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TSA ends testing, will not screen passengers’ books separately

TSA officials will not screen and search books separate from luggage during security checks before passengers board planes at airports across the country.

The agency announced the decision to end testing the practice at select airports at the end of June. Testing was being performed at two U.S. airports.

>> Read more trending news

Many people criticized the book screenings, saying TSA agents could potentially choose passengers to search based on the titles and topics of their reading materials.

“Academics are unsurprisingly big readers, and since we don’t simply read for pleasure, we often read materials with which we disagree or which may be seen by others as offensive,” Henry Reichman, chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, said last month. “For instance, a scholar studying terrorism and its roots may well be reading -- and potentially carrying on a plane -- books that others might see as endorsing terrorism.”

Other critics said publicly disclosing reading material could feel like an invasion of privacy to some travelers. 

“A person who is reading a book entitled ‘Overcoming Sexual Abuse’ or ‘Overcoming Sexual Dysfunction’ is not likely to want to plop that volume down on the conveyor belt for all to see,” said notes privacy expert Jay Stanley in an analysis of the TSA’s previous plan.

But the TSA has asserted the the book search, which has been terminated at test airports will not expand across the country as previously planned.

Passengers do not need to remove books from carry-on bags before sending luggage through X-ray machines.

“We’re always testing procedures to help stay ahead of our adversaries. We were testing the removal of books at two airport locations and the testing ran its course,” the TSA said in a news release. “We’re no longer testing and have no intentions of instituting those procedures.”

In the release, the TSA said it implemented the book screening test because “adversaries seem to know every trick in the book when it comes to concealing dangerous items, and books have been used in the past to conceal prohibited items.”

“We weren’t judging your books by their covers, just making sure nothing dangerous was inside,” TSA said

Air France to launch new airline specifically for millennials

Air France will launch a new airline specifically for passengers aged 18 to 35.

On Thursday, the airline announced its new airline, Joon, which will begin operating routes this fall. 

>> Read more trending news

According to a news release, Joon’s targeted clientele is young working professionals whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology.

“Designed for our millennial customers, (Joon) will offer more than just a flight and a fare -- it will offer a global travel experience,” Dominique Wood, executive vice president of brand and communications at Air France, said in a statement.

Joon’s flight attendants will wear casual, chic uniforms.

Joon will begin operating flights from Paris-Charles de Gaulle this fall, with plans to expand to longer routes by next summer.

The airline will not be a low cost airline. 

>> Related: Low-cost airline considers replacing seats with standing space

Wood said the airline plans to release more details about Joon’s destinations and fares in September.

“This generation has inspired us a lot,” said Caroline Fontaine, vice president of brand at Air France. “They are opportunistic in a positive sense of the word as they know how to enjoy every moment and are in search of quality experiences that they want to share with others. Joon is a brand that carries these values.”

Woman live tweets ‘nightmare’ encounter with feet on flight

There are some things you should and shouldn’t do on a plane; one of those is rub your feet on the armrests of the person in front of you.

>> Read more trending news

Jessie Char, 30, shared on social media that she had a “nightmare” flight due to a pair of unwelcome feet.

Char live tweeted her experience, which was horrible for her but entertainment for others.

>> Tour de France cyclist shares gruesome photo of veiny legs

It all started with an empty row on her JetBlue flight from Long Beach to San Francisco where she took her seat, “Today” reported. 

Frontier Airlines to add 21 cities, 85 routes

Low-cost airline Frontier Airlines will add 21 destinations and 85 routes to its lineup, the company announced Tuesday. 

>> Read more trending news 

The airline plans to grow to a total of 82 cities total with more than 1,000 routes by next summer, according to a news release. That’s more than double the current number of total routes offered by the airline.

>> Related: Pilot 'congratulates' passengers for drinking all alcohol on plane

The airline also plans to add more planes to its fleet, growing from 63 to 76 jets by the end of 2018, according to USA Today

“Customers will benefit not only from the broad new selection of nonstop routes, but our growing network will provide more than 1,000 new connecting route options,” Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said in a statement. “By taking advantage of our natural share of connecting passengers, we can offer our low fares to even more of America.”

>> Related: American Airlines to decrease legroom for passengers

To celebrate the announcement, the airline is offering limited-time one-way fares as low as $39.

Among the 21 cities that the airline will service, 18 are destinations the carrier previously serviced. 

>> Related: Low-cost airline considers replacing seats with standing space

Buffalo, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; and Pensacola, Florida, are the new cities added to the airline’s route map. The 18 cities it will restore service to include the following: 

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Fargo, North Dakota 
  • Fresno, California
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Ontario, California
  • Palm Springs, California
  • Reno, Nevada
  • San Jose, California
  • Spokane, Washington
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma

At least 20 new destinations are being added to Frontier’s Denver flight schedule, “suggesting that it's looking to funnel more connecting passengers through the airport,” USA Today reported. Frontier Airlines’ largest hub is in Denver.

>> Related: Baby born on flight gets free plane tickets for life

It’s unclear when exactly the airline will begin offering many of the new routes between cities. Frontier said it planned to add all newly announced routes by Spring 2018 but did not provide specific dates. 

Read more at Frontier

Trump's Chicago hotel won't honor woman's low fare on Booking.com

A hopeful traveler stumbled across the hotel deal of a lifetime.

Rose Lawrence quickly took the chance to book a deal in which a normally priced $1,100 room was being offered for much less.

But the hotel said it will not honor her deal.

>> Read more trending news

Lawrence’s excitement quickly turned into frustration and shed light on an online booking fiasco when hotel management from the Trump Hotel in Chicago told her it would not be honoring the deal.

In between homes at the time, Lawrence was looking for a place to stay with her teenage son for a few nights when she turned to Booking.com and spotted the incredible rate.

RELATED: Greenpeace drops massive banner on Trump Tower in downtown Chicago

“I saw a deal, and, like anyone else, I’m taking it,” Lawrence told WGNTV.

The deal was for eight nights in a two-bedroom suite for a total of $253, and, according to reports, it was confirmed by Booking.com and the Trump Hotel.

Lawrence took advantage of the opportunity after it appeared to be legitimate, but when she called to confirm, hotel reps told her otherwise.

“I decided to call the hotel and talked with a revenue manager who then proceeded to beg me,” Lawrence told WGNTV. “She literally said, ‘I’m begging you to cancel this because I’m going to lose my job if you don’t do this.’ She just really started to lay it on thick.”

Lawrence and the hotel’s revenue manager then began debating and negotiating shortly after, but the two were unable to reach a resolution settlement.

Left scrambling to find a place, Lawrence said she will be forced out of her home in just a few days.

“Now I’m really stressed out because I have to have a place to stay, and I don’t know how this is going to roll out, and I just feel like they should’ve honored what they did,” she told WGNTV. “I think they should honor what they stated out there. Yeah, it was a mistake or their glitch, but (the revenue manager) made it really clear that it was her mistake.”

RELATED: A Washington, D.C. artist just used a Trump hotel as a way to speak out against President Trump

Booking.com said it is trying to work with both parties to resolve the situation. The hotel wants to cancel her reservation and offer a $30 credit for a future stay.

Family outraged after being kicked off JetBlue flight

A family of five from New York City captured on video an altercation with JetBlue staff after they got kicked off a JetBlue plane at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport.

>> Read more trending news

Tamir Raanan and Mandy Ifrah said they were heading home with their three children on July 2 when Ifrah got into an argument with another passenger over her 1-year-old daughter kicking the back of the person’s seat, WTVJ reported. She told WTVJ the issue was shortly settled with the passenger.

In a cellphone video recorded by Raanan and Ifrah, a JetBlue manager is then seen speaking to the couple and asking them to get off the plane.

“I want to hear from you, what was the story you heard? I want a reason why?” Ifrah is heard asking the JetBlue manager. “I want my kids home in New York.” 

Ifrah and Raanan became angry and did not agree to exit the plane. The manager did not specify a reason in the video, but is heard offering them a refund for the flight. 

Then, Broward County sheriff’s deputies got involved.

“Whether it’s right or whether it’s wrong, it’s their plane, and they can do whatever they want to do,” a deputy can be heard explaining to the couple. 

“Don’t worry we will get a lawyer and handle it the right way, you had no reason to kick off my family,” Ifrah says to the manager and deputies.

The family told WTVJ that they did not get their checked luggage back until a week later, and JetBlue banned them from all future flights but did not say why. 

The airline issued a statement on Wednesday over the incident, explaining why the family was taken off the plane: 

"After a verbal altercation that included physical threats and profanities against a nearby customer, the aircraft door was reopened and our airports team politely asked the customers to step off to discuss the situation. The customers refused repeated requests and our crew members deplaned the entire aircraft. Law enforcement escorted them out of the gate area and we provided a refund,” the statement said.

JetBlue also added that the family was “not removed due to the actions of their children.”

“We are investigating whether the customers’ behavior warrants restrictions on JetBlue travel and we thank our crew members for their professional handling of this unfortunate incident,” the statement said.

Disney’s Star Wars-themed land models are something to see

As Disney fans gather in Anaheim, California for the D23 Expo, one part of the fan-fest had the internet burning up before the show officially opened.

>> Read more trending news

On display during the comic-con for Disney enthusiasts is an extremely detailed model of the Star Wars lands that are being built in both Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida.

Videos of the display are on YouTube. Take a look:

The model is the centerpiece of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts “A Galaxy of Stories” area of the biennial event.

The Star Wars-themed lands are scheduled to open in 2019. The idea of the lands was announced two years ago at the 2015 D23 Expo.

The model debut is just the appetizer for those looking to devour any information they can about the new lands. More information will be released during the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation Saturday. The presentation is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Must-see: Beachgoers form 80-person human chain to save drowning family

Dozens of beachgoers in Panama City, Florida, teamed up to form a human chain to save a family from drowning.

>> Watch the news report from WBRC here

According to the Panama City News Herald, Roberta Ursrey heard her sons shouting for help in the water Saturday. But when she and other family members swam out to save them, they also became trapped by the rip current. As the nine family members struggled in the water, Ursrey said her mother had a heart attack.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

"I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day," Ursrey told the News Herald. "It was like, 'Oh, God, this is how I'm going.'"

But that's when Jessica Simmons of Alabama jumped in to help. She swam to the family with a boogie board as her husband and other beachgoers began to form a human chain from the shore, the News Herald reported. The good Samaritans then pulled each family member back to the beach.

 >> See the viral photo here

“It was the most remarkable thing to see,” Simmons told the News Herald. “These people who don’t even know each other and they trust each other that much to get them to safety.”

>> Read more trending news

Ursrey, who said her mother was hospitalized and her nephew broke his hand, said she's grateful for her rescuers.

“These people were God’s angels that were in the right place at the right time," Ursrey told the News Herald. "I owe my life and my family’s life to them. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

Read more here.

Delta passenger hit in head with wine bottle accused of assaulting flight attendant, charged with federal crime

Joseph Daniel Hudek IV, the Florida man accused of assaulting a flight attendant on a Delta Air Lines flight from Seattle to Beijing, appeared Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle and is facing a federal charges.

>> Read more trending news

A Delta Air Lines flight from Seattle to Beijing returned to Sea-Tac Airport Thursday evening after Hudek, 23, reportedly assaulted and injured a flight attendant.

Sea-Tac Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said 45 minutes after the departure of Delta Flight 129, there was an in-flight disturbance in the first-class cabin in which a passenger assaulted a flight attendant. The flight had departed Sea-Tac shortly after 5 p.m.

There were approximately 210 passengers and 11 flight crew on board the plane.

Hudek was in the first-class cabin, traveling on a "dependent pass." According to KIRO-TV, Hudek’s mother is a Delta employee.

Prior to takeoff, Hudek asked a flight attendant for a beer, which he received. He did not have any additional alcoholic drinks, and he did not appear to be intoxicated, court documents state.

Approximately one hour into the flight, Hudek reportedly used the lavatory twice and after exiting the lavatory the second time, he lunged toward an exit door, grabbed the handle and attempted to open the door. 

At that time, the flight attendant asked for assistance from other passengers in the area and notified the cockpit of the situation.

The pilot called in the situation and the plane was diverted back to Seattle.

As the attendant continued to struggle with Hudek, he reportedly then punched the attendant twice in the face and hit a passenger who was trying to assist the attendant in the head with a wine bottle. 

Witnesses then said that Hudek again attempted to open the exit door. A passenger who tried to pull Hudek away from the door was also punched multiple times.

As the struggle between the passenger and Hudek continued, a flight attendant grabbed two wine bottles and hit Hudek on the head twice, eventually breaking one of the wine bottles.

One passenger, who did not want to share his name said: “They broke two bottles of wine on his head. I tried to choke him and he just threw me off like a rag doll."

Court documents state that Hudek seemed unfazed by a full bottle of wine being broken over his head and shouted something along the lines of, "Do you know who I am?"

Eventually, a passenger assisting the flight attendants was able to get Hudek into a headlock and as Hudek struggled to free himself, several other passengers came to assist in subduing him. After restraining him long enough, they were able to secure Hudek with zip ties.

Hudek reportedly remained "extremely" combative and several passengers were needed to restrain him until the plane landed at Sea-Tac.

Dustin Jones, who was seated directly behind the curtains separating first class from the rest of the plane, said he could tell a scuffle was going on.

“One of the flight attendants ran back and said there was a Code 3. There was a serious fight up front,” Jones said.

Britteny Gardner, who was on the flight, said that in the main cabin passengers heard an announcement asking for a doctor.

“Somebody that was working had blood on their shirt,” Gardner said.

Despite what happened, a passenger told KIRO-TV that the crew and the rest of the passengers remained mostly calm.

Witnesses on the plane said they were afraid for their lives when they saw the force with which Hudek attempted to open the door; he reportedly pushed the emergency lever halfway up.

A flight attendant said that given the flight's low altitude it would have been possible to open the door.

The plane landed at approximately 7:10 p.m. and officers boarded the plane and took Hudek into custody. Hudek was also combative with officers.

Once back at Sea-Tac, Hudek was handcuffed and zip-tied to a wheelchair as he was rolled out of the terminal, according to Jones.

"He started yelling for help," Jones said. "And so he turned the wheelchair over in the middle of the airport, screaming for people to help him, just being belligerent."

A flight attendant and passenger were immediately transported to a hospital to be treated for injuries sustained in the incident.

Delta released the following statement:

“Flight 129 returned to Seattle following a security incident with a passenger. The passenger was restrained onboard and was removed from the flight by law enforcement without further incident when the aircraft arrived back in Seattle. The flight is scheduled to re-depart for Beijing later this evening.”

The FBI told Sea-Tac officials there is no information that the incident is a national security threat.

Here's why the TSA wants to see your fudge

A sign at a county airport in Michigan left some travelers puzzled this week.

The sign was posted before the security checkpoint at Chippewa County International Airport. It says, "Please remove fudge from your bags." The sign includes an illustration of a piece of fudge.

An image of the sign was posted on Twitter by a traveler.

>> Read more trending news

The airport offers convenient access to Mackinac Island, which is known for its fudge. There's approximately 12 fudge shops on the island, and there's a fudge festival held annually in August, according to WXYZ.

Airport Manager Tami Beseau told MLive that the fudge sign is Transportation Security Administration policy, not a local airport ordinance. While candy is permitted in both carry-on and checked baggage, it may need additional screening, Beseau said. The soft, dense consistency of fudge could allow someone to slip contraband inside the candy, according to Beseau.

A person who commented on the MLive story went a step further, saying the real reason the TSA screens fudge is because it has a similar shape and consistency to C-4 explosives

Travelers should follow all TSA regulations posted at the airport they are traveling through. While a block of fudge may not require special handling at airports nationwide, those who are traveling through an area known for fudge should be prepared for extra screening.

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