Glass-bottomed plane, flying pets & TSA plan for talented travelers

glass bottom plane

Virgin Atlantic announced today, April 1st, that it will soon introduce a glass-bottomed plane, WestJet has announced that bears, billy goats, monkeys and any other pet will now be allowed onto airplanes. For the “Furry Family” plans, no pet carriers are needed.

And, for my first post for the Gadling travel site, I report on a new program being tested by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to give expedited security checkpoint privileges to passengers willing to sing, dance, juggle or tell jokes to others waiting in line.

The pilot program rolls out today in airports in Los Angeles and New York. “Cities where a lot of folks ham it up on the security lines anyway,” said TSA arts and entertainment director Lance Strongarm.

Some passengers will be able to volunteer to perform; others will be chosen at random by TSA officers to step out of line and into the spotlight. “Yes, there will actually be spotlights,” said Strongarm. “We want to do this right.”

Passengers waiting to be screened will be invited to vote, by clapping, whistling or booing, on whether the person performing goes to the front – or the back – of the line.

“It will be a cross between ‘America’s Got Talent’ and ‘Survivor’ – but at the airport,” said Strongarm. And because the TSA already has cameras filming all activity that takes place at checkpoint areas, “it will be easy to provide footage for the reality show we’re shopping around that will help generate needed funds for TSA operations,” he said.

One TSA officer gave thumbs up to the plan. “We really don’t want to touch your junk,” he said, “but we would appreciate hearing some nice funk or folk music while going through your things.”

Travelers polled at LAX Terminal 4 over the weekend gave mixed reactions to the new plan. “I love it and will go practice juggling small knives and souvenir bats as soon as I get home,” said one passenger, noting that those items will soon be allowed back on airplanes as carry-on items. “I’d say it sounds like an April Fool Day joke,” said another, “but we all know the TSA has absolutely no sense of humor.”

(My story TSA To Allow Entertaining Passengers to Cut the Line – originally appeared on Gadling.com on April 1st, 2013)