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U.S. passport changes coming: What you need to know

For those Americans who travel abroad, now would be a good time to plan ahead and renew your passport.

>> Read more trending stories

On its website, the State Department said it is expecting an increase in passport applications through 2018. Officials said people can renew a passport by mail if certain criteria are met. Individuals applying for the first time or under the age of 16 must appear in person at a passport acceptance facility. That includes designated U.S. post offices, libraries and clerks of court.

Typically, passport acceptance facilities offer routine service, which takes six weeks; and expedited service, which takes three weeks and costs an additional $60.

The State Department said it experienced an “unprecedented surge” in passport applications during 2007 due to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. That law was enacted by the 9/11 Commission, making passports mandatory for all travel to and from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

As the passports issued in 2007 are beginning to expire, renewals are expected to surge. State Department said it issued more than 15.5 million passports in fiscal year 2015.

The REAL ID Act, passed in 2005, established a set of federal security standards for state driver’s licenses that require specific information and machine-readable technology in form of a chip, according to SmarterTravel.

Travelers using IDs issued by certain states could be turned away at the gate beginning Jan. 30, 2017, if their state doesn't adjust to the new standards in time, WTSP reported. Some states are under review and have been given a deadline extension, but all licenses must comply with the standards by 2020, WTSP reported.

So far, 23 states and the District of Columbia are under compliance. Fourteen states have had their deadlines extended to Oct. 10, 2017, and four states were granted a limited extension through June 6, 2017. Five states are not in compliance, and one state — Montana — is under review. Three states did not receive an extension.

To find out if your state has complied or been given an extension, click here.

Michael J. Fox goes 'Back to the Future,' again

Michael J. Fox looks like he went back in time again. 

During a recent trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, the actor who went "Back to the Future" as Marty McFly in the '80s film series found his DeLorean time machine and even a Doc Brown stand-in. 

The car is said to be one used as a stunt vehicle from "Back to the Future III."

>> Read more trending stories  

Universal posted the photo to its Twitter account.

Behind the time traveling pair was the locomotive Doc Brown outfitted as a new time machine for his family in the third installment of the "Back to the Future" trilogy.

The two vehicles are parked near where Universal's "Back to the Future" ride once operated. It closed in 2007.

Recently, Fox teamed up with Nike to raise money for his foundation to find a cure for Parkinson's disease.

The shoe company gave away 89 pairs of its limited-edition, self-lacing sneakers inspired by "Back to the Future."

"Though it initially shared only a few seconds of screen time with Michael, the idea behind the Nike Mag unlocked something much bigger at Nike," Nike chairman and CEO Mark Parker said in a statement. "It sent us down an uncharted path of innovation, but it also opened our eyes to our ability to fight some of the world’s biggest challenges. We feel privileged for the opportunity to raise even more awareness for the fight against Parkinson's."

The Nike Mag sneakers feature Nike's new HyperAdapt system, which uses a sensor that responds to the weight of a wearer's foot to automatically lace the shoes. The heels of the shoes light up to signal when the shoe is tightening and when the batteries need to be charged.

The raffle closed on Oct. 11, and winners were notified in mid-October.

The shoes will hit the market at select Nike retail locations at the end of the month.

Fit for the King: Elvis' Guest House at Graceland hotel opens in Memphis

The Guest House at Graceland is now officially open.

It has been years in the making, and now this world-class resort in Memphis, Tennessee, next to Elvis Presley's mansion is taking the region by storm.

WHBQ's Scott Madaus was invited to Thursday’s ceremony hosted by Priscilla Presley. 

>> PHOTOS: Elvis' Guest House at Graceland hotel opens in Memphis

From EP's Bar and Grill, up to one of the King’s private rooms, back down to a massively detailed lobby, over to Delta's Kitchen, then back up to a seventh-floor suite themed after Elvis' Palm Springs mansion, you will have no doubt that you are in Memphis with the King.

Leading the way and cutting the ribbon for the ceremonial grand opening was Priscilla Presley.

This $90 million project has 450 rooms, a business center, a 464-seat theater, five restaurants and lounges.

It is now officially open for business.

“If this hotel was here during the time he was alive, he would have probably spend most of his time over here," Priscilla Presley said.

The lobby's ceiling is themed after one of Elvis Presley's jumpsuits.

An exact replica of the stairwell inside Graceland including the famous chandelier is there.

>> Read more trending stories

“It has just been a dream come true," Priscilla Presley said.

No detail was spared, and much of the work force inside the guesthouse is local.

The rooms, of course, are fit for a king, and the suites are fit for the King himself.

​We're getting ready to celebrate the Grand Opening of the The Guest House at Graceland! Tune in to the Today Show on...Posted by The Guest House at Graceland on Wednesday, October 26, 2016

“Someone asked me last night if Elvis would ever stay in this hotel, and I said, 'Would he ever stay in this hotel? I mean, this would be a dream hotel for him!'" Priscilla Presley said.

In the end, this project that is now the basis for revitalization in the Whitehaven area is complete. But the best is possibly yet to come.

“It positions us for better things to come in the 21st century," said Kevin Kane, president and CEO of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau.

>> Watch a video of the ribbon cutting here

<script>(function(d, s, id) {</span><span>  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];</span><span>  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;</span><span>  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;</span><span>  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.8";</span><span>  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);</span><span>}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> The new Guesthouse at Graceland is holding a ribbon cutting today. Scott Madaus FOX13 Memphis is live from the $90 million hotel: http://bit.ly/2dPbtxvPosted by FOX13 Memphis on Thursday, October 27, 2016

Get your scare on: Here are real haunted places you can stay

If one of those fake "haunted house" locations aren't enough for to scare you out of your socks, you can always check in to a real haunted hotel.

Hotels.com came up with a list that may have rooms with unexpected chills and creepy corners that may have you thinking someone is there. 

Hotel Parq Central is first on the list. Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the luxury hotel was originally a former rail yard hospital that was eventually used as a psychiatric ward for children. There are rumors that the patients once housed there are still among the entities. Both employees and guests say they've heard strange whispers and feelings of being watched.

>> Read more trending stories  

The Marshall House, located in Savannah, Georgia, was once used by the Union Army during the Civil War. It was also used during yellow fever epidemics. Guests say the spirits of children run the hallways at night. Ghosts still walk around the hotel and the faucets turn on by themselves. The Marshall House embraces its haunts and offers Halloween stays that include talks about the history of the building.

The Stanley Hotel was made famous by Stephen King and his book "The Shining." As the hotel's history goes, King and his wife checked in for a one night stay in the Estes Park, Colorado, resort. They were the only ones on property. King was inspired to write the novel of the haunted hotel after that stay.

>>Read: Man snaps haunting photo at ‘The Shining’ hotel

The Hotel Del Coronado was made famous by the movie "Some Like It Hot." One woman, according to the hotel's website, never checked out. Kate Morgan is said to still roam the halls of the luxury beach-front hotel in Coronado, California. Morgan was at the hotel in 1892. She was seen having an argument on the train ride from Los Angeles to San Diego. He abandoned her during that trip. But she still checked in to the hotel. She went into San Diego to reportedly buy a handgun. The San Diego coroner said she died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Guests and employees see flickering lights, a television that turns itself on and off, changes in temperature and footsteps and voices. Paranormal researchers have documented supernatural activity in Morgan's room using gadgets like infrared cameras and night vision goggles.

Stay on Main was formerly known as Cecil Hotel. It is said to be the inspiration behind "American Horror Story: Hotel." As the Cecil, it was the home to at least two serial killers -- "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger. A woman also is said to have killed herself by jumping from a hotel room, landing on and killing a pedestrian on the sidewalk below. Another woman was choked to death in the mid 60s. Her case was never solved. One story goes, a man was staying there and woke up in the middle of the night feeling like he was being choked. He said the felt the hands of an unseen person around his neck. After describing what happened to the hotel clerk, the employee said someone had been murdered in that room. Another creepy story was that of Elisa Lam, who disappeared from the hotel on Jan. 31, 2013. Her body was found more than two weeks later after guests told management that the water tasted strange. Lam's body was found in one of the roof-top water tanks, CNN reported

Not on the list, but still scary:

TSA warning about how to check guns at airports

Do not bring your gun to the airport. It may sound like common sense, but it is a message the TSA said is not getting across.

"You need to get yourself a hard sided case,” Transportation Security Administration spokesman Mark Howell said, showing how you can legally take your gun on a commercial flight.

It must be checked in your baggage and declared with your airline.

>> Read more trending stories  

The TSA is taking this message to airports around the country as they see an increase in guns coming through security checkpoints.

Howell said, “Before you go through the airport, do a five minute sweep of all your belongings to make sure you don't have those guns or prohibited items in your bag.”

A passenger caught with the gun will likely face criminal charges. The FBI will even be called.

The TSA can assess a fine of up to $13,000 dollars.

So, the TSA set up a table to spread the message. If you are going to bring a gun on your trip, you need to follow the rules.

“We just want to make sure that it's done the safest way possible and that it's stored underneath the aircraft,” Howell said. “Obviously we don't want it accessible during flight.”

In addition to the TSA rules, different airlines have different forms for declaring a firearm in your checked bag. 

>>Southwest 

>>Delta

>>United Airlines

>>American Airlines 

Airline wins right to weigh passengers before flights to prevent crashes

An American airline was recently granted the right to weight its passengers in an effort to distribute weight evenly across plane cabins and to save fuel, The Guardian reported.

>> Read more trending stories  

Hawaiian Airlines faced backlash earlier this month when customers said a policy to weigh travelers was discriminatory. Critics' complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation were turned down, a spokesman told The Associated Press last week.

Hawaiian Airlines began the policy when it noticed its flights from Honolulu to Pago Pago in American Samoa were burning more fuel than expected.

In an effort to discover why flights between the areas required more fuel than projected, the airline asked customers to participate in a voluntary six-month survey in which passengers were weighed before boarding.

The findings? 

Passengers and their carry-on bags were 30 pounds heavier than anticipated.

So the airline did away with preassigned seating and began weighing travelers at the Honolulu and Pago Pago airports at check-in to place people on planes in a way that more evenly distributes weight across cabins.  

"This action resulted from the recognition that over time, our fuel burn on Pago Pago (PPG) flights was consistently much higher than projected, indicating that our weight assumptions were inaccurate," Hawaiian Airlines communications director Alison Croyle told Fox News. "We review weights on any flight within our route network that demonstrates such a discrepancy." 

But some customers found the practice offensive, claiming that the move was discriminatory as it only applied to the Pago Pago flight, which caters to mostly passengers of Samoan descent.

"What they're saying is Samoans are obese," Atimua Mig told the Associated Press at Honolulu International Airport on Oct. 10.

"That's an entirely incorrect assumption," said Jon Snook, Hawaiian Airline's chief operating officer. 

Snook said the airline chose to reorganize distribution of passengers instead of limiting how many seats could be sold, which would have increased ticket prices.

As a part of the effort to evenly distribute weight across planes on flights, Hawaiian Airlines is aiming to leave one seat vacant on each row or to place a child in a row with two adults.

Hawaiian Airlines isn't the first to enact a weight-based policy. 

In 2013, Samoa Air became the first airline to charge passengers by weight.

"What makes airplanes work is weight," then, Samoa Air chief executive Chris Langton told CNN. "We are not selling seats, we are selling weight."

According to the CIA world fact book, information from 2007 and 2008 show American Samoa as having the highest rate of adult obesity in the world. The top nine countries on the list are Pacific islands. 

"Hawaiian (Airlines) is saying that, 'Yes, it is a safety issue,' but, you know, weight distribution," Avamua Dave Haleck, an American Samoan who filed a complaint with the DOT, told Radio New Zealand. "So have we been flying unsafe for all these years?"

New airline regulations would require baggage fee refunds for delayed luggage

Airline passengers are about to get new consumer protections under measures being rolled out by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The new measures include efforts to institute a requirement for airlines to refund checked baggage fees when bags are substantially delayed. Congress passed a bill in July to require refunds for delayed bags.

The DOT will also consider a new rule to require airlines and ticket agents to list prices with fees for extra services alongside fares.

“Airline passengers deserve to have access to clear and complete information about the airlines they choose to fly and to expect fair and reasonable treatment when they fly,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a written statement.

>> Read more trending stories

The moves by the DOT come after an executive order issued by President Barack Obama directing federal agencies to consider how to better inform consumers and relieve burdens on competition.

Another requirement will call for large U.S. airlines to report how often they mishandle wheelchairs.

And online travel sites will be prohibited from displaying flights with bias toward certain airlines without disclosing that bias.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said it has agreements with the most popular online travel agencies, but said some online travel agencies “have proven to have misleading, deceptive and/or fraudulent business practices.

Under the new federal measures, airlines will also be required to provide a clearer window into their operations, including figures on the total number of mishandled bags and checked bags, rather than only reports of mishandled bags and total passengers. They will also be required to report data on flights reported by domestic code-share partners.

Delta said it welcomes “refreshed reporting around baggage handling,” and said it has invested in baggage handling reliability. The airline also said it welcomes the code-share partner reporting requirements and prohibition of fare bias, and said it continues “to advocate for full transparency of the price of the ticket.”

Airline industry group Airlines for America said portions of the administration’s proposal could drive up the cost of air travel.

“Dictating to the airline industry distribution and commercial practices would only benefit those third parties who distribute tickets, not the flying public,” Airlines for America president Nicholas Calio said in a written statement.

Delta reveals new designer uniforms

Flying with Delta is about to get a lot trendier. 

>> Read more trending stories  

The airline debuted new designer uniforms for the company's workers Wednesday in Atlanta, where Delta is headquartered.

Fashion designer Zac Posen teamed up with Delta to create the new uniforms, which will be worn by more than 60,000 Delta employees, including customer service agents, flight attendants, ramp agents and technicians.

The uniforms are a "wholly-reimagined mix" of colors, including "Passport Plum, Cruising Cardinal and Groundspeed Graphite ... Skyline Slate and Traveling Thistle."

The new designs fuse "bold color palettes and classic styles, while paying homage to the heritage and iconic design from decades past," Delta said.

New styles include a V-neck dress, peplum sweater, skirt suit for female flight attendants and customer service agents.

"We wanted Delta employees to look glamorous on the job without sacrificing functionality and style," Posen said in a statement for Delta.

The airline said the uniforms, which are set to be distributed to all crew members by 2018, are "contemporary" and "elevate the look and brand of Delta employees."

"The world's best employees deserve the best uniforms, and this new collection is classically influenced, yet modern," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said.

Posen, who also serves as a judge on "Project Runway," said he worked "alongside employees to understand how they interact with the clothes they wear" to create the designs.

Posen has already created designs for celebrities like Uma Thurman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Claire Danes and Rihanna, USA Today reported.

"I never expected I would have the honor to work with one of the greatest airlines in the world," Posen said. "It's humbling."

According to USA Today, pilots' uniforms did not get updated.

Read more at Delta.

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