This week’s round-up brings the latest airline and travel news – from FAA warns against checking lithium batteries, REAL ID Act may void certain state ids, and JetBlue to install free Wi-Fi on every plane, to Delta removing seats for crew safety, Qantas and Singapore to launch 19-hour flights, and flight diverted after woman gives birth. Enjoy!

FAA Warns Against Checking Lithium Batteries

Earlier this week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a statement advising airlines to ask their passengers to not pack lithium-ion batteries, used in computers and cell phones, in their carry-on and checked luggage because of they can emit gases that can cause explosions and fires on aircrafts. This problem has caused multiple airlines from accepting battery shipments in the cargo hold. While this is potentially problematic, since almost everyone these days travel with either a laptop and/or a cell phone, it would appear that the warning only applies to spare batteries, not the ones that are currently installed in your devices. The terminals on the extra lithium-ion batteries could potentially come in contact with metal causing them to short circuit and catch fire.

REAL ID Act May Void Certain State IDs

If you hold a driver’s license or state ID from New York, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Louisiana, you might find yourself turned away from passing through airport security at some point in 2016. Back in 2005, Congress created REAL ID as a way to counter terrorism by setting strict guidelines on state-issued drivers’ licenses and identification cards. Enforcement of the act is handled by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who recently completely three phases of the enforcement plan which included access to nuclear plants and federal facilities. The DHS now is turning its attention to IDs accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), essentially preventing the TSA from accepting IDs that don’t meet REAL ID’s criteria. Almost two dozen states have complied with the new law, with the remaining states citing privacy and cost as reasons for the delay. The DHS hasn’t announced when the changes will take place other than sometime in 2016. To save yourself the potential hassle of being turned away at the airport because of your ID, be sure to plan ahead and check TSA’s authorized ID list.

JetBlue Wants Free Wi-Fi on Every Plane

By the end of 2016, if you want to have free Wi-Fi on your flight, your only option will most probably be JetBlue. On Wednesday, the airline announced that it has installed its complimentary Wi-Fi service, known as Fly-Fi, on over 150 planes. JetBlue plans to finish installing the service on its remaining 60 planes by fall of 2016. Upon completion, JetBlue will be the only U.S. carrier to offer free Wi-Fi on all its planes. This certainly makes up for them jumping on the checked-bag fees bandwagon.

Delta Removing Seats for Crew Safety

It’s more common to read about airlines and airplane manufacturers doing things like removing toilets to squeeze in more seats, but it’s not often that an airline will remove seats to make room in the aircraft. But that’s exactly what Delta Air Lines is planning on doing. Depending on the model, Delta will remove two to three seats on 179 of their planes to make more room in the galleys. Spokesman Michael Thomas said, “This is an investment to give our flight attendants the room that they asked for, and in turn so they can provide better customer service.” Unfortunately, the seats will stay the same size.

Singapore and Qantas to Launch 19-Hour Flights

Currently, the world’s longest flight clocks in at 17 hours onboard Qantas, flying from Sydney to Dallas. In the past few months, several airlines announced routes that will be longer than that, including Emirates’ planned 17 hour and 35 minute nonstop between Dubai and Panama City starting in February 2016, and Air India’s potential new route between Bengaluru, India, and San Francisco that will take 18 hours. But before either airline has an opportunity to brag about their planned routes, Qantas and Singapore Airlines have both announced their plans to offer 19-hour flights. Qantas plans to offer nonstops between Australia and the UK in two years, while Singapore will resume its Singapore to New York route in 2018.

Random Story of the Week: Flight Diverted After Woman Gives Birth

On Thursday, a China Airlines flight en route to Los Angeles had to be diverted to Anchorage, Alaska, after an impatient baby girl was born eight weeks early. Six hours into the flight, the woman, who was not named, reported that her water broke and the pilot requested permission to land in Anchorage. However, 30 minutes before landing, the baby was born at 30,000 feet with the aid of a doctor onboard. Upon landing, both mother and baby were taken to a local hospital. This came a week after another baby girl was born onboard Jazeera Airways heading to Egypt. It’s been reported that Jazeera Airways has offered the baby free flights until she turns 18. Who knows? Perhaps both babies will follow in the footsteps of Erkan Geldi, who was born onboard a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Frankfurt and now works for the airline.

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Kim has been hunting flight deals and writing travel articles for over 13 years. His articles have appeared in the Boston Herald, Chicago Daily Herald, and Frommer’s Budget Travel, among other publications. Amsterdam, Bangkok, Rome, and Sydney are some of his favorite destinations and he aspires to one day live in Italy. La dolce vita!

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