Connectivity Issue Grounds Multiple Southwest Airlines Flights

About 500 Southwest Airlines flights were cancelled Tuesday June 15 just a day after another glitch grounded additional flights. The ripple effect will impact passengers for days as the airline works to rebook them. The airline said “intermittent performance issues” with its network connectivity were to blame for the situation Tuesday and Monday’s problems were due to weather data provider.

The FAA tweeted: The FAA issued a temporary nationwide ground stop at the request of Southwest Airlines while the company resolved a reservation computer issue. Please contact the airline for further details. Passengers tweeted the issue was described to them as a problem with “the electronic system used to monitor the weather.”

Meanwhile as the situation was resolved, Southwest tweeted: “We are in the process of resuming normal operations after a system issue this afternoon that created flight disruptions throughout our network. We know many Customers still require assistance and are working to address those concerns as quickly as possible.”

(Patrick C. Miller image from Twitter).

174 Pounds of Marijuana Seized at Hartsfield Jackson Airport

Seven suitcases filled to their brims with marijuana were seized at Atlanta, Georgia’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport last week. Four people were arrested. Police dogs at the airport detected the pot when suitcases were unloaded from a flight arriving from Seattle, Wash. The street value of the marijuana was around $700,000, the police said. The suitcases were placed on the baggage carousel and officers waited for their owners to claim them before making the arrests. The four all claimed that someone else had packed the bags or they were retrieving the bags for someone else.

Delta Diverts Due to Disruptive Passenger

Delta Flight 386 was en route from Los Angeles, Calif. To Nashville, Tenn. when a passenger went to the front of the aircraft and tried to gain entry to the cockpit. A quick thinking flight attendant, with the assistance of some first class passengers, was able to prevent the breach and restrain the passenger.

Dramatic video captured by other passengers in the first class section show the flight attendant Christopher Williams (in image kneeling with purple shirt and vest), assisted by the passengers, holding the disruptive man down and ultimately using the onboard restraints to bind his hands and feet. Meanwhile, the man begins yelling repeatedly, “Stop the plane!” The flight attendant directs the helpful passengers to place the restraints on the man and then to assist with getting the restrained man to the back of the aircraft. Several passengers assist by picking him up by the restraints, arms and legs and carrying him to the back.

The pilots diverted the aircraft to Albuquerque, New Mexico where authorities met the plane, removed the unruly passenger and arrested him. No one was injured during the incident. The FBI is investigating. The flight attendant is being hailed as a hero for his quick thinking and actions.

Video from passenger Jessica Robertson:

U. S. State Department Holding Special Passport Acceptance Fairs

The U. S. State Department will be hosting special passport fairs across the United States to help U. S. citizens apply for passports. Most events are for first-time customers and children using Form DS-11 to apply. The State Department recommends those that are eligible to renew their passport should do so by mail. 

Upcoming events

Broward County Clerk of CourtFt. LauderdaleFLSat, Jun 58am-2pmNo
Cedar County Recorder’s OfficeTiptonIATue, Jun 810am-5pmNo
Visalia Main Post OfficeVisaliaCASat, Jun 199am-2pmNo
Lyndhurst Community Center (Tontine & Riverside Ave.)LyndhurstNJMon, Jun 2110am-2pmNo
Cedar County Recorder’s OfficeTiptonIATue, Jun 2210am-5pmNo
Broward County Clerk of CourtFt. LauderdaleFLSat, Jun 268am-2pmNo
Fort Lee Recreation Center (1500 8th St.)Fort LeeNJMon, Jun 2810am-2pmNo
Special Passport Acceptance Fairs Locations and Dates

New York Governor Cuomo Says Excelsior Pass Helping Fast-Track Reopening of State

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched the Excelsior Pass — a free, voluntary platform developed in partnership with IBM, which utilizes proven, secure technology to confirm an individual’s recent negative PCR or antigen test result or proof of vaccination to help fast-track the reopening of businesses and event venues in accordance with New York State Department of Health guidelines. Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app. Each Pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination. An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.

As part of the initial launch, participating New Yorkers may choose to use Excelsior Pass to verify their COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results as needed to gain entry to major stadiums and arenas, wedding receptions, or catered and other events above the social gathering limit. Major venues have already begun utilizing the technology, including Madison Square Garden in New York City and the Times Union Center in Albany.

“New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back COVID, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure,” Governor Cuomo said. “The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice — the answer must be both. As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening.”

New York State was the first state in the U.S. to formally launch the potentially transformational technology.

“IBM is proud to support the State of New York with its efforts to apply innovative technologies to help residents and communities respond to COVID-19,” Steve LaFleche, general manager, IBM Public and Federal Markets, said. “In choosing a flexible and accessible tool that places security and privacy at its core, the state is modeling for the rest of the country how new, technology-enabled approaches can help safely reinvigorate economies while also striving to protect public health.”

Passenger Punches Southwest Flight Attendant

A Southwest Airlines passenger who was being asked by a flight attendant to prepare for landing, leapt up and punched the flight attendant in the face. The flight attendant was left stunned and bloodied as another passenger got up to assist. Video of the events has left little doubt as to the sequence of events and Southwest has banned the woman from flying the airline in the future. The ban was announced to their employees last week.

The mayhem occurred on a plane from Sacramento, California to San Diego. San Diego Harbor Police arrested Vyvianna Quinonez, 28, once the aircraft landed. She was charged with felony battery. The flight attendant reportedly lost two teeth in the melee.

Around the World Leaders Condemn Belarus for Forcing Jet to Land, Detaining Protasevich

The Group of Seven (G7) released a statement condemning Belarus for making a Ryanair passenger plane land so they could detain a someone on board. “This action jeopardized the safety of the passengers and crew of the flight. It was also a serious attack on the rules governing civil aviation,” the statement said. “We will enhance our efforts, including through further sanctions as appropriate, to promote accountability for the actions of the Belarusian authorities.” The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Britain.

The United Nations expressed their concern in a statement that said, “The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over the apparent forced landing of a passenger aircraft over Belarus on 23 May and the subsequent detention of Mr. Roman Protasevich, a Belarusian journalist on board,” said a statement issued by the spokesperson for Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN. The UN chief called for “a full, transparent and independent investigation into this disturbing incident” and urged all parties concerned to cooperate with the inquiry. He said he remained “greatly concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus” in the aftermath of the elections. “He urges the Belarusian authorities to fully respect all its international human rights obligations, including in relation to the freedoms of expression, assembly and association.”

Meanwhile, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) released this statement condemning the action by Belarus: “IATA strongly condemns any interference or requirement for landing of civil aviation operations that is inconsistent with the rules of international law,” Willie Walsh, IATA director general. “The details of the event with flight FR 4978 are not clear. A full investigation by competent international authorities is needed.”

Japan Bars Six Additional Countries from Entering

Foreign nationals from Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, Mongolia, East Timor and Saint Lucia have all been added to 153 other countries that Japan has barred from entry into their country due to coronavirus. The measure took effect Friday, May 21, 2021. Japanese citizens who have traveled to those countries must quarantine for six days at a designated facility and take multiple tests before being allowed to move freely in the country.

Returning to the United States on an Expired U.S. Passport Possible in Temporary Exemption

The Biden administration is allowing U. S. citizens with expired passports to return to the U. S. Citizens with recently expired passports will be able to return until the end of the year. There were more than usual due to the pandemic.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers will accept for admission certain expired U.S. passports, thereby assisting U.S. citizens who have been affected by appointment backlogs at embassies and consulates overseas caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” a notice issued early this week said. “Recently expired passports cannot be used to travel from the United States to an international destination or to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.”

Not all expired passports will be eligible for the temporary waiver. All travelers should check to see if they are eligible before firming up travel arrangements.

To qualify for this exception you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
  • Flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
  • The expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport was valid for 5 years.
  • The expired passport is undamaged.
  • The expired passport is unaltered.
  • The expired passport is in your possession.

More information is available on the U. S. State Department website.

Delta Makes Moves to Further Discourage Passenger Outbursts

Delta Air Lines has revised its customer loyalty program guidelines to let their passengers know they could be terminated from the SkyMiles program if they cannot remain civil onboard. The move comes after numerous passenger outbursts and unruly behavior and is a last ditch effort to try and stem the tide of angry passengers getting out of control, making scenes and even assaulting crew members.

“Respect and civility to others on our planes, at our airports, in our workplaces and in our society have always been a requirement for our people and our customers. Nothing is more important than their safety,” a Delta statement said.

The SkyMies program change says that Delta may terminate a person’s SkyMiles membership on the basis of documented abusive behavior. This includes Medallion Status – a coveted ranking of the most frequent of fliers.

Delta defines abusive behavior as that behavior directed at a Delta Employee or ambassador, during travel or interactions with Delta’s Reservations or Customer Care personnel, where the passenger’s conduct is disorderly, abusive or violent, including without limitation:

i. Personal threats toward a Delta employee or ambassador;

ii. Excessive/repeated obscene or profane language directed toward a Delta employee or ambassador;

iii. Insults or slurs directed toward a Delta employee or ambassador; or

iv. Intentional destruction of Delta property

The airline is hopeful that the threat of the loss of the privileges given to those with high status in their loyalty program will be enough of a deterrent to prevent them from crossing a point of no return in a heated situation.