MONEY Airlines

Airline ‘Transparency’ Law One Step Closer to Misleading Passengers

A bill that would allow airlines to hide the true cost of flights (fees and all) was just passed by the House

Currently, airlines must include the full price of a flight—including federal taxes and fees—in advertisements. However, a new bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives on Monday, would allow the ads to exclude government fees, allowing for marketing that could fool consumers into thinking their flights will cost significantly less than they’ll actually end up paying.

As MONEY’s Brad Tuttle reported in April, $61 dollars of a typical $300 flight comes from federal taxes–20% of the overall ticket price. Under the new law, airlines could ignore that portion of the fare and advertise the same flight at $239. Could anyone actually buy that flight for $239? Of course not.

Regulations passed in 2012 outlawed this type of misdirection, but the airlines are now one step away from bringing it back.

The bill’s advocates argue that letting airlines advertise their unmodified prices would show consumers how much the government is adding to their travel bill. When the law was first proposed in the spring, supporters said it would “restore transparency to the advertising of U.S. airline ticket prices, and ensure that airfare ads are not forced to hide the costs of government from consumers.”

Knowing about government-added expenses is all well and good, but consumer advocates believe the law will do more to confuse flyers than educate them. The National Consumers League says the bill doesn’t provide transparency, and merely allows the airlines to advertise eye-grabbing but deceptive lower prices in order to win more business. In this way, the “Transparent Airlines Act” actually makes what consumers must pay for flights more opaque. That’s the opposite of transparency.

The Transparent Airlines Act still needs to pass the Senate before it becomes a law, and its opponents aren’t going to give up without a fight.

“Our organization, together with other consumer groups, will work closely with Senate staff to stop the passage of a companion bill,” said Charlie Leocha, Chairman of Travelers United, a consumer protection organization focused on travelers. “Even though the name of the bill contains the word ‘transparency,’ the effect of this legislation would be anything but.”

TIME Travel

The 20 Most Beautiful Libraries in the World

George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore Johns Hopkins University

Travel + Leisure has catalogued cutting-edge and historic libraries, from Australia to Vienna

George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

The Peabody Stack Room’s five-tier soaring atrium has wrought-iron balconies and columns so graceful that Nathaniel H. Morison, its first provost, called it a “cathedral of books.” It’s one of America’s most beautiful college libraries, with a setting so gorgeous that weddings and special events are often held here. Bibliophiles come not only for the design but to browse 18th- and 19th-century volumes of archaeology as well as British and American history and literature.

The Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark

Known as the Black Diamond, this neo-Modernist building was built in 1999 as an addition to the Royal Library’s original complex. Its striking steel, glass, and black granite structure contains a concert hall, a popular café, and exhibition spaces. The Black Diamond treats visitors to spectacular harbor views and a ceiling fresco by one of Denmark’s most famous artists, Per Kirkeby. Guided tours are available on Saturdays.

Clementinum, Prague

The baroque Library Hall, with its rare gilded globes and spectacular frescoes depicting science and art, is just one building in the vast Clementinum complex. Legend says the Jesuits had only one book when they started building the library in 1622; when they were done, the collection had swelled to 20,000 volumes. Labels on the bookshelves are original to the library’s opening, as are volumes with “whitened backs and red marks,” markers left by the Jesuits. Tours run daily.

Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro

A group of far-from-home Portuguese immigrants banded together to create a Portuguese library in 1837, although construction on the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura didn’t get going until 1880. The neo-Manueline building’s limestone façade showcases Portuguese explorers like Prince Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, and Pedro Álvares Cabral in sculpture. The cathedral-like reading room has a stained-glass dome and wooden galleries. Its ornate bookshelves hold the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside of the motherland. Open Monday to Friday.

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

When the original library burned down in 1814, Thomas Jefferson seeded a new one with his own much broader collection of books. Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, stands guard in mosaic form above the main reading room, and scrolls, books, and torches pop up throughout the Library of Congress. Highlights include the main reading room, the Gutenberg Bible (one of 42 left in the world), and free classical concerts. Open Monday to Saturday.

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TIME Israel

Birthright Youth Trips Continue As Israel-Gaza Conflict Rages On

There are currently nearly 2,500 youths traveling on Birthright

Updated 6:08 p.m. ET July 22,2014

As airlines around the world are canceling flights to Israel in light of a rocket attack near the country’s main international airport, the Birthright Israel program is carrying on with its mission of sending Jewish youth on free ten-day trips to the country.

Still, nearly a third of people scheduled to join upcoming trips have cancelled their plans since the conflict in Gaza has escalated, according to the organization. Some 2,600 people are currently in Israel on Birthright trips, according to the group, and more than 22,000 have participated over the course of the summer. Only 10 participants have returned early during the past few weeks, though some who recently came back from trips say they would have been unlikely to go given the current environment.

“There would be no way I would want to go on a trip now,” says Heather Paley, who returned to the U.S. from a Birthright trip just as the conflict began to intensify. “It’s a really small country, and I realized when they mentioned places that were being attacked, I was at those places.”

More than 600 people have died in the fighting as of Tuesday, Reuters reports, the vast majority of them Palestinian. One of the Israeli soldiers killed in the conflict was Max Steinberg, a Los Angeles native who enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces after visiting the country on a Birthright trip.

A Birthright spokesperson, Pamela Fertel Weinstein, says the organization is monitoring the situation in coordination with the Israel Ministry of Education, the Israeli Defense Forces, and other law enforcement organizations. She says that Birthright has maintained a strong safety record as conflicts involving Israel have ebbed and flowed, which she attributed to being “cautious and conservative.”

For all travelers in Israel, including Birthright participants, the cancellations of flights to by American and European carriers may hinder their ability to leave the country. On July 22, the Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. airlines from flying to Israel for a 24-hour period, and the order could be extended. Several European carriers have cancelled their flights as well. Nonetheless, Weinstein says that the program works with a variety of airlines and hotels to ensure that nobody is left without assistance and lodging in the event of cancellations or delays.

Other tourists are left up to their own devices. Julia May, who cut short a three-week educational program to Israel this month after seeing rockets from the beach, says she was torn between the opposing perspectives of her American friends who thought she was “crazy” to stay in the country and the positive mindset in Israel.

“Even when you’re just a visitor you get this mentality ‘yeah, I can stay through this,'” she says. “But even if you feel safe, you know you’re still in a war zone.”

TIME Travel

50 Best Apps and Websites for Travelers

457979051
Tom Merton—Caiaimage/Getty Images

There's an app for just about everything, from making the most of an extended flight delay to tapping into local culture. Here are the best digital tools for travelers, all tested by Travel +Leisure's tech correspondent

Everyone has an airport horror story. But you can make the most of a bad situation with apps likeFlight+, which will keep you abreast of the latest delays and gate changes. And if you need a shower, unlimited Wi-Fi, or a work space during your extended layover, LoungeBuddy will alert you as to which free and pay-as-you-go lounges are available.

These are just two of the digital tools that can improve your experience on the road—among the 100,000-plus travel apps on the market. No need to feel overwhelmed, though. We spent the past year travel-testing apps and websites, everywhere from airplanes and buses to airport lounges, cars, and remote camping sites across the globe. The resulting list represents the best of the best, with runners-up in categories where the competition is fierce.

Find Rock-Bottom Fares: Adioso

Don’t know where you want to go? This flexible search tool lets you browse airfares by continent, country, region, or type of trip (say, adventure) to find deals that fill the bill. The site also delivers inspiration in the form of “Wanderlists,” which show you what it might cost to get to the best cities for art lovers (London; Miami) or top beach destinations (St. Bart’s; Hawaii), among other categories. Free; adioso.com.

T+L Tip: You can shop Adioso with specific dates in mind, though you can also look for departures “any Friday” or “sometime this fall.”

Pick a Pain-Free Flight: Routehappy

Cheap tickets can come with high hassle factors (impossibly short connections; multiple stops). Enter Routehappy, which uses “Happiness” scores to prioritize itineraries that are shorter, have the simplest layover logistics, and the best prices. Its user-friendly design makes it easy to see the benefits of each route and book your favorite in just a few taps. Free; routehappy.com.

Track Fares: Yapta

Not only does this scrappy site watch your airfares and alert you when the price drops but it also monitors your ticket (or hotel) after you’ve booked, up to the day you depart. Should it fall further, Yapta automatically helps you secure any rebates you’re eligible for; the average user saves $335 annually. Free; yapta.com.

Runner-up: Trip Watcher

Compare Vacation Packages: Kayak

The flight aggregator you know and love has a new feather in its cap: the package search now lets you know whether bundled deals for airfare and hotels are actually more affordable than the sum of their parts. Make reservations directly on Kayak, or click through to third-party providers­; the site that offers the best price will be shown front and center. Free; kayak.com.

T+L Tip: Kayak’s app includes loads of valuable extras, such as an itinerary manager, a flight tracker, and a currency converter.

Runners-up: Momondo, GetGoing

Don’t End Up in a Bad Seat: SeatGuru

News flash: you don’t have to pay for a costly upgrade to get extra legroom on your next flight. SeatGuru’s search tool lets you look for seats with maximum pitch, power outlets, in-flight entertainment, and Wi-Fi. Want to shop like a pro? Check the site’s plane charts before booking your ticket to make sure you’re not sacrificing precious inches for a slightly lower fare. Free; seatguru.com.

T+L Tip: If the best spots on the plane are unavailable, try Seat Alerts by ExpertFlyer(free; expertflyer.com). It e-mails you when better options open up on your scheduled departure.

READ THE FULL LIST HERE

By Tom Samiljan

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TIME Israel

FAA Prohibits U.S. Airlines From Flying To Israel

The Delta Airlines Charter at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on January 2, 2013.
The Delta Airlines Charter at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on January 2, 2013. Jeff Haynes—Reuters

One flight was diverted to Paris before landing

Updated 7:04 p.m. ET Tuesday

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday blocked all U.S. carriers from flying to Israel’s main airport for 24 hours. The ban comes after a rocket landed about a mile from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, the FAA said.

“The FAA immediately notified U.S. carriers when the agency learned of the rocket strike and informed them that the agency was finalizing a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen),” the FAA said in a statement. The ban only applies to U.S. air carriers.

Delta Airlines and United Airlines announced that they were indefinitely suspending Israel flights just hours before the FAA ban was handed down. Their decision to do so came after a Delta aircraft en route to Tel Aviv from New York diverted to Paris Monday evening out of a precautionary measure, Delta said Tuesday.

European airlines Lufthansa and Air France also suspended flights, according to a report from the Associated Press. One Lufthansa flight en route to Tel Aviv Tuesday was diverted to Athens, according to the Lufthansa website.

Ben Gurion International Airport has for about five days been exclusively using runway 21 for arriving flights, according to a separate NOTAM issued for that airport. Commerical jets arriving on runway 21 come in over the Mediterranean sea northwest of Ben Gurion before turning southward, according to approach plates for the airport. That may help keep them clear of any danger posed by rockets or other weapons fire from the Gaza Strip, which is to the airport’s southwest.

The FAA ban and the American carriers’ independent cancellations come a day after the U.S. State Department cautioned U.S. citizens against travel to Israel. Israel is currently engaged in a military operation in the Gaza Strip, and violence continues to escalate in that conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu raised the issue of the FAA flight ban with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday. According to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the prime minister asked Kerry to intervene so that flights resume, something White House officials said was unlikely. “We’re not going to overrule the FAA when they believe that their security procedures are triggered,” said Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.

Danny Saadon, an executive at Israeli airline El Al, told TIME Monday that approximately 25 percent of its expected travelers from America had cancelled or postponed their flights in recent weeks. In an interview, Saadon said that the airline is “still maintaining [its] schedule,” and did not mention any plans to consider canceling flights. El Al has been experimenting with several forms of missile defense systems on its aircraft since 2004, though those are geared more towards defending aircraft from projectiles specifically targeting their aircraft, not from rocket crossfire.

As an Israeli airline, the FAA ban does not apply to El Al.

MONEY Airlines

The New TSA Fee Should Change the Way You Book Flights

An airline passenger is patted down by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent
An airline passenger is patted down by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent at Los Angeles International Airport. Kevork Djansezian—Reuters

Airline passengers used to pay as little as $5 round trip in TSA fees. Now everybody pays $11.20, and you could be forced to cough up double that.

As of July 21, the TSA’s September 11 Security Fee structure has been changed, and all travelers flying within the U.S. will be paying more every time a flight is purchased. Passengers on nonstop flights must now pay $5.60 each way, up from $2.50, so therefore the TSA fee on a basic round trip consisting of two nonstop flights is $11.20, up from $5. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around that fee hike, which amounts to a 124% increase. The fees are automatically tacked onto the price of airfare.

In the past, fliers on nonstops paid less in fees than travelers on connecting flights: $5 for a round trip, versus $10. Now everybody pays $11.20, regardless of connections. So in addition to nonstop flights being superior in terms of saving time and avoiding possible delays and missed connections, there was the added bonus of saving a few bucks on the TSA fees.

Now that little bonus is gone.

Even so, it’s almost always still best to go with a nonstop, if possible. Sure, delays and technical troubles can happen on nonstops, but travelers are far more likely to encounter such hassles on connecting flights. With recent airline mergers, carriers have slowly been getting rid of the old hub-and-spoke systems at the same time they’ve been trimming back the overall number of flights. As a result, passengers are generally more likely to find nonstop flights to their destination of choice and more likely to run into extra trouble on connecting flights. (It’s less likely there will be another flight behind the one you missed, and even if there is it probably doesn’t have enough extra seats.)

By going nonstop, passengers also rule out the risk of being forced to pay extra TSA fees on connecting flights with unusually long layovers. In the past, budget travel experts sometimes recommended looking into flights with extra-long layovers as a tactic for saving money. The new TSA fee structure makes that strategy a little less worth the hassle. Now, if a connecting flight has a layover of four or more hours, fliers must pay $5.60 for each leg of the journey. So for a flight from, say, Providence to Los Angeles with a five-hour layover in Dallas, a passenger would pay $11.20 in TSA fees, as opposed to $5.60 to a passenger booked on a nonstop or on a connecting flight with a more reasonable layover wait.

Airfarewatchdog.com founder George Hobica gave the Arizona Republic an example of a recent flight deal that would be affected: $197 for a winter season round trip from Newark to a choice of destinations in the Caribbean. “The catch,” the article explained, is that “travelers had to stay overnight in Miami in both directions.” So their layover would obviously be more than four hours—so they’d get hit with double the usual fees.

Fliers booking multi-stop itineraries—usually for business purposes, but not necessarily—will also feel the impact of the new fee structure more so than others, as they’ll have to pay at least $5.60 for each leg of the journey, rather than as little as $2.50 in the past. Depending on the traveler, number of stops on the itinerary, and the reason for the trip, this might not necessarily be a deal breaker. But it absolutely should factor into the decision making process.

TIME Transportation

A TSA Fee Hike Just Made Your Plane Tickets More Expensive

TSA Security
A TSA agent waits for passengers to use the TSA PreCheck lane being implemented by the Transportation Security Administration at Miami International Airport on October 4, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

You now have to pay $5.60 per flight

Transportation Security Administration fees are doubling Monday, and frequent travelers will notice a slight hike in their airfares.

The TSA fee is currently $2.50 per non-stop flight and $5 per connecting flight, but the new fee will be $5.60 for all flights, and any connection over 4 hours counts as a separate flight.

Congress approved the new fee in December in order to raise $12.6 billion to cut the deficit, and the TSA estimates the fees could raise $16.9 billion.

“It’s like paying for a root canal,” George Hobica, founder of airfarewatchdog.com, told USA Today. “It’s something you didn’t want anyway. Now you’re paying more for it.”

While the fees go into effect Monday, frustrated travelers can send comments to the TSA until Aug. 19.

TIME Food & Drink

10 Cookbooks for Summer

Michael Harlan Turkell

These recipe collections, covering everything from grilling essentials to homemade ice creams, will set you up for a season of good eating

The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook

Even as nose-to-tail eating continues to reign supreme, vegetables have found their way into the hearts of America’s best chefs—and not just as a garnish for the main event. The latest cookbook from the Fabulous Beekman Boys—as Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge of the farm-inspired Beekman 1802 brand are affectionately known—stays true to the trend, introducing recipes that focus on veggies without ostracizing the omnivore (ingredients like eggs, prosciutto, shrimp, salmon and chicken are used). Vintage and folksy by design, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook is organized by season, so you know exactly what to cook and when: pea soup in the spring, golden gazpacho with minted cream in the summer, roasted carrot-and-cauliflower salad for fall, winter squash stuffed with red quinoa at the end of the year. Simple, straightforward and engineered for everyday use, the recipes will become staples. rodalestore.com.

The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique

Enough cocktail books have come out these days to keep any dilettante busy, but The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique, by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, adds something different to the mix. Bar manager at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon, and keeper of a widely consulted blog (jeffreymorgenthaler.com), Morgenthaler is considered one of the industry’s most trusted resources. Rather than share a list of classic recipes you’ve already memorized—or worse, instruct on fancy showmanship—he offers straightforward, technique-driven advice on the essential components of a cocktail, dispensing wisdom that even the seasoned home bartender might not know (smooth-skinned citrus heavy for their size are good for juice; pebbled, brightly colored ones are better for garnish). He offers patient explanations in a serious tone as to why the basics matter and also dispels precious bartender BS. The book wasn’t created to make you a better sounding bartender—it was made to make you a savvier one. Available in June; chroniclebooks.com.

The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook

Culled from more than a century’s worth of published recipes and musings on cookout dining, the 400 pages’ worth of content in The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook will keep you sated all season and then some. Edited by author and former Times journalist Peter Kaminsky—with contributions from star chefs like Jacques Pépin, Alfred Portale (Gotham Bar and Grill, New York) and Susan Spicer (Bayona, New Orleans), as well Grey Lady food writers like Mark Bittman, Florence Fabricant, Craig Claiborne and Melissa Clark—it is a collection of the very best on the subject. Less of a glossy display book (there are a few black-and-white photos) and more of a resource, the book and its nearly 200 recipes is sure to be an essential tool. While the classics are all there, dishes like corn fritters, shu mai–style burgers and grilled clams with fried garlic provide inspiring respite from the usual. sterlingpublishing.com.

The Meat Hook Meat Book

Though artisanal cooking and DIY have defined the zeitgeist for the past few years (rooftop beehives, backyard chicken coops), there is room for one more book on butchering. It helps, of course, thatThe Meat Hook Meat Book—written by Tom Mylan, executive chef at and co-owner of The Meat Hook in Williamsburg, Brooklyn—isn’t just for hip homesteaders. It’s a useful tool for anyone interested in knowing exactly where last night’s rib-eye came from. A former vegetarian, Mylan went back to meat when he discovered sustainable, holistic approaches to farming, slaughtering and butchering—all of which are touched on in detail here. Making his way through beef, pork, lamb, sausage, chicken, turkey, duck and rabbit, he instructs how to break down and cook animals from nose to tail. The lurid, full-bleed images of labeled cuts and intense close-ups of cooked dishes aren’t always enticing, but the instruction and tips certainly are (served with a sense of humor to boot). Even for those who don’t plan to get their hands dirty, the book remains a helpful guide. workman.com.

Thailand: The Cookbook

Thailand: The Cookbook, a 528-page oeuvre on Thai cuisine, is a transportive tool packed with 500 recipes and myriad images of Thailand’s food, vistas and people. Photographer and food writer Jean-Pierre Gabriel spent more than three years traveling throughout the country culling recipes from home cooks, restaurants and marketplaces in search of authentic dishes and cooking techniques. He has compiled the essentials in a thorough investigation of the flavors that define the nation’s diverse cuisine. The story begins with a few short essays on each region, illustrating how geography affects the culinary traditions therein. Organized by genre (Pastes & Sauces, Snacks & Drinks, Rice & Noodles, etc.), the book highlights international favorites like crab fried rice and Massaman curry alongside regional delicacies like fried crickets with herbs and spicy dried-buffalo-skin salad. Recipes have been carefully adapted for the home cook, with suggested ingredient alternatives when possible, a glossary of terms and advice on cooking equipment. There’s also an entire chapter dedicated to guest chefs, featuring names like Saiphin Moore (Rosa’s Thai Café, London) and Ann Redding and Matt Danzer (Uncle Boons, New York). phaidon.com.

READ THE FULL LIST ON DEPARTURES.COM

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TIME Terrorism

Malaysia Airlines Ukraine Crash: Protecting Airliners from Missile Attacks

A US Air Force officer climbs onto his B
U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo planes, like this one at a Russian air base in 2011, are protected by onboard jammers, a capability not on most civilian airliners. Dmitry Kostyukov—AFP/Getty Images

The hardware exists, but it's costly

Air Force One is protected by electronic jammers from most missiles, likely including the one that may have shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over the Russian-Ukrainian border Thursday.

Why aren’t commercial airliners protected, too?

This has been a debate ever since the development of small, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles like the U.S. Stinger nearly 35 years ago, and the resulting fears that such weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

It may cost the airline industry billions of dollars, but Pentagon officials spoke of the need for such defenses in 2002, after a pair of Russian-made shoulder-launched Strela-2 missiles narrowly missed an Israeli 757 as it took off from the Kenyan city of Mombassa with 271 aboard. MH17 may have been downed by a bigger, radar-guided missile, in which case defenses against shoulder-fired heat-seeking missiles wouldn’t have worked.

But defeating missiles is a problem the Pentagon has been grappling with for some time: In 1999, the Defense Department told Congress the biggest threat to its cargo planes was shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles like the ones fired in Mombassa. In 2002, the Pentagon awarded a $23 million contract to outfit four Air Force C-17 cargo planes with sophisticated equipment to protect them from Stingers, SA-7s and other portable heat-seeking missiles favored by terrorists.

“That’s more than $5 million per plane,” an Air Force officer said at the time. “Once the first U.S. commercial airliner is shot down—and U.S. airlines rush to install these systems on their own planes—the price will drop to $2 million or $3 million per plane.”

Not exactly a bargain, but some U.S. defense officials have long believed that such systems will have to become standard equipment aboard U.S. airliners. That 2002 system was an updated version of the AN/AAQ-24 (V) Nemesis, which protects both big transports (apparently including Air Force One) and military helicopters. Built by the Northrop Grumman Corp., it is known as the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures — LAIRCM — system, and plans were to outfit the hundreds of cargo planes and tankers operated by the U.S. Air Force.

LAIRCM automatically detects, tracks and jams infrared missiles, sending a high-intensity laser beam into the missile’s seeker to disrupt its guidance system. No action is required by the crew. The pilot simply is informed that a threat missile was detected and jammed. “Inexpensive, yet lethal, surface-to-air missiles have proliferated around the globe and unfortunately are in the hands of our potential adversaries,” Arnold Welch, vice president for Infrared Countermeasures Programs at Northrop Grumman’s Defensive Systems Division in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, said at the time. “It is essential that our military pilots and air crews have this sophisticated type of protection in order to perform their missions and return safely.”

Early reports from Ukraine suggest the plane may have been downed by a tracked Russian-built Buk missile system. Flying at about 33,000 feet, the airliner was beyond the range of most man-portable missiles. The Buk missile uses radar to guide itself to its target, unlike the heat-seeking Stinger. Planes trying to elude radar-guided missiles can use various electronic jammers and disperse clouds of foil-like chaff to confuse the missile’s radar by confusing it with multiple targets.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 Graphic
Source: FlightAware

The threat of SAM attacks on U.S. airliners was acknowledged in an FAA study in 1993, which noted that as passenger and baggage screening became more rigorous, the chances of missile strikes would rise. The U.S. government’s interest in the problem followed its decision to supply Afghan mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan—whose ranks included the late Osama bin Laden and many of his al-Qaeda lieutenants—with about 1,000 Stinger missiles in the 1980s. Pentagon officials credit the Stinger with downing about 250 Soviet aircraft.

The discovery of a Strela-2 (dubbed the SA-7 by NATO) missile tube near a Saudi military base used by U.S. warplanes in 2001 prompted the FBI to alert U.S. law-enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for any signs that terrorists were planning shoulder-fired missile attacks. While the missile found in Saudi Arabia remained in its tube, burn marks suggested a bungled effort to fire it, U.S. officials said. A Sudanese with possible al Qaeda links was arrested in connection with the missile.

“The FBI possesses no information indicating that al-Qaeda is planning to use ‘Stinger’ missiles or any type of MANPAD (MAN Portable Air Defense) weapons system against commercial aircraft in the United States,” the 2001 FBI warning said. “However, given al-Qaeda’s demonstrated objective to target the U.S. airline industry, its access to U.S. and Russian-made MANPAD systems, and recent apparent targeting of U.S.-led military forces in Saudi Arabia, law enforcement agencies in the United States should remain alert to potential use of MANPADs against U.S. aircraft.”

TIME Transportation

This Airplane Seat Basically Looks Like a Torture Device

Airbus New Seat Patent
A diagram for a new seating device from Airbus' patent application. Airbus

Airbus hopes to patent a seat that resembles a bicycle saddle

Airlines with Airbus planes in their fleets may soon find themselves flooded with annoyed passengers, likely to be shifty and uncomfortable as they sit on — or rather, mount — a never-before-seen airplane seat.

Airbus filed a patent application in June for a “seating device comprising a forward-foldable backrest,” or what appears to be a bike saddle meets ergonomic office chair meets movie theater seat. The patent states that the new seat will reduce bulk: the cushions and headrests have been eliminated, and armrests are smaller than usual. With the new seat, Airbus hopes to transport more passengers with its existing aircrafts in order to maximize return, as competitive low-cost airlines stake their ground by boarding travelers willing to trade comfort for affordability.

“In all cases, this increase in the number of seats is achieved to the detriment of the comfort of the passengers,” the patent states. “However, this remains tolerable for the passengers in as much as the flight lasts only one or a few hours.”

The new patent, designed by Bernard Guering, seems to be the inventor’s latest contribution in the push to economize air travel. (Guering has already filed patents for deployable benches to accommodate baggage, storage compartments in the nose gear, and a crew hang-out spot in the plane’s tail.) But seats similar to Guering’s proposal, in fact, do already exist: the SkyRider, for example, debuted in 2010, but the saddle seat has not yet made its way onto planes. More radical ideas have been proposed, such as RyanAir’s standing “seat,” which faces an uphill battle with licensing and safety requirements.

Slimmer, lighter seats for Airbus planes were picked up by United Airlines in 2012.

 

 

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