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Airport: Woman in Security Check Line (Photo: iStockphoto/james steidl)

Resistance to the TSA's new whole body imaging devices is growing among pilots. The heads of both the US Airways Pilots Association (USAPA) and Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents American, have advised pilots to avoid the scanners and rebuked the TSA's overall approach to airport safety. (Thanks to the Dallas Morning News' Airline Biz Blog for posting both letters.)

In a letter to the American pilots, APA president Dave Bates writes, "The practice of airport security screening of airline pilots has spun out of control and does nothing to improve national security....read more»

Air: Security - Hand Putting Keys in Bin (Photo: Thinkstock/© Getty Images)

The TSA announced it is banning all ink cartridges larger than 16 ounces from passengers' carry-on and checked bags. The move is a response to the recent attempt by Yemeni terrorists to bring down cargo planes using bombs hidden in ink and toner cartridges. The ban is part of a larger movement to strengthen security: Cargo from Yemen and Somalia has been banned, and no "high risk" cargo will be allowed on passenger planes.

In an unrelated move, it seems all belts must now come off during airport security checkpoints. Apparently, belt buckles, metal or otherwise, cause false positives on body scanning machines, and therefore must be removed. But instead of applying the rule only to passengers going through body scanners, the TSA decided to simply make it a blanket policy, meaning passengers nowhere near a body scanner still have to take their belts off. The rule even applies to pilots.

I have to be honest with you—writing about the TSA is exhausting....read more»

Man with PDA (Photo: iStockphoto/Pali Rao)

AirTran, Delta, and Virgin America all announced they will offer free wireless Internet access this holiday season. This is the second year in a row Virgin will offer free access for the entire holiday period. Last year, Delta offered free Wi-Fi for Thanksgiving only.

All three offers extend from November 20 to January 2, and all three are sponsored by Google Chrome. Last year, Google sponsored free Wi-Fi at various airports throughout the country....read more»

Thanksgiving: Boy with a Turkey Hat (Photo: iStockphoto/Courtney Weittenhiller)

You can't stop Father Time until you're ready to purchase Thanksgiving holiday flights, but the good news is that you also don't have to turn back the clock. As you can see from our charts below, a good majority of the routes we've been tracking have gone down since last month and are considerably cheaper compared to T-Day rates this time last year....read more»

Air: Passengers waiting in line (Photo: iStockphoto/Gene Chutka)

File this one under very, very bizarre. The Vancouver Sun reports on an incident that took place October 29 on an Air Canada flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver. A young Asian man was able to board the plane disguised as an elderly Caucasian man, and then removed the disguise several hours into the flight.

This was no powdered hair and drawn-on wrinkles disguise, either. According to the Sun, this guy had a full "silicone-type head and neck mask … a brown leather cap, glasses and a thin brown cardigan," and even affected the movements of an elderly person. The link above includes a photo, in case you're curious to see what he looked like....read more»

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

Traveling for Thanksgiving? You're in good company. The Air Transport Association (ATA) predicts a 3.5 percent year-over-year increase in the number of people traveling this Thanksgiving.

That's up to 2.5 million people flying out on the busiest travel days of Friday, November 19, Wednesday the 24th (the day before Thanksgiving), and Thanksgiving Day; and Sunday the 28th and Monday the 29th as people head home....read more»

American plane taxiing down the runway (Photo:  Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport)

Today, American made a very public threat to revoke Orbitz' authority to list and ticket American Airlines flights as of December 1, unless Orbitz changes its current way of accessing American's data, specifically its flight inventory and ancillary services.

Will this break-up actually happen? Clearly, this is a power play from American, whose director of merchandising strategy said, according to tnooz, "American values its longstanding relationship with Orbitz and desires an agreement that works for both parties."...read more»

Qantas aircraft tail close up (Photo: Qantas)

Just after takeoff, there was an engine exploded on a Qantas flight leaving Singapore. The crew was able to make a safe emergency landing, with one of the 433 passengers reporting it was among the smoothest landings he had ever experienced, emergency or otherwise, according to The Australian.

The New York Times reports that Qantas has suspended service on its Airbus A380 jetliners (a fleet of six planes) until it can verify that the planes meet all airline safety requirements. Other airlines flying A380s, including Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, are keeping tabs on the situation while continuing to operate the planes....read more»

<strong>Money</strong>

Imagine you innocently go to reach for the <em>Sky Mall Magazine</em>, but instead are rewarded with a wad of cash or a $500 check, as one reader discovered. Finding money can be about as exciting as hitting the jackpot in Vegas, especially when it's in an unexpected place like an airplane, and many of our readers are big winners. Not to mention, you can now afford to buy something from the in-flight magazine, like that <a href="http://www.skymall.com/shopping/detail.htm?pid=102517807" target="_blank">Big Foot Garden Yeti Sculpture</a> you've been eyeing.

<strong>What about you?</strong>

What other weird, gross, or just plain crazy items have you found in a seatback pocket while flying? Leave a comment below, or to submit your photos, <a href="mailto:kate.hamman@smartertravelmedia.com?subject=Photo submission for SmarterTravel">send us an email</a> with no more than three images attached. 
<h2>All photos must be:</h2>

<ul><li>In .gif or .jpg format</li>
<li> No larger than 2MB</li>
<li> Family friendly</li>
<li> Original, non-copyrighted images</li>
<li> Virus-free</li></ul>

See our <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/us/terms.html">Terms and Conditions</a> for complete details on our submission criteria.

New data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) illustrates something most of us could have guessed, which is that fares are continuing to go up. The most recent figures, from the second quarter (April through June) of this year, show the average domestic fare rising steadily, to $341.

Before this, the average fare hadn't cracked $340 since the fourth quarter of 2008....read more»

(Photo: Southwest)

A group of loyal AirTran flyers have put together a petition begging Southwest to retain AirTran's business class seating, assigned seating, and several other perks. The name of the group says it all: AirTran SOS. The SOS stands for "save our seats," and, clearly, is a cry for help.

Here's what this group wants:

Southwest Airlines: please combine the best of the Southwest world with the best of AirTran.  Keep the Southwest fun spirit, free checked bags, no change fees, and great Southwest brand.  Just save AirTran's assigned seats, business class seats, in-seat Wi-Fi / XM Radio, and frequent flyer seats to anywhere in the world!  SOS: SAVE OUR SEATS!

First, a quick note: Southwest is well into the process of installing Wi-Fi on its entire fleet, though it will be years (mid-2013) before that is complete. But AirTran customers will enjoy a more affordable experience than they're used to, as Southwest is charging a flat $5 instead of AirTran's $4.95 to $12.95 per flight. Southwest's Wi-Fi plans have not been a secret, so it's odd that it's included in this group's demands.

As for the rest of AirTranSOS' requests, namely the plea for business class, I have a feeling the group will be disappointed. Southwest simply isn't going to retain AirTran's business class....read more»

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