The W Barcelona General Manager Chimes In — You Won’t Believe This!


For those of you not up to date on the saga, see these posts:

— My Mom Got Robbed In Our Hotel!
— Pick Pocketing Or Premeditated Crime? You Tell Me!

Long story short my mom was robbed at the W Barcelona, and it got a lot more creepy than that — the guy made fraudulent charges to our room, and based on how much information he knew this wasn’t just a random pick pocketing.

Was the theft itself the hotel’s fault? Nope. But in my opinion the hotel has a duty to take the situation seriously and to investigate when it happens on their premises, involves several security breaches, involves someone that claims to work for their brand (even if that was a lie), and they’re part of a major global hotel brand, presumably with global safety standards/procedures.

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Pick Pocketing Or Premeditated Crime? You Tell Me!


This post is a continuation of my earlier post, about how my mom was robbed at the W Barcelona. So if you haven’t yet read that post, I’d suggest reading it first.

When we woke up this morning we thoroughly searched every inch of the room to be sure the purse wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I had my mom talk me through the entire evening, and I even went a bit “Inspector Gadget” on her. I searched the guest bathroom carefully to see if there were any hints as to the guy’s motives for coming to the room.

Below is a summary of what followed. And the more I write this out, the more I realize this almost certainly wasn’t a random pick pocketing, but rather something that was at a minimum premeditated, and at worst, much more than that…

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Oslo Airport To Get US Pre-Clearance Facility


It looks like Oslo Airport may become the first in mainland Europe to get a US Pre-Clearance facility.

For those of you not familiar with Pre-Clearance facilities, it’s whereby you clear US customs & immigration prior to boarding your US-bound flight, meaning you land in the US as a domestic passenger. Presently the extent of Europe’s Pre-Clearance facilities is limited to Dublin and Shannon, so this would be a very interesting addition.

Beyond that, Pre-Clearance facilities are common in Canada and the Caribbean, and there’s also a facility in Abu Dhabi, which I was a vocal critic of at first, though it has apparently improved substantially over time.

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Marilyn Hartman Now Sneaking Into Hotels Instead Of Airports…


Marilyn Hartman is quickly becoming a celebrity at airports beyond the west coast, it seems.

I first wrote about Marilyn Hartman last March, when she was arrested at SFO after trying to sneak through security several times without a ticket.

Then in August she successfully managed to sneak on a plane from San Jose to Los Angeles. Then she got arrested, escaped, and did the same thing again. And again.

We haven’t heard much about her lately, at least until now. This time she has changed up venues a bit, as she got arrested in Florida at a hotel.

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I Was Emasculated At The Abu Dhabi Airport Security Checkpoint


Okay, so let me start by saying that I’m on #TeamScissors over #TeamClippers when it comes to nail care. Not usually a topic I discuss on the blog, but it’s important for context.

99% of countries don’t mind you taking cuticle scissors through a security checkpoint. The only countries I’ve been to that take issue with it are Australia and the UAE. The latter is bizarre, because they otherwise have some of the most lax security I’ve ever seen. Anyway, while passing through the UAE a few weeks back enroute to the Etihad A380 inaugural flight, my cuticle scissors were confiscated.

When they are confiscated or I lose them, I usually always buy the same scissors, which are available at just about every CVS in the world. Except I was in Hawaii until late last week staying at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, and was feeling especially lazy. Go figure the hotel gift shop sold only one variety of cuticle scissors:

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Reciprocal Agreement Between US & German Trusted Traveler Programs


While the travel experience has become more and more unpleasant for the average traveler over the years, I can’t even begin to say how much more pleasant my security and immigration experience has become.

Obviously there’s TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry, but beyond that I have a German passport, so in the UK and many places in the EU I can just use the automated border control machines. I just slide in my passport and look at the camera, and I’m through in no time.

Well, it looks like the immigration experience is about to get better for those in the US and Germany, thanks to the announcement of a new reciprocal agreement between the Trusted Traveler programs of both countries.

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Abu Dhabi US Pre-Clearance Facility To Be Discontinued!!!


I’ve written extensively and passionately about the US Pre-Clearance Facility in Abu Dhabi.

For those of you that haven’t seen my rants on the situation, see here:

— Abu Dhabi Airport United States Immigration Pre-Clearance Facility
— Dubai Airport US Pre-Clearance Facility Coming?
— Etihad’s Abu Dhabi Pre-Clearance Is Still A Disaster

Basically for select US-bound flights, Etihad offers a facility whereby you clear US customs and immigration prior to boarding your flight. This is a model that works quite well in some other countries, like Canada and Ireland, but works horribly in Abu Dhabi. It has literally been consistently delaying US bound flight by hours. Hours.

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Could Electronics Soon Be Banned From Flights?


There have been quite a few news headlines lately about how al-Qaida is apparently planning five attacks on commercial airlines flying to Europe around Christmas.

I have several flights to/from Europe around the holidays, so when my mom heard the news today she instantly sprung into “scared” mode. My response whenever these kinds of threats are discovered is to say that I’m ultimately happier knowing about the threats which have been uncovered, as opposed to the countless number of threats we don’t know about. After all, what you don’t know about can’t hurt you… until it does.

Anyway, I’m not an intelligence expert so won’t chime in further there. Instead I’ll just share what’s apparently being considered as a possible preventive measure.

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How Not To Get Secondary Screening At Immigration


Two second summary: answer all the immigration officer’s questions, even if he’s being an ass.

On Wednesday my dad and I flew from Sydney to Los Angeles in Qantas first class. My dad has a German passport, while I have both a German and US passport (though of course I use my US passport with Global Entry when entering the US).

As we deplaned I explained to my dad that he’d have to go through separate lines, and that I’d wait for him at the baggage claim belt.

As we entered the immigration hall I saw that there was virtually no queue, so figured he’d be out in no time. Our checked bags arrived (yes, at this point in our trip we were checking bags), though there was still no sign of my dad.

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The Worst Case For Restricting TSA Pre-Check. Ever.


TSA Pre-Check is one of the greatest things to happen to the US flying experience in years. For those of you not familiar with TSA Pre-Check, it allows select passengers to go through an expedited security screening whereby they don’t have to take off their shoes or light jackets, and don’t have to remove liquids or electronics from their bags. You know, it’s basically the security screening process minus the theater. 😉

Originally TSA Pre-Check was only open to those in the Trusted Traveler program, which includes those with Global Entry, NEXUS, etc. However, over time they began allowing others in the Pre-Check line as well. I sort of get it from their perspective — ultimately they can’t be pouring a lot of resources into a small percentage of passengers, so by opening it up it was more justifiable.

That really bothered me, not from a safety standpoint, but rather from an experience standpoint. At first the benefit of Pre-Check was twofold:

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TSA Screening Passenger AFTER Flight?!


While we all have our thoughts on the TSA, here’s something I haven’t seen before. There’s a video going around the internet of a 22 year old that flew from Minneapolis to Denver on Spirit Airlines, and upon landing was met by the TSA… because they wanted to do more screening on him. Check out the video:

Apparently he used to be on the “no fly” list, but was then downgraded to a list where he would just receive additional screening (with “SSSS” on his boarding pass). However, apparently the TSA failed to complete that screening in Minneapolis, and only realized that halfway through his flight.

So when he landed in Denver, the TSA boarded the plane to have him deplane before everyone else, and then they requested to do additional screening on him… even though he already flew and was done with his travels for the day!

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