April 15th, 2010
02:56 PM ET

Explainer: Why ash cloud endangers aircraft

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/TRAVEL/04/15/volcanic.ash.aviation.explainer/t1larg.jpg caption="Each year millions of passengers fly over volcanically active regions such as Iceland and the North Pacific." width=300 height=169]


Volcanic ash clouds are a serious hazard to aviation, reducing visibility, damaging flight controls and ultimately causing jet engines to fail.

Encounters between aircraft and volcanic ash can happen because ash clouds are difficult to distinguish from ordinary clouds, both visually and on radar, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Ash clouds can also drift great distances from their source. The recent volcanic eruption in Iceland sent a huge plume of ash moving across the Atlantic, disrupting air traffic across Western Europe.

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April 2nd, 2010
11:48 AM ET

New airport security measures and what they mean for you

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/14/art.getty.janet.napolitano.jpg caption="Napolitano: new 'real time' intelligence system"]


All flights entering the United States will be subjected to a new level of security screening, officials will announce Friday.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will unveil the new system, which will use "real-time, threat-based intelligence," a senior administration official said.

The new security measures will supersede those put in place immediately after the attempted terror attack on Christmas Day, the official said.

"These new, enhanced measures are part of a dynamic, threat-based aviation security system covering all passengers traveling by air to the United States," the official said. "To more effectively mitigate evolving terrorist threats, these measures utilize multiple, random layers of security, both seen and unseen and are tailored to intelligence about potential threats."

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Filed under: Airline Safety
February 18th, 2010
02:28 PM ET

Kevin Smith, I feel your pain!

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/SHOWBIZ/Movies/02/15/kevin.smith.southwest/t1larg.ksmith.gi.jpg caption="Director Kevin Smith was recently bumped off a Southwest Airlines flight for being too fat." width=300 height=169]

Cathy Ladman
Special to CNN

As many of you already know - because Tweets travel faster than airplanes - Kevin Smith, the portly film director of the movie "Clerks" and the upcoming film "Cop Out," was "politely" asked to disembark from his Southwest flight from Oakland to Burbank because he was too large to fit in the seat.

Okay, let's be frank: He was kicked off the flight. The reason he was given was that his size infringed upon the space of the person sitting next to him and it could cause a safety risk in case of an emergency.

Does it surprise you that an airline that has charged a customer several hundred dollars for the service of transporting him from one place to another would subject said paying customer to the indignity of being told he's too fat to fly? I don't think it does.

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Filed under: Airline Safety • Travel
February 10th, 2010
06:05 PM ET

Real-time traveler information


A blizzard has halted operations at some airports in the Northeast, and thousands of flights have been canceled.

No flights will operate at Reagan Washington National or Dulles International airports on Wednesday, according to the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority.

Travelers are urged to check with their airlines for flight status updates and rebooking policies. Most airlines will waive change fees for travel in and out of areas affected by the weather system.

Go to the FAA site above to track your flight status.

Filed under: Airline Safety • Weather
January 11th, 2010
02:19 PM ET

Body scanners can store, send images, group says

Jeanne Meserve and Mike M. Ahlers

A privacy group says the Transportation Security Administration is misleading the public with claims that full-body scanners at airports cannot store or send their graphic images.

The TSA specified in 2008 documents that the machines must have image storage and sending abilities, the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said.

In the documents, obtained by the privacy group and provided to CNN, the TSA specifies that the body scanners it purchases must have the ability to store and send images when in "test mode."

That requirement leaves open the possibility the machines - which can see beneath people's clothing - can be abused by TSA insiders and hacked by outsiders, said EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg.

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Filed under: Airline Safety
January 11th, 2010
01:33 PM ET

Interactive Map: Airport screening procedures and threats around the world


The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is beginning enhanced screening procedures for U.S.-bound air passengers traveling through "state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest."
View more of these countries here.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Airline Safety
January 11th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

'Out of control': A passenger on Northwest Flight 253 recounts her experience

Editor’s Note: Last week, AC360° Producer David Puente interviewed Scotti Keepman, a passenger on board Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day. Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the man charged with trying to blow up the plane, pleaded not guilty Friday to six federal charges.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/10/art.keepmans1.jpg caption="The Keepman family."]

David Puente
AC360° Producer

Scotti Keepman, a passenger aboard Northwest Flight 253 described the chaos on board and told me about the mass confusion on the ground as passengers tried to get home. In her opinion, the airline dropped the ball. She said she feels the U.S. government’s response to the attempted attack was “disappointing” and even “disgusting.”

Keepman said she was flying from Ethiopia to Holland on her way back home to Wisconsin with her husband and the two young Ethiopian siblings they had just adopted. Her older daughter was with them as well. Until then, the young children had never been on a plane so when they smelled smoke and saw flight attendants run down the aisles, and heard passengers cry and yell, the Keepmans focused on keeping their young children distracted, even entertained.

Keepman also described a passenger who she says videotaped the bomb plot suspect as others tried to subdue him. She says the FBI was looking for the video tape and the man who was recording when the plane landed in Detroit, telling passengers that no one was leaving until the tape was found.


Filed under: 360º Follow • Airline Safety • David Puente
January 8th, 2010
12:19 PM ET

Interactive: Air travel threats and screening around the world


The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is beginning enhanced screening procedures for U.S.-bound air passengers traveling through "state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest."
View more of these countries here.

Filed under: Airline Safety
January 7th, 2010
09:31 PM ET

Air travel threats and enhanced screening


The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is beginning enhanced screening procedures for U.S.-bound air passengers traveling through "state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest."
View more of these countries here.

January 6th, 2010
05:30 PM ET

FAQs on airport security – and what it means for you

Program Note: Tune in tonight for Randi Kaye's report on the feasibility of implementing new security measures across all airports. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TRAVEL/12/30/federal.air.marshals/story.airport.gi.jpg width=300 height=169]


The suspect in the failed Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. airliner faces a six-count federal indictment issued Wednesday, including an attempt to murder the other 289 people aboard.

Since the failed bombing attempt, we've been taking a close look at airport security measures and what is being done to prevent attacks. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has heightened its security measures. Take a look at these questions and answers about the intensified screening.

Q: What additional security measures is TSA taking domestically?

A: TSA has a layered approach to security that allows us to surge resources as needed on a daily basis. We have the ability to quickly implement additional screening measures including explosive detection canine teams, law enforcement officers, gate screening, behavior detection and other measures both seen and unseen. Passengers should not expect to see the same thing at every airport.

Q: What additional security measures are being taken for international flights to U.S. destinations?

A: On January 3, 2010, the Transportation Security Administration issued a new security directive to all U.S. and international air carriers with inbound flights to the U.S. effective January 4, 2010. The new directive includes long-term, sustainable security measures developed in consultation with law enforcement officials and our domestic and international partners.

TSA is mandating that every individual flying into the U.S. from anywhere in the world traveling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening. TSA directed the increase use of enhanced screening technologies and mandates threat-based and random screening for majority passengers on U.S. bound international flights.


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