Week in travel: EU tests AI lie detectors at airports

Maldives open first luxurious undersea villa, while Delta adds direct service to Edinburgh, and drunk baggage holder gets trapped in cargo hold flying across the US

The European Union has launched a trial project that aims to speed up traffic and increase efficiency at border checks while using new technologies.  

Passengers travelling through certain airports in Hungary, Latvia, and Greece will soon be questioned by an automated border control system with artificial intelligence called iBorderCtrl.

The avatar will ask travellers questions to confirm heir name, age and date of birth, (and) it will ask them things like what the purpose of their trip — Shutterstock Week in travel: EU tests AI lie detectors at airports
The avatar will ask travellers questions to confirm their name, age and date of birth — Shutterstock

At the border control, they will meet an avatar that will ask them a series of travel-related questions. The device should then tell whether they are lying by monitoring their faces.

“It will ask the person to confirm their name, age and date of birth, (and) it will ask them things like what the purpose of their trip is and who is funding the trip,” said Keeley Crockett of Manchester Metropolitan University in England, who was involved in the project.

If it detects a possible lie, the avatar will become “more sceptical” and change its tone of voice before referring suspect passengers to a human guard and allowing those believed to be honest to pass through, Crockett added.

‘We’re employing existing and proven technologies – as well as novel ones – to empower border agents to increase the accuracy and efficiency of border checks,” said project coordinator George Boultadakis of European Dynamics in Luxembourg.

However, Bruno Verschuere, a senior lecturer in forensic psychology at the University of Amsterdam, told De Volskrant: “Non-verbal signals, such as micro-expressions, really do not say anything about whether someone is lying or not.

“This is the embodiment of everything that can go wrong with lie detection. There is no scientific foundation for the methods that are going to be used now.”

Maldives open first luxurious undersea villa

Holidaymakers at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island now have the option to sleep with the fish. Literally.

After years of construction, the Hilton’s Conrad Hotels & Resorts group has announced that a highly anticipated undersea villa, The Muraka, is about to open in November 2018.

The luxurious underwater hotel labelled “the first of its kind” by Architectural Digest, will offer the unique experience of being immersed in the wonders of the abundant marine eco-system above and below the Indian Ocean.

“As the first-of-its-kind residence with dynamic accommodations both above and below the surface of the water, The Muraka is an extraordinary vehicle for a truly immersive journey into nature which cannot be found anywhere else in the world,” said Stefano Ruzza, general manager of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.

“Through a variety of curated and captivating offerings, we will maximise the potential of this incredible residence to bring unique travel experiences to our valued guests.”

And now the bad news. One night at this extraordinary villa will cost you $50,000.

Photographer finds couple from viral Yosemite park photo

Earlier in October, Matthew Dippel was getting ready to take a picture of a friend at Yosemite‘s Taft Point when he saw a man get on one knee to propose to a woman.

As he didn’t see anyone taking pictures of them in such a romantic moment, he decided to make a snap that has now become an internet sensation. Even though he tried to catch the couple at the spot to give them the photo, he failed to do so. He then posted the picture on social media asking people to help him find them.

Now, after weeks of viral search with thousands of shares around the world, he managed to get their identities.

Charlie Bear told HLN that he and his now-fiancée Melissa Ngo stumbled on the post on Instagram last week.

“At first, I wasn’t really sure it was us to be honest,” Bear said. But they compared Dippel’s photo with pictures they had taken to make sure.

After receiving messages from various lying couples, Dippel was a bit sceptical and asked Bear to give him proof.  

“They sent me over iPhone screenshots of some of their friends that were up on that point that day, and they are wearing the exact same thing, and the photos are time stamped on the exact same day and the same time that I was there,” Dippel said.

“It just perfectly matched up to Charlie and Melissa.”

Delta to launch non-stop flight from Boston to Edinburgh

American carrier Delta Air Lines is adding another new international route from Boston. Next summer, the airline will kick off a daily non-stop flight to Edinburgh, Scotland.

The route will be the eighth non-stop transatlantic destination from Boston on Delta and its partners during the season.

The new route complements Delta’s existing service between Boston and the UK — Shutterstock Week in travel: EU tests AI lie detectors at airports
The new route complements Delta’s existing service between Boston and the UK — Shutterstock

“Delta is Boston’s No. 1 carrier across the Atlantic, and we’re excited to be expanding our service to Edinburgh,” said Roberto Ioriatti, Delta’s vice president – for transatlantic flights.

“Business and leisure travellers will both enjoy convenient nonstop service between Boston and Scotland, delivered with Delta’s unmatched reliability and renowned customer service.”

The new route complements Delta’s existing service between Boston and the UK, which includes flights to London-Heathrow, offered both on Delta and joint venture partner Virgin Atlantic, as well as Virgin Atlantic’s service to Manchester.

“Direct air links to the United States of America play an important role for Scotland’s economy, so I warmly welcome the announcement of this new service between Edinburgh and Boston,” said Scottish government cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson.

“Not only will this give Scottish businesses a direct route into important North American markets, but it will also give inbound visitors even more options when it comes to getting a taste of the world-class tourism experience on offer in Scotland. I wish Edinburgh Airport and Delta every success with this new service and look forward to it taking off next year.”

Hangover baggage handler falls asleep in cargo, accidentally flies to Chicago

A reportedly intoxicated American Airlines employee experienced an unexpected journey. After falling asleep on his duty, he ended up flying from Kansas City to Chicago in a Boeing 737 cargo hold.

The 23-year-old baggage handler was unharmed and did not request any medical attention — Art Konovalov / Shutterstock Week in travel: EU tests AI lie detectors at airports
The 23-year-old baggage handler was unharmed and did not request any medical attention — Art Konovalov / Shutterstock

The 23-year-old baggage handler was working on a ramp of American Flight 363 on Saturday when he apparently decided to rest for a while inside the plane’s belly.

According to Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, after getting released from the cargo in Chicago, the employee flew back to Kansas City on another American flight without any charges raised against him.

American spokesman Ross Feinstein said the airline is investigating the matter and that the employee has been suspended.

“The American team is very concerned about this serious situation, and we are reviewing what transpired with our Piedmont and Kansas City colleagues,” he said in a statement.

Feinstein said the 23-year-old baggage handler was unharmed and did not request any medical attention. The cargo hold is pressurised and heated, he said.

“We are grateful that he did not sustain any injuries,” Feinstein added.