detroit metro airport

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's a bad day to be flying from any of Michigan’s major airports through Chicago.

An incident at an air traffic control tower in Illinois is causing hundreds of flight cancelations.

Police say the fire at the suburban Chicago air traffic control facility was intentionally set by a contract employee.

J. Miguel Rodriguez / Flickr

International travelers may soon experience shorter wait times at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

New technology at the airport aims to make the U.S. customs process a little easier.

Thirty new Automated Passport Control kiosks will allow travelers to enter their information at computers, instead of filling out declaration cards.

Kris Grogan is with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He says the new system will help the agency's officers be more effective at their jobs.

Inside Detroit Metro Airport.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

ROMULUS, Mich. -- The mother of an Arkansas man who caused a two-hour lockdown at Detroit Metropolitan Airport says he mistakenly re-entered a secure area after missing a flight this week to a basketball tryout.

Jennifer Smith of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, told The Associated Press on Saturday that 22-year-old Christian Smith's actions "were a complete misunderstanding."

Christian Smith was arrested Thursday night after exiting and going back into a secured side of a screening checkpoint at the airport in Romulus. The lockdown delayed flights at the McNamara Terminal.

Jennifer Smith says her 6-foot-7-inch son was cited and posted a $100 bond. She says he now is in Los Angeles where he hopes to latch on with a professional basketball team overseas.

Christian Smith played college basketball at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Wayne County Airport Authority

Humans are not the only ones in the airport who need a restroom between flights. That's why Delta Airlines and Detroit Metropolitan Airport today opened the hub's first relief area for service animals.

Nicknamed "Central Bark" by some airport staff,  the area has two grassy sections called "porch potties," with a sprinkler system to wash away waste. It even has a fake fire hydrant.

It means passengers in transit will not have to take their service dogs outside to do their business.

Courtesy photo / Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Snowy owls have been flocking to Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids this winter.

“It’s unprecedented. We have three to four times the activity than we’ve ever had in the past,” said Tara Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the Ford Airport.

Airport staff had to shoot nine owls this season. That’s compared to only four in the past four years combined.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan air travelers could see some changes with the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

The merger creating the world's largest airline became official today.  But the new American Airlines has relatively few flights flying into and out of six Michigan airports.   

Michael Conway is a spokesman for Detroit Metro Airport.  He says the newly merged airline carries only about 6.6% of passengers flying out of Detroit.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) - Operators of Detroit Metropolitan Airport have taken a small first step toward ending its status as one of the nation's worst major airports for passengers to reach or leave.

The Wayne County Airport Authority says it's issuing a request for information soon on possible providers of a shuttle service between the Romulus airfield and downtown Detroit.

Michigan Flyer

A private bus service will get a federal grant, despite the objections of Lansing’s Capitol Region International Airport.

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission last night approved a $595,000 federal grant to the Michigan Flyer. The Flyer currently operates 8 daily round trips from Lansing to Ann Arbor to Metro Airport. The grant will allow its buses to run four more round trips each day.   

Airport officials fear the added bus service will siphon off potential air passengers from Lansing.

DETROIT (AP) - Charges have been dismissed against a Saudi man arrested at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after a pressure cooker was found in his bag.

Hussain Al Khawahir was arrested May 11th and charged with giving false statements to federal agents and possessing an altered passport. Authorities said he lied about why he was traveling with the pressure cooker.

The U.S. Attorney's Office told the Detroit Free Press in a statement Friday that Hussain Al Khawahir "will go immediately into the custody of U.S. Customs and Border protection for removal" from the U.S.

Michigan Flyer facebook page

A federal grant to expand bus service between Lansing and Detroit Metro Airport is stalled.



The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission split nine to nine on authorizing a $600,000 grant to help the Michigan Flyer expand its daily trips from eight to twelve.    The commissioner with the potential tie-breaking vote did not attend Wednesday night’s meeting.


User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Buena Vista could hold summer camps for students

There could be a solution for the students in Saginaw County’s Buena Vista district to finish out the school year.  A plan to use federal funds to run voluntary “skills camps” that focus on reading, math, and writing will be presented this evening to the local school board.

"The Buena Vista superintendent says it’s a creative solution that would allow students to finish out the school year," Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta reports.

Man with pressure cooker arrested at Detroit Metro Airport

On Saturday Hussain al Khawahir was taken into custody at the Detroit Metro Airport. He tried to enter the US from Saudi Arabia with an altered passport, and lied to security officers about why he was carrying a pressure cooker. Al Khawahir will have a bond hearing this afternoon, reports Michigan Radio's Kate Wells.

Detroit Mayor to make announcement about future

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has scheduled an announcement for today at noon. Bing's spokesman Bob Warfield said that Bing would "make a major announcement about his political future." Today is the deadline to file for a second 4-year term as mayor, the Associated Press reports.

Taxiing Southwest planes touch wings in Detroit

Mar 16, 2013
swamedia.com

Two Southwest Airlines planes struck each other while leaving adjacent gates at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz says no one was hurt when the planes' winglets collided Saturday morning.

Both jets returned to their gates, and all passengers and crew got off.

user ka_tate / Flickr

As the Obama Administration began making its case against 'the sequester' - the mandatory, across-the-board budget cuts that were never supposed to happen - delays at airports was one of the big issues they highlighted.

Here's Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at a press conference on Feb. 22, where he said more than $600 million will have to come out of the Federal Aviation Administration budget.

So what will this mean at Detroit Metro?

LaHood said the majority of FAA employees will be furloughed for one to two days per pay period.

Michael Martinez writes for the Detroit News that airport officials don't expect cuts this month, but they do expect them next month:

user ka_tate / Flickr

The snowstorm moving through the upper Midwest is affecting flights out of Detroit Metro.

The Detroit Free Press reports that flights flying between Detroit Metro and several Iowa and Wisconsin destinations have been canceled.

Flights to and from Chicago O'Hare airport were running an average of 1 hour 52 minutes late this morning, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Chicago Midway was also experiencing delays. Delays were caused by wind ahead of the storm. Delta Flight 1257 from O'Hare to Detroit was canceled, but other flights between Detroit and Chicago were still on the schedule.

Cecelia Cichan shows a tattoo of an airplane she has on her wrist. She speaks about being the sole survivor of the crash of NW flight 255 out of Detroit in a documentary. WDIV aired clips of that documentary.
screen shot / WDIV

At 4 years old, she was the sole survivor of one of the worst aviation disasters in U.S. history.

On August 16, 1987, one hundred and fifty-six people were killed when Northwest Flight 255 out of Detroit Metro Airport did not put out its wing flaps and slats, which resulted in dangerously low altitude on takeoff.

The plane clipped a light pole, then a building, and crashed to the ground at about 8:46 p.m. killing all of the crew and passengers except for 4-year-old Cecelia Cichan from Tempe, Arizona.

Travel and Leisure magazine

You gotta give them a lot of clicks to find the ranking on their page (can someone say pageviews!), but once you finally get there, you'll see that readers of Travel and Leisure ranked Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) as the 3rd best airport in the country.

Detroit’s airport is at the top of its game, ranked No. 1 in terminal cleanliness, design, location, lounges, and business centers. It came in third for service and staff communication and fourth in baggage handling. As Delta’s second largest hub and the carrier’s primary gateway for Asia, that’s no mean feat. The airport fell short only when it came to public transportation options—not surprising considering you’ve landed in the Motor City.

Viable public transport to Detroit Metro has always been a problem. Some are making attempts to improve the situation.

Just recently, the public transportation system in Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, announced a partnership with a private company, Michigan Flyer, to provide cheaper transit to the airport.

Twelve bucks will get you from A2 to DTW. That's better than a typical $40 to $50 cab ride.

The best airport named by readers was Minneapolis (MSP)... the worst was New York's LaGuardia (LGA) - JFK and Newark airports also ranked poorly.

Sound about right to you?

There’s a new public transit option for those who want to travel between Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro Airport.

It's called AirRide, and it hits the road Monday.

The AirRide bus is not your average mass transit ride. For starters, there’s wi-fi, outlets for your laptop, and a bathroom. Apparently the seats are comfortable, too. So comfy that Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's David Nacht describes them as "more comfortable than three out of the four chairs" in his living room.

Metro Airport

The severance scandal surrounding the now-fired CEO of Detroit Metro Airport, Turkia Mullin, has apparently claimed a member of the airport board.

Wayne County Airport Authority chair Renee Axt resigned Monday. She issued the following statement:

The Wayne County Airport Authority has fired Metro Airport CEO Turkia Mullin.

Mullin had a short, controversial tenure. It was marred almost from the get-go by the revelation that she got a $200,000 severance payout to voluntarily leave her prior post as Wayne County economic development director.

The Wayne County Airport Authority has fired Metro Airport CEO Turkia Mullin.

Mullin had a short, controversial tenure. It was marred almost from the get-go by the revelation that she got a $200,000 severance payout to voluntarily leave her prior post as Wayne County economic development director.

The board that runs Detroit Metro Airport meets Monday, and the group could decide to remove the airport’s embattled CEO, Turkia Mullin.

Mullin’s short tenure as CEO of Detroit Metro Airport has been tarnished by controversy.

Soon after taking the job, it was revealed she had accepted a $200,000 “severance” to voluntarily leave her old post as Wayne County’s economic development director. She’s returned most of the money.

The CEO of Metro Airport has returned some of the money she was paid to move from one Wayne County job to another.

Turkia Mullin got $200,000 to leave her post as Wayne County economic development director and take over the airport earlier this year.

She returned $135,900 this week, saying the rest went to taxes. Her secretary, who also received a severance payment, has also returned the money.

 DETROIT (AP) - Wayne County's former economic development director has returned money she received as part of a controversial severance deal that has led to an FBI probe.

County Executive Robert Ficano announced Thursday that the repayment has been made by Turkia Mullin.

The severance deal was for $200,000. Mullin received $135,900 after taxes last month after she left her old job to run Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus.

Ficano has fired a part-time employee and placed the county's corporation counsel and a deputy executive on 30-day suspension after an internal investigation into the severance deal. He earlier
defended Mullin's severance deal, but later said protocol was not followed.

Federal agents have since gotten involved, serving subpoenas this month seeking records.

County commissioners are meeting Thursday and looking into the payout to Mullin.

A new FBI probe into Wayne County government may hamper the County Commissions’ effort to investigate the compensation of appointed employees.

The Commission’s Special Committee on appointee compensation met again Thursday. They expected to hear about an internal review by County Executive Robert Ficano’s office.

That review is looking into how former economic development director Turkia Awada Mullin got a $200,000 severance to leave that and become CEO of the Wayne County Airport Authority. She has since agreed to return the money.

user redjar / Flickr

Keep your shoes on.

No need to take off that belt or jacket.

And keep that laptop and your toiletries in your bag.

That's the new reality for some passengers going through security today at Detroit Metro Airport.

Detroit Metro is one of four airports where new screening measures are being tested by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (Atlanta, Dallas, and Miami are the other airports).

The new system pre-screens passengers who volunteered for the program. Information on these passengers is cross-checked with other databases by the TSA to determine their risk level.

From the TSA's press release:

“As TSA moves further away from a one-size-fits-all approach, our ultimate goal is to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way possible,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole. “By learning more about travelers through information they voluntarily provide, and combining that information with our other layers of security, we can focus more resources on higher-risk and unknown passengers. This new screening system holds great potential to strengthen security while significantly enhancing the travel experience whenever possible for passengers.”

The Detroit Free Press reports that passengers have already seen the benefits, some passing through security in less than one minute.

Some frequent fliers with Delta and American Airlines were contacted and asked to sign up for the pilot program. Members of the "Trusted Traveler Program" with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection can also participate.

TSA officials say the program might be expanded in the future.

If you would like to participate in the pilot, you can contact Delta or American Airlines (if you participate in their frequent flier programs) and try to opt-in , or you can try signing up for the "Trusted Traveler" program online.

The new Detroit Metro Airport CEO says she'll return the $200,000 severance package that has erupted into a major controversy.

Both Wayne County Airport Authority CEO Turkia Awada Mullin and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano initially defended the payout to Mullin, who voluntarily left her job as Wayne County's Chief Economic Development Officer to run the airport.

Jerry Wong / Flickr

A new airport shuttle between East Lansing and Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Interstate 96 will make twice the number of trips this fall. The new Michigan Flyer route will stop in East Lansing, Brighton/Howell, Ann Arbor and both airport terminals. If the federal government awards Michigan Flyer with the 1-point-5 million dollars it asked for, the route will be self-sustaining after the first year.

Ody Norkin is vice president of Michigan Flyer. He says the goal is for airport shuttles to run hourly.

"People come home to Detroit Metro Airport they don’t want to wait two hours especially if they’re in Washtenaw or Livingston only a half-hour or 45 minutes away from the airport," he said. "They’re not going to wait for the shuttle if we are operating only two to two-and-a-half hours."

Norkin says the new route will be successful based on current usage.

"We have a very high end product with brand new motor coaches that are attracting not only those who can’t drive or can’t afford to drive but also those who own vehicles and choose to set them aside either for environmental reasons or just because we’re so convenient.," Norkin said.

Prices on the new route will likely be the same as their southern route along I-94.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

TSA.gov

I posted information from the AP earlier about the TSA's plans to test a program that will improve screening times at airports. (Welcome news to many who abhor waiting in lines at airports.)

Twitter follower Justin Fenwick wrote us saying "Wish I knew what info. they want..."

Good point, Justin!

The Associated Press reports that currently, the TSA has three bits of information on all passengers:

  1. Your full name,
  2. Date of birth,
  3. and Gender

This new program will gather up information from frequent-flier programs:

Frequent-flier programs include more than those three identification fields. For instance, personal information provided in Delta's frequent-flier program includes the traveler's home address, email address or phone number, and preferred language.

TSA officials would not say what screening measures could be avoided for security reasons.

In a press release, TSA officials say the pilot program is expected to start this fall.

During the first phase of testing, certain frequent fliers and certain members of CBP's (Customs and Border Protection) Trusted Traveler programs, including members of Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS, who are U.S. citizens will be eligible to participate in this pilot, which could qualify them for expedited screening at select checkpoints at certain airports.

They expect around 5,000 to 8,000 passengers to participate in the initial program.

At Detroit Metropolitan airport, officials say certain frequent fliers from Delta Air Lines and certain members of CBP’s Trusted Traveler programs who are U.S. citizens and who are also flying on Delta will be eligible to participate in the pilot.

Officials say they plan to expand the pilot program to other airlines "once operationally ready."

Michael Eyal Sharon / Flickr

A new program aimed at speeding up airport screenings will be tested in Detroit.

From the Associated Press:

The Transportation Security Administration plans to test a program that would pre-screen certain travelers who volunteer more personal information so they can be vetted to potentially receive expedited screening at the checkpoint.

This is the Obama administration's first stab at a more risk-based, intelligence-driven passenger screening program that could begin to answer traveler complaints that the government is not using common sense when it screens all passengers at airports in the same way.

The program will initially be tested at airports in Atlanta, Detroit, Miami and Dallas, among certain Delta and American travelers who are U.S. citizens and are enrolled in the airlines' frequent flier programs, as well as among Delta and American travelers who participate in some other government trusted traveler programs and who also travel through those four airports.

user ka_tate / Flickr

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say they will announce arrests in a "major internal drug smuggling conspiracy investigation" at Detroit Metro Airport.

They plan to hold a press conference this afternoon at 3:30 at the Homeland Security Investigations Office.

In the meantime, the Detroit Free Press is reporting 12 people were arrested:

Federal agents this morning arrested 12 individuals in an international drug smuggling investigation at Detroit Metro Airport, according to the U.S. Immigrations Customs and Enforcements.

All 12 arrestees are currently in federal custody. Of the 12, 10 are from Michigan; one is from Houston; another is from California, according to ICE officials.

The Detroit News reports that 10 of the 12 were baggage handlers who worked for Delta Airlines.

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