World’s Biggest Airport Opens Its Doors In Dubai

CXX238 A skyline view of Downtown Dubai, showing the Burj Khalifa  skyline; view; Downtown; Dubai; Burj; Khalifa; dusk; arab; ar
Alamy, Flickr

Dubai has made no secret of its desire to do everything on a grand scale. The country boasts the world’s biggest shopping malls and even the world’s biggest natural flower garden. And now, the Gulf emirate has finally cut the ribbon on the world’s biggest airport.

Although it’s not yet complete, the Al-Maktoum International Airport opened its doors to passengers this weekend. The first plane to land at the new hub , a flight from Budapest, was welcomed with a water cannon salute when it touched down.

The new facility is the country’s second airport and is located about 50 miles away from Dubai International Airport, already one of the world’s busiest gateways. Last year, 57 million passengers passed through its terminals.When the new airport is finished, it will have five runways and be capable of welcoming 160 million passengers a year. It also will have the capacity to handle about 12 million tons of cargo. The new airport is in the middle of a special economic zone in Dubai, which includes one of the world’s biggest man-made harbors and a huge terminal for container ships. Officials believe the new airport will play an important role in shaping Dubai as a center for trade, commerce and tourism.

Despite all the fanfare, only a few airlines have signed on to use the new airport so far, although officials are confident that other carriers will soon follow suit.

United Cops Record Fine for Stranding Passengers on Tarmac

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Shutterstock / Songquan Deng

United Airlines has received a hefty penalty for keeping passengers waiting on airplanes for hours on end while their flights were delayed. The Department of Transportation fined the carrier $1.1 million-the biggest fine of its kind so far-for tarmac delays that happened at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport last year.

Rules that were put in place in 2010 state that airlines will be penalized if they keep passengers waiting around on the tarmac for more than three hours. In United’s case, all the rule breaking happened on one particularly stormy day when 13 separate United flights were delayed because of thunder and lighting. According to the rules, United was meant to give passengers the chance to get off the plane as it was obvious flights would be held up. But the carrier didn’t. And to top it off, bathrooms on the some of the delayed planes weren’t working, leaving passengers in the lurch.The Department of Transportation says United didn’t do a very good job handling the situation and didn’t reach out to other airport personnel for help. The Department of Transportation also slammed the airline for not having a good plan in place to deal with weather-related problems in general. Some of the money from the fine will go to passengers affected by the delays, while another portion will go towards creating a tracking system at O’Hare so United can better monitor its planes.

Might TSA Be Replaced By, Um, You?

Qylur's self-serve security scanner
Photo: Courtesy Qylur

A start-up called Qylur said it would begin offering automated security checkpoints next year in which people scan themselves, Business Week reports.

Airports are a distant goal though, with the company focusing on starting at amusement parks and arenas. While five scanners will be deployed at first, Qylur wouldn’t reveal where they’re going. Been asked to scan yourself recently? Tell us about it in the comments.Here’s how Qylur’s machines work:

The machines, which are made of a series of honeycombed cells surrounding a sensor, automatically check for dangerous-looking items and sniff for chemicals and nuclear material. A person puts a bag into one side of the machine, scans a ticket or a boarding pass, and closes the door. The machine then scans the contents and compares their characteristics to those of every item it has ever scanned.

Whether the machines are smart enough to know that the coffee smell they’re picking up is because you used grinds to mask your doobie, however, remains to be seen.

Newest Space Tourism Venture To Dangle Travelers From A Helium Balloon

Helium Balloon Space Tourism Flight
Photo: World View Enterprises, Inc

Another day, another space tourism venture announced-but this one caught our attention for being a little different from most. Rather than shooting travelers up in rockets, an American company says it’s planning to dangle space tourists in a capsule attached to a helium balloon.

World View Enterprises will use a helium balloon to slowly lift travelers up to the edge of space as they sit in a luxurious space capsule. After the ride is over, the capsule will detach from the helium balloon and float back down to Earth with the aid of a parachute. While that all sounds a little precarious, the company says balloons like this have been sent into space for decades and the whole process is actually quite low-risk.The helium balloon rides will take travelers up about 20 miles into the sky. Although that’s not technically space, which is around 60 miles up, travelers will still be in for a nice view that includes being able to see the curvature of the earth.

And if space travel has mostly sounded like the domain of the super rich so far, the good news is that the balloon space trip will be somewhat more affordable than the other options that have been proposed. A two-hour journey will set you back about $75,000, which is a fair deal cheaper than Virgin Galactic’s space flights that cost a quarter of a million dollars. Tickets for the World View space flights are expected to go on sale in a few months.

Taxi Drivers: You Wouldn’t Believe The Stuff They See

If you usually only take a taxi while peacefully commuting around town, you might not realize that taxi drivers are thankful when passengers like you get in the car. Why? Because they spend a good chunk of their time driving crazy, drunk, ill-willed, or otherwise kind of scary people around. VICE, bless their heart, recently did a piece focusing on some of the ridiculous things taxi drivers have experienced –- and a drunk person puking in the car doesn’t even make the list. These are stories of getaway cars for bank robberies, death threats, near-fatal accidents and full-on backseat brawls. Check out the full story here.Couple Accidentally Left Child in Taxi While Trying to Catch Plane