Five Questions That Are Rarely Asked About Air Travel

Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmm…. The first one is new, the others still warp my brain a little bit.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. IAD opens up the hourly lot to everyone during the December holidays. For about 3 or 4 weeks it’s super cheap to park long term in the hourly lot. It’s an adjustment based on lack of business traveler traffic.

  2. Similar to what David said above, RIC offered short-term parking at economy rates over Christmas. My assumption was an effort to keep travelers at on-site parking once lots filled up and maybe flip a few new travelers to a more expensive habit on a recurring basis.

  3. Answers:

    “If liquids are so dangerous, why are they tossed together in a bin next to the security checkpoint instead of dealt with by a hazmat team?”

    The supposed fear is that somebody could mix liquids on board. Certain chemicals are perfectly stable on their own but very volatile when mixed. So keeping them in their container and throwing them away doesn’t pose a serious threat.

    “How come flight attendants have to pick up the cups they serve drinks in prior to takeoff, but they let me keep the Starbucks coffee I brought on board myself?”

    Because if you spill a hot drink on yourself that the airline gave you, they’re responsible. If you spill something you brought yourself, they can’t be blamed.

    “Why do airlines who base elite status on revenue still have a distance-flown requirement as well? If the revenue you contribute to an airline’s bottom line is what counts, why does it matter how many miles you fly?”

    Either miles flown counts also (why else would they require it?) *or* they’re trying to thin the herd of elites by making the qualifications harder.

    #1 is a good question and the answer is probably just inertia and lack of desire to re-brand.

    #5 because people complain about supply/demand pricing in industries where they’re used to fixed prices (see: Uber fare multipliers/taxis).

  4. Locally, there are coupons and codes available occasionally for airport parking. Plus, there are price breaks for a week period and long term. But, even with commercial fencing and barriers, you might return and find your vehicle was stolen.

  5. If anything, random liquids thrown into a trash can is MORE of a risk than targeted explosives.

    The trash cans at the checkpoints are filled every day with random chemicals. You have no idea what people are throwing out, but there’s a lot of it. Take some of the hydrogen peroxide contact lens cleaner (which you *are* allowed to bring a 55 gallon drum on-board if you so desire and could manage to get it to fit on-board). It’s usually a reasonably-strong concentration and quite an oxidizer. NOT something you just want laying around with 100 other bottles of random chemicals.

    Targeted explosives are a rarity. So much so that over the past 40 years, your chances of being involved in an aircraft brought down by explosives is entire orders of magnitude less than being struck by lightning. Bruce Schneier talks about this sort of thing often. Threats vs. risks. Threat = possible bad things that can happen. Risk = actual chance of it happening. If we were to take all of the money wasted on TSA over the past 13 years and thrown it towards healthcare, we would have saved far more lives than any potential terrorist attacks would have claimed.

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