Lots of People Bring Their Guns to Houston Airports (Surprising No One)

Categories: Texas Traveler

Bring your gun to the airport, get an extra-close TSA search.
Traveling can be stressful. You have to get there in time to get your bag checked and get through security before you even get the chance to hustle through the terminal to your gate (and it seems like your gate is always guaranteed to be farthest away when you've only got two minutes to get there and board.)

Of course, it doesn't help matters if you've forgotten to take your gun out of your boot or your shoulder holster or your carry-on. It seems like the most basic thing in the world nowadays. We know not to take full-size shampoo bottles or contact solution or pocket knives when making our way through airport security, but some people still forget to leave their guns at home, according to information collected by the Transportation Safety Administration and analyzed by the Associated Press. Go figure, a lot of those people live in -- or at least flew out from -- Houston.

The post-9/11 world has been one with a focus on airport security, but now that we're more than a decade away from its beginning, more people end up getting pulled out of the security line because they have loaded guns on them. Last year, TSA found 1,549 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on luggage. So far they've found 894 guns in the first six months of 2013. Unsurprisingly, out of the 12 airports that have the most guns confiscated every year, five of them are in Texas and both Houston airports made the list.

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CEO for Nap Centers in Airport Terminals Wants to Open in Houston...But Not Yet

Categories: Texas Traveler

Photo courtesy of Michael Spears and D/FW International Airport
Last month Daniel Solomon, the co-founder and CEO of Minute Suites, told KTRH that opening a Minute Suites napping center in Houston is in his sights. He reportedly said that was part of his goal to get his business in the Top 20 airports in North America.

Sleeping or working in between flights seems almost impossible in a crowded terminal, but that's the sort of idea Minute Suites tries to take advantage of, starting at $34 for an hour.

Currently open in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Dallas/Fort Worth International airports and set to open in Chicago, Minute Suites offers private suites inside airport terminals with a sofa and a sliding trundle, pillows, blankets and a sound-masking system to reduce outside noises in a busy airport. Customers are also encouraged to take advantage of high-speed Internet, DirecTV and up-to-date flight-tracking information in each room to ensure no customers miss their flights. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport even offers shower rooms as part of their Minute Suites.

"It's a traveler's retreat," DFW's Assistant Vice President for Airport Concessions Michael Baldwin said. "To be able to retreat and catch a nap for an hour, you could do that, you can stay overnight, it's getaway...So it's really a very accommodating program. And I think it gives travelers the next level of customer service and exceeding expectations."

This sort of idea almost sounds too good to be true.

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IAH Has Best Airport Lounge in North America, Conveniently Located in the Same Terminal as the Best Hookup Spot

Categories: Texas Traveler

Courtesy Priority Pass
The United Club at IAH is the creme de la creme of airport layover bars.
A few weeks ago, we noted that the Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Terminal E of George Bush Intercontinental Airport had been ranked as the best spot for an airport hookup in America by MeetAtTheAirport.com. Turns out good old Terminal E has more than just a casual spot for meeting Prince Charming, it also has the best airport lounge in North America.

This according to the Priority Pass Lounge of the Year awards, which surveys almost 60,000 Priority Pass members. The United Club lounge took top honors this year in North America. This is the third regional award win for the lounge, which services 2,000 visitors each day. It has won the global version of the award three times as well. That must be one hell of a lounge.

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Water Taxi Service Returns to Corpus Christi (Who Needs Venice?)

Categories: Texas Traveler

Photo courtesy of the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority
The "Sundance" is Corpus Christi's new water taxi
Tapping into the same urge that's lured tourists for centuries to the gondolas of Venice, Corpus Christi is getting back into the water taxi business. No word yet on whether there will be singing from the water taxi operators as they ply their trade from one side of Harbor Bridge to the other.

"This is a very simple operation, and it complements one that's in place with the city right now that moves tourists through a couple of the venues downtown," Director of Port Operations and Harbor Master Tony Alejandro told Hair Balls.

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United's 787s Make a Comeback After Grounding

Categories: Texas Traveler

Photo courtesy of Boeing Web site

After a four-month grounding, United Airlines' Dreamliner 787s return to the air. These aircraft are supposed to be Boeing's salute to energy-efficient travel. According to Boeing's Web site, this midsize airplane can carry between 210 and 290 passengers over a distance of up to 8,500 nautical miles, depending on the size of the airplane.

The aircraft can carry passengers over international distances on 20 percent less fuel than what midsize aircraft typically use -- a fact that has received quite a bit of attention. The Web site boasts a nearly two-generation jump in technology as Rolls Royce and General Electric collaborated to advance the 787's engine technology.

These advancements in technology have made the 787 an item of great expectations, with 52 aircraft so far and a total book order of 890 planes. Last Monday marked the first flight of the 787, from Houston to Chicago.

United Airlines was happy to report the flight was uneventful.

The plan is to fly the airplanes over shorter distances in the United States, before eventually opening up the aircraft for international flights. These longer flights will demonstrate the fuel efficiency of the aircraft, and are the main reason these planes were brought into existence.

But let us remind you why these planes were grounded in the first place.

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George Bush Intercontinental Is One of the Top Hookup Spots; Who Knew?

Categories: Texas Traveler

You thought the only action you were going to see at George Bush Intercontinental Airport was from that one airport security guard who always gets a little handsy in the pat-downs, but you've got another think coming. Turns out, if you're looking to get a little lovin', IAH is the place to go, specifically Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in terminal E, according to a study from the folks at MeetAtTheAirport.com.

In fact, the airport (ahem) dating Web site -- which touts airports as the place to go to "meet new and exciting people while you wait for your flight" -- conducted a study among its users ranking the best places to "connect" (a.k.a. knock boots in an airport bathroom stall while keeping an eye out to make sure your luggage doesn't get swiped.)

Among the top five, ranked just below The Encounter at LAX, Vino Volo Restaurant at Washington Dulles Airport and the Salt Lick at Austin-Bergstrom, was Houston's very own Pappadeaux's (located next to gate E3 for those who really want to know.) That's right, Houston. We're in the big time now as far as airport hookup spots are concerned. Also, we totally beat out Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which came in at No. 5, and let's face it, we're all proud that DFW isn't even on the list. Fun fact: A hookup in terminal E has an added bonus of possibilities since both domestic and international flights run out of there. You could be meeting some mysterious stranger from Idaho, or he or she could be from someplace way more fun like Brazil.

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Ten Years Later, and How Iraq Can Change a Generation's Trajectory

This is how Washington searched for WMDs, and how it lost a generation.
Every day after baseball practice, my Dad picked me up. Still clad in my dirt-stained pants, still too young to have a full appreciation for deodorant, I would toss my bookbags and gear in the back of our Volvo and jump in the front seat with him. He'd ask how practice was, and I'd tell him about the double play Alex and I turned, about the two singles I hit in the scrimmage. It was fun, I'd say. He'd nod, and he'd drive, and as we'd round the final sublets before swinging onto the freeway, I'd turn to him and ask if today was the day the US had found Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

It was 2003. I was a freshman in high school. This was our routine, my father and I. I'd drop sweat across the infield, bunch my baseball socks into the lowest and smelliest confines of my bag, and, early in the ride back, ask my father if we'd yet discovered Iraq's stores of anthrax and smallpox and ricin. I would ask my dad, days upon weeks upon an eventual season, whether or not the hunt was over. Whether we'd found the reason we were there.

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Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Found in Only Three Nations -- Rest of World Smothered in Tyranny, Apparently

Categories: Texas Traveler

Thumbnail image for Constitution.jpg
American, Mexican, and Guatemalan exceptionalism.
We've known for some time that the American Constitution, that yellowed document containing all our inalienable and God-given rights, was a special slip of parchment. The first of its kind, we've been told. The example. The lodestar. The exceptional.

But recent research, publicized last week in Bloomberg, has helped shed light on how truly exceptional our founding document remains. Through the work of University of Texas Government Associate Professor Zachary Elkins and a pair of colleagues, we now know that the United States Constitution is one of only three national constitutions, out of approximately 200 extant, that guarantees the right to a personal firearm.

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Sex Slaves, Bio-Programming, and Christ Incarnate -- Now Near Laredo!

Categories: Texas Traveler

There were some that said it couldn't be done. There were some that said that Jonestown - after the cyanide and the suicide and the doctor from Houston who helped provide both - had turned cults passé, and tired, and pointless. Cults had had their time. They flamed out, in spectacular fashion, and it was time to move forward.

Sure, Heaven's Gate, Aum Shinrikyo, and Scientologists have all attempted to resurrect the myth and marketing of the cult. Branch Davidians even offered a bit of local fare. But none have landed the lasting emphasis of Mr. Jones and his Kool-Aid Gang.

Fortunately, news out of Nuevo Laredo may yet shake cultists from their doldrums. There's no Kool-Aid - or "Flavor Aid," if you're a stickler for historical accuracy - involved, but a combination of Jesus, sex slaves, and something called "bio-programming" may yet bring the cult back into the vogue it once enjoyed.

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Houston Airports Have New Artwork and Ways to Help You Avoid Travel Woes

Categories: Texas Traveler

And stop calling me Shirley.
I was driving out to Bush Intercontinental Airport one night last week and noticed those really odd lit displays that sit at the entrance to the area on JFK Boulevard, and I wondered why exactly the lights were moving the way they were. Then I realized they were supposed to be simulating fireworks, which brought me to my next thought, which was, "Is it a great idea to show people simulated explosives on their way to the airport?"

Well, if that art isn't really your speed, no worries because both airports are sporting some new flava this holiday season. According to a release from the City of Houston, nearly two and a half million people will pass through Bush and Hobby airports between December 16 and January 4 and they'll get to feast their weary eyes on ten new art pieces installed in the Hobby lobby (HA HA!).

But if you really don't care about the damn artwork and you just want to get on your plane and get the hell outta here (or get off your plane and get the hell backa here), they offer some tips for streamlining your airport experience and links to help you through.

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