Amendment Approved for Less Explicit Images on Full-Body Scanners
MSNBC reports the Obama administration is moving quickly to shift to new technology at airports using full body scanners, so that they produce a less explicit image. The House Subcommittee on Transportation Security on Wednesday unanimously approved an amendment to the annual TSA Authorization Act of 2011 that would put an end to "naked" full-body images currently produced by Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines at U.S. airports.The scanners, which were first deployed at U.S. airports beginning in 2007, have been widely criticized, with privacy advocates arguing the images are too revealing.
Under the amendment, introduced by Rep. Chip Craavack (R-Minn.), a former airline pilot, the Transportation Security Administration would have 90 days to install automated target recognition software on all AIT machines. The new software produces a generic, stick figure outline of a person being screened rather than a detailed, passenger-specific image. If a traveler has a suspicious item on their body, it shows up as a red box on a specific area of a stick figure outline. "This amendment will protect Americans' dignity and ensure, to the extent an AIT machine can, our nation's transportation infrastructure remains secure," said Rep. Cravaack.
Source: Overhead Bin at msnbc.com
Hyatt Hotels Plans to Convert Summerfield Suites to Hyatt House Brand
Hyatt Hotels Corp. is converting all 38 of its extended stay Summerfield Suites hotels, as well as 16 Hotel Sierra properties recently acquired from LodgeWorks, into a single new brand, Hyatt House. According to Business Travel News, the new brand's key elements include a central social space, apartment-style rooms and customized food and beverage offerings. All 54 properties will convert to the new Hyatt House brand by early next year. Hyatt expects to complete necessary remodeling and service changes to those properties throughout 2012.
Source: Business Travel News
United/Continental Unveils New Details of MileagePlus Plans
United and Continental today unveiled the new details of what its MileagePlus frequent-flier program will offer in 2012. The most-notable changes for 2012 are the four tiers of elite status, new upgrade opportunities and a new lifetime benefits program for customers who've flown a million miles or more.
United's MileagePlus will offer four levels of "Premier" elite status. The levels and earning thresholds will be:
Premier Silver: 25,000 Premier qualifying miles (PQM) or 30 Premier Qualification Segments (PQS)
Premier Gold: 50,000 PQM or 60 PQS
Premier Platinum: 75,000 PQM or 90 PQS
Premier 1K: 100,000 PQM or 120 PQS
Another change apt to be popular with business travelers is the significant boost in bonus miles earned on high-fare tickets. Travelers that fly on first-class ticket will get up to 2-1/2 times the miles flown, and bonus miles are available for flights on business-class and full coach-class tickets, too. United also announced a "New Lifetime Benefits Program" for customers who have accrued a million miles or more, and it will include the popular spousal benefit offered at Continental.
In a change that's not likely to go over well with Premier Silver members, United is restricting free access to its Economy Plus seating. Silver members will still have access to Economy Plus, but they will not be able to claim an Economy Plus seat (without a fee) until check-in.
Source: MileagePlus United Alaska To Fly To Kansas City Starting In March 2012
Alaska Airlines has announced its plan to start daily service to Kansas City, Missouri, effective March 12, 2012. Kansas City, dubbed City of Fountains, is well known for its barbeque, jazz, and sports teams, and has a wide variety of business and attractions to draw visitors to the city. Alaska is tempting travelers with discounted introductory fares valid for travel Tuesdays, Wednesday and Saturdays from March 12 through May 23, 2012.
The new schedule will operate daily:
From - To
Seattle - Kansas City
Kansas City - Seattle
Travelers can register for Double Miles for travel between Seattle and Kansas City through April 25, 2012.
Source: Alaska Airlines