Money Matters - Simplified


Full-body scanners pose little radiation risk--study

The controversial full-body airport scanners are back in the headlines, and this time for a good reason. According to new analysis by U.S. medical experts, airport body scanners pose no significant radiation threat to passengers.

Southwest unveils new frequent flier program

Southwest Airlines has announced a revamped frequent flier program. The new system which will come into effect from March, 1 will award credit points according to the price of ticket.

Spaceport for tourist flights dedicated

Las Cruces, N.M. -- A private spaceship intended to carry tourists into space has touched down at the New Mexico spaceport that will become its home base, company officials said.

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, carried by its mother ship WhiteKnightTwo, landed on a runway in the southern New Mexico desert Friday to celebrate the dedication of the runway at Spaceport America, promoted as the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport, reported.

A giant hangar for the two ships and other facilities are under construction.

"I can't wait for our first day of commercial operations here," British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic's founder, said. "Today is very personal as our dream becomes more real."

U.S. airlines slash tarmac delays sharply

Washington -- U.S. airline delays leaving passengers stranded on runways dropped sharply in August compared to a year ago, the Department of Transportation said.

In August 2009, there were 66 flights with passengers were stranded in planes for more than 3 hours, the DOT said. In August 2010, there was only one such incident, the department said Tuesday.

U.S. airlines made the improvement without any change in the rate of canceled flights, which could have affected the data.

The lone flight delay that left passengers stranded past the DOT maximum was a United Airlines flight leaving San Juan, Puerto Rico, that was a diverted flight.

Titanic memorial cruise nearly full

Southampton, England -- The British charter company behind a 100-year anniversary cruise following the Titanic's path said cabins are nearly sold out for the April 2012 trip.

Miles Morgan Travel said passengers from 26 countries, including relatives of 30 victims of the Titanic sinking, will depart April 8, 2012, from Southampton, England, on the Balmoral from Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, and memorial services will be held at the site of the sinking between 11:40 p.m. April 14, the time the Titanic hit the iceberg, and 2:20 a.m. April 15, when the ship went down, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

The ship will also stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where passengers will visit the graves of 121 victims of the sinking, before completing the journey in New York.

Airlines charging for extra legroom

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- Airline passengers who want more legroom on flights might have to pay an extra $100 to get it, an industry watchdog group said.

Some discount airlines also eliminated the seat recline function so they can install additional seats to generate more revenue, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.

"If you're a low-cost carrier, you have to look at these moves" to stay price-competitive, said Matt Daimler, founder of, which tracks airline seating information.

Flights where seat rows are spaced farther apart can add up to 2 inches of legroom and passengers who desire the extra space might have to pay as much as $100 for the luxury, the report said.

'Harry Potter' ride modified for obese

Orlando, Fla. -- Florida's Universal Orlando Resort said it has altered some seats on its "Harry Potter"-themed roller coaster to accommodate larger passengers.

ABC News reported some larger patrons had complained safety devices were too tight to fully close -- the only ride in the park on which they could not fit.

"Ever since it opened, there has been some discussion about how people couldn't ride," said Matt Roseboom, editor-in-chief of Orlando Attractions Magazine, which reported the change during the weekend.

Test seats at the start of the line that previously told larger park-goers they were too large for the ride now direct them to a special row of seats designed for bigger riders.

Delta Air Lines to get more gates at JFK

New York -- Delta Air Lines said it will invest $1.2 billion to expand New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport's international Terminal 4 to create a new hub.

Delta, which serves about 11 million passengers annually at JFK, a quarter of the airport's traffic, now operates domestic flights from Terminal 2 and uses Terminal 3 for international service, USA Today reported. Delta said it would move all of its international flights to the expanded Terminal 4.

Construction is scheduled to begin in September. Delta said it hopes to complete a gradual relocation to Terminal 4 by May 2013.

Terminal 3 will be demolished in 2015 and the area used for parking, the newspaper said.

Hundreds await airline reimbursement

Brussels -- Dutch airline KLM has not reimbursed hundreds of British passengers for delays caused by the volcanic ash cloud that engulfed much of Europe, observers say.

The European Union has threatened legal action against the airline to force it to pay passenger expenses caused by the volcanic cloud, which shut down air traffic over much of Europe for 18 days in April and May, the BBC reported Saturday.

EU rules require airlines to cover reasonable hotel and meal costs for passengers but KLM says it will pay for only 24 hours, the British broadcaster said. In some cases, passengers were stranded a week or more.

KLM said it paid for only 24 hours to resolve compensation cases quickly for thousands of European customers.

U.S. weighs fines for tarmac delays

Chicago -- U.S. regulators say they will decide whether to fine United Airlines up to $27,500 per passenger for leaving passengers in idling planes more than three hours.

Chicago-based United operated four of the five U.S. flights delayed in May beyond the new limit on tarmac time set by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Delta Air Lines operated the fifth flight, which took off from Atlanta 2 minutes after the three-hour cutoff point, federal data indicated.

The United delays occurred May 26 after thunderstorms halted take-offs and landings at Denver International Airport, United spokeswoman Jean Medina said. Tarmac delays for the four flights ranged from 3 hours, 10 minutes to 4 hours, 41 minutes, DOT data indicated.