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Air: Security - Man Tying Shoes (Photo: Thinkstock/Creatas)

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A new USA Today survey finds that "Road Warriors," as the paper puts it, are more opposed to the TSA's new screening tactics than infrequent travelers. USA Today's Gary Stoller writes, "58 percent of 181 Road Warriors who responded to a survey say they disapprove of the thorough pat-downs ... [and] about 40 percent disapprove of the full-body machines."

Stoller described "Road Warriors" as "battle-tested travel veterans who log millions of miles a year on business trips and voluntarily provide information to USA Today."

Similarly, a separate USA Today/Gallup poll recently found that 57 percent of travelers who fly twice a year or more "were bothered or angry" about the pat downs.

Elsewhere, polling suggests public opinion overall may be changing....read more»

Photo: PhotoDisc

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The recession brought deep capacity cuts to the skies, with airlines shedding up to 15 percent of their flights in some cases. Now, after nearly a year of positive trends, and with an optimistic outlook for the months ahead, airlines are cautiously adding back some of the capacity that was lost.

Chief among these is JetBlue, which is taking on nine new planes and adding 10 percent capacity this quarter alone. For the low-cost carrier, there is a clear opportunity to get the jump on larger rivals and siphon off some of the returning passengers that might otherwise choose, say, American or Delta....read more»

Airport: Security Bin with Shoes (Photo: iStockphoto/Sean Locke)

So National Opt-Out Day was a resounding dud, by many accounts. Few people opted out of the scanners, and airports were unusually quiet.

Of course, the general consensus from travelers is that most scanners were shut down and roped off, meaning people had nothing to opt out from. The TSA's official stance on this is that there was no coordinated effort to minimize opt-outs, and maybe that's true. But the fact is that only about 1 to 3 percent of travelers would have been selected in the first place (per the TSA), which is such a small number to begin with that even an enthusiastic protest would have had little effect. Shut down a few scanners and the problem all but vanishes. You be the judge.

Either way, it doesn't really matter. The story here was never National Opt-Out Day itself, but rather years of frustration with intrusive and increasingly invasive TSA policies boiling over....read more»

Delta aircraft tail (Photo: Delta)

Delta announced it will begin installing in-flight wireless on its 223 regional jets. In a release, the airline says it will be the first domestic carrier to deploy wireless across its entire mainline and regional fleets.

Installation on the regional fleet is expected to be finished by the end of 2011....read more»

Airplane taking off at dusk (Photo: iStockPhoto/Stephen Strathdee)

According to a report from Travel Weekly (subscription required), the Department of Transportation (DOT) has not handed out a single fine for violations of its three-hour tarmac delay rule. The rule stipulates that tarmac delays longer than three hours are subject to a fine of up to $27,500 per passenger. The DOT has handed out two small fines, to United and Pinnacle, for improperly reporting tarmac delay data, but no fines have been issued for violations of the three-hour rule. There have been sixteen three-hour delays since the rule took effect in late April.

So is this a case of all bark and no bite? Yes and no. The lack of fines is not entirely surprising, because the DOT wrote all sorts of exceptions into its rule: "For domestic flights, the air carrier will not permit an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours unless the pilot-in-command determines there is a safety-related or security-related impediment to deplaning passengers (e.g., weather, air traffic control, a directive from an appropriate government agency, etc.), or Air Traffic Control advises the pilot-in-command that returning to the gate or permitting passengers to disembark elsewhere would significantly disrupt airport operations."...read more»

<h2>King of Prussia Mall</h2>

The East Coast's answer to the Mall of America, the <a href="http://www.kingofprussiamall.com/"target="_blank">King of Prussia Mall</a> features more than 400 stores and tax-free shopping on clothing and shoes. Located just outside Philadelphia, the mall offers retailers such as Lord &amp; Taylor, DKNY, and Versace, as well as 40 restaurants. Feeling overwhelmed, or need help finding just the right gifts? Take advantage of the mall's <a href="http://www.kingofprussiamall.com/gifts/personalshopper2.shtml"target="_blank">personal shopper service</a> and receive assistance over email.

(Photo: King of Prussia Mall)

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Once you recover from the Thanksgiving feast, focus on booking that Christmas flight. Prices have started to rise, and you don't want to be left out in the cold....read more»

Dining in first class (Photo: Stewart Cohen/Index Open)

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The TSA says flight attendants will be able to bypass the agency's new airport security procedures, effective immediately. The news comes days after the TSA made a similar exemption for pilots. On-duty, uniformed pilots can skip the TSA's body scanners and pat downs by presenting two forms of picture ID, which are checked against an airline crew database. Pilots must walk through a metal detector, and their carry-ons are X-rayed as well.

Bloomberg reports, "U.S. airline flight attendants are getting the same exemption from body-scanner checks that pilots began receiving under a directive that went out Nov. 19 ... The attendants and pilots must continue to go through metal detectors, under agency guidelines."

In an email to Bloomberg, TSA spokesman Nicholas Kimball said, "Flight attendants, like pilots, are a known and trusted group."...read more»

Airplane landing at sunset (Photo: iStockphoto/Stephen Strathdee)

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Happy National Opt-Out Day, everyone! That's right, Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel periods of the year, has arrived. This year we have the added fun of a planned airport protest against the TSA's new screening policies, so air travel should be eventful, to say the least.

If you're flying this year, I want to ask you to share your experiences with me and your fellow SmarterTravel readers. Were lines long at security checkpoints? Did you opt out of the scanner, if you were selected? Did you see many people opting out? Were things, dare I say it, smooth? Leave a comment below with your first-hand observations, tips (if you have them), and your thoughts about flying on this rather unusual Thanksgiving....read more»

Delta jets on runway (Photo: Salt Lake City Department of Airports/Michael Schoenfeld)

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The Associated Press (AP) reports Delta is considering refunds for passengers who cancel their flights because of the new TSA screening policy. The AP writes, "Delta Air Lines says it will consider refunds in rare case-by-case scenarios for passengers who cancel travel plans because of new airport security measures."

I spoke to someone at Delta who confirmed that the airline is offering refunds, but only in extreme, extenuating circumstances. Which is to say, you can't wake up on the day of your flight, decide the new TSA screening process is annoying, and call Delta to ask for a refund. Delta wouldn't get specific about what constitutes an "extenuating circumstance"—though, clearly, we're talking significant physical or psychological trauma—offering only that customer service representatives are "empowered to be sensitive." The case-by-case policy does apply to travelers with nonrefundable tickets....read more»

Air: Security - Shoes in Bin (Photo: Thinkstock/Creatas)

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Getting through security this holiday season is going to be trickier than ever before, thanks to the TSA's new screening procedures. Here are some tips for making your security check as smooth as possible. I've broken the tips into three sections: general, which is mostly packing tips; metal detector, which deals with passing through the detectors specifically; and scanners, which offers advice for people selected for the body scanner.

General

Remember your 3-1-1 rules: Make sure your carry-on liquids are in containers smaller than 3.4 ounces and that those containers are clearly marked. Put all your liquids in a one-quart zip-top bag, and put the bag in an easily accessible part of your carry-on. This minimizes the rummaging you'll have to do, and make it easier to put things back once you're through the checkpoint....read more»

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