Category Archives: Airlines

5 Tech Hacks That Will Save You a Bundle on Airfare

We all love to complain about airlines and their never-ending efforts to find new, clever, and incredibly annoying ways to squeeze every penny out of travelers. But when it comes to soothing your travel rage, revenge is sweeter than anger.

You know they’re using every tool out there to maximize their profits. So, of course, you should arm yourself with every tech hack possible to fight back and potentially save yourself a ton of money. Plus, how great does it feel to get a great deal and beat the airlines at their own game? Happy shopping!

1. Google Flights is your best friend.

As Suzy Strutner points out on The Huffington Post, when it comes to saving money on flights, Google Flights is your best friend. In an enormously helpful article, Strutner lays out all the ways the site can help you get a deal, including its “best bang for your buck feature” that figures out the best deal not only based on price but also on flight duration, and notifications when prices will probably jump via your phone.

2. A niche site for every issue.

Kayak and Google Flights might be the usual go-to choices for the savvy traveler, but there are a ton of other tech tools you should be aware of that can help with a head-spinning variety of particular travel issues.

  • Hopper notifies you of price drops.
  • Got no time but $49? FlightFox will do the work of finding cheap airfare for you.
  • Yapta tracks your flight details and lets you know if the price drops after you purchase. If the decrease is large enough, it can be worth paying the penalty to change your ticket.
  • Budget airlines don’t appear on all comparison sites, but WhichBudget will tell you which ones fly where.
  • Not sure where you want to go? Skyscanner shows you the best deals currently on offer for a particular country or even the whole world.
  • Use Points.com to trade, buy, or redeem points.
  • Airfarewatchdog employs actual humans to handpick a smaller number of truly awesome deals.

3. Clear your cookies.

Clever airlines use every crumb of data they can get to decide how much money they can charge you, including whether you’ve visited travel booking sites previously. Deprive them of that info by clearing the cookies on your browser and you’re likely to see a lower price.

Setting your browser to incognito or private browsing mode before you start searching works too.

4. Fudge your location.

What other information do airlines use to set fares? Your location. Tickets are sometimes cheaper in countries with a lower cost of living, a fact you can use to your advantage, Erica Ho of Map Happy tells Thrillist.

“It’s as simple as using the airline’s regional website (or masking your IP address to make it look like you live there) to buy your ticket in the foreign currency. So, let’s say you wanted to fly from Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa. All you’d do is log onto South African Air’s local site (.za, NOT .com) — or use a VPN to get a South African IP address — select the ATL-JNB flight you want, and buy it in Rand — preferably using a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees,” explains the site.

5. Pretend you’re going solo.

According to lifestyle site MyDomaine, “many airlines hike up prices when you’re buying several seats at once.” Therefore, “even if you’re booking for the entire family, be sure to do a separate search for the flights set to one person first.”

Airline Allegedly Has Mom Arrested After She Gives Blanket To Her Son (She Was In Business, He Was In Economy)

This is only one side of the story. But what a side.

Sara Celeste Farfan Garcia says that on June 15 she was sitting in Copa Airlines’ Business Class on a flight from Panama City to Lima, Peru.

As with a lot of flights, cabin temperature was on the chilly side.


So, as Garcia says in a Facebook post, she passed her blanket to her young son.

He was sitting at the front of Economy with other relatives.

Copa Airlines doesn’t give Economy passengers blankets. Just imagine how much money that saves.

Now you know how many airlines don’t like it if passengers break their rules.

Well, Garcia says that she was approached by an angry flight attendant, who explained that her son wasn’t allowed to have a blanket and so there.

The blanket was removed and it all seems to have escalated, at least in Garcia’s version, to the flight attendant “verbally assaulting and pushing” her.

Oh, and calling the police. They, in turn, allegedly threatened to handcuff Garcia and took her and her family off the flight.

She claims the flight attendant insisted that Garcia had injured her and was pretending to limp.

She also says she was detained in a police station for some hours.

I contacted Copa Airlines to ask for its version of the incident and received a very different story.

An airline spokesman said that Garcia was “disruptive and aggressive.” Indeed, the airline said that it has filed a legal complaint in a Peruvian court against her.

Moreover, the airline insists that the blanket story “did not occur as reported.” It didn’t specify in what ways its truth differs, however, other than to say that “key details” were omitted by Garcia.

If Garcia’s version resembles the truth, this appears to be yet another case of airline staff taking rules to slightly pointless levels.

On Facebook, opinion was divided. Some criticized Garcia for sitting in Business Class while her son was in Economy. Others were appalled at the flight attendant’s attitude.

So many times recently, airline staff enforcing rules in a manner devoid of common sense have only made themselves and their companies look like the ultimate antithesis of customer service providers.

I can imagine that some US airlines will be relieved that it isn’t just their own staff who might take on officious airs and graces.

This isn’t, though, the first time an airline’s blanket policy has caused uproar on a flight.

Earlier this year, a Hawaiian Airlines Economy Class passenger became a touch upsetwhen he was asked to pay $12 for a blanket. Yes, of course the flight was diverted. What did you expect?

When airline-customer relations become the apogee of pettiness, how can airlines expect passengers feel warm and fuzzy toward them?

The sad truth, I suspect, is that many airlines don’t care all that much. As long as their profits grow and their competition is limited, they’re happy.

American, Delta and Frontier airlines all slapped with fines for consumer rule violations — nothing for United

Frontier Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have been fined for violating U.S. Transportation Department airline consumer protection rules, the department said on Friday.

Frontier Airlines was fined $400,000 for violating oversales and disability rules, American Airlines $250,000 for failing to make timely refunds to passengers, and Delta Air Lines $200,000 for filing inaccurate baggage reports, the department said in a statement.

Delta failed to properly report all baggage claims from 2012 through 2015 and told the Transportation Department that if it had reported all claims it would have likely fallen from fourth to fifth in rankings among carriers for fewest baggage claims in 2012 and 2013.

Delta said in a statement it was notified last year its damaged bag policy was not compliant with the department’s published guidelines and it immediately updated its policy.

Frontier “failed to seek volunteers before bumping passengers involuntarily, failed to provide bumped passengers the required written notice describing their rights, and failed to provide proper compensation to passengers in a timely manner” the Transportation Department said. It reviewed more than 200 complaints.

“Frontier remains committed to complying with DOT rules,” the airline said in a statement, adding it updated procedures “that were not effective” and “taken steps including, introducing a new reporting system.” It must also add a new quality assurance management position by Sept. 1.

American Airlines failed to process a “significant number” of refunds in a timely fashion in 2015, the department said.

The company said Friday it “is committed to providing timely refunds to our customers.”

American said it “took proactive steps to address refund delays some customers experienced in 2015 due to a systems integration issue after the merger with US Airways, including investments to improve processing times.”

Airline bumping practices have drawn more scrutiny following video of a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines flight in April.

This and other incidents have been broadcast on social media, prompting congressional hearings with airline executives that raised questions about customer service and airline cost-cutting.

Southwest Airlines Co said in April it would end overbooking, while United announced policy changes, including boosting compensation for overbooked passengers to up to $10,000.

Legislation unveiled in Congress in June would make it illegal for an airline to bump an already boarded passenger from a flight. Another measure before Congress would require new rules for airlines promptly to refund passengers for baggage fees or other fees if they do not receive the service.

(Reporting by Eric Beech and David Shepardson in Washington; editing by Cynthia Osterman and Grant McCool)

Fascinating Air Travel Secrets Your Flight Attendants Do Not Tell You

Flying has brought about a revolution in the way people travel. What used to be a risky and costly endeavor has become a normal means of transportation today. And it’s no surprise because who would really prefer driving for days or weeks when you can now simply fly your way to your intended location in just a few hours?

But did you know that a hundred years after aviation was introduced, many aspects of plane travel still remain a mystery to the majority today? Well, that’s because there are things airlines do not really disclose openly. Of course, there are many things that regular passengers aren’t privy to, but here are the juiciest air travel secrets you need to know that flight attendants do not tell you.

Those tiny holes in select aircraft windows are for your safety.

If you ever gaze out of your window during your flight and you spot a tiny hole towards the bottom, there’s no reason to be alarmed. That wouldn’t cause the plane to crash. In fact, it’s there to help keep the plane intact.

Called ‘bleed’ or ‘breather’ holes, the openings are designed to help with the air pressure inside the plane cabin. At a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, the air pressure is so low that anyone would pass out if they were exposed to it, so a plane’s cabin must be pressurized to be able to breathe. Good for us passengers, yes, but not for the aircraft. Enter the mysterious window holes, the only way to release some of the strain pressure puts on the plane.

Another of its function? It also keeps the window fog-free so you can enjoy the view of the scenery below.

What are flight attendants for?

They may look like they’re simply air waitresses, but there’s really more to being a flight attendant than just that. Business Insider says one of the main purposes of deploying them aboard the plane is because they are the ones announcing whether or not the plane is about to crash.

“The captain will give you the same information that we know if there is time and then we will begin emergency landing procedures,” the anonymous flight attendant said. “My job is to make sure we all get out alive, so of course I would want you to be as prepared as possible.”

They are also there in case of medical emergencies. Flight attendants are actually trained to do CPR, use a defibrillator, and deliver a baby, among others. So the next time they smile at you, know that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that you’d hope they’ll never need to do.

They dim the lights during takeoff and landing for evacuation.

If you thought its just to urge you to put your book or phone down, you’re wrong. The cabin lights are dimmed so your eyes are adjusted to the dark in case you need to find a way out.

“Imagine being in an unfamiliar bright room filled with obstacles when someone turns off the lights and asks you to exit quickly,” Chris Cooke, a pilot with a major domestic carrier, told Independent.

And in a true crisis—if the plane is filled with smoke or the power goes out—it’s easier to see the emergency lights in the aisle and the exit signs in a darker cabin. Safety during emergencies is also the reason why flight attendants ask you to put up tray tables and seats at takeoff and landing; so the person sitting by the window can get out quickly.

Not turning your phone off or putting it in flight mode can really cause a crash.

This is a plea we hear at the beginning of every flight which the vast majority comply with, even if they’re not 100 percent sure why. Most of us assume its signal could interfere with navigation instruments, possibly causing a crash. This is technically true, but it’s not safety critical.

Pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith, says it’s more of an exercise of caution. “Can cellular communications really disrupt cockpit equipment? The answer is potentially yes, but in all likelihood no,” he said in an interview. The main issue is phone signals interfering with the airplane and causing more work for the pilots during critical phases of flight. Although it affects in a small degree, Smith says “Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are merely erring on the better-safe-than-sorry side.”

Airplane pillows/blankets are reused.

Yes, airlines change the pillow cases and blankets every day, but not every flight so that blanket you’re sleeping under may not be so fresh. Most of the time, airlines just refold and re-use them on flights, according to ex-flight attendant Fatihah Sudewo.

“It depends on how cheap the airline is, but I’ve had my share seeing them [the cleaning team] refolding the blankets for the passengers on the next flight to use,” she wrote. “At least they were generous enough to replace the pillow covers and the headrest covers.”

Flight attendants dress the pillows with new covers and take the old ones alongside the blankets at the end of the day with them to be the washed. Fresh ones then come on the first flight in the morning, so if you’re flying midday or late night, be sure to stock up on that Vitamin C and hand sanitizer before hitting the tarmac. If that’s still gross to you, you may ask for a new blanket in a plastic bag or not use one at all.

Plane water is gross.

If you want to drink water, make sure it’s from the bottle. Avoid getting coffee or tea because chances are the water used to make them comes from the craft’s water tank located under the plane which is probably not very clean.

And so are the lavatories and other cabin surfaces.

Plane bathrooms are much worse. Not only do they have constricted spaces and unflattering lighting, they are very dirty also that even flight attendants avoid them if possible. Most of them only use the lavatory to wash their hands or if they really need to go to the bathroom. If it’s a short time, they oftentimes wait until they can use the bathroom at the airport.

Other cabin surfaces like food trays are not guaranteed clean either. Diapers have been laid on them and sometimes they’re even smeared with poo. They are not regularly washed and sanitized. Most people get sick after flying not because of what they breathe but because of what they touch and food trays are one of the culprits.

Pilots can’t eat the same meal at the same time.

The pilot and co-pilot are served different meals which they cannot share. Why? So that if it causes food poisoning, there will be someone left to fly the plane. However, New York Times says it’s not FAA regulation, but rather each airline decides their own rules.

Flight attendants, on the other hand, are a different case. Depending on the airline, sometimes they have the same meal as the passengers or have a much better one. In Sudewo’s experience, she says: “Our meals are slightly better than the passenger meals. While the quality of food varies by airline, she said that there’s “at least a trolley dedicated for the crews” with fresh fruit, bread rolls, desserts, drinks and more.

Those oxygen masks only give you 15 minutes of air.

That’s right. If there is an emergency and the cabin is depressurized, the oxygen masks that come down from the ceiling are attached to tanks which typically have only 15 minutes worth of supply per person. That amount of time seems short, but 15 minutes is plenty of time for the pilot to get the craft to a safe altitude where the oxygen masks are not needed anymore. This nightmare scenario will hopefully not happen to you, but if it does, at least you know how much oxygen supply you have, right?

Which air travel secrets fascinated you the most? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.

Queen rocker flies into a rage over BA first class: Guitarist Brian May furious that recliner seats are no longer next to the windows

Queen guitarist Brian May is preoccupied with minor changes to the seating plan when he flies first class on British Airways

Amid the seemingly endless bad news of terrorist attacks and disasters, one man apparently has more pressing concerns.

Queen guitarist Brian May is preoccupied with minor changes to the seating plan when he flies first class on British Airways.

The 69-year-old, who is married to former EastEnders star Anita Dobson, is furious that the recliner seats have been reconfigured so they are no longer immediately next to the windows.

‘Travelling on planes has for years been something I have had to do, as part of my job,’ explains May.

‘As I fly today with British Airways, I wonder if I am the only person left in the world who likes to relax in a comfortable seat and dreamily turn my head to the window and get lost in the ever-changing wonders of the planet as they drift by?

‘I wonder this because I’m not aware of anyone except me complaining about the new way the seats are configured in BA First Class.’ May, who memorably performed a guitar solo on the roof of Buckingham Palace at the start of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee concert, wails about the seating changes: ‘I hate it. It costs an arm and a leg to travel this way and I feel that we no longer get our money’s worth.

‘In the old days you sat right next to the window and the view was wide and spectacular.

‘Now they sit you about three feet from the window and so low down all you can see from your seat is a small patch of sky. It’s boring — frustrating.’

He adds on his personal website: ‘If anyone out there agrees please let me (and British Airways) know — OK?’

It is just the latest in a string of frustrations that May has voiced publicly over recent years.

Last year, he attacked ‘b*****d basement builders’, claiming the digging of multi-level ‘iceberg basements’ was turning his West London neighbourhood into a ‘hellhole’.

An outspoken opponent of fox-hunting, he criticised Theresa May for saying during the General Election she would allow a free Commons vote on ending the ban.

 HM and Duke enjoy a surprise day off
The Queen appeared to be wearing jodhpurs and headscarf with a light beige jacket and gloves as she rode a horse in Windsor

She was supposed to be in London yesterday for the State Opening of Parliament.

Now that it has been delayed until tomorrow, the Queen took advantage of the fine weather to go for a ride in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The 91-year-old Monarch was joined by a male companion on the hottest day of the year.

The Queen appeared to be wearing jodhpurs and headscarf with a light beige jacket and gloves.

Meanwhile, her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, could also be seen taking his coach and horses out for a ride through the sprawling estate.

Philip, 96, has been an avid carriage driver since 1971, when he took up the activity — which he described as a ‘geriatric sport’ — after giving up polo, aged 50.

He was instrumental in helping to establish it as a sport in Britain.

He enjoys regular outings with Prince Charles’s old friend Countess Mountbatten, formerly Lady Brabourne.

Prince Philip once said: ‘I thought it would be a nice weekend activity, rather like golfing.’

Kate’s touching tribute to her Porridge star father 

A heart-warming message from film star Kate Beckinsale, who celebrated Father’s Day with a poignant tribute to her late father, actor Richard Beckinsale.

In the photo she posted on social media, a young Kate lies on the floor while her father lounges on the sofa.

The Porridge and Rising Damp star died of a heart attack in 1979, when he was 31 and Pearl Harbor beauty Kate was just five.

Kate, now 43, writes: ‘I miss you so much. Happy Father’s Day. Thank you for teaching me love, and funny, and that both last forever.’

Kate Beckinsale posted this photo  on social media, a young Kate lies on the floor while her father lounges on the sofa

Outspoken cannabis critic Jeremy Clarkson once admitted: ‘If someone lights a joint within 20ft of where I happen to be, my face goes like parchment and I faint.’ 

Now his daughter Emily, who shares his views, reveals she was forced to risk getting involuntarily high in the heatwave. 

‘Our neighbour is smoking a joint outside our window,’ explained the 22-year-old, who lives in Notting Hill. ‘We have to choose between melting or accidentally getting us all (dog included) stoned.’ 

Theresa May has held private prayer sessions with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, it was reported at the weekend.

But her predecessor was less devout. David Cameron memorably once described his faith in terms of an unreliable radio signal: ‘Like Magic FM in the Chilterns, it comes and goes.’ When Welby was asked if he used to pray with fellow Old Etonian Cameron, he replied: ‘I used to pray for him.’

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Airbus to add winglets to boost A380 sales: sources

PARIS (Reuters) – Europe’s Airbus (PA:AIR) plans to upgrade its A380 superjumbo with fuel-saving wingtip devices, or winglets, in an effort to boost slow sales of the mammoth jet, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The latest modifications to the world’s largest airliner will be announced at next week’s Paris Airshow, they said, proceeding with a program of efficiency improvements first reported by Reuters in March.

“We have always said the A380 has further efficiency upside potential,” an Airbus spokesman said, declining further comment.

The A380 has suffered a dearth of sales as airlines switch to slightly smaller models with two engines, which are easier to fill and cheaper to maintain.

The project to make the double-decker A380 more attractive to buyers has already led to the scrapping of its “grand staircase” in favor of a more compact structure, leaving more room for seats.

The combination of the improved aerodynamic wing performance and increased seating to more than 600 would lower the operating cost per seat, a key barometer for airlines.

Airbus Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier confirmed last week that Airbus was considering improving the A380 with winglets to make it cheaper to fly.

Such devices cut fuel consumption by reducing drag, but they can involve a weight penalty because the wing may have to be strengthened.

Industry sources have estimated that the overall makeover would improve fuel efficiency by about 2 percent.

The Airbus A380 Superjumbo May Get Even Larger With New Wings

Airbus SE’s A380 superjumbo may sprout extended wings as the European manufacturer intensifies studies into the addition of curved extensions aimed at reducing drag and boosting efficiency.

The so-called winglets, which on the A380 would each measure as much as 5 meters (16-feet), could reduce fuel burn by up to 4 percent by dissipating the vortexes of rapidly spinning air created by the plane’s wings.

Airbus’s commercial aircraft chief Fabrice Bregier said Friday there’s a good chance that the company will opt to upgrade the smaller wingtip fences currently fitted on the A380. The switch, together with improved engine efficiencies, could help win orders while avoiding the greater expense of a Neo upgrade featuring new turbines and changes to the double-decker’s airframe.

“We will not launch an A380neo, there’s no business case now to do that, this is absolutely clear,” Bregier said. “But it doesn’t prevent us from looking at what could be done to improve the performance of the aircraft. So having a little bit more efficiency from the engines is clearly an option, and looking at whether we could bring new winglets is also probably a good possibility.”

Adding the extensions would require only minor modifications to the A380’s wings, with no need to strengthen the center box where they join to the plane’s fuselage, Bregier said in an interview at Airbus’s headquarters in Toulouse, France. That was a cost the company sustained when adding winglets to its A320-series single-aisle planes.

Emirates Interest

Enhancements to the A380 could help lure buyers after the world’s biggest passenger plane drew an order blank last year, and Airbus will only go ahead with the winglets upgrade if there is commercial interest, Bregier said.

Emirates, the biggest superjumbo customer, is in early talks over a deal for 20 more A380s, people familiar with the discussions said this week. The Dubai carrier told Bloomberg that while it has no plans for a purchase right now, it regularly engages with manufacturers on “product updates and enhancement.”

Didier Evrard, Airbus’s commercial programs chief, said studies into the winglets are progressing and stem from technological advancements as well as the need to make the A380 more efficient. “Ten or 15 years ago we were not able to design winglets with the right balance or drag,” he said, adding that the existing wingtips “are not the most optimal part of the A380.”

The model was formally launched in December 2000, had its first flight in 2005, and entered commercial service with Singapore Airlines Ltd. in 2007.

Even a 1 percent fuel saving would be significant for the superjumbo, which carries 200 metric tons of kerosene for a typical long-haul flight, according to Evrard, who on Monday said Airbus would need to consider slowing the A380 build rate to less than one jet a month without new contracts this year.

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, which is supplying engines for the outstanding A380s from existing Emirates orders, could provide range and fuel-burn improvements for the Trent 900 turbine that it makes for the model. It referred questions about potential upgrades to Airbus.

As part of its push to make the superjumbo more attractive to airlines Airbus has also devised half a dozen cabin modifications in order to accommodate more than 80 additional seats. The changes include removing an upper-deck stowage area, re-positioning the main staircase and moving to an 11-abreast layout on the main deck.

10 Important Things to Do If There’s a Terrorist Attack While You’re Traveling

When it comes to travel in 2017, 84 percent of people said they are somewhat concerned about their safety, according to a recent survey conducted by Global Rescue, a provider of medical, security, evacuation, and travel risk management services. Not surprisingly, Europe, along with Africa and the Middle East, has emerged as a top-three destination in terms of concern level.

In the wake of recent attacks in Paris, Nice, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, and Sweden, terrorism remains top of mind as a perceived travel threat, despite accounting for about three percent of U.S. citizen deaths overseas. In fact, 55 percent of survey respondents ranked it as either first or second on a list of greatest threats they see while traveling in 2017; 44 percent rated health and medical issues as a top-two threat; and 37 percent ranked crime as a top-two threat. Traffic incidents — the leading cause of death for U.S. citizens abroad — came in fourth, with 23 percent rating it as a top-two threat. The good news is that nearly all participants (96 percent) said they are still likely or very likely to hit the road this year.

Still, there’s no doubt the world is an unpredictable place. “We all know we can’t avoid a terrorist attack,” says Patricia Aguilera, director of American Citizen Services at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. “They will come without warning.” With that in mind, we spoke to both Aguilera and Scott Hume, director of Security Services at Global Rescue, about what people should do if they find themselves traveling when a terrorist attack strikes.

Photo courtesy of Niels van Reijmersdal via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Niels van Reijmersdal via Flickr

1. Do your homework.

Precautionary measures should begin before you book your trip. The first and foremost thing a traveler should do is check for safety advisories on the destination. Head to travel.state.gov to familiarize yourself with the current conditions in the country, and load up on other country-specific information, such road safety and entry requirements. If you see a travel warning or alert, the U.S. State Department recommends reconsidering or postponing travel to the destination. “There are plenty of places that have travel warnings and have pockets that are safe, but for the most part, we recommend reconsidering if that’s the destination you want to visit,” says Aguilera.  “Carefully read those travel warnings because each one is different. It’s tailored to the situation on the ground — some are for high crime, and some are based on the possibility of being kidnapped. Everyone’s comfort level is different — and our goal is to inform.”

2. Enroll in STEP.

Once you’ve picked your destination, Aguilera recommends registering in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This provides travelers with localized real-time updates and security announcements. It also offers information on demonstrations and protests, so you can plan accordingly. Should something occur, travelers will be notified on which areas to avoid.

3. Share your itinerary with loved ones.

It’s crucial to share your itinerary with your loved ones, including where you’re going, who you’re traveling with, and where you’re staying, so they may reach you in the event of an emergency. Don’t forget to communicate any changes to travel plans, too.

4. Avoid high-risk areas.

If you can, take a direct flight instead of stopping in a place that may have a travel warning, Aguilera suggests. Another tip: Minimize the time spent in areas of the airport where it’s less protected, and make sure you get to a secure area as quickly as possible. “Based on the terrorist incidents in the last couple of years, the [attacks] have happened outside the secure area,” she says. Hume also recommends using a taxi or ride sharing service to reduce exposure to crowds and large gatherings while traveling within a city.

Beyond location, vacationers should also consider when they’re traveling. Plan a trip when it may be less frequented by tourists, Aguilera suggests. “Terrorists want to have a high value impact,” she says. Visiting during an off-peak season means your surroundings will likely be less congested. Last but not least, consider the hotel — make sure to choose a property that has high security standards, as well as Wi-Fi.

5. Make an exit plan.

Before you go, make a note of where the safe havens are located — police stations, hotels, and hospitals, to name a few. If you’re traveling with other loved ones, formulate a plan of action in the event that you are separated and cell coverage is spotty. Pick a designated meeting spot and time, Aguilera suggests. Hume also notes that establishing and reviewing a rally point with travel companions each day can be helpful. Of course, knowing the layout of a city is also vital.

6. Carry cash and a paper map.

“Always have local currency and an ATM or credit card available. This will allow you to pay for transportation and other needs in the event of an emergency,” says Hume. Hume also recommends carrying a paper map in case cell service or internet connection is limited and you need to navigate the city. Ensure your travel companions are using the same map. Local maps are often provided by hotels.

7. Purchase travel insurance.

Part of preparing also means investing in insurance. “Each traveler should look at the fine print as to what they’re getting insured,” says Aguilera. “When you purchase an airline ticket, they might insure you to return without any penalties or fees in case of an incident. There’s also insurance to be medevacked out in case of a medical emergency. Medical insurance is perhaps the most important thing that people should consider spending an extra few dollars on.” As medical evacuations can be a costly procedure, it’s best to be safe.

8. During the attack, run or get low.

Travelers will have two options if they find themselves in the midst of a crisis or terrorist attack. Assess the situation — if you’re not immediately in the vicinity of the attack, run, Aguilera says. If there’s a shooter in place, drop to the floor or get as low as possible in order to get out of the line of fire. Once you know the danger has passed (and you’re not harmed), get to safe place — a hotel nearby, friend’s house, police station, hospital — as soon as possible.

“If a traveler should find themselves in a dangerous situation, remember to move away from the area as quickly and safely as possible. Follow all instructions from emergency personnel, and do not attempt to return to the scene to help or gawk. Remember that your life is not worth recovering luggage or capturing a cell phone video,” says Hume.

9. Listen to local media.

Aguilera advises that everybody tune into the local media to find out what the local authorities are saying. They will likely advise you as to the next best steps to take, whether it’s to stay put or avoid transportation.

10. Don’t contact the embassy unless you are injured.

“We recommend taking the phone number of the closest embassy to you, so you’re able to call if you’re injured,” says Aguilera. That being said, the embassy will focus on those who are injured. It’s important to have a plan to communicate with someone back home. “If you are safe and physically unhurt, call your loved ones,” says Aguilera. “During an emergency, cell phone service can be spotty and landlines can be locked, so get word back to your family members.”

Consider a satellite phone or utilize and internet connection to communicate via email, messaging app, or social media, Hume suggests. But make sure to have another way to communicate as well. “Cellular networks can become quickly overwhelmed, as was the case in Brussels and Paris immediately following the attacks, so having alternate means of communication is a must,” says Hume.

There is an unlikely legal loophole that lets stateless undocumented immigrants stay in the US

Undocumented immigrant from the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia or Dutch Antilles? A 2001 Supreme Court ruling says you’re in luck.

President Donald Trump’s long-promised deportation force is getting to work. Last Monday, Feb. 13 the Department of Homeland Security announced that 680 people were detained over the past week as federal agents raided homes and workplaces in Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and other cities. But there is one category of undocumented immigrant that the Trump administration will have trouble deporting: stateless people whose home countries no longer exist.

The loophole dates back to the bizarre case of Kestutis Zadvydas, who was born to Lithuanian parents in a displaced persons camp in 1948 in post-war Germany and later emigrated to the US as a child. The US government sought to deport him in 1994 after he served a two-year sentence in Virginia for possessing a half-kilo of cocaine. But both Germany and Lithuania denied that he was a citizen of their countries, and he was detained for three years. The US Supreme Court later ruled, in Zadvydas v. Davis, that the government cannot indefinitely detain immigrants under order of deportation whom no other country will accept–or if their home country has simply vanished.

New countries pop up with some frequency. South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, and Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The globe is littered with aspiring nation states: Scotland, the Caucasian breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Catalonia in northeastern Spain, and Veneto, the watery, city-state dream of gondoliers and bankers. Every time a country is born, it means decades of headaches for officials at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

This predicament will sound familiar to viewers of the 2004 film “The Terminal.” In the movie, Tom Hanks’ character, Viktor Navorski, lands in New York hours after a coup in in Krakozhia, his fictional Balkan homeland. Now a stateless man, he spends the better part of a year in the international departures terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport. Navorski cheerfully makes the best of his time in immigration limbo, earning quarters by returning luggage carts and wooing a pretty flight attendant.

The film’s villainous customs supervisor is alternately perplexed and infuriated at his inability to deport him–a frustration common to law enforcement officials dealing with real-life Victor Navorskis.

“People think we can just put someone on a plane and then kick them out in Moscow or wherever,” a Homeland Security official told me last fall. In reality, Homeland Security often spends years negotiating with countries to convince them to accept aliens that may not technically be their citizens, such an ethnic Serb born in Yugoslavia.

Just how many stateless people like Viktor Navorski are in the US? The figure is unclear. In a December 2012 report, the UN High Commissioner for Refugee found that between 2005 and 2010, there were 1,087 asylum requests in the US from people listed as stateless. Between fiscal years 2009 and 2014, records show that ICE succeeded in removing hundreds of people with obsolete passports, including the Soviet Union (309), Czechoslovakia (168), and the Netherlands Antilles (24).

But statelessness plays a part in only a small percentage of Zadvydas cases, an ICE official told me. The most important implication of the Supreme Court’s decision is that aliens typically cannot be detained for more than six months while awaiting deportation. Cuba, Somalia, China, and India are among the countries that Homeland Security tags as the slowest to accept their citizens back, which then lets them walk free.

Immigration hardliners have railed against Zadvydas for this reason for years. Since 2013, 8,275 criminal aliens were released under this judicial precedent, according to statistics touted last year by the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform.

“The decision has been a flash point for anti-immigrant forces,” says Judy Rabinovitz, who masterminded the litigation strategy that won the Zadvydas v. Davis case in 2001 and is now a deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

What will be the next independence movement to raise a flag, declare a new country, and confound ICE agents for decades?

Your move, West Papua.

[via QZ]

PLANE ETIQUETTE Who should get the armrest on the plane and WHY does it make passengers so angry?

TWO lawyers became viral sensations today, when footage emerged of them embroiled in a heated argument over an armrest during a Monarch flight.

The pair, who allegedly resorted to spitting and hitting during the row on a flight to Malaga in Spain, certainly aren’t the first to fight over control of the middle ground, so what are the official rules for plane armrest etiquette and why does it make passengers so mad?

Etiquette expert William Hanson and body language expert Judi James have spoken to The Sun about the big battle of the skies, explaining why people care so much and who can really claim it as their own.

According to the former flight attendant Jacqueline Whitmore, there is an unspoken rule that the person in the middle seat gets both arm rests because the person in the aisle can get up without any problems and the window seat has the view.

Two lawyers became viral sensations today, when footage emerged of them embroiled in a heated argument over an armrest during a Monarch flight

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Two lawyers became viral sensations today, when footage emerged of them embroiled in a heated argument over an armrest during a Monarch flight

But William Hanson says etiquette dictates that both people should share the armrest.

He believes that trying to claim the entire post for yourself is the height of bad manners.

What are the official rules for plane armrest etiquette and why does it make passengers so mad?

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What are the official rules for plane armrest etiquette and why does it make passengers so mad? (file photo)
According to William Hanson, the armrest should be used by both people sitting either side of it

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According to William Hanson, the armrest should be used by both people sitting either side of it

William told The Sun: “The armrest is actually more of a seat divider than an armrest.

“Armrest is misleading as a term, because only one person can rest an arm, but two people can rest their elbows on it.

“One person’s elbow can go on the front and the other person can go on the back.

“Etiquette is all about compromise and not being selfish, so taking up the entire armrest is bad manners.”

Etiquette expert William believes that hogging the armrest is the height of bad manners

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Etiquette expert William believes that hogging the armrest is the height of bad manners

While that might seem clear cut, Judi James believes that the no man’s land of the armrest is a battle that will never end, because the battle for space is inbuilt into us as human beings.

She told The Sun: “Space is something that humans and animals fight wars over – it’s the most inflammatory thing.

“It’s why people whose garden wall if half a centimetre to the right can fight with their neighbours for years. We can’t avoid being territorial.

“We even adopt personal ownership of things that really don’t belong to us, like our chair in the office, or our seat on a plane. It brings out the warrior in us.”

Judi James believes that the armrest battle is just human instinct

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Judi James believes that the armrest battle is just human instinct

While some passengers manage to smile and suppress the urge to fight over the armrest, Judi believes that it is a spontaneous reaction in all of us to try to claim it.

She said: “Armrests are always going to be a problem because it’s shared space with a stranger that you can’t halve equally – the airline is asking you to share something that you can’t share.

“Most people aren’t even thinking about their share though, they’re going for total domination and submission of everyone else around them.”

According to Judi, the reason that we care so much about this spot in particular is because of it has a direct effect on our body confidence.

She said: “Confidence is directly linked to the space under your armpit.

“The upturned V gap that we have under our armpit when our elbows are pointed away from the body gives us body confidence.

“If you are forced into not using your arm and have to bring your elbows in towards your body, you feel physically smaller.

“This in turn makes you feel as though you’ve been lowered and submissive, and no one likes to be locked into a place of submission by a stranger.

“But if you have elbows on both arms of the chair, away from your body, you feel in control.”