NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Dutch airliner is flying planes all the way from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Amsterdam, on a fuel mix that includes leftover oil from frying Cajun food in Louisiana.
The KLM flights from JFK are powered by a combination of 25 percent recycled cooking oil and 75 percent jet fuel.
After the first such flight on Friday, the new concept will be tested on 24 round-trip trans-Atlantic trips every Thursday for the next six months.
KLM executive Camiel Eurlings jokingly told the New York Post that “it smelled like fries” while the plane was being fueled.
The waste oil from frying up crawfish, cracklins and other Cajun specialties is refined at a plant near Baton Rouge, then trucked to JFK, the newspaper reported.
There is a similar operation powered by European food plants and restaurants, which supplies cooking oil for KLM flights headed the other way across the Atlantic Ocean.
The trips highlight inconsistencies in tough ethics rules Congress set for itself. Although registered foreign lobbyists can’t buy a $2 cup of coffee for a congressional staffer in Washington, they are allowed to invite, plan and accompany a staffer on a trip costing $10,000 or more. Nor is there any requirement about how much time is spent on work related to Congress.
Congress overhauled the rules for travel after the 2005 scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who had paid for lavish trips for several lawmakers and their families before his 2006 guilty plea on fraud and bribery charges. After Democrats won control of Congress in midterm elections, they passed legislation governing the rules for travel funded by organizations that hire lobbyists, requiring pre-approval of trip itineraries and limiting travel to a single day.
For travel sponsored by companies and other private interests, staffers must submit itineraries to House and Senate ethics committees for approval before departing and also make a full accounting of costs after the trip has concluded. The rules continue to tighten: starting in April, lawmakers and staff will have to submit trips for pre-approval even earlier — 30 days beforehand, up from 14.
By contrast, the costs, itineraries and other details for cultural-exchange trips are not disclosed. When costs are voluntarily added to disclosure forms, they typically run about $10,000 for a week-long trip, including first-class or business-class airfare.
MIAMI (AP) — A byzantine maze of maritime rules and regulations, fragmented oversight and a patchwork quilt of nations that do business with cruise lines make it tough for consumers to assess the health and safety record of the ship they’re about to board in what for many is the vacation of a lifetime.
Want to know about a ship’s track record for being clean? Want to assess how sanitary the food is? It’s not that easy to find, in part because there’s no one entity or country that oversees or regulates the industry with its fleet of ships that are like mini cities floating at sea.
In the case of Carnival Cruise Lines, the owner of the Carnival Triumph that spent days in the Gulf of Mexico disabled after an engine fire, the company is incorporated in Panama, its offices are based in Miami and its ships fly under the Bahamian flag — a matrix that is not unusual in the cruise line industry.
For potential passengers seeking ship information, there’s no central database that can be viewed to determine a track record of safety or health inspections. No one agency regulates everything from the cruise line’s mechanical worthiness to the sanitation of its kitchens.
The U.S. Coast Guard inspects each cruise ship that docks in the U.S. every year for a range of issues, from operation of backup generators to the lifeboats. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a database of recent disease outbreaks and other health inspection information for cruise ships. Had Triumph vacationers looked up information about the cruise ship through those two agencies before boarding, they would have found mostly clean marks and few red flags.
And when something goes wrong, as it did on Triumph, there are limits to how much the Coast Guard can investigate.
These are not new issues — they had been raised by members of Congress before the Triumph incident.
“This horrible situation involving the Carnival Triumph is just the latest example in a long string of serious and troubling incidents involving cruise ships,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who led a committee hearing on cruise safety last year.
Last year, after the Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Giglio, Italy, Rockefeller held a Commerce Committee hearing to examine deficiencies in the cruise line industry’s compliance with federal safety, security, and environmental standards and review industry regulations.
“As I remarked then, they seem to have two lives: One is at port, where the Coast Guard can monitor their operations; the other is at sea where, it appears once they are beyond three nautical miles from shore, the world is theirs,” Rockefeller said in letter he wrote this week to Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., the commandant of the Coast Guard. “The Carnival Triumph incident only serves to further validate this view.”
The Triumph left Galveston, Texas, on Feb. 7 for a four-day cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. An engine-room fire paralyzed the ship early Sunday, leaving it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. Passengers described nightmarish conditions on board: overflowing toilets, long lines for a short supply of food, foul odors, and tent cities where vacationers slept on deck. Tugboats slowly towed the 14-story vessel to Mobile, Ala. It arrived there late Thursday.
On Dec. 13, 2011, Marine Lance Cpl. Christian Brown was leading his squad on a foot patrol in Afghanistan’s Helmand province when he stepped on an explosive device that blew off both his legs, one above the knee, the other below his hip. He also lost part of his right index finger.
Last Sunday, almost exactly a year since those grievous injuries forced him to learn to walk on two successive pairs of prosthetic legs, Brown was “humiliated” to the point of tears on a Delta flight from Atlanta to Washington after being clumsily wheeled to the back row of the plane, according to a complaint sent to the airline by an outraged fellow passenger.
Worse yet, according to retired Army Col. Nickey Knighton’s detailed “customer care” report to Delta, efforts by several fellow vets to shift Brown from coach to a first class seat offered by another flyer, were rebuffed by the crew. Flight attendants insisted no one could move through the cabin because the doors were being closed for takeoff, she wrote.
Knighton, a former helicopter pilot with nearly 30 years of service, who turned out to be seated in the same back row as Brown, assumed that because he boarded last, he would be seated up front for comfort and ease of exit in case of emergency. Instead, she wrote in a complaint obtained by “She The People,” he was squeezed into a narrow aviation wheelchair that “bumped up against stationary aisle seats as he was wheeled through the aircraft. [He] was obviously humiliated by being paraded through the aircraft and was visibly upset. I touched Brown on his shoulders and asked if he was okay. Tears ran down his face, but he did not cry out loud.”
Sickening. Just sickening.
The familiar drudgery was under way along the security line at Kennedy International Airport on a recent afternoon. Shoes were fumbled off feet, laptops unearthed from satchels and belts tugged from their loops. But mostly people waited, shuffled and waited as they wound their way to the front of the line.
But one couple had a different experience. Pushed along in the wheelchairs each airline provides by request, they whizzed past the line to a specially designated and briskly efficient Transportation Security Administration screener. Once cleared, the woman suddenly sprang up from her wheelchair, hoisted two huge carry-on bags from the magnetometer’s conveyor belt and plopped back in the wheelchair. She gave a nod to the person pushing her, and they rolled off to the gate.
In the modern airport experience, where the tedium of long lines, sudden delays and ever-more-invasive security checks is the norm, little can be done to avoid the frustrations increasingly endemic to travel. So it may be an expected, if uncomfortable, fact that some travelers appear to exploit perhaps the only remaining loophole to a breezy airport experience — the line-cutting privileges given to people who request airport wheelchairs, for which no proof of a disability is required.
The practice, tacitly endorsed by a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy from wheelchair pushers, who sometimes receive tips, is so commonplace that airport workers can predict spikes in wheelchair requests when security is particularly backed up, and flight attendants see it so often on certain routes — including to the Philippines, Egypt and the Dominican Republic, for which sometimes a dozen people in wheelchairs will be waiting to board — they’ve dubbed them ‘miracle flights.’
‘We’d say there was a miracle because they all needed a wheelchair getting on, but not getting off,’ said Kelly Skyles, a flight attendant and the national safety and security coordinator for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines attendants. ‘Not only do we serve them beverages and ensure their safety — now we’re healing the sick.’
I think it sucks that people who are not disabled are using wheelchairs to get through airport lines faster.
I am one of those disabled people who can’t walk miles and miles of terminal concourses, and yes I always stay in my seat at destination until all the other passengers have deplaned.
Mostly it really sucks to be dependent on these wheelchair pushers, and I make sure they receive a tip. I wonder how many of these non-disabled remember to tip the chair pusher?
Tel Aviv was always hovering something in the middle of the ever-growing list of places I wanted to visit. But in recent years, I kept hearing what a hip place it was, and how it was sort of the ‘San Francisco’ of Israel. Stretching along a massive beach, as soon as I arrived in the city, I wanted to ditch my luggage and jump right in. Then eat.
Click the link to see the photos!
Verizon has launched a new Global Data Package for those traveling overseas.
The company announced today that its new Global Data Package will deliver 100MB of data per month to customers for $25. The special rate is available only to those customers who have a domestic data package, and it allows them to access e-mail, surf the Web, and engage in other data-heavy tasks.
Before travelers sign up for the service, however, they should beware that it’s available in 120 destinations around the world, including Mexico, Canada, and all of Europe. When traveling to Asia and Africa, however, compatibility might vary.
Twice as much data as AT&T for the same price.
Following a press inquiry by The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, Delta Airlines removed the word ‘Occupied’ from “Occupied Palestinian Territory” on its list of destinations in the Middle East.
A media relations official from the company said “the phrase was mistakenly posted to our web site and immediately removed when brought to our attention.”
It does not appear that the wording was intentionally used in order to attract customers who would not like to read the word “Israel” when booking a holiday, as Israel can clearly be seen in the list of destinations as well.
There is no operational airport in any of the “Palestinian territories” occupied or not.
Well, just ewww.
PITTSBURGH - A flood of gooey black muck dropped from a tanker truck disabled about 150 cars and damaged an unknown number of other vehicles along a nearly 40-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, officials said.
A leaking valve on a tanker spread driveway sealant over the eastbound lanes of a long stretch of the Turnpike between New Castle and the Oakmont Service Plaza on Tuesday night, Turnpike spokesman Bill Capone said.
Turnpike operations officials on Wednesday said 150 or more cars were disabled when the sticky goo covered their tires and wheels. Some state police and turnpike maintenance vehicles had to be towed away after getting stuck in the tar-like substance, according to the turnpike operations center.
Traffic was moving normally by Wednesday morning, but the sticky mess had already hindered the travel plans of some motorists traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Laura Frick told WTAE-TV she was traveling from Cleveland to New Jersey for the holiday.
“Now we have to turn around and go back home,” Frick said. “It’s horrible.”
Retired firefighter Bob King told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review the experience was the most harrowing of his life.
“It caught us off guard,” said King, who now lives near Chicago. “It didn’t seem like anyone knew what it was or what to do. It had to be an incredible amount of tar. It’s still piled on my tires.”
Cpl. Mike Corna, with the state police barracks which patrols the pike near Pittsburgh, said Wednesday the driver will be cited for not properly securing his load, though the specific tickets to be issued were still being determined. Police have yet to trace the origin of the load. The tank was filled somewhere in Ohio.
Maintenance crews got out quickly, dumping sand on the pooled goop and using snow plows to push it on to the shoulder, turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said. The mess was mostly confined to the right lane and the roadway didn’t have to be shut down while workers tried to clean it up because the substance hardens in about 15 minutes, DeFebo said.
Read more: philly.com
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One guy in the Surfline office mentioned that he thought this board would be perfect for bringing along on a business trip or a “non-surfing vacation” with your girlfriend or spouse somewhere there might also happen to be waves.
While we’re still testing the board for long-term durability, our initial evaluation shows that the Walden Tri-Fold works surprisingly well. The folding tech is ingenious, and equipped in the right shape it would make a handy addition to any traveling surfer’s quiver. Bottom line: The Tri-Fold rides much like a regular board, and you’ll likely save the equivalent of the added cost for the board in baggage fees on your first two trips.
This looks like a potentially genius idea. Folding surfboards have been tried before, but they have never been able to make a responsive board for the experienced surfer. Some airlines charge exorbitant rates for boards, so this could be an important breakthrough for modern surf travel.