In brief: Planes may cause rain
A ticketless man gets through airport security twice, Virgin America offers free laptop rentals, business travellers pay big to enrol in trusted-traveller programs, and more. Here are the stories travellers are buzzing about:
Google and Virgin America partner up
Virgin America continues its quest to provide the best services. The airline announced yesterday it would offer some passengers the opportunity to test out one of Google's new Chromebooks free of charge on select flights between San Francisco and Boston, Dallas or Chicago from 1 July to 30 September. The lucky passengers will also get free in-flight wi-fi, as the cloud-based computer requires wi-fi or 3G for virtually all its functions. Several other airlines have already announced plans to offer iPads for rent.
TSA continues to frustrate travellers
Amid reports of increased frustration with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an adult-diaper screening and an anti-groping bill in Texas that failed to get final approval Wednesday, Forbes suggested multiple ways to improve the pre-boarding process. Columnist Andrew Bender examined the benefits of a trusted-traveller program — which 75% of business travellers would pay up to $150 to enrol in, according to a recent report — noting that in addition to saving frequent flyers invaluable time, it would also benefit the TSA. Meanwhile, Forbes' Art Carden has another idea for the TSA: get rid of it altogether. He argues that despite the TSA causing travellers grief and time, it doesn't provide much actual security.
FBI arrests man arrested for attempting to fly without valid boarding pass
The success of a man twice getting past airport security without a valid boarding pass suggests Carden might not be far off in his allegations that the TSA provides more "security theatre" than actual protection. Federal agents arrested the man in Los Angeles while trying to board an Atlanta-bound Delta flight Wednesday. He was using another passenger's expired boarding pass and had 10 more expired boarding passes in his bag. Last Friday, he successfully flew from New York to Los Angeles employing the same method. Investigations are still ongoing.
Greece expects increase in tourist arrivals
After taking a 20% hit to tourism revenue from 2008 to 2010, officials say they expect a 10% increase in tourist arrivals this summer, despite strikes, social unrest and violent protests, Reuters reports. Considering the tourism sector accounts for one fifth of the Greece's jobs and 16% of it's GDP, that's welcome news for the embattled country. As CNN reported this week, Greek-Americans hoping to bolster the economy of their homeland are partially to thank for the increase in international visitors.
Planes may cause rain
Frequent flyers have all, at one point, sat at the airport cursing their bad luck for the pouring rain that's caused a seemingly endless flight delay. Well, it turns out that sometimes the rain might not be caused by luck at all, but rather by aircraft themselves. The Wall Street Journal reports that planes can cause holes in clouds, which can result in increased precipitation in areas immediately surrounding major airports. Though there are limited examples, data does exist to support the phenomenon.
Split Screen: A Love Story recently won the 2011 Nokia Shorts competition. Shot entirely on a mobile phone, the two-minute film creatively juxtaposes the lives and journeys of a set of unfamiliar travellers — one from Paris, the other from New York — before they have chance encounter in London. Director JW Griffiths features short pieces on the making of the film on his Vimeo channel.