May 30-June 5: TSA Fails Breach Test, House Votes Down Easing of Cuba Travel Restrictions, New Airports with Pre-Clearance, Free Alcohol on United, Glitch Grounds United, Denver Opens Marijuana-Friendly Hotel

This week’s round-up brings the latest airline and travel news – from TSA failing airport breach test, Republican-lead House votes against Obama’s easing of travel restrictions to Cuba, and U.S. Customs to add 10 new foreign airports to its Pre-Clearance Program, to new meals and free alcohol on international flights on United, United flights grounded by glitch, and Denver’s first marijuana-friendly hotel. Enjoy!

TSA Chief Out After Airport Breach Tests

A recent test by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) found that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents had a 95 percent failure rate, failing to stop 67 out of 70 Homeland Security staffers posing as passengers carrying fake plastic explosives and other weapons. In light of this massive failure by TSA agents, Melvin Carraway, the acting head of the TSA resigned. TSA officers have failed these tests before in the past 13 years since the DHS started conducting these tests, but this is the first time “TSA agents failed to detect almost every single test bomb and gun.”

House Votes Down Obama’s Easing of Travel Restrictions to Cuba

President Obama’s efforts to ease travel restrictions to Cuba has hit another roadblock. The President has been slowly easing travel restrictions to Cuba since January, but a new House vote (247-176) this week has basically put a kibosh on those new rules.

U.S. Customs Adds New Airports to its Pre-Clearance Program

The Department of Homeland Security has expanded its Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) pre-clearance program to include ten new foreign airports, including Tokyo, Madrid and London. The pre-clearance program allows travelers to pass through Immigration and Customs, Public Health, and Department of Agriculture inspections before boarding their flight, in an effort to speed up the immigration process at the arrival airport. This program is currently live in 15 international airports such as Dublin, Aruba, Toronto and Dubai.

United Offering Free Booze Again…

In coach on international flights. If you happen to be on an international flight on United Airlines any time after June 1, you might notice something unexpected: coach class passengers now get free alcohol with their meals. In an effort to improve its cabin service, United now offers an upgraded three-course meal to go with the free booze (limited to beer and wine). Travelers will have heartier entrée options such as home-style turkey meatloaf and Tuscan ravioli with roasted red pepper sauce. If you want premium wines or spirits, you’ll still have to fork over your credit card. But at least they are moving in the right direction.

Glitch Grounds United Flights

Back in April, an iPad glitch on American Airlines caused numerous flights to be delayed and requiring pilots to use old fashion PDF printouts if they were flying to Washington, D.C. This past Tuesday, United is the unlucky victim of a computer glitch that grounded all their flights for 39 minutes. There have been no reports on what caused the glitch.

Random Story of the Week: Denver’s First Marijuana-Friendly Hotel

Colorado legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes back in 2012, which drove up tourism in the Centennial State and also created a certain level of confusion amongst the tourists, since it’s still illegal to smoke outdoors and in hotels (for the most part). A new hotel that just opened in Denver on June 4 should solve that conundrum. Nativ, located in the LoDo District of downtown Denver is the first hotel that openly allows guests to smoke in designated areas. But Nativ isn’t just any run-of-the-mill hotel, as each floor is decorated with its own personality, and rooms come equipped with flatscreen TVs, private patios with fire pits, and includes a bar and restaurant offering a self-pour beer wall with 20 different craft brews.

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