Tag: airport security

The 10 most unusual objects confiscated by airport security officers

The 10 most unusual objects confiscated by airport security officers

The most interesting thing about airports is the variety of people and cultures that you can find inside them. People arriving and departing from and to any country in the world. People with adventures that are just about to start or experiences that have just finished with the landing of the plane they just hopped of. Airports carry all sorts of stories and feelings all day and all night long, 24/7. It is a never-ending activity that has so many things going on, not only people speaking different languages, or practicing different religions but also different ways of dressing and even different types of objects contained in their luggage.  As all passengers normally know, not all objects are allowed through customs. There are many restrictions that most people are aware of, when it comes to travelling with luggage that contain certain items that are just not that common, but instead dangerous, sometimes even creepy and therefore prohibited on airplanes.

Here is a list of unusual, strange and even creepy objects that have been found and confiscated by customs or airport security in different airports around the world. Objects that airport personnel are still not sure why someone would carry in their luggage, or even think about achieving.

A plastic bag with 40 vacuum packed frogs

This is certainly a very odd piece of luggage content. Not only because it involves 40 animals, but also because they are vacuum packed, meaning they are already dead and someone is keeping them well packed for a very special reason. In this case that reason is rather uncertain, but still the idea of having a bag with 40 dead frogs in a suitcase it not exactly what you can call “normal”. There are regulations for the transportation of animals that are alive or dead, in every airline.

A Samurai Sword

The person who tried to get on a plane with a Samurai Sword, was handling this as an antique, not as a weapon, and since a sword is a weapon, it doesn’t matter if it’s an antique or not.

A human skull

A man was carrying a skull in his luggage while he was traveling in Italy. Carrying human parts will definitely get you in trouble at any airport, especially if you don’t have any permission or something that demonstrates the legal permits for handling it.

Dried caterpillars

The border agency officer who found these insects in the luggage of someone who had soldier luggage, was pretty shocked since the only explanation experts could find was that these insects were transported this way with the purpose of doing some kind of harm in terms of food and therefore health.

Snakes hidden in a bra

In Sweden, a woman was arrested in an airport for carrying more than 70 snakes inside her bra. Of course the snakes were not very big, but still, there are restrictions and regulations  if you want to carry animals as luggage, especially is they are alive, and even more important, when the passenger hides them inside their clothes.

A Chameleon

A girl was able to travel with her pet chameleon sitting quietly on her head, under a hat, from the Arab Emirates to the UK.

Poisonous Tarantulas

A person got his luggage confiscated after more than 40 living poisonous tarantulas were found in his luggage. The tarantulas were hidden in their clothes but they were kept in plastic containers adapted to keep them alive during the trip. This is a very dangerous kind of luggage that departed originally from Peru.

Human eyeballs

As crazy as it sounds, a jar filled with human eyeballs and some kind of liquid was found and confiscated by customs in London. This is one of the creepiest items of this list.

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Image courtesy of Fermín R.F. at Flickr.com

Pigeons

Even if it seems kind of impossible, a man landed in Australia with live pigeons inside of his pants. The birds were alive when they were found. They were confiscated  

An Egyptian sarcophagus

This was a very big item found in Miami Airport. It was supposed to travel in a casket so people wouldn’t easily find out what it really was. Egyptian experts that examined the piece, mentioned this piece was probably one of a group of Egyptian treasures that were stolen a century ago.

Things you need to know about in-flight Internet connectivity in the U.S.

Things you need to know about in-flight Internet connectivity in the U.S.

When we see crowded airports across the United States, we also presence masses of people that crave to stay connected. Connectivity is a widespread aspect of modern times, where Wi-Fi spots abound everywhere: in cafes, public buildings, buses, trains, airports. Internet is all around us, and we want even more. And more means checking emails, getting social network updates and browsing, and all while flying. In-flight Internet access is getting more common since it is regarded by airlines as a great opportunity to increase their income. As stated on one of the most prominent air travel analytics website, Routehappy, airlines Internet coverage in the United States is 78% of available seat miles, unlike non U.S. companies with coverage of just 24% of available seat miles. A key responsible for these numbers in the United States is Gogo (a company which founded in-flight Internet industry in 2008), which is present in nearly 72% of every commercial airplane that offers the service.

Current in-flight Internet experiences will vary depending on the airline you are flying with. You could either watch your favorite series in Netflix with practically no interruptions or get extremely frustrated unsuccessfully trying to upload a file your boss needs urgently. This basically depends on the type of connection the airplane uses (it could be either from orbiting satellites above or ground cell towers from below), and the type of antennas it is equipped with. Having this in mind, connection speeds varies from 3 Mbps up to 70 Mbps of shared capacity, not only sharing with the other passengers, also from the planes that fly through the same airspace. In terms of money you could end up spending from $10 to $30 for the whole flight time on a very low speed Internet connection or the opposite, when airlines offer free Internet at speeds close to 10 Mbps, without content restrictions.

Different in-flight Internet providers in the United States

Gogo: as mentioned before, Gogo is in almost 72% of every commercial carrier offering the in-flight service. The initial idea behind Gogo is that executive travelers will pay any price to work while flying, since bills are paid by their employers. The company relies mainly on ground cell towers, but has started using satellite technology for greater speeds.

ViaSat: the company redefines in-flight connectivity since they have Ku-based satellite services, providing amounts of bandwidth that let everyone use the Internet without any shortage in capacity. Another big difference is the way they sell the service. Gogo charge passengers and gives the airlines an amount. Viasat charge the airline and it is up to them to transfer the cost to the final users. ViaSat’s main U.S. customer is JetBlue.

GEE: Global Eagle Entertainment uses Ku-band satellites. It supports a bandwidth close to 40 Mbps total, with usual restrictions due to network sharing. GEE powers Southwest, and they charge $8 per day for the access.    

Panasonic eXConnect: also uses Ku-band satellites to deliver broadband connectivity to aircraft. As seen on seat-back screens, Panasonic is in the hardware business, so the company funds the cost of Internet connectivity to the airlines they have a contract with. The company buys more capacity from satellites than the others, so their service is also faster.  

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Image courtesy of jqpubliq at Flickr.com

Airlines Internet providers and general costs

Alaska (provider: Gogo). Almost total availability on the 48 states, as well as specific areas of Alaska. Rates vary depending on your preferences: all-day passes will be $16, hour passes $5 and a Multi-Airline pass per month $59.95.

American (provider: Gogo). They say availability on their flights is almost total. Prices as discussed before.  

Delta (provider: Gogo). Check for availability on your flight on the booking process. Prices as discussed before.

Frontier (provider: Gogo). Only available when flying on its Embraer 190. Prices as discussed before.

Hawaiian (not currently available)

JetBlue (provider: ViaSat). Free on every plane, for checking emails and simple web browsing. A $9 per-hour plan is available for movie streaming with up to 12 Mbps.

Southwest (provider: GEE). Available on more than 400 planes. $8 per day  and additional $5 per movie. Travelers using iMessage cant text at $2.

Spirit (not currently available)

United (provider: Gogo). Available on some flights. Currently changing to satellite in-flight Wi-Fi. Fees are established during booking.

Virgin America (provider: Gogo). Available on all flights within U.S. Prices as discussed before.

In conclusion, paying more is not a guarantee of an adequate connection while you fly. However, the tendency for the foreseeable future is that in-flight connectivity is becoming faster and more reliable since better aircraft are available. While Internet is a modern necessity, competition among companies will necessarily force them to try to stand out from the others, then, providing a good quality in-flight service could be very helpful.       

Why are important variations of oil in the aviation industry?

Why are important variations of oil in the aviation industry?

The price of fuel has a fundamental role in the global economy because it directly impacts the price regulation of various industries. One of the most representative industry, which is directly affected by changes in oil prices is the aviation industry, because fuel represents 40 percent of the costs fixed for its operation, this cost is borne by the companies areas in most cases are private in nature, but this is an industry that is characterized by a high level of regulation by the state, largely because it represents a source of income for countries because of tax rates. For example, in 2012, the Department of Transportation of the United States ruled that “when a cost component is described as a fuel surcharge. The amount must be reflected in reality a reasonable estimate of the cost of fuel per passenger incurred by the company “.

Therefore, generally the most affected are the final customers, which can be air passengers who buy tickets at a very high price, or users of air freight shipments. This plight directly affects the growth in demand for air transport related to this market, other industries are also affected by this phenomenon, such as those that depend directly on tourism and hotel occupancy. It is for this reason that regulators in countries implement policies to prevent the bankruptcy of Airlines companies.

As a measure to reduce the risk that changes bring oil companies have taken different internal strategies, for example, companies in this sector have made investments aimed at modernizing its fleet, which contains the technologies that allow you reduce fuel use, other measure taken by the airlines is that they are generating more promotions to attract customers, which increases the volume of passenger traffic, increased revenues and the impact of fuel is minimized. Also, some time ago, when this commodities began to have very drastic fluctuations, some airlines began to take action in more logistical aspects of each flight, for example they began to count the weight of the food, buying new cars for hostesses and reduce use of wraps and getting to the point of making tourist packages that do not include meals on the plane. These and other mechanisms are used by companies to reduce part of its fixed costs and thus manage to be competitive in this market where few companies achieve success. Some companies are investigating and exploring other sources of energy to replace fuel, however it is not easy because this fuel has characteristic components that make it difficult to replace.

There are also other factors that intervene in the price movement of this hydrocarbon, must take into account the geopolitical context, directly it affects the supply of this material, for example “The crisis generated in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia (3 percent of world supply) made the price of a barrel of oil climbed 15 percent. ” In response to this effect was created and unilaterally decided by the big distributors in the 1960 OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), which is responsible for coordinating the policies of oil production from its member countries, in order to stabilize the international oil market.

At present, the oil has reached the lowest point in 12 years, down from US $ 30 per barrel, which should be reflected in the direct and indirect costs of air operation, then the users of this service several questions are asked, as: How you could benefit from these changes? How can the airlines charge passengers a fuel surcharge?.The reality is that prices are not declining fares as airlines are charging over-rates in the final price of the tickets, this is largely because they charge for other items in order to maintain profit margins that are used to have. The question is how government protect the consumer rights? It is necessary to make an analysis to identify indirect costs associated with the provision of air transport services because in some companies in addition to shuttle other services which are able not to be charged to the user of the transport costs.

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Image courtesy of Thomas Hawk at Flickr.com

In conclusion, the airline industry is highly vulnerable to fluctuating fuel prices, since this greatly affects the cost of this service. Aviation fuel is the primary factor in the operation of airlines worldwide, therefore daily scientists and experts are looking for a new renewable energy sources as alternatives to transform the aviation a more profitable business.

The most dangerous and scariest airports in the US

The most dangerous and scariest airports in the US

Safety is one of the things you always naturally expect when you decide to travel by plane. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is the authority that not only oversees all aspects of American civil aviation but among its functions, it also regulates it in terms of safety promotion through the AVS organization (Aviation Safety), which is in charge of all the certifications this matter requires in order to guarantee exactly what every passenger minimally expects: safety.

This means that every airport´s safety in the US is regulated to make sure any accidents or unexpected events are caused, avoiding any possible risks for the passengers and people involved in the operation. The truth is, despite the uncountable safety measures applied on air travel, there are still a lot of passengers that cannot control their fear of flying, especially when some airports have certain conditions that don´t look completely reliable in terms of safety.

Flying is still one of the safest ways to travel from one place to another, but every airport, every city, country and environment is different, so there may be some airports that are just scarier than others and there are also some airports that are truly more dangerous than others.

The FAA continuously evaluates the safety statistics of airports in the US, including the number of runway incidents and the chances of collision.  Here are the lists of the scariest and the so called “dangerous” airports in the US.

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Image courtesy of Don Buciak II at Flickr.com

5 airports in the US that have had accidents in the past and were cataloged as “dangerous”

The Dallas Fort Worth international Airport

With planes flying too close together, along with controllers that haven´t notified their colleagues when a plane is cleared for takeoff and additionally, regulation authorities that have been covering up these kind of mistakes and at some point blaming the pilots for many issues, are very good reasons for considering this airport as one of the most dangerous ones in the US

Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport

This airport had a collision of two Jets in the past. Safety measures have been improved but still it has the risk and people feel the uncertainty in this matter.

Miami International Airport

A few years ago, a catering truck collided with a plane. Both vehicles were damaged but no passenger was hurt.

Cleveland Hopkins Airport

It turns out several overnight shift controllers had to be suspended because they were continuously taking naps, playing videogames and watching DVD movies instead of directing the air traffic. Even though they said they did it when the traffic was light, this still represents a huge risk for the flights and their passengers.

The Chicago O’Hare

Two airplanes collided in the tarmacs of this airplane. This made the Chicago O’Hare a dangerous airport at one point.

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Image courtesy of Niklas Hellerstedt at Flickr.com

The 7 so-called “scariest” airports in the US

Aspen/Pitkin County Airport

Landing in this airport is not that simple. Pilots must be certified for this special landing between two snowy mountains at a high altitude including a swift descent.

John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana

The special thing about this airport is that it has very strict noise reduction policies. This means pilots have to do whatever is in their hands to ascend quickly and then all of the sudden, cut back the plane’s engines.

Midway International Airport, Chicago

The short runways in this airport are about 2000 ft. shorter than other airport. The airport is surrounded by neighborhoods that will always be at risk.

Yeager Airport in Charleston

This airport’s runway is shorter than regular runways and it is located on top of a flattened mountain. It is also in the middle of two cliffs, so miscalculation cannot happen because in case that happens there will be nowhere else to go but down.

San Diego International Airport

This airport is located downtown and it has mountains to its north and its east. On its south is Mexico and on its west it normally gets tailwinds which are not very convenient for takeoffs and landings.

Catalina Airport, Avalon, CA

This airport is called “the Airport in the sky”, because of it high elevation. Turbulence is very common here and the runway drops off on both of its sides. The runway is also very raised in the middle.

Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC

The Reagan National Airport is located in between two no-fly zones. Pilots must be very careful on takeoff. The must ascend very fast and avoid flying over the White House.

 

Some of the effects of 9/11 in United States Airports

Some of the effects of 9/11 in United States Airports

The tragic September 11, 2001 is unfortunately remembered by people around the globe, especially by airport frequent travelers. In the past the process of going through airport security was very simple and it was limited to maybe taking off your shoes or removing a belt with a big buckle. It was actually a quick process. After 9/11 things changed drastically. Airports felt the impact first hand as security increased to ensure safety for passengers, crew members and aircrafts.  Airport security checks became a tedious thing and a long process with many necessary regulations to follow in order to get into the plane and many policies changed or were created in order to make airports and airplanes safer.

The most important change in airport security was the creation of the TSA, Transportation Security Administration. The TSA was created as a response to the 9/11 attacks because it was thought that it was better for only one agency to control air travel around the USA. Although the TSA is responsible for the security in highways, railroads, buses, mass transit systems, pipelines and ports, their biggest efforts are focused on airports and specifically on passenger and baggage screening.

A very controversial change or addition to airport security was the behavior detection security program and its Behavior Detection officers, also known as BDOs. The idea is that officers are placed near the security check points in order to speak with each and every person at the security line by asking them two or three questions to analyze their answers and look for behavior patterns that may lead them to identify suspicious travelers.

The Advanced Imaging Technology is a new thing after the sad 9/11. It was a controversial issue because people didn’t like to be scanned and showed in a screen and it was believed that the radiation could cause cancer. In Fact, many pilots didn’t agree with the policy due to their exposure to radiation. The new technology is now less invasive and shows a silhouette of the person instead of full body images.

The old x ray machines were replaced by a new technology for explosive detectors. Before 9/11 only these types of machines did the job but there are now replacing them and adding machines with scent detectors as well.  They are extensively used in the baggage area to easily detect explosive levels in the suitcases and luggage.

Shoe screening is one of the things that all the air travelers take for granted and are used to in any Unites States airport. The curious thing is that before 9/11 this was a not a mandatory rule and after the Richard Colvin Reid a.k.a. the “Shoe Bomber” case, where he pleaded guilty and explained  that he had planned to get into a plane and detonate a bomb hidden in his shoe in 2002, regulations got even harder. These two incidents led airport policies to focus on shoe screening as a vital part of the security line procedure.

Seeing dogs or trained dogs at the airports is a daily bread.  Very few airports lack a trained dog and after 9/11 almost any airport in the USA has a trained dog to detect explosives when a strange package is left behind or when there are suspicious suitcases. It could seem as a normal thing, but before 9/11 dogs were used only in extreme cases and only when needed.

Another security measure that changed was a stricter physical screening. The measure was brought down in 2010 after heavy opposition from passengers. At the moment only suspicious baggage or cabin baggage is manually checked if the passenger claims forbidden products or larger amounts of liquid in order to rule out possible threats to passengers, crew member and aircraft.

 

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Image courtesy of Globovisión at Flickr.com

Before 9/11, it was very common to place a lock on your luggage in case it was going to be opened or robbed. People always got a little scared when they saw their locked opened or ruined. After 9/11, locks are no longer allowed in the suitcases as luggage can be manually screened. Only TSA accepted and recognized locks are allowed to be placed on luggage and screeners have the adequate tools to open and re-lock these locks.

 

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Image courtesy of Neville Hobson at Flickr.com

9/11 was one of the most shocking events in the history of American aviation. Everybody remembers that day and a lot of things changed around the world. As for airport security measures, they became harder and more severe, even a bit annoying for passengers, but necessary. Nowadays airports are a very safe place and terrorism is highly controlled by authorities that are alert 24/7 for possible suspects and suspicious behaviors. There have not been many incidents related to terrorism and airport security, although it is always better to be aware and report any strange incidents to the authorities.