CDC/TSA Do Not Board list. TSA 3-D scanners. United's Dynamic D-0 program.

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the July 2019 issue.

Painted limestone head of a bearded Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt’s first female pharaoh, at Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 521st issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine, which is assembled largely from YOUR travel reports and articles, that is, items submitted by our subscribers. It’s travelers like you informing other travelers, your fellow readers, with the focus on destinations outside of the US.

I’m just here, aided by the rest of the ITN staff, to coordinate things, make announcements and share additional news.

Here’s an item.

You’ve heard that measles is resurging in the US as well as across the developed world, but you may not be aware of particular steps being taken to prevent the spread of the disease in the US by air travelers.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) keep a Do Not Board list of people the organization believes might be carrying communicable diseases. With enforcement by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), any person on the list will be prevented from obtaining a boarding pass for any flight within, out of or into the United States.

How the CDC adds to or maintains the list is not clear, but the list has quietly existed since 2007.

In May, after purchasing air tickets, eight people from five states where measles was rampant — Washington, California, Illinois, Texas and New York — and who were believed to be infected with the disease were warned by their respective state health departments that it was likely they would be denied boarding at the airport. All eight travelers opted to cancel their flights.

ITN could not determine how a person would learn if his or her name was on the Do Not Board list or which diseases would cause someone’s name to be added to it. On its website (www.cdc.gov/quarantine/do-not-board-faq.html), the CDC states that the majority of people on the list have infectious tuberculosis, with a few more having measles, and that the list “can be used for any communicable diseases that pose a serious public health threat.”

In last year’s October issue, I mentioned that the TSA was testing a type of airport security scanner that could create a 3-D image of the contents of a carry-on bag. A security officer can rotate the image on the screen, viewing the contents from any angle, and things like laptops and containers of liquid no longer block views of any items underneath them.

The testing phase of the scanners is now complete, and 300 of them are headed to airports across the US.

With the new scanners, travelers could be permitted to leave their electronics and liquids in their carry-ons. They may not yet be allowed to, however. (Each TSA agent has the authority to use his or her discretion. Always follow agents’ instructions when passing through security checkpoints.)

Travelers still will not be allowed to carry larger containers of liquids in their carry-ons. That limit remains capped at 3.4 ounces (100ml) per item, and all such containers must fit in one resealable, quart-sized bag.

At press time, 3-D scanners were confirmed to be in use at the following airports: Tampa International (TPA), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL), Arlington’s Ronald Reagan Washington International (DCA), Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Washington-Dulles (IAD), New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK, which has had them in a testing phase since July 2018), Boston Logan (BOS, since June 2017), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG), Indianapolis International (IND), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW), St. Louis’ Lambert International (STL), Houston’s Hobby (HOU), Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX, since June 2017), Los Angeles International (LAX) and Oakland International (OAK).

Good news. Bad news.

Have you ever landed at an airport just a few minutes too late to make your connecting flight? United Airlines announced in March that, at Denver International Airport, they were testing a new procedure to help some travelers avoid that frustration.

In what is being called the Dynamic D-0 program (“D-zero” being an industry term for a flight that departs precisely at the scheduled time), a computer program compares the passenger lists of incoming flights with those of outgoing flights before any of the planes have even taken off. It then matches incoming passengers with their connecting flights and evaluates whether it makes sense to delay a departing flight for a certain amount of time in order to accommodate any late-arriving passengers.

Though United has not said how long a flight will be held, they’re probably talking a few minutes at most.

According to United, gate agents will be stationed at the gate of any late incoming flight to help passengers rush to their connecting flights that are being delayed for them.

United has said they are confident that delaying a flight for a late passenger will not result in any problems, as about 25% of their flights arrive earlier than scheduled anyway. The program takes into account which flights arrive early most often.

Here’s the hitch. Any checked bags, of course, are NOT likely to make the connection!

If the testing goes well, United wants to expand the Dynamic D-0 program to other major airports in the US by the end of 2019.

Regarding Laurel Glassman’s article about the tombs of Luxor’s West Bank (April ’19, pg. 6), Bill O’Connell of Mission Viejo, California, wrote, “One of your writers caught my eye as I quickly tried to pass her article by, my not being interested in any part of Africa. I don’t know if it was a photo or an erudite word as I scanned the pages, but it brought me to a stop and made me go back and start at the beginning of her article on tombs of Egypt.

“Please, therefore, let her know that I think she has writing skills par excellence. She-really-has-a-way-with-words!”

We showed Bill’s letter to Laurel and also mentioned that another subscriber, Steven Emmet of Encinitas, California, contacted the tour company she had written about to arrange a tour for his wife and himself based on Laurel’s article.

Be sure to tell companies where you read about them, and encourage them to advertise — or continue advertising — in ITN!

 

Mr. Faz Ulla of San Jose, California, read Donna Altes’ article on Indonesia in our May 2019 issue and saw, on page 22, the picture showing Donna practically on top of a Komodo dragon, then wrote, “Is the photo real? I thought these dragons were dangerous.”

I called Donna and asked about the photo. She said that it’s a bit of an optical illusion in that she is not actually touching the dragon, but she IS only 3 feet away from it, and, yes, it is an adult dragon. Her guide was supervising nearby, and the dragon had recently been fed.

 

We need you to write in about something.

We would like to devote a bit more of the available space in this magazine to subscribers’ letters and articles. To free up room in order to accomplish this, we’d like your input on changes we might make.

For example, a subscriber once suggested we drop the “News Watch” section, since reports on hard news like deadly cyclones, earthquakes and terrorist attacks are covered in other news outlets, while YOUR reports on travel — personal observations, recommendations and advice derived from trips you’ve taken — will only be published here. So is “News Watch” a section that you wouldn’t particularly miss or not?

On page 48 of this issue, there’s a questionnaire we’d like you to fill out and mail in (or mail a copy of it), or fill out the same form on our website at www.intltravelnews.com/survey-2019. Tell us which parts of ITN you Always read, Usually read or Sometimes read.

We will always print subscribers’ letters, trip reports and Feature Articles, as those are the basis of the magazine. As for additional sections, however, we’ll be streamlining ITN, perhaps eliminating certain sections and printing others occasionally rather than monthly, so please guide us by telling us which parts of ITN you value most and which, least.

We’re printing this questionnaire in this issue only and posting it only during July, so don’t forget to weigh in.

And just to reiterate, whenever you use the services of a travel company, consider suggesting to the representative or owner that they advertise in ITN. ITN subscribers visited an average of 6.7 countries apiece in 2018. Other travel publications cannot make such a claim. ITN’s audience loves travel!