LAX dog-greeter program marks its first year of keeping fliers calm

LAX dog-greeter program marks its first year of keeping fliers calm

Finn, a large Irish wolfhound, spends some of his time cheering up travelers at Los Angeles International Airport. One day after a gunman opened fire at Terminal 3 and left a Transportation Security Administration officer dead last November, Finn was on the job.

A member of LAX's Pets Unstressing Passengers, or PUPS program, Finn moved in and out of boarding gates, stopping for some petting and love from passengers.

"I think after the shooting, Finn attracted attention because he represented something comforting," owner Brian Valente said in an airport statement. "As passengers asked questions about Finn and started to pet him, I could see their bodies relax and their demeanors change."

RELATED: Golden retriever comfort dogs return to Boston Marathon

It's been a year since the airport introduced PUPs, a milestone being marked Monday at a meeting of the L.A. Board of Airport Commissioners.

Finn and 29 dogs of all breeds make up the PUPs team. They appear in post-security-screening areas...

This is the X'Keke'n Cenote, an underground pool in Dzitnup, outside Valladolid in the state of Yucatan. Photo taken in 2012.

Daily Detour: Odd spots, strange trips, great moments in travel

Welcome, Detourists! This slide show, shot and written by L.A. Times staffer Christopher Reynolds, goes all over and grows every weekday.
Gear: Blood pressure monitor works with your smartphone

Gear: Blood pressure monitor works with your smartphone

Monitoring blood pressure during travels can be vital, especially for those with a history of heart disease or hypertension.

The new Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor is a compact arm cuff that works with your Bluetooth-enabled iOS or Android device to measure, display and track systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as heart rate.

The monitor also comes with a USB adapter, though you must supply your own cable.

Pairing with your smartphone by Bluetooth is easy once you’ve installed the Withings Health Mate application (free at the iTunes Store or Google Play) and set up a user ID, password and age-gender-height-weight profile.

Then, wrap the cuff around your arm, lining up the BP reader’s metal tube mechanism along your bicep, lock the monitor in place using the integrated Velcro tabs, and press the cuff’s “on” button, which automatically launches the Health Mate app on your smartphone.

When you tap the green start button inside the app, the...


An email app that filters and notifies

Get more quality time out of your vacations, let alone weekends at home, with this app.

Name: AwayFind

Available for: Android and iPhone, iPad and iPod touch (requires iOS 6.1 or later)

What it does: It alleviates the need to check your email continually by letting you filter which topics and people you need to hear from when you're away. Assign the priority email addresses or keywords and AwayFind will send you an SMS text to your smartphone when they arrive.

Cost: Free for 30 days; $5-$49.99 a month after that.

What's hot: It really works, and it works fast. I got the app so that I could increase my freedom. I signed up on a Friday and forgot all about it. Then important work emails arrived on Sunday and AwayFind sent me an immediate text. I was jolted from my family-focused weekend and reminded that my business was launching a product this week and I still had work to attend to. I became an instant fan. You can even fine-tune what time of day you'd like to be notified.

What's not:...


Advice on tipping while traveling abroad

Question: How do I tip the people who take me by wheelchair for airline departures? Does the amount differ if it's a tiny, easy airport like Long Beach; medium to normal like SFO; or long, complicated and very hard like Dulles? I'd appreciate advice.

Margo Kasdan

Seal Beach

Answer: Duck for cover. We're about to poke the hornet's nest again, creating yet another swarm of pro- and anti-gratuity camps, who have presumably been beefing since the word "gratuity" was first used in 1540, according to Merriam-Webster.

A Web page ( from, whose namesake was the expert on all matters of grace and style, said, "Especially when traveling, there are many situations when tipping comes into question. It is most important to remember that while tipping is meant to be a sign of appreciation for a particular service, it should first and foremost be accompanied by respectful treatment."

And respectful treatment of one another when we talk about the subject, I hasten to...

Flowers and miniature confederate flags are seen alongside a gravestone in Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery.

Charleston visit evokes mixed emotions

Mixed views on Charleston

I'm glad Alice Short highlighted the most troubling aspect of visiting Charleston, S.C., in her cover article ["In a New Light," April 13].

What is on the surface one of America's finest historic towns was built and maintained by enslaved African Americans whose history is mostly hidden and unspoken, while the Confederate past is celebrated.

The only thing that "saved" our stay in Charleston was Alphonso Brown's wonderful Gullah Tour ( that explores and celebrates the culture of those black Charlestonians who were so brutally treated in such an outwardly genteel place yet maintained their rich culture.

It's a shame these folks remain disrespected by a city that still largely fails to confront its ugly past directly and honestly (much like our nation as a whole).

Bernie Resser

Pacific Palisades


Charleston is a wonderful city, and I found Short's articles quite good, although I do have a nit. The Old Slave Mart museum had "almost no...


Travel stories, advice about Asia



Justin Rubin will share stories and advice about traveling to Myanmar, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India and Nepal. Topics include how to survive being held hostage by an orangutan and the proper way to drink cobra blood.

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Monday at Distant Lands, 20 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena.

Admission, info: Free. RSVP to (626) 449-3220.



Hostelling International will conduct a workshop for those interested in exploring Europe by rail. Topics include Eurail passes and classes of service.

When, where: 7 p.m. Tuesday at the REI store in Santa Monica, 402 Santa Monica Blvd.

Admission, info: Free. RSVP to (310) 393-9913, Ext. 3104.



Hear Tyler Armstrong tell his story of setting the world record on Dec. 24, 2013, at the age of 9, as the youngest person to climb Argentina's 22,841-foot Mt. Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Western and Southern hemispheres.

When, where:7 p.m. Wednesday...


Nashville's Music City Tippler mixes fun and friendship

To top off your next trip to Nashville, I recommend Music City Tippler, a midtown Cheers-like pub, as a must visit. It offers a 100-year-old bar, music played on a 120-year-old barn wood stage and more, while featuring outstanding classic cocktails, craft beers and eclectic wines. Truly an upbeat time for all, and when I left later in the evening, everybody knew my name. Cheers!

Music City Tippler, 1922 Adelicia St.; (615) 457-3406,

Pete Puzo


Judith Tuch and her husband, Gene, toured northern India in December, stopping in Varanasi, a holy city that hugs the banks of the Ganges River. During their stay, the couple observed these pilgrims, with their belongings balanced atop their heads, as they made their way to the Ganges to bathe. "Varanasi was truly the most spiritual place I have ever been to," Judith said. The Beverly Hills resident used a Canon PowerShot SX200 IS.

Your Scene: A spiritual stop in India

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant kept passengers laughing before takeoff with a near stand-up routine/safety briefing. Other airlines have introduced levity to the talks.

Southwest, other airlines take safety talks to new, hilarious heights

Southwest Airlines flight attendant Marty Cobb has gone viral -- just for giving the in-flight safety briefing on a recent flight.

Cobb's one-liners delivered with impeccable comic timing sent a YouTube video of her hilarious instructions into the stratosphere. By Thursday, it had 8.7 million views and counting -- and it's just one of the funny ways that flight attendants and airlines bring new life to stale safety briefings.

Cobb had a planeload of fliers in stitches. Here's the YouTube video posted Saturday and some of her best quips:

"As you know, it's a no-smoking, no-whining, no-complaining flight. It's a 'please' and 'thank you' and 'you are such a good-looking flight attendant' flight.

"Everybody gets a door prize in the seat-back pocket in front of you along with dirty diapers, chewing gum wrappers, banana peels, and all other gifts you leave for us.... It's the safety information card.

"Sit back and relax -- or you can sit up and be tense, either way."

Some airlines...

Chef and television personality Guy Fieri arrives with a group of cheerleaders at a welcome event for Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen & Bar.

Las Vegas: Guy Fieri opens restaurant fronting the Strip

Chef Guy Fieri returned to Las Vegas to open his newest restaurant on Thursday, 24 years after graduating from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The new 200-seat Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar is the first he has launched since the creation two years ago of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Manhattan, which received a memorably scathing review in the New York Times.

"Why is one of the few things on your menu that can be eaten without fear or regret -- a lunch-only sandwich of chopped soy-glazed pork with coleslaw and cucumbers -- called a Roasted Pork Bahn Mi, when it resembles that item about as much as you resemble Emily Dickinson?" New York Times critic Pete Wells wrote as one of the series of questions that made up the review.

Wells said the New York restaurant's watermelon margarita glowed like "nuclear waste" and tasted like "some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde."

Asked about the review, Fieri said: “Did we make mistakes? Without question. Every...

You can fly round trip from Long Beach to Anchorage for less than $300 as summer wanes.

Airfare: JetBlue offers Long Beach-Anchorage round trip for $276

As the tourist season winds down in Alaska, airfare deals to Anchorage heat up: You can get a $276 round-trip fare, including all taxes and fees, from Long Beach to Anchorage.

The fare is subject to availability; there is no minimum stay. You may travel any day of the week between Aug. 10 and Sept. 2.

Info: JetBlue, (800) 538-2583


Your Host


Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger Mary Forgione likes to hit the dirt when she's on vacation. An avid hiker and runner, Mary likes speed-touring cities on foot and sightseeing by running marathons.