowstone National Park.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Steamboat Geyser, located inside the famed national park at the Norris Geyser Basin, in Park County, Wyoming, is well on its way to having a record-setting year for eruptions. As CNN noted, we are only halfway through 2019, but the geyser has already erupted 25 times. To put that number into perspective, in all of 2018 the geyser erupted a mere 32 times.

The USGS reported that the geyser erupted seven times in June alone — on June 1, 7, 12, 15, 19, 23, and 28.

​But, as a tourist, please don’t visit the park and this geyser thinking you’ll see a show put on by Mother Nature. According to the experts, there is just no way to predict when an eruption will occur..

"They're mostly random and experience phases of alternating eruptive activity," Michael Poland, the USGS scientist-in-charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, told CNN.

Poland also explained that while it’s interesting that the geyser is exploding so often there is no need to worry. "While fascinating, it's not unusual, nor cause for concern,” he said.

​As to why the geyser is so active this year, experts simply don’t know as it remains one of Earth’s great mysteries.


FAA Bans All Flights Around Iran Due to Military Activity

​​FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- American Airlines said Thursday it is negotiating with Boeing Co. over compensation for the airline's grounded planes and will share some of the proceeds with its employees.

American had 24 Boeing 737 Max jets when the planes were grounded worldwide in March after two deadly crashes. Like other airlines, American has canceled thousands of flights as a result. It estimated that the grounding will cut its full-year 2019 pretax income by $540 million.

A spokesman for American said Thursday that the airline is talking to Boeing "as to what that compensation looks like." Boeing has suggested that compensation could be in cash or other forms, such as help with training or spare parts.

American expects to make part of the compensation eligible for employee profit sharing, the spokesman said without providing any figures.

​American Airlines Group Inc. CEO Doug Parker said in October he was confident that any losses due to the Max grounding "won't be incurred by American shareholders, but will be borne by the Boeing shareholders."

Boeing has reached partial settlements with Southwest Airlines and Turkish Airlines -- neither carrier disclosed details -- while continuing to negotiate with others. Chicago-based Boeing has estimated the cost at $5.6 billion over several years.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear when the Max will fly again. Boeing is still working on software and computer updates to prevent a repeat of crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people. In both crashes, a key sensor malfunctioned and triggered an automated system to push the nose of the plane down, according to accident investigators.

The Federal Aviation Administration would have to approve Boeing's changes to the Max before the planes can fly in the U.S. Regulators in other countries plan to conduct their own review

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A Louisiana woman has been sentenced to nine years in prison for her role in selling bogus vacation packages to the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

Nakesia Washington, of Harvey, La., received a 15-year sentence with six years suspended after she admitted scamming 98 tourists – all from out of state – over $80,000.

​Operating through her agency, OBL Travel, Washington sold vacation packages that included festival tickets, VIP passes and hotel rooms. Airfare apparently was not included, so when the tourists arrived in New Orleans they found no tickets, no passes, no lodging – and no Nakesia Washington.

WVUE-TV reported that Washington pleaded guilty Wednesday, July 3. State District Judge Ellen Shrier Kovach sentenced her and ordered her to pay restitution. A restitution hearing is scheduled July 11.

​The Essence Fest is one of the premier music festivals in the country. Started in 1995 as a one-time event to honor the 25th anniversary of Essence Magazine, the festival has been a staple of African-American culture and music ever since.

Earlier this year, a Florida woman and her friends were scammed by a fake travel agency.

It's just another reminder to make sure you find a trusted travel agent and take the necessary steps to make sure you avoid being scammed.

DETROIT -- Is 28 inches always 28 inches? Spirit Airlines emphatically says no. And the carrier’s executives are banking that customers will agree, as the company continues working to reposition the brand on the higher end of the ultralow-cost carrier market.

“We are definitely a value play now,” said Lania Rittenhouse, the carrier’s vice president of in-flight experience.

Spirit took its latest step in that repositioning effort on Dec. 13, when it launched its first Airbus A320neo outfitted with an enhanced interior.

That first flight, from Detroit to New Orleans, was a milestone for the carrier. According to the airline’s plan, planes with the upgraded interiors will comprise 90 of Spirit’s 193 aircraft by the end of 2021.

​In the marketing campaign leading up to the unveiling of its first retrofitted aircraft, Spirit had made it clear that the planes would be just as densely packed with seats as those sporting its long-standing configuration. With a pitch, or space between rows, of 28 inches, Spirit matches ultralow-cost competitor Frontier for the tightest spacing in the U.S. airline industry.

But Spirit also said that the new seats had been carefully designed, both for ergonomic comfort and to create more effective legroom.

The new seats, which were designed for Spirit by U.K.-based Acro Aircraft Seating over the course of two years of consultations, stand out for their curved seatbacks. That curvature enables passengers to sit farther back in the seat than they can in a typical aircraft seat. In addition, Acro relocated the seatback pocket to the top of the seat, opening up additional space for the knees.

On Dec. 17, four days after Spirit began flying that first retrofitted aircraft, I had a chance to sample it as part of a media unveiling held at the carrier’s hangar facility here. Spirit also had a second plane parked close by, this one sporting the same interior as the one I had flown from Denver to Detroit the night before. 

​I sat in the new seats for maybe 10 minutes, then boarded the other plane and sat in one of the older seats. My conclusion? There’s no arguing that the new seats afford more legroom, even though they still have just 28 inches of pitch. Spirit said the new design has led to an increase of 2 inches in “usable legroom.” I can’t be sure how precise that metric is. But the extra space is significant, and it will be especially helpful for the carrier’s taller passengers.

Along with readjusting leg space in the new interior, Spirit has also made the aisle slightly narrower, and it has taken that borrowed space to add an inch of width to the middle seats. The new middle seats will be 18 inches wide while the aisle and window seats will have the same 17 inches of width as older Spirit interiors, said Acro key account manager Marc Westcott, who helped in the seats’ design.

The carrier’s other major boast about the new seats is that they feature a thicker cushion and are ergonomically designed for added comfort. Westcott said Acro redesigned the curvature of the seats to match people’s natural posture. As for the cushioning, he said that Spirit’s seats have traditionally been built with one cushion. And while that cushion is designed both for comfort and durability, it is durability that tends to win the day. 

​The new seats, though, have three cushions. On the retrofitted aircraft, Westcott pulled a seat bottom off its apparatus and demonstrated that the top cushion is soft for comfort while the bottom cushion is hard for durability. 

I wasn’t in the seats long enough to definitively say how much more comfort they’ll provide over the length of a flight, but the demonstration was compelling. That top cushion was much softer than the bottom one. 

Improvements aside, over the course of my morning at the Spirit hangar, one thing that struck me was how much effort the airline is putting into making use of every inch of aircraft real estate. It makes sense, of course. Spirit aircraft fly roughly five trips per day nearly every day. With the carrier’s total revenue per passenger flight segment having averaged $111 this year through September, a single row of seats can be expected to bring in more than $550,000 over the course of a year. 

Still, I felt I had to ask the obvious question: If Spirit really wants to enhance comfort and reposition its brand, why not take out a few seats?


Other non-alarming causes of emergency landings include minor mechanical issues (think: a spilled soft drink on an electrical outlet), broken bathrooms (like this Delta flight from New York City to Seattle that made an emergency landing in Billings, Montana because the plane’s bathrooms had stopped functioning and passengers “couldn’t hold it any longer,”) and a lithium battery laptop that started burning a passenger’s backpack en route to SFO.

With all of that said, emergency landings should still be taken seriously. Our point is simply that they happen very rarely, and when they do, they’re rarely a true emergency, like a loss of cabin pressure or engine failure. So feel free to relax, recline, and enjoy your flight.


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This might be a win-win for all sides involved, especially given the expanded joint venture already in the works. Richard Branson gets to keep control of his beloved airline and Air France-KLM Group can use the money elsewhere.

travel usa, travel news, US Travel Magazine travel articles

Alaska Airlines offers the healthiest food choices among the 10 major U.S. carriers and tied with Air Canada for the best when folding in all major North American airlines, according to a study conducted by the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center and DietDetective.com.

The Airline Food Study ranked the airlines on the nutrients and calorie levels of meals, snack boxes, and individual snacks.

​Airlines were also scored on several other categories ranging from sodium levels in food, water quality, the availability of meals on flights that are under three hours long, level of transparency in terms of displaying nutritional information, and posting their menus and ingredients online.

Alaska Airlines scored a 4.0 on a five-point scale and was the highest-rated U.S. carrier in the study for the second straight year. Lead author Charles Platkin wrote he was pleased with many of the options Alaska offers, including Mediterranean Tapas snack box and its Fresh Start Protein Platter breakfast.

​Rounding out the top five American airlines in the study were Delta and JetBlue, tied with a 2.9 score, and United and American at 2.7.

Hawaiian Airlines scored the lowest rating among carriers with full food offerings, and Southwest came in last with a score of 1.7 based mostly on the fact that the budget carrier offers only individual snacks.

"If the airline really does have a heart (as it does on its logo), it would care about the food that’s being served. Southwest needs to add some healthy snacks," the authors wrote.

A Florida woman, uncomfortable in her seat on an American Airlines flight, faked a medical condition in the hopes of getting a bigger, better seat.

Now she has much bigger problems.

Believing her story that she had trouble breathing, the pilot declared an emergency and turned the plane back to where it took off at Pensacola International Airport, where the woman later admitted it was a hoax.

The flight was heading for Miami and took off at 5:43 a.m. on Friday, an airline spokesman told Newsweek. Less than 45 minutes later, the plane landed back at Pensacola after the unidentified woman said she was having trouble breathing.

When the plane arrived, the woman fessed up. A Pensacola Police spokesman, Mike Wood, told Newsweek the woman’s physical stature was on the “large” side and she was not comfortable in her seat. She faked the medical problem hoping to be moved to another seat or even another plane once it arrived back in Pensacola.

​Once back on the ground, she initially refused to get off the plane until she was convinced by the pilot and police to disembark.

No charges have been filed but the woman is being held at a mental health facility pending further evaluation.

According to American Airlines, “All passengers deplaned normally at the gate through the main boarding door and onto the jet bridge. The passenger was subsequently removed by law enforcement and medical personnel, and the flight took off again at 7.41 a.m."

Which Purses Pickpockets Love To Pick

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The holiday season is all about togetherness . . . in small doses.

If you feel like there’s a sanity-saving time limit on gatherings with your loved ones, you’re not alone. One in four Americans gets so eager for a break from family during the holidays, they admit they’ve resorted to hiding in a relative’s house for some (brief) relief, according to a survey conducted by Motel 6.

The study surveyed 2,000 Americans traveling for the holidays to visit family and found in addition to finding a quiet space — the guest room, the garage, the pantry in a pinch — 37 percent of participants admitted to making up a reason to leave the house all together.

Despite the fact that on average people spent 4.3 hours just to get to grandma’s house, there’s only  so long they are willing to spend drinking, dining and catching up with their families. Survey respondents agreed that in less than four hours, they’re ready for some cousin-free leisure time.

“Family dynamics aren’t the only stressors this time of year,” Rob Palleschi, Motel 6 CEO, said in a press release. “No matter how you travel, the experience itself can be a source of anxiety for many.”

​Turns out, 40 percent of Americans say staying with family can be stressful, and they have plenty of reasons why. Twenty-two percent worried about lack of privacy, 20 percent were concerned about family getting on each other’s nerves, and 20 percent stressed about drama between family members while staying under the same roof.

Despite it all, nearly every survey respondent agreed that nobody should be alone during the holidays. Ninety five percent said it’s important to spend the season with family — and maybe a healthy dose of eggnog.

So you get to the airline counter to check your luggage, only to be told your bag is five pounds overweight. Sorry. Now, in addition to the baggage fee, you need to pay the penalty for being overweight.

No way, said one man traveling on EasyJet.

John Irvine was told his bag was eight kilograms (about 17 pounds) overweight when he checked in for his flight, necessitating a fee. Irvine, from Scotland, decided otherwise.

He opened the suitcase and put on 17 pounds worth of clothing – some 15 shirts in all on a day when the weather was 30 degrees Celsius, or 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Irvine family had been traveling back from Nice, France to Edinburgh, Scotland when son Josh filmed his father piling on the clothing and posted it on Twitter saying his dad was ‘sweating’.

​“We were coming home back to Bearsden, Glasgow from France on Saturday night and we never thought we’d be over the weight limit by eight kilos,” the 17-year old told Metro.co.uk. “He did not want to pay EasyJet charges. The lassie at the counter asked us if we wanted to pay extra but my dad just looked up at her and said ‘Hen, watch this,’ and zipped open the suitcase and quickly flung on about 15 jumpers to help cut down the weight.”

Josh Irvine said his ribs hurt from laughing so much, and it only got better.

Or worse, depending on how you look at it.

Once his father put all the clothes on at once, his issues at the counter were over but problems at security were just beginning.

“They thought he was trying to smuggle something under all his clothes,” Josh said. “Thankfully we got through eventually.”

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Ride-share company Uber and on-demand meal delivery service Postmates sued Monday to block a broad new California law aimed at giving wage and benefit protections to people who work as independent contractors.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. court in Los Angeles argues that the law set to take effect Wednesday violates federal and state constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Uber said it will try to link the lawsuit to another legal challenge filed in mid-December by associations representing freelance writers and photographers.

The California Trucking Association filed the first challenge to the law in November on behalf of independent truckers.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation fielded more complaints of serious crimes on cruise ships during the three-month period between July and September than at any other time in the last three years, according to a new report.

The crime spree included 35 sexual assaults, five thefts of at least $10,000 in cash and goods, and two disappearances.

​That’s a 35 percent increase in sex assaults from the previous quarter, and a 67 percent increase from the same time period in 2018, according to the New York Post.

The data came from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Cruise Line Incident Report. A dozen cruise lines were monitored by the FBI; six suffered the crime wave, and six had no serious crimes.

​Cruise lines are mandated by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act to report alleged homicides, suspicious deaths, missing persons, assaults with serious injuries, theft over $10,000, and incidents of people tampering with the ship.

The 40+ incidents during the three-month monitoring period still represent a fraction of the number of people who travel on cruise ships. Last year, for instance, 14.2 million North Americans took a cruise, a 9% increase from 2017 according to Cruise Lines International Association. That’s 3.55 million passengers every three months; thus, the crimes were committed by less than 1% of passengers.

​Royal Caribbean was one of the few cruise lines to respond to the report, releasing a statement that noted “the safety and security of our guests is our top priority, and we take every allegation of wrongdoing seriously,” adding that it offers “extensive security” and sexual-assault-victims-assistance training for employees, in addition to counseling for “guests or crew in need of support.”

Woman Scammed Travelers Over $80,000, Now Faces Jail Time

After Iran shot down an unmanned drone operated by the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration has banned all American carriers and commercial operators from flying over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.

According to ABCNews.com, the FAA issued the notice-to-airman late Thursday, which applies to all air carriers and commercial operators in the United States, but not U.S.-registered planes for foreign airlines.

​In addition, foreign airlines such as British Airways, Qantas, Lufthansa and KLM have announced they will also avoid the area as a precaution.

“All flight operations in the overwater area of the Tehran Flight Information Region (FIR) (OIIX) above the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman only are prohibited until further notice due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region, which present an inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operations and potential for miscalculation or misidentification,” FAA officials said in a statement.

ABC News also reported U.S. President Donald Trump initially ordered a military strike against Iran Thursday, but reversed course on the decision. The tensions were elevated after Iran shot down a RQ-4A Global Hawk drone flying in international airspace.

Officials in Iran said the drone was flying over its airspace when it was downed.

American Airlines vows to share Boeing proceeds with workers

Finding a pickpocket-proof purse for travel  is a smart investment for keeping your valuables secure and your first line of defense against pickpockets. Read on to learn how pickpockets operate and which purses thieves like to steal from the most. Pickpocket proof purses  easily foil would be thieves with hidden built-in anti-theft features to help keep your valuables safe.

 The most important features of a good travel purse

Locking zippers
Locking zipper pulls lockdown with a clip to the bag to keep pickpockets from pulling them open and lifting your valuables out.
Detachable strap
The end of the bag strap unclips from the bag and re-attaches to it after threading it through a chair back or another item to prevent grab and go thefts.
Slash-proof and crossbody strap
The safest and most convenient style of bag is a cross body bag that you wear from one shoulder to opposite hip. A thin flexible wire embedded in the strap makes it slash-resistant to thieves who cut bag straps and then run off with the bag.
Slash proof sides and bottoms
Bag sides and bottoms are the most vulnerable places on your bag for a bag cutter to slice open and pull out your valuables.
RFID blocking material
Look for a pocket lined with RFID blocking material to protect your ID from e-pickpockets.

The Type of Victims Pickpockets Like to Target

Pickpockets look for people who are either distracted or can be easily distracted. People on cell phones, with children, in groups, or others who just aren’t paying enough attention to the people around them often become victims. Tourists are prime targets. Another favorite target is those who set their bag down, even right next to themselves, for a grab and go theft. You can’t always be vigilant, especially when sight-seeing, but you can use anti-theft gear to help thwart thieves and for your peace of mind.

​Purses That Pickpockets Love to Pick and Steal From

​Avoid These Styles of Purses

​The drawstring purse is one of the easiest styles for pickpockets to steal from. Some thieves call it “the pickpocket’s best friend.”  Why is this? Simple mechanics really, in many cases drawstring purses are backpacks, which make the removing of items from within even simpler. These bags work by pulling the strings tighter to close the bag and loosening them to open it. Even the most novice thief can remove the wallet from one of these bags. All a thief needs to do is grip the drawstring of the purse and pull down gently, which gets them into the bag. There is no sound when they open the bag, and very little movement is involved which is great since it will leave the victim, or mark, which is the name some professional pickpockets call a victim, completely unaware that a thief just stole their wallet. Usually, the thief and your wallet are long gone before you discover the wallet missing.

​Flap Purse The most beloved type of bag for a pickpocket. This type of purse usually contains one large pouch, covered by a flap that often has just a magnet style closure. They come in all shapes and sizes, but thieves usually prefer the medium and larger sized ones. The flap purse is still vulnerable even with a button or latch closure. A thief can get close enough to gently but firmly grip the button of the flap with his thumb and index finger and undo it, using his thumb to mask the sound. With a quick motion of the hand,  the prized wallet is in his hand.

Zippered Purse  You think this may be a secure style of bag, well it is, and it’s a bit more difficult than a flap purse to breach,however, this style can be simple for a skilled thief to conquer as well. A good thief can easily slide a zipper open without the wearer feeling it.  A thief will also try to distract you from noticing your zipper being unzipped – they will bump into you, distract you with a question, or use an accomplice to find another way to divert your attention. It only takes 2 seconds. Zipper bags vary and sometimes have multiple pouches, so a thief will often watch to see in which compartment the wallet is placed. The best pocket to carry a wallet in iss in a zippered pocket in the main compartment of the bag and on the side of the purse closest to the body.  Find an anti-theft zipper travel purse right for you. 

​Clutch Purse This style can be tricky for thieves to pickpocket and it may not have a wallet inside due to its smaller size. That’s the good news. The bad news is once it is out of your hand, for even a second, the entire handbag is taken. This is a risky style to carry.

Side Flap A side flap purse is usually a medium to small purse that has one large compartment and one flap to close it up. This means one thin piece of fabric is all that is between your wallet and a thief, who can simply place his thumb over the clasp and then unbutton it. The real reason as to why this is on the list is because of the fact that while walking this type of purse tends to “slide” to the back of your hip, placing it right in front of a thief.

​Shoulder Bag (one you can’t wear crossbody)Depending on the bag sometimes the top of this kind of purse is left open with no clasp, meaning your wallet is vulnerable, especially if there is enough room at the top to slide a hand into the bag. Otherwise, an enterprising thief can use a box cutter to cut open the back of the bag and remove your wallet through the slit. Stealing a cell phone from this kind of bag is a snap since the pouch for it is usually on the bag exterior. Avoid this style of bag for travel unless it has built-in anti-theft features and the bag strap is long enough to wear it crossbody.

Fixed Bags

​Fanny Pack This style of bag can be just as easy as picking a pocket!  A good thief will simply press up against the victim, unbuckle the pack from the rear, and pass the fanny pack on to someone else. Sometimes, much like with wallets, the mark will still “feel” the bag on their body so they won’t even know that they have been victimized. Often thieves look for bags worn slightly to either side, then, masking their hand, slowly unzip the large compartment and remove the cash or wallet.

On the flip side, a fanny pack or waist pack is also a great way to carry your camera and other items you don’t want to put in your pocket or carry by hand. It’s all about choosing the right style of anti-theft waist pack  that will provide hands-free freedom and security of valuables. The best security waist pack have locking zippers to stop a pickpocket from the waist pack, wire embedded into the back strap to stop someone from cutting the rear strap from behind, as well as metal mesh embedded into the material to stop bag cutters. All these anti-theft features guard your gear and give you peace of mind. Choose a style right for your needs.

​Backpacks/Daypacks  A thief really needs two things to handle backpacks, proximity and the ability to find the wallet quickly. Many daypacks have a drawstring and a button, and pickpockets will often look for one with the button undone. Don’t travel with this type of bag. The best travel backpacks have zippers which lock down plus other anti-theft features. You really need to travel with one e of these newer styles with a full suite of anti-theft features.

Back Pack Purse Here is another pickpocket’s dream come true, a woman’s purse completely beyond her field of vision. Most backpack purses open with a clasp, same as a flap purse, but there are some with straps or both. A pickpocket will wait until the victim is right in front of him and then gently unbuckle the strap or loosen the drawstring, which will open the purse wide. If done gently and quick enough, the mark won’t notice because the back has fewer nerve endings than anywhere else.

Small Backpack Thieves also favor small backpacks because they are easy to open when out of the wearer’s sight. The lack of contact with the body and the lower density of nerves in the back make these bags an appealing target. It’s also easier to find the wallet quickly since it is a smaller area to search through. Security style backpacks for women and men

Unattended Bags A thief will consider any unattended bag fair game. The most common places for women to leave their bags unattended are in grocery stores, in restaurants, and in theaters. This is where using the strap to attach the bag to the cart handle, chair arm or chair back comes in handy.


Jacket Pockets Anything of value seen hanging out of a jacket pocket will soon vanish, and the most tempting item is loose cash. Wallets are just as easily plucked out, as well as cell phones or anything else that might be there. Our advice, don’t place valuables in pockets that are visible.

Back Pockets This is the sucker pocket, and anything carried in a back pocket is easily stolen. This is a favorite pocket for phones and wallets. Don’t use it, especially in a crowd. Use your front pants pocket. Even better, use a money belt tucked under your shirt.

Top Scams Pickpockets Use to Steal Purses

Kick the Purse When a woman sits down at a table or bar she’ll often set her bag on a nearby chair or on the floor beside of her. If it’s on the floor, a thief may wait until she is engrossed in either talking or eating. The purse thief will then casually walk past her table and gently kick the purse away from the table. Then he’ll pick it up and tuck it away or if the thief is a female, sling it over her shoulder as if it is hers. Small bags are usually taken this way.

​Gas Station Ruse Many women fall victim to theft at gas stations. Their car is usually unlocked while pumping gas and they typically face the pump, not watching their valuables inside the vehicle. Thieves have perfected a few rip-offs at gas stations. The first is simply to open a woman’s car door while she is looking at the pump. The second is to steal her bag while she runs in quickly to pay. The third is to involve her in a distraction, either trouble with the pump, or to ask for directions. While she is distracted an accomplice steals the bag from the car.

The Swarm A team of crooks target works a crowded section of the city that is full of tourists. The crooks know the escape routes and the areas that distract tourists most such as a famous building, fountain, etc. Spreading out from key vantage points, one will alert the other when a mark is spotted. The engrossed tourist won’t even know what hit him he consults a map or takes a photo. In a flash, a few people will bump into him talking loudly, and the next thing he knows his wallet, travel bag, or passport is stolen.

The Mommy Set Up A thief thinks of taking your possessions as a job. He probably tells himself that anyone who would be careless with their money or purse or wallet doesn’t deserve them. Some of them target playground areas where mothers take their children. The purse thief will look for two moms talking, and do something to make the children cry. Maybe take the child’s ball or throw sand on them. They know the mother’s instinct for her child is greater than for her purse or shopping bags. Once the mom or moms rush over, the thieves will help himself to their wallet or bags, fading quickly out of sight.

Restroom Snatch Have you ever noticed that purse hooks in restrooms are up high on the door? This gives easy access for a female thief to reach over the stall and be gone before you can react; throwing your purse over her shoulder like it belongs to her. Another alternative is to take the wallet out, quickly throw the purse back over the stall, to startle the woman. Thirdly, a female thief can place the stolen purse into a larger store shopping bag, and walk nonchalantly among the shoppers of a mall and not be identified.

Out of the Blue Densely populated cities, especially in Italy, are known for the occasional but shocking slash and grab theft from mopeds or bikes. The riders look for a woman walking near the edge of the sidewalk with her purse on her shoulder closest to the street.  As the thief drives by the victim from behind, he grabs the purse off her shoulder and speeds away.  Some thieves have been known to have an accomplice who rides on the back of the motorbike, and it is their job to complete the purse snatching, leaving the driving to the other thief.  In some shocking cases, they even use a knife to slash the strap. The key to this type of theft is finding a woman walking with the flow of traffic, and not facing it, so she cannot anticipate a thief riding a bike up from behind her.  See the best selection of security travel purses and handbags to help you keep your possessions secure


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Norwegian may not seem like an obvious fit for Heathrow slots. But these things are valuable, and if an airline can get them without paying a fortune, it is going to want them. Now the big question: What will Norwegian do with its three flights per week?

​Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA secured highly-prized operating slots at London Heathrow airport as the discounter focuses long-haul flights on the biggest cities after cutting routes from Scandinavia.

Norwegian won six weekly slot pairs, enough to operate three return trips, according to a report from Airport Coordination Ltd., which allocates takeoff and landing rights at Europe’s busiest hub. The carrier has previously limited long-haul operations from London to the less popular Gatwick facility.

The Heathrow move comes after Norwegian said last week it would stop flying to the U.S. and Thailand from Stockholm and Copenhagen starting in March in order to free up Boeing Co. 787 jetliners for additional trans-Atlantic services from London, Paris and Barcelona. It also means competing at the main base of British Airways, whose owner IAG SA has made failed bids for Norwegian.

​“We have a strong track record of disrupting incumbent carriers and alliances,” Norwegian Air said in emailed comments, adding that it continuously adjusts the network in response to demand.

While Heathrow slots are the priciest in aviation due to the airport’s limited capacity, the number allotted to Norwegian may leave it with a dilemma.

Norwegian initially sought seven slot pairs, which would have allowed it to offer a daily timetable. Operating just three times weekly would bring significant entrance costs with limited rewards, yet if the carrier doesn’t utilize the rights it risks losing them.

​Norwegian’s Dreamliner fleet has also been afflicted with availability issues as glitches concerning the jets’ Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc engines require them to be idled for remedial work. An improved blade for the latest version of the Trent 1000 turbine won’t be ready until 2021.

The carrier in September called a halt to Trans-Atlantic flying with narrow-body planes, saying that while the move had been prompted by the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max model after two fatal crashes, the services between smaller cities in the U.S. and Europe wouldn’t be resumed.

Hundreds of airline catering workers protesting at airports across the country for better wages and benefits were arrested on Tuesday.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Unite Here union members who took part in the protests laid on the ground outside major travel hubs, including Philadelphia International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

The protests came during the Thanksgiving holiday period, which is known as one of the busiest times to travel each year. Airline employees took to the streets to demand better wages and health benefits, as 30 percent reported not being insured and 25 percent make less than $12 per hour.

“We’re out here protesting across the country because we’re sick and tired of being the lowest-paid and worst-treated workers in the airline industry,” Unite Here President D. Taylor said in a statement. “It’s long past time for American Airlines, along with the rest of the industry, to do better by the people who make sure their flights are ready for take-off.”

In total, around 60 union members were arrested in New York, 50 were arrested in San Francisco, 39 were arrested in Philadelphia and more than a dozen were arrested in Los Angeles.

​American Airlines officials said they were confident a deal with Unite Here’s members could be reached soon.

Delta completes 20% purchase of LATAM

Hundreds of Airline Catering Workers Arrested for Protesting

Study finds bias in facial-recognition technology

Delta has completed its purchase of a 20% equity stake in LATAM Airlines Group. The $1.9 billion acquisition comes pursuant to the partnership the carriers announced in September. 

"Equity investments like this help create alignment within our partnerships as we bring together our brands, enabling us to provide the very best service and reliability for our shared customers," Steve Sear, Delta's president -- international, said in a prepared statement. 

Delta and LATAM shook up the international air market in September when they announced they would seek permission to operate a U.S.-South America joint venture partnership. The agreement upended the standing partnership between LATAM and American. 

The carriers plan to begin codesharing during the first quarter of 2020 on up to 51 onward LATAM destinations in South America from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru and on up to 74 onward Delta destinations in the U.S. from Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Orlando.

Getting a Passport Will Now Take Longer

Norwegian Air Wins Coveted London Heathrow Slots

Google Maps Will Now Tell You How Crowded Your Train or Bus Will Be


The Passport Services agency of the United States Department of State has increased the processing time for international travelers to as long as eight weeks.

According to The Washington Post, the agency said it would now take between six and eight weeks to successfully process a passport application, a 50 percent increase from the four-to-six wait time experienced before May 31.

​State Department officials said it offers an expedited processing service for an additional $60, which speeds up the arrival time of passports to between two and three weeks. While officials declined to comment on the long wait times when asked by The Post, the State Department did indicate short-staffing was to blame.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration “requested a 2.5 percent increase in airport checkpoint screeners for fiscal 2020,” according to The Post. The increase in employees would help with the forecasted rise in travelers.

Despite the record number of passports and passport cards delivered each of the last two years, the number of passport specialists employed by the government has dropped by 14 percent.

Now, union leaders are complaining about mandatory overtime hours as a result.

“To address high passport workload levels this summer, the Department is leveraging all available resources to ensure processing times do not rise further and that they return to lower levels by September,” a State Department official who declined to be named told The Post.

One in Four Americans Admits to Hiding From Family During the Holiday Season

Yellowstone National Park's Steamboat Geyser Is Nearing a Record-breaking Number of Eruptions

It's not pleasant, but it is an inevitable part of travel: delays. And worse, even, than sitting in an airport waiting for your delayed flight to finally begin boarding is when you've made it all the way onto the plane, squeezed yourself into your tiny seat, buckled up and then you just ... wait. And wait and wait.

In spite of the voice over the intercom optimistically informing passengers that they should "sit tight" because "we'll be on our way soon," soon never seems to arrive, leaving patience to wane and tempers to fray. If you've been sitting on the tarmac for more than than hour, you might start to seriously think about just getting off the plane. But is that really an option?

​Actually, yes. Although you'll need to sit tight for a little longer. U.S Department of Transportation regulations state that "airlines are required to begin to move the airplane to a location where passengers can safely get off before three hours (of delay) for domestic flights and four hours for international flights."

Weigh your decision carefully though, as airlines are not required to let you back on once the flight is ready to depart, and you might end up separated from your luggage: "The airline may not be required to offload any passenger’s checked bags before the plane takes off," the DOT states. "Passengers will need to contact the airline about returning their checked luggage at a later time."

Should you choose to wait it out, you won't go hungry or thirsty, according to the DOT. "Airlines must provide you with a snack, such as a granola bar, and drinking water no later than two hours after the aircraft leaves the gate (in the case of a departure) or touches down (in the case of an arrival)." There are no federal requirements for an airline to financially compensate passengers, but many will do so anyway, so don't be afraid to ask, politely.

​Surprisingly, considering they meet the very basic level of humanity, such regulations are fairly new. Following a few highly publicized cases in 2008 and 2009 in which people were trapped on planes for hours, the DOT to mandated the new rules in 2011. And it takes them seriously. When Southwest broke the law in 2014, the DOT fined it $1.6 million.

Nevertheless, flyers' rights advocates are concerned that the Trump administration may roll back the tarmac delay regulations (along with others). Last year, reported The Los Angeles Times, the DOT temporarily froze all pending airline-industry regulations as part of an administration push to cut the burden of red tape on American businesses. And it asked the public and airlines for comments on existing regulations that could be halted, revised or repealed.

"Many of the regulations/initiatives adopted or issued at the end of the previous administration are extremely costly, will be unduly burdensome on the airline industry, and should be repealed or permanently terminated," United Airlines said in its statement filed with the DOT.

Consumers' groups are not convinced. "The airlines are pretty clear that they want every consumer protection law repealed or not enforced," Paul Hudson, president of the nonprofit group Flyersrights.org, told The L.A. Times in March. "I'm concerned that they would try to repeal the few consumer-protection regulations that are out there." 




A recent study by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Safety Standards and Technology (NIST) found that facial-recognition technology is more likely to error on African American, Asian and Native American subjects than it is on Caucasians.

The results are likely to boost concerns among privacy advocates about bias in facial-recognition systems deployed at U.S airports and other points of entry and exit.

To date, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has introduced biometric facial-recognition technology for U.S. entry, exit or both at 25 U.S. airports. The biometric kiosks are deployed at gates of international flights per Congressional mandate in order to advance the federal government's goal of more thoroughly tracking visa overstays by foreign nationals. At those gates, photos are taken of flyers and then matched to passport photos that the Department of Homeland Security keeps on file. U.S. citizens can opt out of the biometric identity check and instead have their passport manually verified by a gate agent, but visitors must participate in the scans.

​The NIST study, which was unveiled on Dec. 19, evaluated 189 software algorithms from 99 developers. For the study, the NIST used 18.3 million images of 8.5 million people. The photographs were provided by the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

​For one-to-one matching, in which the software confirms one photo matches a different photo of the same person in a database, false positives were 10 to 100 times more likely for African Americans and Asians than for Caucasians. Among U.S.-developed algorithms, false positives were even more common for Native Americans.

For Asians, however, the dramatic differences compared with Caucasians disappeared on Asian-developed algorithms. That, said Patrick Grother, the report's primary author, suggests there is a connection between an algorithm's performance and the data used to train it.

"These results are an encouraging sign that more diverse training data may produce more equitable outcomes, should it be possible for developers to use such data," Grother said.

​Arguably more alarming than the false positive disparities in one-to-one matches was the study's finding relating to African American women in one-to-many matches, in which it is determined whether the person in a photo has a match in a database, such as an FBI database. The NIST team found higher rates of one-to-many false positives for African American women than other demographics, an issue that could make them more vulnerable to false accusations.

Still, the NIST emphasized that various algorithms performed differently.

"Such distinctions are important to remember as the world confronts the broader implications of face-recognition technology's use," the NIST said.

Alitalia has been on life support for more than two years and the government shows no sign of wanting to pull the plug. Is it ever going to be fit enough to attract a takeover?

​Italy is set to approve a new 400 million-euro ($442 million) loan for failed airline Alitalia, people familiar with the situation said.

The Rome-based government will give the green light to the funding at a cabinet meeting late Monday, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential deliberations.

The new loan throws a lifeline to Alitalia as the government continues to seek investors to relaunch the carrier. State rail operator Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA and infrastructure giant Atlantia SpA said last month that it was not possible to come up with a viable investment plan for the airline.

​One of the people said the government will start a new sale procedure for the company with a deadline in the first half of next year.

Foreign airlines Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Delta Air Lines Inc. have in the past shown some interest in investing in Alitalia, but plans for possible equity involvement have to date been conditioned on far-reaching, credible cost-cutting commitments.

​Alitalia has been managed by state-appointed administrators since 2017 and is currently burning through a previous 900 million-euro state loan.

Cruise Ship Sexual Assault Cases Reportedly on the Rise

A LOT of them were due to "odor events."

​If you watch the news at all (you shouldn’t, by the way), you probably feel like there are reports of airplane emergency landings every single day. Debilitating turbulence! Landing gear failure! Angry passengers threatening to kill everyone on board! (That one happened pretty recently.) Honestly, the deluge of information could make a nervous flier out of pretty much anyone.

But listen, it’s not as bad as it seems. We consulted Aviation’s Global Incident Map of 2017 (January 1 through December 26) and reviewed each and every recorded emergency landing of a passenger plane in the U.S. The good news: There were only 185 emergency landings total in the domestic U.S. out of an estimated 9.7 million flights — all of which concluded without incident. That’s a nerves-alleviating 0.00002 percent chance of having an emergency landing.

Even more relieving: The majority of those emergency landings were caused by weird-yet-innocuous odors or smells. Why is a smell worthy grounding a plane? Well, it’s a combination of taking precautionary measures, easing passengers’ fears, and avoiding odor-induced illness. (One American Airlines flight famously landed because a passenger “passed gas,” causing other fliers to become nauseous, according to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.)

The new feature will work in over 200 cities around the world. 

​Squeezing sardine-like into a train with hundreds of other commuters is never enjoyable — but thanks to Google Maps, you’ll now have the wherewithal to shift your departure to avoid the crowds. The app’s new feature, which launches Thursday, July 4, allows travelers to see in advance how busy their train, subway, or bus will be before they even leave the house.

​According to Mashable, the tool, which was first tested in Sydney, Australia in October, will have data for 200 cities around the world, including 46 U.S. metro areas. New York City, Portland, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area all made the list.

Like the app’s store and restaurant predictions, which tell people when locations will be busiest, the new transportation feature utilizes user data pulled during the busy 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. commute to determine when routes will be the most crowded. When you plug your destination into Google Maps, the new feature will also let you know how likely it is that you’ll be sitting or standing for the upcoming ride.

​The Google Map feature for buses includes real-time delays and arrivals for public buses in each of the 200 cities. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a recommendation for Boeing to redesign the engine covers on its 737 NG aircraft after a failure last year that resulted in the death of a passenger.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the NTSB investigation found that Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia in April 2018 after the plane experienced engine failure about 20 minutes into the journey.

​Instead of the engine cowl keeping the broken fan blades contained and ejecting them out the rear, one of the fractured pieces pierced through the engine cover, hit the plane’s fuselage and broke a window.

As a result, the cabin depressurized and passenger Jennifer Riordan was partially sucked out the window. While other passengers and crew members managed to pull her back into the plane and perform CPR, Riordan became the first passenger killed in the U.S. on a commercial airplane in nine years.

​“Jennifer's family would like to thank the NTSB for the investigation and hope that these recommendations are taken seriously to ensure no other family has to go through this type of tragedy ever again,” Riordan’s family told ABC News. “In honor of Jennifer, please remember to be kind, loving, caring and sharing.”

The recommended redesign would impact around 6,800 Boeing 737 NG planes and could take months to complete, but it’s now up to the Federal Aviation Administration to determine if an Air Worthiness directive is worth issuing.

Boeing responded to the findings by saying the company is “committed to implementing enhancements, including strengthening the engine covering.”

​NTSB officials also commended Capt. Tammie Jo Shults, who managed to land the Southwest plane safely thanks to her quick thinking and composure.