This weekend we take time to learn something new about TSA — many of these facts may put a more human face on the organization. We muse about great public toilets in Sweden, as opposed to most places in the US. And, finally, we are beginning to see the end of free checked luggage on flights across the Atlantic as fares plummet.
10 things you didn’t know about the TSA
Sometimes knowing more about an organization that you may have come to dislike makes a difference. Here are some facts about the TSA that may change your mind about the organization that everyone at airports loves to hate, but which everyone knows is a necessary hassle. Fact: TSA is trying to be less of a hassle.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was formed as part of the newly created Department of Homeland Security on Nov. 19, 2001, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It was charged by Congress with “protecting the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.”
Everyone comes in contact with TSA when they go to an airport. They’re mainly known as the people who screen checked and carry-on baggage. But they do much more than that. [Here] is a list of 10 things you didn’t know that this federal government agency does.
What you can expect from toilets in Sweden
Many public toilets in Sweden are squeaky clean and they can be found all over the country. Unfortunately, they do cost a pretty penny, if one considers 50¢ a lot. On the other hand, public toilets at railway stations and airports can be just about as clean as those found back home in the USA. But, unlike in Washington, DC, where “access to restrooms here in the nation’s capital is woefully inadequate. While plenty of public restrooms are available along the Mall during the day, options dwindle to just three at night,” according to the Washington Post.
Pros About Using Toilets in Sweden
The toilets in Sweden are modern and sometimes have fun Scandinavian designs to keep you entertained. There are many public restrooms close to popular sights, which are easily accessible for tourists to find.(This is especially the case in the capital city of Stockholm.)
Public toilets in Sweden are also self-cleaning (rotating toilet seats) or cleaned manually on a regular basis, especially toilets in malls and sit-down restaurants, so you never have to worry about a dirty situation when you go to do your business. Thankfully, Sweden doesn’t have many squat toilets either.
Cons About Using Toilets in Sweden
One of the biggest downsides to using the public bathroom in Sweden is they can be very pricey. When you enter, you may be required to pay two to five Krona (about 25 to 50 cents in USD) — and it has to be in exact change, which can be a bit inconvenient. These pay-per-use potties aren’t expensive, but it can come as a surprise to travelers. With this in mind, it’s smart to carry coins just in case you need to take a bathroom run. Just like anywhere else, toilets at Swedish airports and train stations can be smelly and rather unsanitary.
One fallout from long-haul battle on airfares: No free checked bag
As airfares are coming down across the Atlantic because of the active competition between low-cost carriers and the major international airlines, the free-luggage perk and the free seat-reservation perks are beginning to fade. Many international airlines have long been making seat reservations a game of chicken on long overnight flights. Now, US carriers are beginning to follow this summer.
Delta, Air France/KLM and Alitalia are implementing basic economy fares for transatlantic flights that require passengers to pay for their first checked bag, and do not permit travelers to receive advanced seat assignments. Passengers who buy the fares also will board in the last zone, and cannot change their tickets for any reason.
The fares were announced in December. At the time, Delta said that the fares were available on half its flights from the U.S. and Canada to Europe. They have not been implemented to the Middle East, Africa or India.
This no-frills approach, which is being adopted by other carriers as well, including American Airlines, is a marked shift from the long-held assumption that passengers can check a bag for free on an international flight. But the transatlantic fares are not quite as punitive as some in the U.S. domestic market, such as American’s, which prohibit customers from using overhead bins.