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Links 1 through 10 of 37 by Chad Orzel tagged travel

"The odds that all 78 of the passengers who travel on an average-size U.S. domestic flight have properly turned off their phones are infinitesimal: less than one in 100 quadrillion, by our rough calculation. If personal electronics are really as dangerous as the FAA rules suggest, navigation and communication would be disrupted every day on domestic flights. But we don't see that."

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The Federal Aviation Administration has its reasons for preventing passengers from reading from their Kindles and iPads during takeoff and landing. But they just don’t add up.

Since I wrote a column last month asking why these rules exist, I’ve spoken with the F.A.A., American Airlines, Boeing and several others trying to find answers. Each has given me a radically different rationale that contradicts the others. The F.A.A. admits that its reasons have nothing to do with the undivided attention of passengers or the fear of Kindles flying out of passengers’ hands in case there is turbulence. That leaves us with the danger of electrical emissions.

For answers, I headed down to EMT Labs, an independent testing facility in Mountain View, Calif., that screens electrical emissions of gadgets that need to pass health, safety and interference standards.

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Human judgments, of course, are never made in a vacuum. Pilots are part of a complex system that can either increase or reduce the probability that they will make a mistake. After this accident, the million-dollar question is whether training, instrumentation, and cockpit procedures can be modified all around the world so that no one will ever make this mistake again—or whether the inclusion of the human element will always entail the possibility of a catastrophic outcome. After all, the men who crashed AF447 were three highly trained pilots flying for one of the most prestigious fleets in the world. If they could fly a perfectly good plane into the ocean, then what airline could plausibly say, "Our pilots would never do that"?

Here is a synopsis of what occurred during the course of the doomed airliner's final few minutes.

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"I’m not saying that you have to like Vegas as a destination. I have weird, conflicted feelings about it as a place, like many people do. I straightforwardly like some things about it (the restaurant scene is great, I like poker, and there’s some beautiful places to hike nearby.) I personally dislike the timeless, adrift feeling of most of its internal architecture, which is totally intentional. But that’s the problem with this whole story: that it should be a non-story. Meaning, that it’s fine to say, “Look, I find this is a creepy place, that’s just me, I have more fun or prefer or enjoy another venue,” in which you admit that at least one of the reasons why you attend a professional meeting is because you enjoy the venue. And in which you admit you are drawn to some aesthetics and not to others, that you find some places pleasurable and not others."

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"For most of the months Dec-Feb (2010-2011) I recorded the times I left for work and the times I got there (excluding days that I stopped for gas etc).

I took almost exactly the same, route each trip, driving from my personal parking spot next to my apartment to the same spot in my office lot. I worked from home on snow days (except for one ... see the outlier). I usually covered the clock in my car so I could not be biased into a different driving pattern."

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"Ridiculous as these examples sound, I still convinced people to believe them. In other words, I’m very good at taking crap and convincing people it’s chocolate, and can surely convince travelers that being groped by government agents is perfectly compatible with life in a free country. I am also looking to replace “low-paid journalist” with a more respectable and stable career serving my government and my country, in that order, by working for the Department of Homeland Security. The ad for this job said “[Y]our services touch every US citizen,” and I personally am willing to touch as many US citizens, resident aliens and foreign tourists as necessary to make Janet Napolitano feel she has the whole “terrorism” thing safely under control.

I currently live in Connecticut but am willing to relocate to the Washington, DC area, and I can pass a drug test with only 30 days’ advance notice."

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"I could have ripped up these counterfeit boarding passes in the privacy of a toilet stall, but I chose not to, partly because this was the renowned Senator Larry Craig Memorial Wide-Stance Bathroom, and since the commencement of the Global War on Terror this particular bathroom has been patrolled by security officials trying to protect it from gay sex, and partly because I wanted to see whether my fellow passengers would report me to the TSA for acting suspiciously in a public bathroom. No one did, thus thwarting, yet again, my plans to get arrested, or at least be the recipient of a thorough sweating by the FBI, for dubious behavior in a large American airport. Suspicious that the measures put in place after the attacks of September 11 to prevent further such attacks are almost entirely for show—security theater is the term of art—I have for some time now been testing, in modest ways, their effectiveness. "

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"Well this little feat has been a long time coming.  For those of you who have worked with me in Unalakleet you probably have heard about my aspiration of using the poster printer to print my boarding pass.  Well two days ago my dream became a reality.  I logged onto nwa.com and checked in for my flight.  Selected my seats and chose the option to print my boarding pass.  Well as you know Mac computers make it super easy to print things as a PDF file instead of to a printer.  So thats what I did.  I was on two different flights and both boarding pass tickets were on the same page stacked on top of each other.  This wouldn’t do I need each boarding pass to be on a different print out to really dramatize the “Big Boarding Pass”.  So I took a screen shot of each individual one and then took them over to the poster printer.  Each one printed out to be about three feet wide and about 1.5 feet tall."

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"A few days ago I contacted 20 TSA Transportation Security Officers (TSO) to ask their opinions of the new “enhanced” pat downs. Of the 20 I reached out to, 17 responded. All 17 who responded are at airports where the new “enhanced” pat down is in place … and the responses were all the same, that front line TSOs do not like the new pat downs and that they do not want to perform them.  I expected most to not like the pat downs … but what I didn’t expect was that all 17 mentioned their morale being broken down.
Each of the 17 TSA TSOs that responded to me detailed their personal discomfort in conducting the new pat downs, with more than one stating that it is likely they are more uncomfortable performing the pat down than passengers are receiving them."

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