Three women busted in drunken beatdown of Delta workers at JFK airport, say feds


A trio of unruly would-be passengers at John F. Kennedy Airport viciously beat down two Delta Air Lines employees after a flight crew decided they were too drunk and belligerent to board a flight to Puerto Rico, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Long Island residents Jordan Nixon, 21, Janessa Torres, 21, and Johanna Zavala, 44, were set to board a midday flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico on Sept. 22 after their morning flight reservation was changed.

In the intervening hours, the women ordered nine drinks at an airport bar and showed up to their gate visibly drunk, according to prosecutors.

Zavala had difficulty walking, while Nixon smelled of alcohol and held a to-go cup filled with an orange liquid that also smelled like alcohol, the feds said.

A Delta gate employee informed the flight crew of the three passengers’ state, and a flight crew member and the captain of the flight determined that the trio would not be allowed to board, according to court papers filed by prosecutors.

A security officer was called to inform the three women, and told the group that while they wouldn’t be allowed on the flight, they could rebook on another flight later that afternoon, prosecutors said.

But the women refused to leave the jetway, and began cursing and screaming at the security guard, according to court papers.

“Nixon began to tap on [the security guard’s] head and removed his radio, which had been clipped on his person. Nixon then struck [the security guard] repeatedly with his radio as he struggled unsuccessfully to regain control of it,” prosecutors wrote in a memo asking a judge to set bail in the case.

Zavala punched in the face a Delta gate employee who was trying to stop the mayhem and help the security guard, prosecutors said.

As the gate employee called for backup, the trio punched and kicked the security guard, who had fallen to the floor — and Torres stepped on the guard’s face, according to the feds.

The flight crew was able eventually to shield the security guard behind a glass pane to stop the assault and neither employee has returned to work at the airport since that day, according to prosecutors.

Attorneys for Torres and Zavala did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Nixon’s attorney, Peter Guadagnino, said he and his client would assess the evidence in the case.

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These Mexico Destinations Will Require Proof of Vaccination or Negative COVID-19 Test to Enter Bars, Restaurants, and More

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Several popular tourist destinations in Mexico have started requiring or recommending vaccines for indoor activities, including bars.

Starting Friday, the state of Jalisco, where Puerto Vallarta is located, will require people to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours to enter places like bars and clubs, as well as concerts and stadiums, according to the state government. The new mandate applies to people 18 and older.

Similarly, Baja California has recommended businesses like bars and restaurants ask guests 18 and older to show proof of vaccination or a PCR test taken within five days of entering, according to the state government. However, Baja California stopped short of mandating the policy, noting showing proof of vaccination would be at the discretion of individual business owners.

And Tlaxcala, which sits east of Mexico City, will require proof of vaccination to enter places like hotels, shopping centers, cafeterias, supermarkets, and taquerías, according to Forbes Mexico.

The new rules come as Mexico is reporting more than 26,400 new cases each day, according to Reuters, which is tracking COVID-19 cases around the world. Cases in Mexico are currently the highest the country has ever reported.

In Mexico overall, about 58.4% of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to Reuters.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently classifies Mexico as a “Level 3” destination, indicating a “high” level of COVID-19 transmission in the country. The agency recommends Americans be fully vaccinated before traveling there, but only warns unvaccinated Americans to avoid travel to the country.

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CDC guidance to become optional for cruise lines as COVID continues to spread

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Cruise lines will no longer be obliged to follow COVID guidance on ships as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, which was extended and modified in October, will expire Saturday at which point the health agency’s COVID guidance for cruise ships will become voluntary, the CDC confirmed to USA TODAY Wednesday. This means cruise lines can choose whether to follow the health agency’s guidance or not.

The health agency “is transitioning to a voluntary COVID-19 risk mitigation program” the CDC said in a statement shared by spokesperson David Daigle.

The program includes guidance and recommendations for cruise ships to keep operating in a way that fosters a safer and healthier environment for passengers, crew and impacted communities, according to the CDC.

►CDC monitoring cruise ships for COVID: Here’s how to check whether your ship is on the list.

►CDC warns ‘avoid cruise travel’ after more than 5,000 COVID cases in two weeks amid omicron

“Cruise ships operating in U.S. waters choosing to participate in the program on a voluntary basis agree to follow all recommendations and guidance issued by CDC as part of this program,” the CDC continued, noting the recommendations are aimed at reducing the spread of COVID.

Vessels operating in U.S. waters and sailing international itineraries that choose not to participate will be classified as “gray” on the health agency’s “Cruise Ship Color Status”website to indicate the CDC hasn’t reviewed the health and safety protocols put in place by that ship’s operator. Cruise ships that opt-out and sail only in U.S. waters will not be listed at all.

The CDC has relayed the information about the voluntary program to cruise industry members and expects cruise lines to indicate whether or not they will participate “in the coming week.”

As of Monday, reported COVID cases had increased 53% from a week earlier, averaging more than 750,000 new infections per day, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

The CDC added that more information about the voluntary program will be released Saturday, when the CSO expires.

CSO expires at the heels of CDC’s travel warning

The order, first announced in October 2020, was created by the CDC to lay out a phased approach for the safe resumption of cruising in U.S. waters.

The expiration of the CSO comes just over two weeks after the CDC issued a warningagainst cruise travel on Dec. 30 after clusters of COVID-19 cases emerged on ships departing from the U.S. and around the globe.

Cruise Lines International Association, the leading trade organization for the cruise industry, said Wednesday that the CDC’s decision to move forward with transitioning its CSO to a voluntary program recognizes that the cruise industry has upheld an “unwavering commitment” to COVID mitigation.

“Cruise is the only segment of travel and tourism that requires, prior to embarkation for both passengers and crew, exceedingly high levels of vaccination (approaching 100% compared to only 63% of the U.S. population) and 100% testing of every individual (21 times the rate of the U.S. on land),” CLIA said in a statement shared by Bari Golin-Blaugrund, vice president of strategic communications for CLIA.

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These tips can help you deal with flight delays, cancellations

As airlines face pandemic-related staffing shortages, flight cancelations are ruining vacations and stranding passengers. So, what can you do to protect yourself? The only thing worse than a flight delay is a cancellation — except when it comes to getting your money back. Angie Barnett, president of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland, said there are no federal regulations when it comes to reimbursing you for delays. Cancellations are a different matter, and Barnett said putting everything on a credit card is key — not only for documentation, but because your credit card company may afford you more protections. And, if you have to rebook, Barnett said to go online.

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Two major cruise lines just postponed sailings on 15 ships — here are all the cruises that have been canceled amid the Omicron surge

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  • On Tuesday, Norwegian postponed sailings across 11 cruise ships.
  • Royal Caribbean has also paused itineraries on four ships as COVID-19 cases continue to spike.
  • These are all the cruise ships Norwegian and Royal Caribbean have postponed.

Two major cruise lines have canceled sailings on a combined 15 ships as COVID-19 continues to spike around the world amid spread of the Omicron variant.

The majority of cruise ships sailing in the US have reported COVID-19 outbreaks in the last several weeks, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These ongoing outbreaks have barred cruise ships from docking at ports of calls, infected crew, and forced passengers to quarantine aboard ships.

Amid these disruptions, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean have postponed several sailings, citing travel restrictions or the COVID-19 outbreak. Almost 250 cruises were set to sail throughout the first month of 2022, but this ongoing rise in COVID-19 cases could continue to cause further cancellations.

These are all the cruise vessels now facing cancelations:

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl on the water in Amsterdam on a sunny day.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl in Amsterdam.Norwegian Cruise Line

In early January, Norwegian announced it will be canceling itineraries aboard eight ships due to “ongoing travel restrictions.” On Tuesday, the cruise giant expanded these postponements to include embarkations across 11 vessels:

  • Norwegian Pearl — postponed through January 17
  • Norwegian Dawn — postponed through January 18
  • Norwegian Getaway — postponed through January 19
  • Norwegian Escape — postponed through January 22
  • Norwegian Joy — postponed through January 22
  • Norwegian Sky — postponed through February 25
  • Pride of America — postponed through February 26
  • Norwegian Jade — postponed through March 3
  • Norwegian Star — postponed through March 19
  • Norwegian Sun — postponed through April 19
  • Norwegian Spirit — postponed through April 23

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas ship

Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas ship.Royal Caribbean

On Friday, Royal Caribbean also canceled sailings aboard four ships, citing “ongoing COVID-related circumstances”:

  • Vision of the Seas — postponed until March 7.
  • Serenade of the Seas — postponed until April 26
  • Jewel of the Seas sailings — postponed until February 20
  • Symphony of the Seas — postponed until January 29

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‘Suspicious’: Dallas Detectives Seize $100k from Woman at Airport Without Charging Her With a Crime

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Niara Savage
Tue, December 28, 2021, 6:00 PM

Two Dallas detectives searched a 25-year-old Chicago woman’s suitcase at Dallas Love Field Airport on Dec. 2 and seized more than $100,000 from the bag.

Detectives say they smelled a drug odor before they searched the woman’s luggage without her permission but did not arrest her and haven’t charged her with a crime. The woman was flying domestically and had a layover at the Dallas airport.

Civil asset forfeiture allows police to seize, then keep or sell the property they allege was involved in a crime, leaving someone whose property was seized to go to court to try to get it back.

A police K-9 alerted two detectives with the Dallas Police Department to a black, checked-in suitcase secured by a lock.

The dog, named Ballentine, is trained to pick up the scent of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine.

A police report does not name what city the suitcase was headed for, The Dallas Morning News reported.

However, the bag was set to be transferred to another plane. According to the report, detectives felt they had to act quickly with a search warrant because it “would not be obtained in time and could cause an undue burden to the passengers and or airlines,” the report says.

According to the report, detectives found shipping bags wrapped in blankets containing $100, $50, $20, $10, $5 and $1 bills inside the suitcase. There were no clothes or other items in the luggage.

When detectives found the woman in the airport terminal, she told them she was a dancer who worked in real estate and that she had sold a house.

Dallas Police Department.
Dallas Police Department.

Convinced the woman obtained the money through an illegal drug deal, detectives seized the cash. The woman signed a property receipt for the money, police say. Police did not arrest the woman or charge her with a crime.

The Dallas Police Department celebrated the seizure on social media. A post to the department’s Facebook page showed Ballentine posing beside the cash.

“We need to get him some treats! K-9 Officer Ballentine does it again! On 12/2/21, the Love Field Interdiction Squad seized over $100,000 with the help of Ballentine. Good job, Ballentine!” the caption read.

The FBI has confirmed it took possession of the money.

Under Texas law, authorities can seize assets without charging a person with a crime. Black Americans are disproportionately searched and targeted for seizure, a South Carolina study found.

Up to 80 percent of people whose assets are seized by authorities are never charged with a crime.

Institute for Justice attorney Dan Alban told CBS11 that, while it’s legal to travel with any amount of money domestically, agencies consider flying with large amounts of cash suspicious.

“Unfortunately, both TSA and DEA have policies that treat what they consider to be large amounts of money as presumptively suspicious and indicative of criminal activity,” Alban said.

Travelers leaving or flying into the U.S. must declare amounts of cash of at least $10,000.

Since 2000, $68 billion in civil assets have been seized by the government, according to the Institute for Justice.

A spokesperson for the police department told CBS11, “Detectives assigned to Love Field are thoroughly trained and experienced in various criminal interdiction techniques and tactics, many of which were utilized during this incident. Due to the nature of this seizure, as well as where it occurred, it will be subject to follow up investigation with our Federal partners.”

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It’s not just you — vacations are impossible to book right now. Here’s what experts say you need to know.

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Woman hiker on a mountain trail overlooking the ocean in Hawaii
Hawaii is one of the most popular, and expensive places to visit right now.Heather Goodman/Shutterstock
  • After staying home for nearly 2 years, many people are ready to take a long-awaited vacation.
  • Pent-up demand has travelers eager to book, but flights and hotels are often expensive or booked up.
  • Here’s why that’s happening and what experts say you can do about it.

After spending two years at home, Los Angeles-based event producer Kate Mazzuca was vaccinated, vacation-starved, and ready to travel again. But even though she started searching months ahead of her proposed travel dates this winter, she was shocked by the results.

“I set my sights on a sunny locale and thought Hawaii would be ideal, but it was unbelievably cost-prohibitive,” she told Insider. “It was $1,000 a night for a hotel 10 minutes from the beach.” She next looked into the Caribbean, but found prices also in the thousands.

If you’ve tried to book a trip recently, you might recognize your own experience in Mazzuca’s search, either from a lack of availability or eye-popping prices that translate to total nonstarters.

Here’s why and where travel and hospitality experts say that’s happening, and what you can do to get around it.

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St. Petersburg, Florida.

Current travel demand is focused mostly on warm weather, domestic locales like Florida.mariakray/Shutterstock
Travel demand is highly concentrated right now around domestic, warm-weather destinations

Recent research from travel insurance company Allianz Partners, which reviewed four million round-trip itineraries from US airports for a period in December, found that 87 percent of them were for domestic travel, compared with just 13 percent for international travel.

It’s a trend that Willis Orlando, the senior product operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights, is seeing as well. Orlando spends his days analyzing flight prices and told Insider that domestic airfare is still down slightly in price from pre-pandemic levels overall, even in the face of rising inflation. But he acknowledges that for the most popular destinations, airfare can feel very expensive.

“Demand is highly concentrated at the moment,” he said. “It has surged on domestic and short-haul international leisure routes. If you’re traveling at a peak time [such as the holiday season], you’re going to be fighting with a lot of other folks for those tickets, which can result in higher prices.”

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Domestic destinations with year-round appeal for families, like Disney, are likely to be very costly right now.John Raoux/AP

Specifically, travelers are very interested in places like Miami, Maui, Disney, or the Caribbean, and are prepared to pay for it

Brandon Berkson helms the trip-planning service HAP Concierge, which customizes boutique and unique travel itineraries for generally affluent Americans between ages 25 and 44. He told Insider many of his clients want to travel to New York City, Miami, Maui, Sedona, and Disney parks.

“Domestic destinations with year-round appeal for families who are not ready for international travel, or have kids who are unable to get vaccinated, are seeing the highest rates,” he said. “The focus is on outdoor or beach destinations, Disney, and a high desire for escapism.”

Additionally, many popular, close-to-home locations in the Caribbean and Mexico that are easily accessible by nonstop flights are seeing high prices and low availability.

“Anything that’s less than a five-hour flight from major US metros, in particular, places with a beach, will be particularly challenging this winter,” warned Henley Vazquez, travel advisor and co-founder of Fora, a tech-driven startup travel agency.

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Face mask row sparks mass brawl on a train

A FACE mask row on a train sparked a massive brawl between furious passengers and left kids in tears. The fight broke out after a man wearing a white face mask started shouting at other passengers, “wear a mask”.

In footage of the scuffle, others start shouting back over the seats “You’re an embarrassment, you’re a f****** embarrassment.”

Fellow passengers on the train from York try to calm down the situation and saying “let’s think of the children” but the argument escalates to the point where people can be seen grappling over the train seats.

The man who went up and down the carriage then swings a punch towards a non-face mask-wearing passenger.

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The US is getting 7 new international routes in 2022, including St. Louis’ first transatlantic service in nearly 2 decades — see the full list

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  • An airline alliance with carriers like British Airways and Aer Lingus is launching 4 new routes in 2022.
  • The partnership will offer service to Finland, Germany, England, and Spain from the US.
  • Lufthansa is also launching two new routes with a historic flight to St. Louis in June.

Airlines are anticipating a busy summer 2022 season and carriers are preparing with new and returning routes and increased flight frequencies to popular destinations.

In a press release on Monday, British Airways revealed its “Aviation Joint Business” partnership is launching four new routes next summer, streamlining travel between the US and Europe via a combined network of flights. AJB started in 2010 between Oneworld partners British Airways, American Airlines, and Iberia, with Finnair joining in 2013 and Spain-based LEVEL joining in 2017.

Aer Lingus is the newest addition after the Department of Transportation approved its membership in December 2020, despite not being part of the Oneworld alliance, according to Simple Flying. The Irish flag carrier’s UK arm, known as Aer Lingus UK, will also operate under the partnership as an affiliate of Aer Lingus. It will connect the US to Manchester after receiving permission from the DOT in September.

Aer Lingus UK was an important addition because it adds Manchester to the alliance’s larger network, which is where the carriers lack a strong presence, according to Simple Flying. Both of the planned routes between the US and Manchester started this month, with flights to New York launching December 1, and service to Orlando beginning last Saturday.

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Between Frankfurt and St. Louis

Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt, Germany.Pigprox/Shutterstock

Between Munich and San Diego

Munich, Germany

Between Helsinki and Dallas

Helsinki, Finland.
Helsinki, Finland.Piero Damiani / Getty Images

Between Helsinki and Seattle

A general view of the Seattle Skyline and Mount Rainier from Kerry Park during the 2019 Rock'n'Roll Seattle Marathon and 1/2 Marathon on June 9, 2019 in Seattle, Washington


Between Barcelona and Los Angeles

Barcelona, Spain.

Between London and Portland, Oregon

An aerial view of a sunset over the London skyline.

Between Munich and Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada.
Las Vegas, Nevada.randy andy/Shutterstock

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