Through the first nine months of this year, overseas visitors passed mostly through only 15 ports of entry. These spots, according to the Department of Commerce accounted for 84 percent of entry traffic into the United States, gaining two percentage points over the first nine months of 2008. New York‘s JFK airport, Miami and Los Angeles dominated, pulling in 39 percent of all arrivals, up a percentage point from the same period last year.
Only four of the top 15 ports of entry in the United States saw traffic increase year-over-year: Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale. Of the 11 that posted declines, three did so at a double-digit rate. Visitation through Chicago fell a whopping 18 percent, which pushed it to seventh on the list, behind Honolulu. Houston fell a mere 3 percent, bringing up to #12, ahead of Boston. Philadelphia’s 6 percent gain moved it to #14, and a 3 percent increase in traffic through Fort Lauderdale brought it into the top 15 at the bottom spot. Detroit‘s 36 percent fall in overseas arrivals caused it to fall from the top 15.
Three airlines just scored a first with the U.S. government: they were fined for leaving passengers in the lurch. Continental Airlines, ExpressJet (a Continental affiliate) and Mesaba (part of Delta) racked up a total punishment of $175,000 when their combined efforts left fliers on a plane in Minnesota for six hours.
Continental and ExpressJet were slapped with a fine of $100,000, while Mesaba was nailed for $75,000, according to the Department of Transportation.
With the busiest travel day of the year right around the corner, the timing couldn’t have been better. Airlines that let their guards down could face stiff fines. And, let’s face it: these airlines can’t afford peanuts, let alone five- and six-figure fines.
On August 8, 2009, 47 passengers were stuck on a Continental Express plane, which was diverted to Rochester, Minnesota (the original plan was Houston to Minneapolis), where they were forced to spend the night. ExpressJet operated the flight, while Mesaba, the only airline working the airport, refused to let passengers leave the plane.
In-flight service took on a new meaning for Grammy award-winning singer Elvis Crespo. The Merengue singer was accused of having exposed himself to a passenger on a flight from Houston to Miami. He denies it, but it’s impossible to be sure. After all, he told authorities in Miami that he didn’t recall the incident. Crespo wasn’t arrested, and no charges have been filed.
Earlier this month, the accused masturbator married his manager … which likely supports the accusation of self-gratification in the friendly skies.
If it’s true that Crespo whipped it out, I’m curious as to why he didn’t just step into the plane’s lavatory. If it’s publicity he craved, he could have taken a quick snapshot of his handiwork and popped it onto Flickr.