Edward Hasbrouck

In air transportation, the ultimate “opt out” is the use of private aircraft to avoid, for a very high price, the hassles of common-carrier airlines. Private charter flights are exempt from TSA screening searches, and often operate from separate “executive” terminals or even separate airports most airline passengers have never heard of, such as those in Teterboro, NJ, for New York City, or Van Nuys, CA, for greater Los Angeles.

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Next Monday, 16 December 2013, the ACACP will meet to consider privacy protection actions to recommend to the Secretary of Transportation. Pursuant to the law which mandated the establishment of the ACACP, the Secretary must report to Congress on what the ACACP has recommended, and what, if any, action the Secretary has taken on those recommendations. So unlike many advisory bodies, the ACACP can set its own agenda and can not be completely ignored.

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In a preliminary ruling in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU three years ago on behalf of a group of people who have been prevented by the U.S. government from traveling by air, a Federal judge in Oregon has found (1) that international air travel is a Constitutional right, and (2) that a categorical ban by the government on the exercise of that right can only be issued in accordance with due process.

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After a year-long “review,” the White House on August 12, 2013, approved the State Department’s proposed new “long form” questionnaires for some (unspecified) subset of applicants for US passports. Who gets this form? Why? And, what if they don’t have the information to fill it out? Are they denied movement?

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One of the most important principles that protects consumers of travel services is that travel is a right. Your right to travel (both in general and specifically by air) is recognized by U.S. law and by international human rights treaties. That’s why an airline isn’t like an ordinary business which can say, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”

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Ignoring massive public opposition, and despite having recently admitted that it is already using the “proposed” forms illegally without approval, the State Department is trying again to get approval for a pair of impossible-to-complete new passport application forms that would, in effect, allow the State Department to deny you a passport simply by choosing to send you either or both of the new “long forms.”

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If you used a US-issued VISA or MasterCard, or a VISA or MasterCard-branded ATM card, to make purchases or withdraw cash in foreign currency between 1996 and 2006, look for a check like the one below in your mail this week. Mine was delivered yesterday, so yours might have been delivered a few days ago, […]

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If you don’t want it to get even harder for a U.S. citizen to get a passport — now required for travel even to Canada or Mexico — you only have until Monday to let the State Department know. The U.S. Department of State is proposing a new Biographical Questionnaire for some passport applicants: The […]

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This week the Department of State published an interim final rule putting its previously proposed increases in passport and visa fees into effect as of July 13, 2010.

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Some people I know, even some Europeans, think I’m wrong. The public has a short memory and a large desire for cheap flights, they argue. Unless there’s another large eruption soon, they think Europeans will go back to air travel as usual.

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