While recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois on January 1, it is still illegal under federal law. So just a few weeks back, authorities installed "Cannabis Amnesty Boxes" at Chicago airports for travelers to drop their grass before flying. But last week, someone arriving at Chicago's Midway helped themselves to the stash. From the New York Post:
Police reportedly noticed the marijuana missing from an amnesty box during a check on Wednesday evening at around 8 p.m., according to a source for NBC5. Upon reviewing the surveillance footage, police saw a man — believed to be an incoming passenger — reaching inside and absconding with the marijuana hours earlier.
The marijuana itself was left behind by a separate passenger, who placed it in the amnesty box after being found with it during a security check...
“Cannabis Amnesty Boxes have been placed at Chicago’s airports so travelers have the opportunity to ensure compliance with federal law, as well as the local laws at their destination. Tampering with them, or attempting to remove anything placed inside, is a crime, and detectives are investigating this matter,” said Anthony Guglielmi, the chief communications officer with the Chicago Police. “In the meantime, new, permanent theft prevention boxes are expected to replace the temporary ones in the coming weeks, making them more secure and preventing anyone from further accessing materials dropped inside.”
There are also marijuana amnesty boxes at Las Vegas's McCarran International Airport and the Colorado Springs Airport.
image: Chicago Police Department
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A guy who was waiting for his flight at the airport in Portland wanted more screen display space for his Playstation video game session, so he plugged his PS4 into a public computer screen that was displaying a map of the airport. Read the rest
Security officers at Lithuania's Vilnius Airport built a Christmas tree from "items that are prohibited to carry in hand luggage and which were taken away from passengers during screening."
"With knives, scissors, lighters, blades and all other sorts of dangerous goods on it - this Christmas tree has it all," they wrote on LinkedIn.
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Singapore's Changi Airport is rated the #1 airport in the world by most entities that rate airports. It has theme parks, free movies, a retro video game arcade, hiking trails, and much more. Stephanie Rosenbloom took a 27-hour vacation there with her husband and wrote about it for The New York Times. I was in Singapore in 2018 but didn't spend much time at the airport. I'm headed there again soon and this time I plan to wander around.
As with all wonderlands, though, there’s a fine line between fantasy and dystopia. Looking around, it isn’t hard to imagine a future in which everyone lives in domed cities in temperature-controlled, never-ending summers. Signs refer to “trails” that you can “hike,” as if Jewel’s smooth, clean floors are rugged arteries through the wilderness. The trees and shrubs around the waterfall have a corporate name: the Shiseido Forest Valley, after the Japanese beauty company. The waterfall is officially known as the HSBC Rain Vortex. And it’s surrounded by stores and restaurants, allowing a visitor to keep one eye on the jungle-scape and the other on the latest fashions at Calvin Klein — or the queue for Shake Shack. The result is a staggering display of artificiality and nature, with lights that can turn a waterfall crimson, or make it seem as if you’re dining al fresco under a starry sky.
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I mean, it’s fascinating, but it doesn’t make me loath sprinting to make my connecting flight any less.
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The Singapore Police Force arrested a man at Changi airport for buying a plane ticket just to walk his wife to the gate and say goodbye. He apparently had no intention of flying anywhere. It does sound like a lovely airport to visit but I hope he purchased a fully-refundable ticket. From CNN:
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Anyone accessing the gate-side areas at Changi without intending to fly can be prosecuted under Singapore's Infrastructure Protection Act and fined up to S$20,000 (US$14,300) or imprisoned for up to two years. Thirty three people have been arrested under the legislation in the first eight months of 2019...
When Changi's new Jewel terminal opened in April, it made headlines around the globe for its 40-meter waterfall (the world's largest indoor one), a 14,000-square-meter Canopy Park, complete with a suspension bridge, topiary and mazes, and one of Asia's largest indoor gardens with 3,000 trees and 60,000 shrubs.
Last week, police at London's Gatwick Airport turned up a suitcase filled with bags of white powder. Further testing revealed that the pile of evidence was actually vegan cake mix on its way to a restaurant in Brighton.
According to a statement from the British Transport Police, the bags "were soon reunited with the owner, who has promised officers and staff a slice of cake in return."
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Running for your gate, carry-on in hand to make your flight on-time is the worst. Sliding to your flight's gate? That's the best.
This four floor-high slide located in Singapore's Changi Airport is designed to get you to your departure gate with the smallest number of steps possible. The only catch is that you have to spend S$10 at one of the airport's many restaurants or businesses. Seems like a reasonable price to me.
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There is an abandoned McDonnell Douglas MD87 jetliner parked on the tarmac of Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas airport in Spain. If this is your jetliner, the airport asks that you please move it immediately. Apparently, the plane has been illegally parked for some years. From CNN:
Airport director Elena Mayoral submitted an official notice to the Boletín Oficial del Estado, the official gazette of the Kingdom of Spain, informing the nation of a plane in an "obvious state of abandonment" at the airport...
Under Spanish law, authorities must publish official notices about the plane for three consecutive months and then wait a year to see if the owner comes forward to claim it.
If they do not, the plane will be considered legally abandoned and will be sold off by the state at a public auction.
From El País:
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In 1990, the airplane flew for the first time for Iberia, according to online magazine Preferente.com. Eighteen years later it was acquired by Pronair, a charter airline headquartered in Albacete in Castilla-La Mancha. But the airline, which at one point was flying regularly to China, closed down in just a year due to the increase in fuel prices and the 2008 financial crisis.
Two years later, the plane was acquired by Saicus Air, a Spanish airline based in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. The airline operated two airplanes from Madrid and up until that point, had been dedicated to transporting cargo. The plane was meant to fly passengers between Spain and the Republic of Guinea Bissau in west Africa.
A fellow was recently busted at Toronto Pearson International Airport for allegedly attempting to "import" 5,000 live leeches in his luggage. Apparently an airport security beagles sniffed out the parasites. From National Geographic:
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The man claimed that the leeches in his possession were for personal use and that their waste water would enrich his orchids, (says André Lupert, manager of intelligence for the Wildlife Enforcement Directorate at Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ontario Region.)
To Lupert, that seems shaky. “This sort of leech quantity would suggest it was for commercialization,” he says, adding that the man could have been trying to find buyers for leech uses such as treating frostbite and helping with recovery from face lifts. Some people want leeches for naturopathic home use, believing that they relieve pain or can cleanse the body of “bad” blood. Without prescribed antibiotics, however, any such use carries risk of infections...
When Canadian officials seized 5,000 leeches, they were immediately confronted with a problem: what to do with them? They didn’t want to kill the threatened animals—especially while the case remained under investigation. “Ultimately it’s up to the judge if he wants to view the leeches in person because they’re viewed as evidence,” Lupert says. Nor did the authorities want to be saddled with them long-term. These species aren’t endemic to Canada, so they shouldn’t be released into the wild, Lupert says...
The Royal Ontario Museum agreed to accept 50 of the leeches, a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History took 1,000, and authorities are still looking for homes for the rest.
Unlike most airports, London's Heathrow is privately owned, so it's a great case study for how airports make money. Wendover Productions explains. Read the rest
Apparently officials at San Francisco International airport are size queens. When selecting vendors for the terminals, SFO uses gross revenue as an indicator a business can handle their scale. Read the rest
All flights today at London City Airport were cancelled after a bomb was found in the River Thames. The bomb is actually a German 500kg fused device that's been sitting in the Thames since the Germans dropped it during World War II. The unexploded ordnance was discovered during work on a dock near the airport. The Royal Navy is working to remove the bomb. From NPR
The discovery of World War II era bombs in London is not particularly rare, as NPR's Ari Shapiro has reported. "During the Blitz, German planes dropped nearly 30,000 bombs on London in just three months," he notes.
In 2015, a German bomb of about the same size was discovered in an east London neighborhood, prompting an evacuation.
At that time, Matt Brosnan, a historian at the Imperial War Museum, told the BBC that we don't know exactly how many of the bombs dropped could still be hidden.
"Clearly not all of those would have exploded, because of defects or other reasons, and they could have buried themselves tens of feet below the surface so we simply don't know where they are," he told the broadcaster.
"World War Two ordnance found in the Thames" (Metropolitan Police)
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Over the years, I've peeked into airport chapels and never seen a single person inside. Yet 16 of the country's 20 biggest airports have them. Above is the first example of such a space in the US, Our Lady of the Airways Chapel in Boston's Logan Airport, built in 1951 for airport employees. Wendy Cadge, a sociologist of religion at Brandeis University, has studied these sacred spaces. "Often, it is local, historical and demographic factors, including the religious composition of the region, that influence decisions" about why they're created and how they're used, she writes. From Smithsonian:
By the 1990s and 2000s, single faith chapels had become a “dying breed.” Most started to welcome people from all religions. And many were transformed into spaces for reflection, or meditation for weary travelers.
The chapel at San Francisco International Airport, for example, known as the Berman Reflection Room for Jewish philanthropist Henry Berman who was a former president of the San Francisco Airport Commission, looks like a quiet waiting room filled with plants and lines of connected chairs. A small enclosed space without any religious symbols or obvious connections to things religious or spiritual is available for services...
Certain airports such as Chicago’s O’Hare have strict rules regarding impromptu religious gatherings whether inside the chapel or out. Some use their public address systems to announce religious services. Others prohibit such announcements and do not even allow airport chaplains to put out any signs that could indicate a religious space.
"A Brief History of Airport Chapels" (Smithsonian)
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Last night, St. Louis Lambert International Airport's Terminal 2 was fully evacuated due to fire concern. It was quickly determined that the smoke alarms were triggered by a burning bagel at one of the airport restaurants.
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Whether or not the car in the background means this is a United flight, I bet this happens fairly often on many airlines.
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Raejali Buntut, 32, overslept and missed his August 21 flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, so he did what anyone in the same situation would do: make fake boarding passes and live in the airport’s executive lounges. Alas, his ruse lasted only three weeks before he was carted to jail.
From Strait Times:
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Passengers are required to have a valid boarding pass to enter into a transit lounge. Since Raejali's boarding pass was no longer valid, he decided to forge boarding passes.
He downloaded images of mobile boarding passes issued by two airlines - Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines - from the Internet, and then used an image editing software on his laptop to alter them.
Raejali inserted his name, a false flight number and a false destination on the fraudulent mobile boarding passes, before sending them to his mobile phone.