Here's hoping you got home before Sunday night, when the season's first blizzard blanketed the northeast under several feet of snow. AOL Travel has several stories of stranded passengers and snarled airports:
Some air passengers endured nightmare delays as a blizzard dropped up to 18 inches of snow on the Northeast and travelers tried to get home from the Christmas holiday break.
Airports shut down in Washington, Philadelphia and New York. But there were storm-caused delays and canceled flights elsewhere too as carriers moved planes around to avoid the storm.
If you've ever wondered about the ground crew responsible for handling your baggage, refueling your plane, heck, even loading your meals onto the plane — you're not alone. An unidentified pilot recorded one airport's seemingly lax security on his cellphone, then posted it to YouTube. AOL Travel has the full story (and the video):
An anonymous 50-year-old airline pilot is in hot water with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after posting on YouTube a behind-the-scenes tour of what he says are security flaws at San Francisco International Airport...
"Well, folks, I just wanted to give you an idea of what type of security for the ground personnel there is. This is their screening. As you can see, there's only a card slide and one door," the pilot says in the video. "And right here's a sign, 'Think security.' Well, I don't think there's much security here."
Don't let the chaos in Europe get you down—it's god, not man, getting in the way of smooth travel. Stateside, the Transportation Security Administration is fully prepared for the holiday crush. At least that's what they told our friends at AOL:
"We have coordinated staffing and are committed to maintaining the flow of passenger traffic while properly screening travelers as they move through the security checkpoints," spokesman Nicholas Kimball tells AOL Travel News.
"As we always do during the holiday season, TSA will deploy additional risk-based security measures based on the latest intelligence and continue to work with our international, federal, state, local and private sector partners across the nation to protect the American people," he says.
If this story is any indication, the TSA's airport screeners should spend less time looking out for attractive women and more time watching the x-ray screens. AOL Travel has the story of a loaded gun that flew the friendly skies:
A Houston businessman has a cautionary tale for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) authorities just in time for the busy holiday travel season. Iranian-American Farid Seif says last year he boarded a Continental Airlines flight with a loaded handgun in his carry-on.
Seif says he passed through security at Houston's Bust Intercontinental Airport during last year's holiday season without realizing he had forgotten to unpack the gun – a loaded snub nose Glock pistol – in his empty computer bag.
My editor calls it "plane porn"; the GE Show calls it "Paths of Flight." I just call it beautiful.
In support of GE Aviation's efforts to help develop the next generation of U.S. airspace in association with the FAA, a video production team filmed 24 hours' worth of footage showing planes landing and taking off. The resulting one-minute 49-second video, which uses multiple images of individual planes to present a new perspective on flight paths, is nothing short of amazing. Astonishingly, there's no CG animation.
Between actor Josh Duhamel's inappropriate Blackberry usage and director Kevin Smith's ongoing problems with various airlines, air rage is back in the news. CNN considers one common rage-maker: seat reclining.
The passenger in seat 9C was ready for a nap after takeoff, so he pushed the button on his armrest and reclined -- straight into the path of someone who apparently wouldn't have it.
Tensions grew quickly on the American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Denver on November 22, court papers show.
The incident adds fuel to a debate that seems to divide air travelers into two camps: those who say that reclining their seat on a plane is a right that comes when they buy a ticket and those who believe it's a privilege that shouldn't be abused.
It's that time of year again—T+L's World's Best Awards 2011 Survey is now live!
Go to TLWorldsBest.com and rate the hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines, airlines, travel companies, and destinations you love most. This year, the No. 1 hotel overall is the Oberoi Vanyavilas, a luxe jungle lodge in Ranthambore, India (shown above).
Which property do you love the most? Tell us and vote now! You’ll be entered for a chance to win a $10,000 dream trip. Other prizes include a $5,000 trip, two $2,500 trips, and two winners will receive American Express gift cards worth $1,000.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The World’s Best Awards Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia age 18 or older. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Sweepstakes, visit www.TLWorldsBest.com. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 AM Eastern Time (ET) on 12/1/10 and ends at 11:59 PM (ET) on 3/31/11. Sponsor: American Express Publishing Corporation.
Today and tomorrow are among the busiest travel days for the entire year, as folks make their ways to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving. If you’re one of the many who will brave the crowded airports (something I have done once, and will never do again), you may not be able to avoid delays, but you can at least get a heads-up.
For the tenth year, Travelocity has set up its Thanksgiving Task Force, which places spotters in 12 airports across the country to monitor and post updates on security wait times, delays and cancellations, and crowd conditions.
Air traffic may be a little less congested this Thanksgiving holiday period as the FAA, in cooperation with the Defense Department, said it will allow commercial flights in otherwise restricted military airspace beginning at 6 a.m. Tuesday, November 23, a day earlier than last year.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced this morning that the Defense Department will open airspace over such highly congested areas as the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Southwest. Normal inland routes can continue to be used, according to the FAA.
The busiest Thanksgiving travel days are expected to be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday. Normal airspace restrictions will go back into effect at 6 a.m. Monday, November 29.
The announcement comes on the heels of new security procedures at the nation's airports. Passengers are routinely being required to pass through a controversial backscatter full body scanner or to undergo a thorough, some say invasive, pat down by a TSA agent. Whether the FAA's plan to ease air congestion this holiday period is enough to ease any passenger anxiety over the enhanced security methods is still up in the air.
Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure.
How would you like a tough-love security pat-down so thorough it would shame the most inveterate serial groper in the Tokyo subway system? No? Then how about a full-body backscatter X-ray that amounts to a virtual strip search (or as Stephen Colbert said, "that X-rays your X-rated parts")? If you're troubled by either option, voice your opinion in the new Your Travel Voice survey, sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association.