The TSA Is Cracking Down on Snacks at the Airport

iStock
iStock

Bad news for frequent fliers: It may take you a little longer to get through airport security if you’re packing snacks. Food is still allowed in carry-on bags—so it’s not exactly time to panic yet—but The New York Times reports that TSA agents can ask passengers to remove their food and screen it separately, thus holding up the line.

The author of the article, Shivani Vora, wrote that she was recently delayed 15 minutes at Newark Liberty International Airport's security line when she overheard a TSA officer explaining the “new policy” to another passenger. She rifled through her two carry-on bags to find all of her snacks, placed them in a separate container, pushed them through the X-ray, and continued waiting while an officer inspected her food by hand.

Another passenger reported being delayed 15 minutes when the man in line ahead of her had to remove all of his Starbursts and bite-sized Twix, and similar complaints have been circulating in recent months. However, contrary to the TSA agent’s explanation and the apparent rise in cases such as these, the policy isn’t exactly new. It’s about a year old, and it gives TSA agents the power to screen food separately if they request it.

“There is no official policy which says that TSA agents must ask passengers to remove food from their bags,” TSA spokesman Mike England tells the Times. “Rather, the policy is that officers have the right to ask passengers to remove food if they feel that it’s necessary.”

The policy was reportedly enacted for safety reasons, because overstuffed bags can’t be screened as effectively, and some food items resemble explosives in an X-ray. If you’re not quite ready to give up your snacks, though, you can still save some time in the security line by applying for a TSA PreCheck.

[h/t The New York Times]

Meet LiLou: The World's First Airport Therapy Pig

Kseniia Derzhavina/iStock via Getty Images
Kseniia Derzhavina/iStock via Getty Images

There's a new reason to get to the airport early—you might run into a therapy pig who's there to make your trip a little easier. As Reuters reports, LiLou the Juliana pig is a member of San Francisco International Airport's "Wag Brigade," a therapy animal program designed to ease stress and anxiety in travelers.

Aside from her snout and potbelly, LiLou can be recognized by her captain's hat and red "hoof" polish. She spends the day with guests who are happy to take a break from the pressures of traveling. She might comfort them by posing for a selfie, playing a song on her toy keyboard, or offering them a head to pet.

After bringing joy to people's day, LiLou goes home to her San Francisco apartment where she lives with her owner, Tatyana Danilova. In her free time, she goes on daily walks and snacks on organic vegetables. She even has her own Instagram account.

Airports around the world are embracing the benefits therapy animals can bring to customers. The Wag Brigade program at San Francisco includes a number of dogs, and earlier this year, the Aberdeen Airport in Scotland debuted its own "canine crew" of dogs trained to make travelers feel safe and happy. Therapy miniature horses have even been used at an airport in Kentucky. According to the San Francisco Airport, LiLiou is the world's first airport therapy pig.

To see LiLou turn on the charm, check out the video below.

[h/t Reuters]

The Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Each State

Hot air balloons drifting over the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Hot air balloons drifting over the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Greg Meland/iStock via Getty Images

In 2018, Americans took about 1.8 billion trips for leisure purposes alone, the U.S. Travel Association reports. But what types of attractions do they visit during those trips? Thanks to new data from Groupon and Viator, a TripAdvisor company, we now have the answer.

Map of the Northeast of the United States, showing a few of the most popular tourist attractions in that region
Groupon

Groupon mapped out each state’s most popular travel experience and classified them according to price, type, and region. Tourists in the northeast United States tend to gravitate toward what Groupon describes as “exploration and discovery” activities, like the Founding Fathers Tour of Philadelphia, Maine's Portland City and Lighthouse Tour, and the day trip from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard.

Map of the Midwest region of the United States, listing a few of the most popular tourist attractions in those states
Groupon

The Midwest is by far the cheapest place to vacation, with the cost of attractions in the region averaging about $48. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and North Dakota are great states to visit if you’re looking for a top-ranked food tour, while South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois offer plenty of educational tours and experiences (including a movie site tour for Field of Dreams fans).

Map of the Southern region of the United States, listing some of the most popular tourist attractions in that area
Groupon

Experiences in the South are fairly varied. Visitors have plenty of options, whether they’re looking for a historic tour of Asheville, North Carolina's Biltmore Estate (the largest privately owned house in the United States) or a day of thrills at Virginia’s Busch Gardens amusement park. Tourists in the South do seem to prefer watery activities, though—the region is popular for dinner cruises and dolphin watching.

Map of the Western region of the United States, listing some of the most popular tourist destinations in the area
Groupon

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the West is easily the most expensive region for visitors, averaging about $176 per attraction. Tourists in this region tend to gravitate toward experiences like helicopter tours and hot air balloon rides, all of which push the region toward the pricey end of the scale. Still, if you’re looking for astounding natural beauty, there are few places with more variety than the American West.

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