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Look into My Sole: TSA Shoe Scanners in the Works

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I don’t know about you, but I curse Richard Reid, the goofy-looking “shoe bomber,” every time I have to go through airport security—especially this time of year, when my slip-on, slip-off shoes are deep in storage. Amid talk of high-tech body scanners and some eight years after Reid's failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound American Airlines flight by igniting explosives hidden in his footwear, shoe security still proves elusive.

Which brings me to an email I got today from the Transportation Security Administration (if you’re a frequent traveler and don’t subscribe to the agency’s email news list, you should). Its subject line: What Ever Happened To The Shoe Scanner Idea? What ever happened indeed.

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Major JFK Runway Closes for Repairs


The Consumerist |  Today marks the beginning of what could be an ugly four months at JFK International Airport, as the NYC-area travel hub loses its busiest runway for renovation work. This move has forced the airport to reduce the number of flights going in and out by 20% during this time.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates all three major airports in the NYC area, has reduced the total number of arrivals and departures at JFK from around 1,300 to 1,050.

The redo on Runway 13-31 isn't just a simple repaving job. The $376 million effort will widen the runway by 50 feet and add taxiways, all with the goal of reducing flight delays by around 10,500 hours each year.

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Continental Launches Mobile Boarding Passes at Heathrow

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Travel Daily News | Continental Airlines announced the expansion of its mobile boarding pass service to London’s Heathrow Airport, becoming the first carrier to offer paperless boarding passes on nonstop flights from the United Kingdom to the U.S.

The service allows customers to receive boarding passes electronically on their mobile phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs) and eliminates the need for paper boarding passes.

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Vietnam Builds Coastal Road Link to Cambodia and Thailand

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eTurbo News
|  According to Vietnamese media sources, construction will begin next month on
a 220-km long coastal road in the Mekong Delta as part of an international
 highway linking the country with Cambodia and Thailand, the project's
management board recently announced.

Running through the provinces of Ca Mau and Kien Giang, the US$440 million
road will be built in cooperation with the governments of South Korea and
Australia, as well as the Asian Development Bank with its seat in Manila,
Philippines.

Once it is completed, the road will be part of a nearly 1,000-kilometer link
known as the Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam Southern Coastal Road Economic
Corridor, starting at Bangkok and ending at Ca Mau Province's Nam Can
District.

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Paris Dispatch: Eiffel Tower News, Cool Apps, Exhibits, More...

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You can now buy tickets for the Eiffel Tower online at www.tour-eiffel.fr (English section); it’s also possible to reserve online at both the 58 and the Jules Verne. Van Cleef & Arpels took home the Best iPhone Application award at the Stratégies / Firstluxe.com 2009 Awards. “A Day in Paris”, was inspired by the brand’s site: unejourneeaparis.com. The app traces seven romantic, interactive circuits in Paris with poetic stops along the way.

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U.S. Renews Travel Alert to Mexico

Washington (CNN) |  The United States has renewed a travel alert to Mexico, citing increased violence in the country.

The alert, issued Sunday by the State Department, is in effect until August 20 and supersedes an alert issued August 20, 2009.

"Recent violent attacks have caused the U.S. Embassy to urge U.S. citizens to delay unnecessary travel to parts of Michoacan, Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua ... and to advise U.S. citizens residing or traveling in those areas to exercise extreme caution," the alert says.

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UPDATE: Lufthansa Strike Suspended

Frankfurt, Germany (CNN) |  Both sides in a pilots strike against Lufthansa have agreed to suspend the standoff —which has canceled hundreds of flights—at midnight (6 p.m. Monday ET).

The suspension is set to expire on March 8, barring the reaching of an agreement before then, both sides said in a Frankfurt labor court.

"The judge was very clear," airline spokesman Klaus Walther said. "He recommended the union to stop the strike action and to return to the negotiation table."

Walther predicted the two sides would reach a final agreement "pretty fast."

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Lufthansa Pilots Strike, Upend Air Travel

New York Times - Associated Press |  Thousands of travelers scrambled to find flights, trains, hotel rooms or rental cars on Monday after Lufthansa pilots began a four-day walkout over job security that grounded at least 800 flights and upended travel across the continent.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG quickly rushed to get a court injunction to halt the strike and send 4,000 pilots back into their cockpits before more harm was done to passengers and shareholders.

The court in Frankfurt said a decision could come as soon as Monday night. (...) The strike disrupted travel plans for some 10,000 passengers worldwide.

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TSA to Swab Airline Passengers' Hands

CNN (Washington) |   To the list of instructions you hear at airport checkpoints, add this: "Put your palms forward, please."

The Transportation Security Administration soon will begin randomly swabbing passengers' hands at checkpoints and airport gates to test them for traces of explosives.

Previously, screeners swabbed some carry-on luggage and other objects as they searched for the needle in the security haystack—components of terrorist bombs in an endless stream of luggage.

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Two Proposed Laws Fight Travel Fees

eTurbo News |  If you've ever been hit with a surprise fee when you rented a car or booked an airline ticket and found yourself saying, "There ought to be a law," I have some good news for you: There is. Or at least, there could be.

There could be two laws, actually. The Clear Airfares Act is a Senate bill that would require airlines and online travel agencies to disclose any additional fees before you buy a ticket. And the End Discriminatory State Taxes for Automobile Renters Act would prohibit states or localities from collecting a discriminatory tax on motor vehicle rentals.

Just one problem: Neither of these bills have been passed.

But these proposed rules could make your next trip better, and they deserve our attention.

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