Good news, bad news, breaking news—it’s all here in this week’s air travel update. Here are the “need to know” items: airline employee steals plane, TSA tests new security tech, Virgin Atlantic and Delta cozy up over drinks, and SFO’s busiest day.
Quote of the Week
“It obviously happens very, very rarely. It’s a rogue employee. I think passengers should feel safe.”–aeronautical university dean regarding the Horizon Air theft.
Airline Employee Steals Plane
Are we safe? A Horizon Air ground service agent with no pilot’s license stole, and then fatally crashed, an otherwise unoccupied 76-seat commercial plane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) Friday night, and the question on everyone’s mind is not why or how, but—where do we go from here? One of the most challenging components to control in air travel security is the possibility of an insider threat from employees with aircraft access. The Port of Seattle has increased police patrols at the airport since Friday and is reviewing ways to restrict unauthorized use of airport equipment.
“We expect to have a national level conversation,” said Commission President Courtney Gregoire. “We expect the federal government may have some ideas about regulation. Here at Sea-Tac, we can lead, and that’s why we’re not waiting, and starting those conversations today.”
TSA Tests New Security Tech
Now that’s what we call a hot line. Transportation Security Administration is piloting its new state-of-the-art checkpoint scanners at airports nationwide, allowing passengers who find themselves in select screening lines to leave liquids and electronics in the bag. You’ll still have to take off your shoes. And you won’t have pre-check. But you will have faster screening. The new and improved scanners use the same CT technology found in the medical field to create 3D images of luggage contents that can be viewed, rotated and enhanced—greatly improving the detection of explosives.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International, Boston Logan, JFK and Washington Dulles International are currently the only airports operating the new technology, but TSA plans to have 40 scanners across the country by the end of 2018.
Virgin Atlantic and Delta Cozy Up
Spotted: Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines putting their relationship on display in London—over drinks. Since signing off on an expanded trans-Atlantic partnership earlier this summer, the two airlines have been publicizing the joint venture, most recently with the aptly named Joint Venture pop-up pub at London’s The Old Crown Public House, featuring 230 craft beers from the 230 U.S. destinations now accessible to U.K. passengers. It’s actually pretty cool.
Decorative beer bottles come up in a wave behind the bar—each with the three-letter code of an airport served by the partnership—and American-themed trivia nights send home some lucky drinkers with free trans-Atlantic flights. Plus, the pub is giving away £50 ($64) vouchers toward any Delta or Virgin flights. And there are New York City and Miami theme nights. In other words, a marketing job well done. It’s available until Aug. 19.
San Francisco International Airport Gets Busy
Who drew the short straw? Air passenger rights company AirHelp tracks the busiest days for airports across the nation, and Aug. 17 is SFO’s turn. The bad news is with more than 8.9 million people flying in and out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) during summer season, the airport’s busiest day is more likely to cause disruptions, delays and cancellations. The good news is if your travel is affected, AirHelp will let you know whether you’re eligible for compensation and how to file a claim. Plus, you can sync your email account to the site’s online travel map for a personalized visual of your travels and a reason to humblebrag to your Facebook friends about having spent an accumulative 690 minutes waiting in airport security lines.