Large breasts can get women out of a parking ticket or perhaps earn them free drinks at a bar, but they may also mean additional screening from airport security.
In a headline that seems ripped directly from a Conan O'Brien monologue, airport security agents are on the lookout for terrorists with explosive breast implants.
The United Kingdom's Daily Mirror reports Heathrow Airport is on high terror alert after word that Al-Qaeda is plotting attacks on airlines flying out of London. With airport scanners able to detect volatile threats outside the body, not inside, Al-Qaeda's chief bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, allegedly devised an explosive that can be hidden in an implant or body cavity.
As a result of the new concerns, security lines at Heathrow and many major world airports are much longer than usual. The Mirror quotes one staff member who admits security personnel have been ordered to "pay particular attention to females who may have concealed hidden explosives in their breasts," but didn't go into further details.
With Homeland Security agents already under scrutiny for their often invasive search measures, what new screening measures will they implement? Will airline passengers agree to even more thorough screenings? After the shoe bomber Richard Reid was caught, fliers have had to take off their shoes. What measures would the TSA enact if a breast bomber strikes? Will female fliers above a C-cup be given their own security line?
Assuming the reports are true, how popular are these breast bombers at the Al-Qaeda annual social mixers?
Few things are as frustrating to travelers as a huge bank of frequent-flier points and not being able to use them. With fewer seats and routes available, airlines are making it more difficult to trade miles for free flights, knowing they can sell more tickets at a premium price. They're gambling that customers with large banks of points will stay continue to stay loyal for fear of losing the miles they've worked so hard to accumulate.
So if you can't cash in your points for flights, what can you do with them?
At a former job years ago, a colleague needed to fly home for a family emergency but didn't have the money. A few employees quickly pooled frequent-flier points that allowed him to make the trip. Another time, some extended family members used their combined miles to send a cousin and her new husband on a honeymoon.
If you don't have a needy co-worker or family member, you can always give them to an organization that will use them to help others. The Fisher House Foundation's "Hero Miles" program has provided more than 40,000 tickets to wounded, injured and ill service members and their families over the years, while Mercy Medical Airlift provided almost 10,000 free airline tickets to patients in need, thanks to generous mileage donations. The Make-A-Wish Foundation has need of more than 2.5 billion miles in order to send kids and their families to their desired destinations around the world.
On Points.com, you can either trade your miles from one airline for another carrier's points or even exchange them all together for various products or gift cards from retailers like Amazon or Starbucks. But the exchange rates for miles are fairly high in many cases, and should only be used if you have a large block of miles that are going to expire soon. My friend Tim Wozniak exchanges expiring miles for magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
Use Them For Other Travel Needs
The Wall Street Journal's Scott McCartney posted an excellent piece this week on redeeming airline miles for hotel rooms, rental cars and more. Not surprisingly, the elite-level traveler is going to score much better deals than your average flier -- the amount of American Airlines miles needed for hotel stays and car rentals is 40 percent less for platinum-level frequent fliers than the rank-and-file. A penny per mile is the typical exchange for domestic flights, car rentals and hotels for most higher-level loyalty programs. One travel expert McCartney spoke to believes mileage programs will eventually evolve into package deals, encompassing flights, hotels, cars and travel insurance.
Size matters when it comes to art attractions, but the new Micro Museum in Boston wants to prove bigger isn't always better.
While it could take days to see everything the Louvre has to offer, visitors at the Mµseum can take in all the art in a matter of seconds. It pays to be short: the three-wall gallery, located at 72 1/2 Union Square, is less than 5-feet high off the ground, and measures a mere 16 inches wide, 8 inches deep and 10 inches tall. The first exhibition is entitled "Invisible Cities" and features six tiny works of art. Museum founder Judith Klausner told Boston.com that she expects the exhibits to routinely rotate.
The museum is as much of a statement on urban development as it is an actual art installation. How many people will actually visit the micro museum to actually study and reflect on the miniscule art and how many will pause for a moment to take a quick Facebook photo and walk on? Who knows.
Micro Museum isn't the only gallery marketing itself on its diminutive size. A suburb of Indianapolis boasts the World's Smallest Children's Art Gallery, featuring works from local elementary school children. You might think the Los Angeles Museum of Art would be a massive structure befitting the second-largest city in the nation. That's true of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, but not its near-namesake, a 13-foot, hand-built structure located in the artist enclave of Eagle Rock.
The subterfuge was discovered when the pseudo-lion started barking in its cage. Afterward the zoo, located in the in the People's Park of Luohe in the central province of Henan, was found to have substituted other common animals for more exotic species, such as a white fox misidentified as a leopard, and another dog found in a wolf pen.
Liu Suya, the head of the park's animal department, told the state-run Beijing Youth Daily that an employee's Tibetan mastiff was held in the cage for safety reasons while the zoo's actual lion was temporarily at a breeding facility. No explanations were given for the other animal switches.
Swapping animals is nothing new for zoos across the world, although it's typically not this brazen. Near Gaza City, donkeys were painted with stripes to resemble zebras after an Israeli blockade prevented them from importing the animals. In Boston and Tokyo, zoo employees don animal costumes to practice their annual dangerous animal escape drills. And years ago in Houston, embarrassed zoo officials admitted its coral snake had been replaced with a rubber doppelganger for six months.
Have you every witnessed anything like this happening at your local zoo?
Craigslist Missed Connections ads are often entertaining, but seldom can they be considered worthwhile works of fiction.
The nondescript "Missed Connection - m4w" may have initially been overlooked by the scores of New Yorkers seeking the sultry redhead who caught their eye while browsing the incontinence aisle of Duane Reade, but it soon set the Internet on fire. At turns humorous and heartbreaking, the 1,000-word treatise touches on love at first sight, missed opportunities and regret during one fairly long ride on the NYC subway.
According to the Village Voice, the author is likely Raphael Bob-Waksberg, who was the first to post a link to the ad on Twitter.
While I'm a little jealous that my ad selling my old Craftsman lawn mower didn't garner the same notoriety, the Craigslist story serves not only as a wonderful piece of found art, but as a bittersweet reminder to make the most of every opportunity which presents itself.
Smisek opines the corporations' increased profits means greater investments in the airline's fleets, including new planes and global WiFi.
"That costs a lot of money," Smisek said. "And to do that, you've got to make money to be able to make those sorts of investments."
A proposed merger between the bankrupt American Airlines and US Airways is currently under review by the Justice Department. Last month, antitrust lawyer Joseph Alioto filed suit seeking to block the merger, claiming consumers would be negatively impacted. Although attorneys for both airlines decried the suit as baseless, the Government Accountability Office reported that nearly 1,700 routes between would lose a competitor as a result of the merger, affecting more than 53 million passengers.
When United and Continental merged in 2010, competition was decreased across more than 1,100 routes, according to the GAO.
Just how many airlines have caught merger fever? Take a look at this list.
While consolidation has undoubtedly helped the airline's bottom line, how has it affected the passengers? With fewer airlines vying for your business and fewer flights to and from your destinations, passengers are at the mercy of increasingly large monolithic airlines that, like major banking institutions, are rapidly becoming "too big to fail."
William McGee, a travel expert with the non-profit Consumers Union (publishes Consumer Reports magazine) raised those and several other issues when testifying about in front of a US Senate Judiciary meeting regarding United's merger with Continental. McGee testified the airline mergers meant loss of service for many cities, higher fares, reductions in service quality and the threat of widespread service disruptions.
Surf Air charges a one-time membership fee of $500, followed by $1,650 monthly payments. The six-seat, single-engine turboprops fly between less-used airports in California, such as Burbank and Santa Barbara, with additional destinations being considered for later in the year.
Unlimited travel isn't unheard of -- commuter-train passengers purchase unlimited-use passes every month and Jet Blue offered its popular $499 "All You Can Jet" pass in 2009 and 2010 to great acclaim. So why aren't more airlines offering it?
American Airlines offered an unlimited lifetime pass for about five years, before abruptly discontinuing it in the early 1990s. The passes, which sold for $250,000 at the program's start, actually quadrupled in price by the program's end after American realized how much the unlimited flights were damaging their bottom line. Sixty-six elite fliers had their passes cancelled, sparking several lawsuits.
So, is it possible for an airline to offer an unlimited flight deal? JetBlue seemed to have much success with their plan, limiting the pass usage to one month and the days you could use the pass (unless, of course, you paid extra). JetBlue never released details on the financial success of the All You Can Jet pass, but perhaps it's telling they discontinued the plan in favor of GoPacks, a 10-ticket pass selling for $699 to nearly $2,500.
So can a small, limited-route all-you-can-fly carrier succeed? Or if your preferred airline offered a monthly unlimited travel pass, would you take advantage if it?
So you want to go to the Tour de France, but don't have the vacation time for a multiple-week excursion or the money for a round-trip ticket?
Despite all three of the major Grand Tours taking place in Europe, you can still find top-notch bike racing – and the accompanying fan experience – in the U.S. Here are five of America's biggest road cycling races.
Silver City Tour of the Gila Powered by SRAM (April 30 - May 4, 2014)
The five-day Tour of the Gila is a bit different than most of these events, because it gives amateur riders the opportunity to race themselves (albeit not with the pros). The race features not only some of the beautiful scenery New Mexico is known for, but also winds its way through ghost towns and steep mountain passes. You won't see any of the famous European teams represented here, but the domestic pros – including UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team's Philip Deignan, who won the overall earlier this year – can definitely put on a show.
Amgen Tour of California (May 2014)
Probably America's most similar race to the Tour de France, the eight-day tour features the world's top pro teams and travels through the mountains and countryside of the Sunshine State. There's enough variety of terrain that virtually anyone can ride and feel like a pro racer for a day or two. For $1,000 and up, fans can pay to ride in the team car or get a bird's-eye view of the finish and behind-the-scenes access to riders.
Spending a week following the Tour de France was a dream come true, and perhaps even the trip of a lifetime. But is it the trip of a lifetime if you plan to go again?
Want to plan your own trip following the la Grande Boucle? You have plenty of options.
The first, and probably easiest, option is to purchase a tour package. I booked mine through Sports Tours International, a British outfitter. (Full disclosure – STI gave me a significantly discounted rate, but my wife paid full price.) For the first-time visitor, a tour package is ideal. The hotels we stayed at were always clean and well appointed. A tour bus allowed us flexibility where we rode and how far. On most evenings, the hotel served us multiple course meals that hit the spot after a full day of riding and race-watching. There were options for those with bikes and without, so if you have a non-riding spouse, it's ideal.
But there are some caveats. First, don't expect any handholding on one of these trips. If you don't feel comfortable changing flats or navigating the roads of a foreign country on your own, this is probably not the tour for you. Also, our tour guide was a terrific guy, but didn't speak a lot of French and wasn't too familiar with the history or topography of the areas we rode. Luckily, we were never in a situation where we couldn't communicate with a local – either one of the group knew some French or the person we were speaking to knew English.
Some tour operators, the biggest one being Trek Travel, offer additional perks – more guides, team access, more luxurious hotels, etc. – but you're going to pay a premium for them, and they can quickly add up.
If you have a desire for more control of your itinerary, you could always plan your own trip, book your own hotels, find your own meals and plot your own rides. This is a great option for experienced folks who only want to follow the Tour for a day or two, or might not want to share space with strangers for a week or more.
Help arrived a short time later in the form of beekeeper Jimmy Odom, who drove the bees and their queen away from the runway. Odom said the bees were docile and merely looking for a new place to hang their hive.
The 1:15 p.m. flight, which had already been delayed 30 minutes for an unrelated mechanical issue, finally took off around 4 p.m. It's not known if any passengers were stung by missed connecting flights.
Flight 2690's misfortune was just one of the mishaps happening at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport that day. A plane flying to Rome from the airport was rerouted to Philadelphia after mechanical issues popped up above the Atlantic Ocean. And earlier in the day, a moving walkway caught fire in one of the concourses, forcing an evacuation of the smoke-filled terminal.