David Schaper

Recent promising vaccine news has many people hoping to finally see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, and maybe even daring to think about getting on a plane bound for snowy mountains, a tropical beach, or just anywhere.

The Pizzarello family in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., is among them. They love to travel. So much so that, Ed, the patriarch, has been hesitant to even bring up the subject during the pandemic so that his 14-year old daughter and 10-year-old son wouldn't get their hopes up.

Boeing is trying to close the books on a dismal year. The aircraft manufacturer Wednesday reported that the company lost close to $12 billion in 2020, a record loss, as the pandemic depressed demand for new airplanes and the company continued to reel from its 737 Max debacle.

Calling it "a year like no other," Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun started a conference call on the company's 2020 financial results by stating an obvious but painful truth.

"2020 was a historically challenging year for our world, for our industry (and) for our business," Calhoun said.

Mask up or you won't be allowed to board a plane, train or bus. President Biden signed an executive order Thursday, requiring passengers to wear face coverings during interstate travel.

It's one of 10 executive orders signed by the president today aimed at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans.

Airlines and their employees have been seeking such a federal mask mandate almost since the pandemic began, as they've struggled to deal with score of passengers who refuse to follow the airlines' own mask-wearing rules.

After several disruptive incidents and confrontations on flights to and from Washington, D.C., last week, federal authorities are now cracking down on unruly airline passengers.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration signed an order Wednesday to enforce a "zero-tolerance" policy against passengers who engage in threatening or disruptive behavior on commercial airline flights.

Boeing will pay more than $2.5 billion to settle a criminal charge related to the two 737 Max plane crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.

The Justice Department has announced that it has reached a deferred prosecution agreement with Boeing to resolve a charge of criminal conspiracy to defraud the FAA.

Less than a week remains until Christmas, and if you haven't ordered all of your holiday gifts yet, it may be too late to ship them in time.

A huge increase in online shopping this year has demand for package delivery exceeding capacity this holiday season and stretching the delivery supply chain thin.

The deluge of packages has many package sorting, distribution and delivery workers at the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS and Amazon busier than they have ever been before.

Updated Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET

With the FDA now authorizing the emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine, a huge logistical challenge looms. That is, transporting and distributing the vaccines quickly and efficiently to those who need it most all around the world.

It's a complex task that will involve not only shipping companies like FedEx and UPS, but also airlines better known for carrying people, not cargo.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

With coronavirus vaccines closer to being authorized, the logistical challenge is transporting and distributing those vaccines quickly worldwide. As NPR's David Schaper reports, it's a complicated process.

The days of bringing your emotional support cat, pig or even a miniature horse on a plane may soon be coming to an end. The federal government is enacting a new rule restricting the types of service animals allowed on commercial airline flights, allowing only dogs that meet specific training criteria.

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The wild days of bringing an emotional support cat or pig or miniature horse on a plane are coming to an end. The federal government has a new rule - only dogs that meet specific training criteria will be allowed. Here's NPR's David Schaper.

Millions of Americans are ignoring the advice of public health experts and traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration reported that more than 1.04 million people went through airport security checkpoints Sunday, the most since mid-March, and about 1 million more went through TSA checkpoints each day on Friday and Saturday.

Thanksgiving Day is next week and that usually means long lines in crowded airports and traffic jams on the nation's highways, but that probably won't be true this year. The recent huge spike in Covid-19 cases has many people rethinking their travel plans.

For Aleta Nissen, her husband Dave, and their 14-year-old daughter, it's usually a pretty simple decision. They pack up the car and drive from their home in Bend, Ore., three and a half hours to Dave's mother's house in the southern part of the state. But this year?

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

After 20 months on the tarmac following two fatal crashes, Boeing's troubled 737 Max airliner has been given the green light to resume passenger flights, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday.

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The Federal Aviation Administration is getting closer to allowing Boeing's troubled 737 Max commercial jetliner to fly passengers again.

FAA chief Stephen Dickson says his agency "is in the final stages of reviewing the proposed changes to the Boeing 737 Max," adding that the agency could complete its evaluation of the fixes "in coming days" and allow the plane to return to service. Reuters is reporting that the plane could be recertified by the FAA as soon as Nov. 18.

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Not long after The Associated Press and other news outlets declared Wednesday that Democrat Joe Biden had won Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes, the Trump campaign announced it would ask for a recount in the state.

The margin separating Biden and Trump in what is one of the nation's most contested swing states is roughly 20,000 votes, or less than 1%. It was absentee ballots in the cities of Milwaukee, Green Bay and Kenosha, added to county totals Wednesday morning, that appear to have put Biden on top.

Phil Brach spent the weekend putting huge sheets of plywood up over the massive glass windows of the Washington, D.C., store where he works, Rodman's Food and Drug, in preparation for Election Day.

"We'll probably go up two or three boards high," Brach says.

Across the country, there are growing concerns that the bitterness and animosity over the presidential election will not end when the polls close Tuesday night. From coast to coast, cities are preparing for possible protests, civil unrest and violence regardless of the election's outcome.

Boeing will be laying off thousands of additional employees as the airplane manufacturer continues to lose money due to the coronavirus pandemic and the prolonged grounding of its 737 Max jet.

A global collapse in air travel has all but eliminated airlines' need to buy new commercial jets. As a result, Boeing has slowed production of new aircraft and announced this summer that it would be eliminating 19,000 jobs.

But now the aerospace giant says it needs to reduce its workforce even more.

For people who are itching to travel, airlines are working hard to offer reassurance. They're requiring masks, disinfecting airplane cabins between flights and using hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems. Airlines are also touting a recent study that shows that modern aircraft ventilation systems help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and suggests the probability of spreading and contracting the coronavirus on even a packed airline flight is low.

How's this for an October surprise? Despite a significant rise in COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country, it appears that more people are flying on commercial jetliners than at any time over the last seven months.

More than one million people were screened by the Transportation Security Administration at airport security checkpoints Sunday. It's the first time the TSA's daily traveler count has topped the one million mark since March 16.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a huge financial toll on the travel industry, airlines are trying to shift their focus from stopping the bleeding to planning for a recovery.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby is expressing confidence, saying a recovery is "now visible on the horizon," even though that recovery still appears to be a long way off.

"The light at the end of the tunnel is a long way away, but this is the turning point," Kirby told reporters and analysts on a conference call on Thursday.

With summer vacation travel weaker than expected and business travel a fraction of what it used to be, the losses continue to mount at Delta Air Lines.

Delta, the nation's second largest airline by the number of passengers flown last year, reports losing $5.4 billion in the third quarter of this year, as the travel industry continues to suffer from low demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. Add that to the $5.7 billion loss reported in the second quarter, Delta's total losses due to the pandemic rise to more than $11 billion.

With about 40,000 workers furloughed in recent days, airlines and their employee unions are pleading with Congress and the White House to pass an extension of federal payroll support for the industry.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

Public health officials in the cities and states that President Trump visited in recent days are working to contact those who were in close proximity to him, first lady Melania Trump and others who traveled with him.

Since he has tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials worry those who attended events with the president could be at risk for the virus, too.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration conducted his own test flight of a Boeing 737 Max Wednesday, and he's giving it a positive review, as the regulatory agency gets closer to allowing the troubled jet to return to commercial passenger service more than 18 months after it was grounded.

(After a strange, shortened season with no fans at the ballparks, the Major League baseball playoffs are now underway. And this year, there's something else unusual: both Chicago teams are playing in the postseason. It's just the third time that the North Side Cubs and the South Side White Sox reached the playoffs in the same year.

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Among the many things that have been radically changed by the coronavirus pandemic is the airline industry. Air travel demand is down a whopping 70% from last year, according to the industry group Airlines for America, and now the clock is ticking for tens of thousands of pilots, flight attendants, reservation agents and other airline employees, who will likely lose their jobs on Oct. 1, if Congress doesn't extend federal aid for the airlines.

In another effort aimed at getting travelers back on planes, United Airlines will begin offering on-the-spot coronavirus testing to some passengers at the airport before they board their flight.

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