Travel briefs


United changes POINTS program

Travelers who fly the most and pay the most will soon earn more miles on United Airlines’ frequent-flier program.

The change will help elite members of United’s loyalty program — those who fly at least 25,000 miles a year on the airline. It will be far less-rewarding for people who currently rack up miles by taking occasional long flights at bargain fares.

Starting March 1, elite-level members of MileagePlus will earn between 7 and 11 miles for every dollar they spend on tickets, not counting taxes. Regular members — people who fly less than 25,000 miles and spend less than $2,500 a year on United — will get 5 miles per dollar toward free travel.

United joins Delta, Southwest and JetBlue in basing awards on money spent, not miles flown.


Government levies $25 tourist tax

An Egyptian airport official says authorities have levied a new $25 airport tax on tourists leaving the country, a move that has been criticized as being a further deterrent for vacationers considering the country as a holiday destination.

Egypt’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the three years of turmoil since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

From a high of more than 14 million tourists in 2010, only around 9.6 million came to Egypt in 2011. According to the Tourism Ministry, 9.5 million tourists visited Egypt in 2013.

Airport security

TSA screening goes ‘risk-based’

The Transportation Security Administration has been moving away from a system that assumes all passengers, including children and the elderly, pose the same security risk.

For example, the TSA now operates PreCheck lines at 115 airports that let passengers who pass a background check zip through without removing coats, belts or shoes or removing laptop computers from carrying cases.

Now the TSA plans to adopt its “risk-based security” to the screening of luggage. Under the current system, every bag gets the same level of screening.

As part of a TSA plan to spend $2.2 billion over the next five years, the agency said, it wants to adopt a system that can identify the risk level of each bag, based on information about its owners. In other words, the luggage of high-risk passengers would get a more thorough screening than other bags.

“TSA uses an intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to transportation security,” said TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein. “An integral part of that strategy is using advanced technology in passenger and baggage screening.”


Atlanta airport launches free Wi-Fi

Travelers, after years of complaints, will have access to a free wireless Internet network at the world’s busiest airport. Officials say the network at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport cost more than $5.2 million to install and is expected to accommodate up to 15,000 simultaneous users.

The airport’s lack of a free Wi-Fi network was the No. 1 customer complaint.

Miami Herald

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