These aren't the best of times for airline passengers toting a lot of luggage. The Association of Flight Attendants is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to limit carry-ons to 13 pounds and no more than 45 inches of height, width and depth. Congressional hearings are taking place on the matter, and carriers are quietly cracking down on travelers who board a flight with more than two items.
Devise a smart luggage strategy. But how?
- Pack light. With more people flying than ever--the Air Transport Association counted a record 614 mil-lion passengers last year on U.S.-scheduled flights, com-pared to 599 mil- lion in 1997-- the luggage bins tend to be stuffed to the hilt.
- Plan for the worst. Carry-ons may be limited to two regulation-sized bags in the United States, but that's no guarantee that both items will fit into the overhead compartment. Irate passengers have gotten kicked off planes for refusing to check their luggage when space is tight.
- Watch for the templates. At many airports, a template at the security checkpoint determines whether you can carry your luggage on the plane. If it doesn't fit, you'll have to check it.
- Consider using an overnight service. Many business travelers have begun using overnight delivery services as an alternative to carrying everything with them. The services are often more reliable and sometimes faster than an airline's luggage-handling.
Christopher Elliot is a writer in Annapolis, Maryland. Contact him at www.elliot.org.
Cellular courtesy makes for harmonious traveling.
When you're traveling, your cell phone is likely your best friend, particularly when you're rushing to make a call or two in between meetings. But while you're chatting away, you could be annoying others or, if you're driving, even endangering lives. That's partly why nationwide, legislators are pondering new rules that would limit the use of cell phones and, in some circumstances, ban them altogether. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 22 states have proposed bills concerning cell phones in automobiles since 1995. Brooklyn, Ohio, has restricted cell phone usage to drivers who can maintain two hands on the wheel.
The New England Journal of Medicine recently conducted a study in which analysts examined the cellular phone bills of 699 drivers who were involved in crashes; they found that the risk of collision when using a cell phone was four times higher than when the phone wasn't being used. To play it safe--and sensible--with your cell phone, note these common-sense steps:
1. Avoid talking on the phone while driving. It's dangerous, and in some places, it's illegal. If you must use the phone, try a voice-recognition dialing service.
2. In public places, keep your voice down--even if the connection is bad.
3. Be aware of your surroundings. Talking and walking in the airport can lead to collisions with other passengers.
- Ramada has a new frequent-stay program, Club Ramada. It offers no blackout dates and 10 points for every dollar spent at a Ramada property.
- US Airways now offers low-fare MetroJet service between Boston and Fort Lauderdale or Orlando, Florida. It's also added a third daily MetroJet flight between Boston and Tampa, Florida.
- Dollar Rent A Car has introduced FASTLANE, billed as a quicker way to rent cars. Now available at more than 50 locations in the United States, FASTLANE expedites the car-rental process by keeping a profile on travelers. Other benefits, such as frequent-flier awards and incentives, are also offered through the program.
Business & Pleasure
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Located in the West Indies between the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a gateway to the rest of the Caribbean and an ideal place to recharge your entrepreneurial batteries. It is also the future site of a new 580,000-square-foot convention center that will open in 2002.
Where to stay: the Ritz-Carlton, San Juan Hotel & Casino is an upscale property with some of the island's top meeting rooms. Call (800) 241-3333.
Don't miss: a visit to the El Yunque National Forest on the central eastern part of Puerto Rico, a 28,000-acre Caribbean forest that's the largest of its kind in the United States.
Contact: Puerto Rico Convention Bureau,
(800) 875-4765, http://www.meetpuertorico.com.
Christopher Elliott is a writer in Annapolis, Maryland. Contact him at http://www.elliott.org.
Dollar Rent A Car Systems Inc., (877) 253-9451, http://www.dollar.com
Ramada, (800) 811-5596, http://www.clubramada.com
US Airways, (888) 638-7653, http://www.flymetrojet.com