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Burning Man fans head home via Reno-Tahoe Int’l Airport

About 7,000 of the 70,000 or so ‘burners,’ who attended the Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert over the weekend started their journey home on Monday through Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Another 10,000 or so festival goers are expected to head home via RNO on Tuesday.

To help make the transition from the playa to the plane as smooth as possible, Reno-Tahoe International added extra customer service staff, extra trash bins, therapy dogs and a Burner bike collection area.

The local Kiwanis Club cleans up and refurbishes the discarded bikes that were used at the fesival and distributes them to kids in the community.

Because dust from the playa can muck up the airport baggage system, Burners are asked to put their luggage into bins and/or big plastic bags.

“The day went extremely well,” said airport spokesman Brian Kulpin on Monday evening, “Stores and restaurants were full of Burners getting their first taste again of modern civilization. And airport custodial staff did a phenomenal job keeping up with the Playa dust and the exodus from the desert.”

Did you attend the Burning Man festival this year? Please share a photo.

Souvenir Sunday: 2019 paper calendars that invite travel

2019 still seems far off, but it’s not too soon to pick out a few travel-themed paper calendars from the new crop of calendars already appearing in stores.

2019 calendars

Workman Publishing surprised me with a few samples of the travel-related calendars from their 2019 catalog, including one from Atlas Obscura (which comes in both a wall and desk version) and a cool Islands page-a-day calendar and a few others.

2019 calendars

It is tempting in these modern times to rely on the electronic calendars in our smart phones. But keep in mind that planners, page-a-day calendars and classic wall calendars with beautiful images of a favorite city you’ve been to, or of far-off places you’d like to visit, are a great way to ‘travel’ somewhere everyday.

2019 calendars

The popularity of digital calendars has challenged paper calendar publishers like Workman to be more creative in designing and packaging these products.

“We do publish wall calendars differently than we used to,” Janet Harris, Publisher,Workman Calendars, said via email, “We’ve found that the more consumers rely on digital calendars for their day-to-day tasks, the more they want a wall calendar that is breathtakingly beautiful or irresistibly cute.”

I’m already thinking about and shopping for the planner I’ll use and the wall calendars I’ll hang up in my home and office in the new year. I know they’ll be travel-themed, but beyond that it’s going to be a tough decision.

Do you still use paper calendars? If so, how do you choose which ones to live with for the year?

National Aviation Day and the 3rd Wright Brother

At Seattle's Museum of Flight

In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed August 19  – Orville Wright’s birthday – to be National Aviation Day.

It’s a great excuse (as if you really need one) to celebrate aviation, aviation history, aviators through the ages and how fun it is to fly.

But ever since I learned the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s sister, Katherine, I make sure to pay homage to her on this day.

Few people even know the Wright Brothers had a sister. But without Katherine who, for example, kept the bicycle shop running while her brothers were out doing their thing in the Kitty Hawk dunes, National Aviation Day may have had a very different back story.

Here’s a link to a radio piece titled Katherine Wright: The Forgotten Wright Brother,  that I put together for National Public Radio (way back in 2003!) on Katherine Wright. When the Wright Brothers were all the rage, Katherine was known as the 3rd Wright Brother and most certainly should be remembered on National Aviation Day.

Take a listen and let me know what you think.

 

Southwest Airlines tighens rules on emotional support animals

Southwest Airlines is the latest airline to tighten its policies on passengers traveling with trained service and emotional support animals.

The new rules go in to effect Monday, September 17, 2018.

Under Southwest Airlines’ new rules, each customer will only be able to travel with one emotional support animal (or ESA) and ESAs will be limited to only cats and dogs.

During travel, the airline will always require each ESA to be kept in its carrier or be kept on a leash.

Customers traveling with ESAs will continue to be required to present a complete, current letter from a medical doctor or licensed mental health professional on the day of departure.

As part of these new policies, Southwest is also recognizing fully-trained psychiatric support animals (PSAs) as trained service animals.

The airline said it informally accepted PSAs as trained service animals in the past. Now the airline will formally accept this type of service animal. PSAs are animals that are specially trained to perform a task or work for a person with a mental health-related disability. To travel with these animals, the airline will require only a credible verbal assurance.

When it comes to traditional trained service animals, Southwest says it is going to adopt the DOT guidelines and accept only dogs, cats, and miniature horses.

“For the health and safety of our Customers and Employees, unusual or exotic animals will not be accepted,” the airline said in a statement and, “As is the case today, the Customer with the disability must be able to provide credible verbal assurance that the animal is a trained service animal.”

“We welcome emotional support and trained service animals that provide needed assistance to our Customers,” said Steve Goldberg, Southwest’s Senior Vice President of Operations and Hospitality said in statement, “However, we want to make sure our guidelines are clear and easy to understand while providing Customers and Employees a comfortable and safe experience.”

Southwest’s new rule announcement comes affter Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, and United have also updated their policies.

What do you think of the new rules? Fair?

TSA’s Top 10 most unusual finds for 2016

The TSA has issued its Top 10 list of the most unusual items found at airport checkpoints in 2016.

All are somewhat alarming, although not all were prohibited from being carried onto a plane.

For starters, there were five dead endangered seahorses inside an oversized bottle of brandy,  a replica suicide vest spotted and a trailer hitch cover shaped like a hand grenade.

Then there was the five-bladed flogger someone tried to take onto a plane at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

The list also includes a Hello Kitty-themed firearm found at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut and a movie prop corpse that was spotted at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport checkpoint that evidently had a ticket and was permitted to board, along with its very much alive travel companion.

All ten items are featured in the quirky video in which TSA social media specialist Bob Burns offers a charmingly corny countdown of the list.

 

Most items in the video will be familiar to those who follow the TSA blog or its popular Instagram account, where the agency shares a weekly report on the number of firearms (loaded and unloaded) and posts photos of notable “finds.”

Travelers who would like to make sure the contents of their carry-on luggage aren’t included in TSA’s 2017 Top Ten List can check to see if an item is permitted on the TSA’s “Can I bring my… through the security checkpoint” tool or on the “Ask TSA” Facebook Messenger site.