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November 14, 2017

Air Travel: Calls for TSA Review, New Flights to Cancun, Curacao

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A call for a review of TSA security procedures, a number of new flights and the final voyage of the Boeing 747 lead this week’s air travel news affecting the meetings and events industry. 

Senator Calls for TSA Review Ahead of Holiday Travel Season

As the holiday travel season approaches, Sen. Chuck Schumer has called for a review of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) procedures after a series of high-profile security lapses, our partner publication Travel Agent reports. 

The New York Post reports that Schumer called for a “top to bottom” review Sunday, saying, “In an era of lone wolf terrorists, the continued TSA security failures at airports across the country are highly concerning and a major threat we must neutralize. In light of the recent test result reports, TSA should move immediately to address all holes, shortfalls and gaps in training procedures, technology and the entire airport security process.”

According to ABC News, last week a report surfaced showing that TSA equipment, procedures and screeners failed a series of undercover tests at multiple airport security checkpoints by the Department of Homeland Security, with one source telling ABC News the failure rate could be “in the ballpark” of 80 percent. The report, the full extent of which remains classified, included eight recommendations to improve security, although it is not clear what those recommendations are.

The additional scrutiny comes as Congress considers the TSA Modernization Act, which many travel industry groups have argued would advance the deployment of new technologies to security checkpoints. Both the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) have weighed in in support of the measure, which would also include additional tools for the TSA to expand the TSA PreCheck trusted traveler program.

Spirit Airlines Adds Direct Flights to Cancun From Baltimore, Chicago

In flight news, Spirit Airlines has launched daily nonstop routes from Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Baltimore - Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) to Cancun International Airport. These flights mark Spirit’s first international destinations from each city.

Spirit Airlines currently operates daily service to Cancun from Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale and Houston. The two new routes brings Spirit’s nonstop service to Cancun to six flights daily, one daily from each of the six U.S. cities it serves.

Flights from BWI and O’Hare began November 9. Spirit will fly one daily round-trip from each city.

Haiti-Based Sunrise Airways to Add Nonstop Flights to Curacao November 28

Haiti-based Sunrise Airways has announced its intent to launch new nonstop service between its hub at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince (PAP) and Hato International Airport in Curacao (CUR) beginning November 28.

Flights depart Port-au-Prince at 9:10 a.m. on Thursdays and Sundays and arrive in Curacao at 10:30 a.m. Return flights leave Curacao at 11:30 a.m. on Thursdays and Sundays and arrive back in Haiti at 12:50 p.m.

New Sunrise Airways flights between Haiti and Curacao aim to offer convenient one-stop connections with existing Sunrise service to/from Cuba and Orlando.

Sunrise Airways will deploy both its Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A320 aircraft along its new Curacao route. Both aircraft feature two classes of service – business and economy.

United Airlines Flies the Boeing 747 One Last Time

Finally, this week United Airlines flew its Boeing UA747 aircraft – called the “Queen of the Skies” - for the final time on a flight from San Francisco to Honolulu. The airline recreated the first 747 flight operated by United in 1970 for the farewell journey, complete with a 70s inspired menu, retro uniforms worn by flight attendants, and in-flight entertainment calling back to that first flight. The San Francisco to Honolulu route was a nod to the first-ever flight as well.

The seats for the final voyage sold out in less than 90 minutes when the farewell celebration was announced in September. The send-off began at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) with a gate party that included a 747 gallery, 70s costumes for use in the retro photo booth, and a life-size retirement card for customers and employees to sign. Oscar Munoz, Chief Executive Officer of United Airlines, addressed the crowd alongside state senator Jerry Hill and executives from Boeing and Pratt & Whitney.

Upon landing in Honolulu, local employees welcomed the aircraft with final festivities to close out the day, including words from United leaders and Hawaii State Representative Henry J.C Aquino.

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