The news over the last few days about Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner has been unnerving—to say the least.
Last night, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority grounded the aircraft pending a comprehensive review of the fire risk posed by the plane's lithium-ion battery. This comes a day after a Dreamliner in Japan's All Nippon Airways fleet was formed to make an emergency landing because of a defective battery—and a week after the battery was faulted with starting a fire aboard a parked Japan Airways 787 at Boston's Logan airport. Both of Japan's airlines grounded their fleets after the emergency landing. With the FAA directive, other international carriers with 787s followed suit. Among them: Air India, Chile's LAN Airlines, LOT (Poland), Qatar Airways, and United Airlines here in the States.
"Whaaaaaaaaaat?" That's what I said to myself after reading this piece by Gizmodo who reported via the Transportation Security Administration's blog, that since January 1st, TSA agents have discovered 821 firearms in carry-on bags at airports around the country. Of these, 691 were loaded, and 210 were locked and loaded with a round chambered. Some other bizarrely alarming weapons discovered while passengers were filing through security? Dead venomous snakes (snakes almost on a plane!), a gun in a hollowed out book (retro move there), an explosive grenade, a spear gun, eels, a gassed-up chainsaw, and a chastity belt. Too weird, America. But keep up the good work TSA! And in the future, before you confiscate that sealed bottle of Poland Spring in my backpack, can we just put a few things in perspective?
Marguerite A. Suozzi is an assistant research editor at Travel + Leisure.
Initial reports say the quake, centered some 12 miles underground, was felt strongly in Oaxaca and swayed buildings in Mexico City, sending frightened workers and residents into the streets. There were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries, but telephone service was down
in Mexico City and throughout the area where the quake was felt. In Huajuapan, Guerrero, near the epicenter, hotel manager Marco Antonio Estrada reported shaken-up guests but no major damage. READ MORE
USA Today Travel | Boeing has inspected five 787 Dreamliners for a flaw in the fuselage that the company recently discovered, the new head of the 787 program said Monday. Reuters reported that the company remains on schedule to build 10 planes per month by the end of next year.
The company is inspecting the first 55 787s built before it discovered the problem and will make any necessary repairs, Larry Loftis said before a groundbreaking ceremony for a new delivery center, according to Reuters.
The 787 is a more fuel-efficient plane. So far airlines have ordered about 870 of them, Reuters reported. But the plane is about three years behind its original schedule.
The Costa Allegra is being towed toward Mahe in the Seychelles following an engine-room fire Monday that left the ship adrift. None of the 636 passengers and 413 crew members were injured, according to Costa. Food and communications gear are being sent to the ship via helicopter; the vessel is expected to reach land early Thursday.
“Guests onboard are continuously being informed and assisted by the captain and the staff,” Costa said in an emailed statement.
Passengers were sent to their muster stations as a precaution when the fire broke out, according to the company. The ship currently has no air conditioning and lighting is limited, but passengers were served a cold breakfast Tuesday, according to Costa. The seas has been struck in the past by Somalian pirates, but Costa officials have said they have armed security on board.
Two ships from other companies also have been hit with norovirus in recent weeks in well publicized incidents, leading to the impression that norovirus is a "cruise ship'' disease. It's not, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which says that 1 in every 15 Americans will contract norovirus this year.
My own too-close encounter with the gastrointestinal virus is a case in point. It arrived courtesy of a conference in a hotel in a major U.S. city.
USA Today | Every vacationer boarding a cruise ship will receive a safety briefing before the vessel sets sail under a new industry-wide policy announced today.
In a joint statement, the U.S.-based Cruise Lines International Association, Europe-based European Cruise Council and UK-based Passenger Shipping Association said the new policy would apply across the board to their members, which include every major cruise line in the world.
The announcement comes in the wake of an industry-wide safety review following last month's Costa Concordia disaster off the coast of Italy, which resulted in at least 17 deaths. Fifteen passengers remain missing.
The takeaway? Despite recent events, seafaring travelers have little reason to worry. According to Michael Crye, Executive Vice President of CLIA, between 2005 and 2011 the industry carried 100 million passengers, with 16 fatal maritime casualties. While 16 is far too many, in this less-than-perfect world that number is astoundingly low. The percentage of risk is minimal: broken down, the number implies a one in 6,250,000 chance of passenger casualty per year (that’s far less than the odds of getting struck by lightning in any given year, according to the National Weather Service).
Still, the International Maritime Organization (an arm of the United Nations with 170 member countries) is reviewing all safety practices immediately. A few items up for consideration:
The Costa Concordia’s accident off the Italian coast is a horrible tragedy, with at least 11 people dead and others still missing. But the industry’s record for safety remains strong: Nearly 14 million people cruise each year on major cruise ships, and few industry watchers can even remember the last time a fire or ship failure resulted in passenger deaths.
The U.S. Coast Guard is involved with safety aspects of the cruise ship design before it is even built. Once launched, each cruise ship that sails from the U.S. must pass U.S. Coast Guard certification. Each is inspected at least every six months on both announced and unannounced inspections that include reviewing staff safety procedures. Crews are drilled regularly on safety procedures. Those that don’t sail from U.S. ports still must meet safety standards set by individual countries and by SOLAS, an international safety and standards convention that is set by International Maritime Organization, an arm of the United Nations.
Starting today, the welcome screens on 1.2 million hotel television sets in Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn and other hotels in the USA will show a short public service announcement from DHS. The 15-second spot encourages viewers to be vigilant and call law enforcement if they witness something suspicious during their travels. (…)
The PSA, which will be interspersed with other messages on the welcome screen, will be the same in all 5,400 hotels that LodgeNet serves. It ends by telling viewers to contact "local authorities."