Long Lines At Airports Have Got To Go, Says Travel Association

Photo – Chris Owen


The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been working on addressing long lines at airport security screening areas for quite some time. TSA Precheck lanes are being expanded to more airports every year and Global Entry lets frequent, pre-authorized travelers to zip into the United States. Just last week, we reported faster airport screening via a new TSA program. But that’s not enough, says a travel trade organization, urging Congress to take action.

The U.S. Travel Association (USTA) is battling what they believe to be the cause of problems at our airports; budget restrictions and poor planning. They believe the current system leaves airports unable to handle millions of visitor a year. They have some specific recommendations too.

Calling for a 50-percent reduction in peak the wait times, the USTA believes it should take just 30 minutes to process travelers. They want Customs and Border Protection staffing and participation in the Global Entry Program increased. Congress should be involved in an ongoing way, and should require periodic progress reports, says the association in a list of 20 recommended policy changes.
Back at the TSA, the new system is indeed a step in the right direction, classifying travelers into three tiers — expedited, standard or enhanced — with each level requiring different procedures and qualifiers. The current system treats all travelers the same and is exactly what the Travel Association wants changed.

In an Open Letter to the U.S. Congress, over 70 travel leaders even suggested ways to fund the additional programing necessary to address the problem and increase transparency in the entire process. It’s a lofty goal but one worthy of pursuit: the U.S. economy could lose $95 billion and 518,000 jobs over the next five years due to long security and customs lines at the nation’s airports.

Zac Efron Mobbed by Fans at Peruvian Airport

10 Most Expensive Places to Rent a Car: Is it Worth the Cost?

High Gas Prices Have Rental Car Companies Going Green
Getty Images

Travelers who rented cars in U.S. cities shelled out quite a bit of money this summer. Skift reports on a study by CheapCarRental.net that lists the most expensive cities to rent a car in the past two months. While New York and Boston came in at number 2 and 3, the winner, Portland, Oregon, was a bit more surprising.

The results beg the question: why bother getting a car when you’re visiting a city?

We’ve rounded up the top 10 most expensive car rental cities in the U.S., and found a reason in each that might make it worthwhile. Some of these places can be reached by taxi or public transportation, but most visitors drive themselves. Check out the slideshow below and be the judge: is this place worth renting a car?

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U.S. National Parks Try New Ways To Appeal To Minorities

Cesar Chavez monument - national parks
Flickr, Sam Garcia for the City Project

While U.S. national parks see millions of annual visitors, only 1 in 5 are non-white, and Hispanics (the fastest-growing demographic in America) account for only 1 in 10 visitors. The New York Times just reported about programs hoping to increase visitor diversity by engaging minority audiences with targeted blogger content and highlighting American Latino and African American contributions to park history.

Non-profit organizations are working with the Parks Service and adventure outfitters to market the fitness benefits of the parks, create new attractions, and recruit more minorities to work in the Parks Service. Blogger Carol Cain was selected for one of the American Latino Expeditions and wrote on her blog about making the parks part of her (Latina) heritage, but also warned about the sense of “isolation” she felt as one of the few people of color in the parks.

The National Parks will be free to all on September 28 for National Public Lands Day, and again in November for Veterans Day weekend.

It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! No, It’s Hello Kitty!

Hello Kitty Plane
Jackal Lin, Flickr

You’ll either be purring in content or scratching your head at this one, but get ready because Hello Kitty themed aircraft are set to debut in the United States.

EVA Air has announced it will begin flying a Boeing 777 featuring the popular cartoon character on its Taoyuan-Los Angeles route, immersing travelers in all things Hello Kitty during the 13-hour journey.

The Taiwan-based airline has been flying jets outfitted with Hello Kitty themed décor in Asian countries for a number of years, but it’s the first time such aircraft will be flown in the U.S.

The airline is still putting the finishing touches on the interior of the plane, but they have released a few details about what passengers can expect. Aircraft bathrooms will feature Hello Kitty branded soaps and lotions and cabin crew will wear pink Hello Kitty aprons featuring a large 3D bow and an image of the famous feline.

If the planes are anything like the ones operating in Japan, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, we can also expect to see Hello Kitty adorning the headrests, pillows, boarding passes, and luggage tags. But the most incredible part has to be the Hello Kitty themed meals, which feature intricately carved desserts and morsels of food shaped like the cartoon character herself.

The first Hello Kitty flight will debut in the US on September 18.

Hello Kitty Food
leesean, Flickr

Is This The Death Of The College Visit?

YouVisit.com

Would you enroll at a university without ever setting foot on campus? A new website, YouVisit.com, is making it easier to scope out colleges by offering virtual guides and professional photos for hundreds of campuses. Prospective students and their parents can scope out everything from the college green to the inside of dining halls — and they don’t have to pay a penny for the service (or, for that matter, travel expenses). It’s kind of like other armchair travel websites, except aimed at aspiring freshman.

Will the website completely replace college visits? Not likely. There’s just something missing from the tours that one can only get when actually on campus. But it might make the process of choosing a college a whole lot more affordable. The website can certainly make it easier for prospective students to narrow down their choices. Right now, 400 campuses in the United States, Europe, Africa and Latin America are online — so if you’ve been dreaming of getting a degree overseas, here’s your chance to take a look.

[via Los Angeles Times]