Feb. 20-26: House Passes Bill to Tighten Precheck; Aeroflot Ranked as Best Airline; Airbus Patents Beach Seating; Automated Check-Ins; Hotel to Reward Guests for Conceiving on Leap Day; & More

This week’s round-up brings the latest airline and travel news – from the House passing bill to tighten Precheck, Aeroflot ranked as one of world’s safest airline, and Airbus patents re-configurable beach seating, to automated check-ins, urine related travel stories, and hotel in Israel to reward guests for conceiving on Leap Day. Enjoy!

House Passes Bill to Tighten Precheck

If you’re one of the lucky travelers who gets the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Precheck from the airline almost every time you fly, you might have to fork over the $85 fee every five years if you want to continue using the expedited security line. A bill approved by the House on Tuesday (but still has to pass the Senate) would require travelers to sign up for the program in order to participate in expedited screening and provide background information and fingerprints. In addition, within a year of the bill passing, TSA officers will have to test out an automated system for checking travel documents and set up an automated system are larger airports. If the bill passes, the TSA will have 90 days to create online enrollment standards for signing up for Precheck online or at kiosks.

From Worst to One of the Best

Aeroflot has long had a rather undesirable reputation as being one of the world’s worst airlines with a terrible safety record. In what is probably the biggest reversal of fortune for an airline, the Russian airline has gone from being one of the dangerous airline to one of the safest. AirlineRatings.com, a website that ranks airline safety based on international safety certification and recent casualties, gave Aeroflot a safety rating of 7, the same rating as most the world’s best carries including British Airways and Japan Airlines. This about turn can be attributed to things like the replacement of old Soviet-built aircrafts (that has a notorious safety record) with Western-built jets from Airbus and Boeing, and improved safety maintenance. So, the question now is: if you find a really good fare on Aeroflot, would you fly them?

Airbus Patents Beach Seating

Is bench seating on airplanes the way of the future? It could be, if the patent filed by aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, is anything to go by. According to the patent, the “re-configurable passenger bench seat” can be adjusted to fit the needs of passengers, whether it’s families with small children or travelers who may require more width. While Airbus didn’t layout how pricing would work with adjustable seating, they did say the ability to maximize space in an aircraft’s “cabin is of major economic importance”.

Automated Check-Ins

Travelers know all too often that depending on where you happen to be, checking-in for your flight in advance may sometimes not be an option. And that can potentially be an issue if you’re flying on a budget airline that will charge you for checking-in at the airport. However, thanks to Lufthansa Innovation Hub, the airline’s tech development department, you may never have to manually check-in for a flight ever again. The new website, www.airlinecheckins.com, is free to use and will check you in at the predetermined time. This process will take into account your selected preferences, such as seat selection (Window? Aisle? Front or back of the plane? Distance from restrooms?) and send you an email with your boarding pass. The website didn’t specify what airlines this service works with other than stating “over 100 large and medium-sized airlines worldwide” in the FAQ section. In order to use this, you’ll have to share your confirmation email as well as your passport details. And if you’re worried about privacy issues, the site reassures users that the handling of all personal information complies with Germany’s data protection laws and regulations.

Pee is in the Air

As if worrying about whether your checked bag will arrive with you at the same time isn’t enough, do we now need to worry about someone urinating in our bags? At least that’s the claim from a woman who flew on United Airlines from Newark to San Francisco last week. She said that when she was unpacking her bag, “she found what she believes was urine on both the clothing and the lining of her bag.” She filed a complaint with United, and while they didn’t believe her story, they did replace her bag.

Ready for more urine-related (horror) stories? A man flying from Chicago to Des Moines, IA, on American Airlines had an unpleasant surprise when he took his seat in first class: his seat was soaked in urine. The flight attendant gave him some blankets and plastic bags to sit on, and upon arrival in Des Moines, he notified the gate agent and said the respond was basically “that’s terrible, but what do you want me to do about it?” American eventually gave the man a $1,000 voucher for use on a future flight (up from the original amount of $200) and refunded the 10,000 miles used for the flight. Guess the lesson here is always check your seat before sitting down.

Random Story of the Week: Hotel to Reward Guests for Conceiving on Leap Day

Leap Year comes but once every four years, so it’s no surprise when companies offer a myriad of deals and promotions to celebrate this rare occurrence. Perhaps my favorite promotion comes from Hotel Yehuda in Jerusalem. The luxury hotel is offering the first couple to conceive a child on February 29 while staying with them a free bris, bar or bat mitzvah, and wedding. And a physician has to confirm the pregnancy while at the hotel. The idea for the promotion came about because in Hebrew, Leap Year means “pregnant year.”


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