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Southwest Airlines' first test flight to Hawaii a success

Southwest Airlines completed its first flight to Hawaii Tuesday, the first step in the carrier’s process to have planes for travel to the islands.

According to a news release, the flight is part of the airlines’s Extended-range, Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards certification process with the Federal Aviation Administration.

>> Read more trending news 

USA Today reported that, according to Southwest spokesman Brian Parrish, no passengers were on the two-engine Boeing 737 jet, which departed from Oakland, California. FAA representatives and Southwest employees, including pilots, were on board as part of the certification process.

The flight returned to the contiguous United States Wednesday, arriving at Dallas Love Field Airport in Texas that afternoon.

Parrish told USA Today that the airline will announce details on when flights will be available at a later date.

“Once we pass all phases of the ETOPS application process to the satisfaction of the FAA and receive our ETOPS authorization, we will announce further details of timing for selling and operating flights,” he said. 

Once the service begins, Southwest flights to Hawaii will be from California, and inter-island flights will follow.

WATCH: Traveler delayed at Atlanta airport makes hilarious dance video, goes viral

Law student Katie Gould recently found herself stuck at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after missing her flight to Milwaukee.

>> Read more trending news 

“I actually missed my flight because security was so long,” Gould told Travel + Leisure. “I’m used to Hartsfield-Jackson security being busy, but this was more than usual for the time of day. They had less TSA agents than they normally do, so I assumed the shutdown had something to do with it.”

>> On AJC.com: Airport worker dances to cheer up traveling child

With four hours to kill until the next flight, she decided to “put my phone in random places and film myself doing little dances.” This is the result.

>> Watch the video here

She put together almost 2 1/2 minutes of her dancing to “You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates.

By Monday morning, her video had more than 56,000 retweets and 357,000 likes.

The official Twitter account for Hall & Oates replied, saying, “Impressive you can dance that long!”

>> See the tweet here

“They’re so going to use this against you when you’re a freshman congresswoman in the future 😂,” one Twitter user joked, referencing the time a Twitter user tried to embarrass new congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by posting a video of her dancing.

“If anything I hope it helps my case,” Gould replied.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Gould told Travel + Leisure that she was happy the video cheered people up.

“I was pretty frustrated that whole day with missing my flight, but doing something fun and silly really helped remind me not to take life too seriously,” she said.

Frontier Airlines flight attendants can now take individual tips from passengers

Flight attendants on Frontier Airlines will no longer have to pool their tips, meaning any additional income they get is subject to individual passengers.

Bloomberg reported Monday that the low-cost airline used to split tips on each flight, but as of Jan. 1, gratuities won’t be pooled. The airline introduced tipping in 2016. Passengers have the option of leaving a gratuity through digital tablets after placing orders for food and drinks.

>> Read more trending news 

“We appreciate the great work of our flight attendants and know that our customers do as well, so (the payment tablet) gives passengers the option to tip,” Frontier spokesman Jonathan Freed told Bloomberg Friday. “It’s entirely at the customer’s discretion, and many do it.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that, according to Freed, the change at the Denver-based airline was made at flight attendants’ request.

“We view tips as additional compensation over and above flight attendants’ contractual wages.”

One fight attendants union isn’t a fan of the policy, however.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents 50,000 flight attendants with 20 airlines -- including Frontier -- opposes tipping and objected to the introduction of doing so three years ago.

“Management moved forward with a tipping option for passengers in hopes it would dissuade flight attendants from standing together for a fair contract — and in an effort to shift additional costs to passengers,” union President Sara Nelson told Bloomberg.

“Regardless of the tip issue, Frontier Airlines needs to step up and pay aviation’s first responders a wage that recognizes their critical safety role onboard,” Nelson told the LA Times.

Water fountains shut off at Cleveland airport after six passengers on one flight get sick

Officials at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport have shut off several water fountains after passengers on a Frontier Airlines flight got sick.

CNN reported that officials said at least six passengers on Frontier Flight 1397 to Tampa, Florida, fell ill once the plane took off Tuesday.

>> Read more trending news 

Janet Scherberger, a Tampa International Airport spokeswoman, told CNN the passengers were not travelling as a group and were vomiting by the time the plane landed in Florida.

Health officials have not confirmed that water fountains at the Cleveland airport are to blame. Cleveland airport spokeswoman Michele Dynia said passengers who did get sick said they drank from the fountains at the airport.  

Airport officials are looking into whether the fountains contributed to so many illnesses. 

WFLA reported that the flight landed in Tampa around 3:30 p.m. and the six passengers who were ill were removed and held for medical evaluation. None were taken to the hospital, according to Scherberger, but the other 220 passengers had to wait an hour to deplane.

Frontier issued the following statement to WOIO:

“During Frontier Flight 1397 from Cleveland to Tampa this afternoon, six passengers became ill. The aircraft was met by local emergency medical services upon arrival in Tampa. Those passengers displaying symptoms were evaluated by medical staff before being released. All other passengers were released after a brief holding period. The cause of the illness remains under investigation. Passenger safety is Frontier’s number one priority.”

Carnival announces 'heart-pounding' on-board roller coaster on new cruise ship

Carnival Cruise Line announced plans Thursday to launch the first cruise ship with an on-board roller coaster.

The BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster will circle the top of a new ship, Mardi Gras, when it sets sail in 2020. 

>> Read more trending news 

The cruise line boasts that BOLT will provide "an unforgettable and unique open-air thrill ride on the line’s newest and most innovative ship."

BOLT promises a heart-pounding rush of adrenaline, offering nearly 800 feet of exhilarating twists, turns and drops with riders reaching speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour, the company said.

The all-electric roller coaster will allow two riders in a motorcycle-like vehicle to race along a track 187 feet above sea level, enabling guests to experience the sea with breathtaking 360-degree views, a news release said.

BOLT is being built by Munich-based Maurer Rides.

“Mardi Gras will be our most innovative ship ever with some truly special features and attractions, highlighted by BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea,” president of Carnival Cruise Line Christine Duffy said. “We are so thrilled to introduce this one-of-a-kind, game-changing, exhilarating attraction – our guests are going to love it.”

Carnival said Mardi Gras will be based in a new state-of-the-art terminal at Port Canaveral. It will be the first ship in the new XL-class, the largest ever built for Carnival.

Delta bans puppies, other emotional support animals on long flights

Delta Air Lines said it will ban service and support animals under 4 months old, and will also ban emotional support animals on flights longer than eight hours.

The change, effective Dec. 18, is the latest tightening of policies on service animals and emotional support animals by the airline. 

>> Read more trending news 

The company said in a Monday announcement that it has seen an 84 percent increase in incidents reported involving service and support animals in 2016 and 2017, “including urination/defecation, biting” and a mauling by a 50-pound dog.

Delta said its new policy aligns with the CDC vaccination policy, and the limit on emotional support animals on long flights lines up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Act.

“These updates support Delta’s commitment to safety and also protect the rights of customers with documented needs -- such as veterans with disabilities -- to travel with trained service and support animals,” John Laughter, Delta senior vice president of corporate safety, security and compliance, said in a statement.

Some of the airline’s policy changes earlier in the year have prompted criticism from groups representing people who use service animals, including those who use pit bulls. 

The new policy takes effect for tickets booked Dec. 18 or later. Regardless of booking date, it will also take effect for flights Feb. 1 or later. Delta said it will contact customers to adjust reservations if the policy affects them.

More information on the airline’s service and support animal policy is at Delta.com

Delta using facial recognition at Atlanta airport, plans to expand it to Detroit airport

Delta Air Lines has rolled out facial recognition for international travel at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for what it calls the first biometric terminal in the United States. It’s now making plans to expand the technology in Detroit.

>> Read more trending news 

In September, the airline announced plans to make the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson into a biometric terminal, including facial recognition at check-in, at the security checkpoint, at gates and at Customs.

Passengers essentially show their faces to a camera instead of showing identification or a boarding pass.

During boarding, the use of facial recognition saves an average of two seconds per passenger, or a total of nine minutes for boarding of a wide-body plane, according to Delta.

The Detroit News reported that the airline plans to expand facial recognition to the international terminal in the Detroit Metropolitan Airport by mid-December. It will then roll out facial recognition throughout that airport in 2019.

Passengers chip in to pay for plane’s repairs

We know flying comes with extra costs. A pillow, blanket or even meal now come with price tags on top of your fare, but when did having to pay for repairs to the plane start being added to the tab?

A LOT Polish Airlines flight that was scheduled to take off from Beijing Capital Airport couldn’t get into the air when it needed a new pump for the hydraulic system, Metro reported

A Boeing repair person at the airport wouldn’t take the airline’s bank transfer and would only perform the work if they got the cash in hand.

An airline spokesperson said the two companies are supposed to have non-cash transactions only, RT reported.

Passengers were asked to pass the plate by a member of the airline staff, RT reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The effort collected almost $340 to pay for the repair and get the flight in the air.

One passenger on the flight to Warsaw told Metro, “We are at the international airport. I cannot believe that transactions take place here in cash under the table with the mechanic standing next to the plane. Incredible.”

A spokesperson with LOT Polish Airlines told Metro the employee at the Beijing airport refused all payment methods other than cash, leading to confusion. 

The passengers who chipped in got their money back when they landed in Warsaw. They were also given vouchers and may get compensated for the 10-hour wait they had as the repair was made.

As for the employee who asked the passengers for the donations, the company spokesperson said he or she will face disciplinary action, Metro reported.

“There are no circumstances that justify asking money from passengers,” Adrian Kubicki told Metro.

Boy, 11, slips through airport security, nearly boards plane without ticket

The Transportation Security Administration has confirmed that an 11-year-old boy got through a security checkpoint at Atlanta’s airport without having a boarding pass or ticket.

>> Read more trending news 

The child went through the main security checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and was screened, according to WSB-TV. 

Officials said the boy then tried to board a flight by blending in with a family. The boy was caught when the family said he wasn't with them. 

“How is that even possible?” traveler Empress Love said. “He should have never been able to get past the security. From right there they should have stopped him.

The incident happened Friday afternoon. TSA representative Sari Koshetz said the child didn't have to show identification at the security checkpoint because he is a minor.

Koshetz had no comment when asked about the fact the boy didn't have a boarding pass. She said after he was screened an officer asked the boy where his parents were. That's when the child got away.

“It's hard to understand how something like that could happen,” one woman, who asked not to be identified, said. 

The boy got to a gate where he tried to blend in with a family and board a plane. When the family said they didn't know him, he took off before officers eventually found him.

The boy's mother refused to comment about the incident. When WSB told her they were to figure out how this happened she responded.

>> Related: 7 of 10 most stressed states in country are in the south; where do you rank?

“OK, well you should be at the airport asking them how that happened,” the boy’s mother said. 

The TSA isn't saying much about the incident.

“I can't understand how he would have gotten past the security piece because you have to show them your ticket and your ID,” a traveler said. 

The TSA said the incident wasn't a breach of security since agents screened the child.

The child is back home with his mother. WSB reported he took a bus to the airport and indicated he just wanted to get away.

Disney World exec reveals more about new Epcot coaster, gondola system, 'stunt-atronics'

Walt Disney World is revealing more about some of its new attractions -- and showing off some of its newest technology -- that are coming soon to Central Florida.

“We’ve made the conscious decision to control our own destiny – to be the disruptor, not the disrupted,” Bob Chapek -- chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products -- said at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions conference in Orlando. 

At the conference, Chapek unveiled new animatronics called A1000s, which he said is Disney’s most innovative and expensive animatronics yet.

>> Read more trending news 

Disney is even developing new technology called stunt-tronics: Animatronics that can do stunts too dangerous for humans, like flying through the air and doing superhero-like moves.

Disney also revealed more about a much-anticipated attraction coming to Epcot: A new "Guardians of the Galaxy" ride being built at the former Universe of Energy pavilion. 

Chapek said it will be one of the longest enclosed roller coasters in the world. Just building the foundation was the largest concrete pour in Walt Disney World’s history. The building is so big, it can fit four Spaceship Earths inside, Chapek said.

The new roller coaster will spin as it moves, and will have a storyline that revolves around the plot and characters from the movie.

>>Read: Disney pass holder displays pro-Trump signs at park, gets banned again

“Guests will be able to experience it when it opens in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021,” Chapek said.

Disney also revealed more about the gondola system called Skyliner, which Disney now says will be operational in the fall of 2019. Crews have been building towers across the landscape of the property for months.

When it opens, Skyliner will connect Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and four resorts: Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and the new Rivera Resort, which is set to open in 2019.

>>Read: Up, up and away: WFTV gets exclusive look at Walt Disney World's Skyliner

What the actual gondolas look like remains a secret, though Disney has circulated artist renderings of the project.

One thing is clear, though: Mickey Mouse may be turning 90, but he and Disney aren’t slowing down.

“In this industry, complacency is the biggest threat,” Chapek said.

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