In brief: Australia adds a third gender option to passports
Australian passport holders can choose between three gender classifications, Google flight search receives mixed reviews, we may be approaching the end of naked images from full-body scanners, and more. Here are the stories that travellers are buzzing about:
TSA explores new ways to improve passenger experience
In continued efforts to speed up security lines, airports have been developing express lanes. While most new programs have focused on frequent fliers and passengers willing to submit themselves to background checks, Pittsburgh International Airport has developed an express lane for people with only one carry on bag, CNN reports.
Meanwhile, changes are also coming to the full-body scanners that have been the subject of much controversy since they were first introduced in 2007. The House Subcommittee on Transportation Security unanimously approved an amendment to the annual TSA Authorisation Act of 2011, which should put an end to the naked full-body images that show up on Advanced Imaging Technology machines at US airports. Rather than detailed images of passengers' bodies, generic outlines will be produced, MSNBC reports. The new systems should be in place within the next 90 days.
Google Flights gets off to rocky start
Google launched its much-anticipated flight search tool Tuesday and reviews have been mixed. While plenty of Twitter users appear to be impressed, Google's newest venture definitely has some kinks to work out. MSNBC found difficulty comparing flights, non-intuitive date-flexibility tools and limited destinations to be problematic. In a comparison to Kayak, the New York Times found the new search tool to be simpler with cooler filtering and viewing tools, but still decided Kayak was more useful at present. Meanwhile, Tnooz has already begun looking further into the future by considering ways Google could eventually take flight search global.
An American English Dialects map
The astonishingly complex map, created by Rick Aschmann, uses a stupefying mix of keys, colour-coding, dots and intersecting lines to explain American English dialects, as well as their divisions, subdivisions and origins. Aschmann's site also has articles discussing topics such as "how many vowels are there in American English?", "New York City and its offspring" and "the US-Canada border and the 'badge of identity.'" If that's not enough, there's audio examples. There's enough there to keep Bill Bryson busy for days.
Ryanair launches Cash Passport to avoid fees
The budget airline is releasing its own Mastercard prepaid debit card, and come 1 November, only passengers who use the Ryanair Cash Passport will be able to avoid the £6-per-one-way admin fee that results from booking with a debit or credit card, the Guardian reports.
"[The gender] 'X' is really quite important because there are people who are indeed genetically ambiguous and were probably arbitrarily assigned as one sex or the other at birth," Pratt said. "It's a really important recognition of people's human rights that if they choose to have their sex as 'indeterminate,' that they can."
- Australian Senator Louise Pratt, whose partner was born female and is now identified as a man, discussed Thursday's announcement that Australian passport holders can now choose between three gender classifications as part of an effort to help eliminate discrimination against transgender people and people of ambiguous sex. Pratt said such people often face questioning and detention at airports because their appearance does not match their gender status. Now, as long as they have a supporting statement from a doctor, people will have the option of marking the gender section of their passports with an 'X', the Associated Press reports.