Category Archives: Travel News

Baggage handler gets life in prison for smuggling drugs

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A former American Airlines baggage handler has been given life in prison for his role in a drug-smuggling ring operating through John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Victor Bourne received the sentence Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn. Bourne was found guilty last year of charges he used his behind-the-scenes access at New York City’s busiest airport to orchestrate the smuggling of more than 330 pounds of cocaine from 2000 and 2009.

Prosecutors accused the 37-year-old native of Barbados of helping recruit and organize a crew of corrupt airport employees.

Authorities say Bourne made millions of dollars in drug proceeds he laundered through business ventures in Brooklyn and Barbados.

The sentencing capped a federal investigation that has resulted in the convictions of 20 people, 19 of them airlines employees.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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The former captain of the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship Francesco Schettino.

Experts: Costa Concordia equipment may not have been working before crash

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Plane from Miami quarantined in New Orleans after passenger becomes ill

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American Airlines: ‘Gunk’ from spilled drinks partly to blame
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Plane from Miami quarantined after passenger becomes ill

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A plane that originated in Miami had to be quarantined when it arrived in New Orleans after a female passenger fell ill on board Monday, airline officials said.

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A medical emergency was reported on American Airlines Flight 1003, which left Miami International Airport at 4:31 p.m. and landed at Armstrong International Airport at 5:27 p.m., officials said.

The plane was held in quarantine as the woman was checked out by local emergency medical responders and transported to an area hospital, officials said.

Medics determined the woman wasn’t contagious and the rest of the 146 passengers and six crew members were allowed to deplane.

The plane was cleaned and arrived back in Miami at 10:48 p.m.

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American Airlines to continue reducing flights in November

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No long US airline delays at close of summer

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American Airlines: ‘Gunk’ from spilled drinks partly to blame
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Experts: Costa Concordia equipment malfunctioned before crash

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Video: Francesco Schettino, the captain of the capsized Costa Concordia, faced the survivors and families of victims at a court hearing where audio from the ship’s black box was released. NBC’s Michelle Kosinksi reports.

Gregorio Borgia / AP

The case of the former captain of the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship Francesco Schettino, 51, is of such interest that a theater had to be turned into a courtroom to accommodate those who had a legitimate claim to attend the closed-door hearing.

GROSSETO/GIGLIO, Italy – An Italian court heard on Tuesday that equipment aboard the Costa Concordia luxury liner may not have been functioning when she ran aground and capsized, killing 32 people.

The list of issues compiled by a panel of court-appointed experts included a wide range of alleged malfunctions, from lights that did not work during the disaster to the possibility that radar equipment had been turned off or broken.

The hearing is closed to the public because the huge media interest could not be accommodated.

The 114,500-ton luxury cruise ship capsized on Jan. 13 after approaching the Tuscan island of Giglio to perform a maneuver close to the shore known as a salute. It struck a rock which tore a gash in its hull.

Previous story: Packed court as Costa captain hears evidence

Also on Tuesday, Francesco Schettino, the captain blamed for the disaster admitted he made mistakes but accused the cruise liner company of mishandling the response. He said last week he was suing Costa Cruises, a unit of Carnival Corp., for unfair dismissal following the accident.

His lawyer Francesco Pepe said the hearing would show his client was not solely responsible for the disaster.

“Schettino’s responsibility needs to be established and it needs to be established that others may have contributed as well,” he said after the conclusion of the hearing’s first day.

Meanwhile in Giglio, where the stricken liner still lays on her side awaiting salvage, news has emerged that thieves broke into the Costa Concordia earlier this year, stealing furniture, paintings and luxury goods from a gift shop. Sources at Costa Crociere say the thieves had used entry holes and guide ropes made by search and rescue teams to get into the ship.

Video: An Italian court will decide if Francesco Schettino, the captain of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship, should face a full trial next year for the deaths of 32 people. NBC’s Claudio Lavanga reports.

I saved your lives’
Schettino slipped into court by a back door on Tuesday, wearing dark glasses and offering just a brief wave to waiting journalists. According to Italian TV network Tg1, he spoke to two German Costa passengers inside court, saying, “I saved your lives and those of many other passengers.”

This week’s hearings will help the judge decide if Schettino should stand trial. He is accused of manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship while passengers and crew were still aboard. He denies the accusations and has not been charged.

Video: Six months after the Costa Concordia disaster, some of the survivors are fighting the settlements being offered to them and sounding the alarm that throughout the cruise industry, passengers have fewer rights than many may realize. Rock Center’s Harry Smith reports.

Previous story: Costa Concordia cruise ship captain says sacking unfair

A key question is how much of the blame Schettino should shoulder himself and how much responsibility lies with his crew and employer, Costa Crociere, a division of the Miami-based Carnival Corp. Costa Crociere has denied negligence and has distanced itself from Schettino, firing him in July.

In all, nine people face the prospect of criminal trial, which would be unlikely to begin before next year.

The company’s lawyer defended the ship’s other crew.

“I believe that everything that came out yesterday — and the conclusions drawn by the court appointed experts — acknowledge that everything that could have been done by the Costa Concordia crew, was done,” Marco de Luca, a lawyer for Costa Crociere, told NBC News, outside the courtroom. 

“The one fact that has been completely underestimated is that more than four thousand people were disembarked in a short period of time — some two hours — and this was done exclusively by Costa personnel.”

Praxilla Trabattoni and Claudio Lavanga of NBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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File image of capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia.

Costa Concordia cruise ship captain says sacking unfair

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Costa Concordia captain admits he was ‘distracted’ by phone call

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No long US airline delays at close of summer

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Updated at 12:48 p.m. ET: U.S. airlines closed the summer travel season without any lengthy tarmac delays in August, the government said Thursday, a sharp reversal from a month earlier.

There were more long delays in July on airport tarmacs than in the previous eight months combined.

In August one international flight was stuck for more than four hours. On Aug. 15, a Caribbean Airlines flight sat on the tarmac at New York’s JFK Airport for four hours and 28 minutes before it took off for its destination, Trinidad and Tobago.

U.S. airlines are subject to huge fines if they keep passengers on a grounded plane for more than three hours. Violations start at four hours for international carriers at U.S. airports.

Almost four in five flights were considered on-time in August, meaning they arrived within 15 minutes of their posted schedule. At a rate of 79.2 percent, U.S. airlines were just slightly less on-time than a year earlier but better than July’s 76 percent on-time rate.

Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines held their traditional top spots in the rankings. Delta was the most efficient major network airline, with an on-time rate of 83.9 percent. United was the worst.

Cancellations fell from both the month and year before. Fewer travelers complained about lost or damaged bags in August as well.

At the end of August, there were 56 flights that were chronically delayed — 30 minutes late more than half the time — for two straight months. Flights were mostly operated by regional carriers doing business for bigger airlines. Many of them were departing from congested airports like Newark Liberty in the New York area or San Francisco International. No flights were chronically delayed for three consecutive months or more.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Found in suitcase at LAX: Smoke grenade, billy clubs, hatchet, body bags, leg
irons …

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The self-boarding gates for JetBlue in Las Vegas.

Airlines eye subway-style self-boarding

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United raises fares by up to $10 per round trip

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American Airlines to continue reducing flights in November

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American Airlines says it will cut passenger-carrying capacity by 1 percent in the first half of November as it tries to recover from widespread delays and a spike in cancellations.

American said Thursday that the pullback will give it more time to return to normal operations without affecting holiday travel.

Delays and cancellations soared in September, which American blamed on a work slowdown by some pilots. The pilots’ union denied the charge.

Although American has boosted its on-time arrivals from September’s 59-percent mark, flight-tracking service says American still trailed other large U.S. airlines in delays on Wednesday.

American cut capacity in September and October by up to 2 percent. Airlines reduce capacity by eliminating flights or using smaller planes.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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American Airlines: ‘Gunk’ from spilled drinks partly to blame
for loose seats

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