This week: Smog closes airport, rowdy passengers in Florida & more

This week’s been another one that was dominated by airport news coming from the United States. We managed to find one or two from other parts of the world too though, here are our topics for this week:

One of the earlier stories this week reached us from AlJazeera reporting that choking smog all but shut down one of northeastern China’s largest cities Monday, forcing schools to suspend classes, snarling traffic and closing the airport in the country’s first major air-pollution crisis of this fall and winter. The airport affected was Harbin Taiping International Airport (HRB), an international airport in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China. According to the report other parts of northeastern China also experienced severe smog, including Tangshan, two hours east of Beijing, and Changchun, the capital of Jilin province, which borders Heilongjiang.

The most recent news this week came from New York when Fox News reported only a few hours ago that a Tennessee man was arrested Saturday morning trying to board at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), after Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police found a loaded, defaced rifle in his checked luggage. The reports didn’t say whether the incident caused any flight delays.

Over in Florida, a delayed flight led to the police being called over angry passengers. CBS News reported that several officers were dispatched to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida (FLL) late Wednesday after Spirit Airlines called to report some passengers were getting unruly. The cause? According to the article Spirit Airlines planes were going through mechanical checks, and the carrier didn’t have enough mechanics to do them, resulting in lengthy delays. Spirit issued a statement saying, “Following the engine failure on one of our aircraft last week, and after reviewing routine maintenance procedures, we are completing a proactive and voluntary check on our aircraft engines overnight as a precautionary measure.”

Earlier this month the U.S. federal government shutdown was all over the news. Now it emerged that due to the shutdown leisure-oriented carrier Allegiant Air had to find a new home for its first week of flights since Portsmouth International Airport (PSM) wasn’t ready for service after the shutdown caused delays in the installation of security screening equipment. USA Today reported that for now, though, Allegiant’s first “Portsmouth” flights will actually arrive to and depart from an airport about an hour away: the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT).

And to finish our weekly news round-up we found something from the future: a self-service security check. Wouldn’t it be nice? Bloomberg reported that a Palo Alto (Calif.)-based startup called Qylur (pronounced KI-lure) said it would begin offering automated security checkpoints next year, after running small-scale tests of the machines in airports, sporting arenas, and elsewhere over the last few months. At the heart of Qylur’s idea is the basic Silicon Valley premise that machines can do an increasing number of jobs better than people, and do so without complaining, forming unions, or taking suspiciously long bathroom breaks. Interestingly a single machine with five cells could replace five security lines at a TSA checkpoint, moving through the same amount of people in one-quarter of the space and needing only five employees, rather than 15. What’s next, self-service customs kiosks for all passengers? We’d love that!

That’s all we have for this week – safe travels!

[Photo from Wikimedia Commons – some rights reserved]