Free Ride

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This story appears in the March 1997 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

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Free Ride

While travel expenses continue to soar, there are some things in a business traveler's life that are still free--namely USAir Shuttle business centers.

Located in the USAir Shuttle terminals at La Guardia International Airport outside New York City, Boston's Logan Airport and Washington National Airport, the business centers offer nearly all the amenities of an office at no cost (or at least very little).

By partnering with technology firms, USAir can provide business travelers with the latest office technology. All three business centers contain workstations with power and phone ports for laptop computers. Some also boast computers, printers, fax machines (with free long-distance faxing), and copy machines. For business travelers with Internet accounts, e-mail service is also available through most Internet carriers.

Do these business centers replace the need to join airline clubs? While skeptics say the centers lack what business travelers want most--meeting space--they still offer a place to sit back, relax and get some work done.

Stop Thief

Laptop computers are no longer a luxury; they're a staple for most business travelers. Consequently, some travelers tend to haul notebook computers around like just another piece of baggage. But this attitude could provide the perfect opportunity for some thief to spy your notebook computer--and snatch it.

With thefts of notebook computers on the rise, experts say business travelers should never let their guard down. "The best way to avoid theft is to be aware of your surroundings," says Zoe Scheinman, security expert and product manager at Kensington Technology Group, a San Mateo, California-based firm specializing in mobile security products.

Airports are among the most common locations for laptop computer theft. To protect yourself, wait until everyone has gone through the airport scanner before placing your laptop on the conveyor belt, says Scheinman. Then, watch it come out before you step through.

Scheinman suggests putting your laptop in the hotel safe when you aren't using it. You may also want to consider purchasing a security device, such as Kensington's Master Lock, to lock your notebook computer to a heavy object, says Scheinman, and carrying a distinctive notebook case to easily distinguish yours from the pack.

Keep in mind, too, that thieves can walk off with not only your notebook computer but also valuable information. Scheinman recommends taking only the data you need, using encryption or password protection software to lock other users out, and always having backup files at the office.

Road Notes

Tired of jet lag? One possible solution is the homeopathic remedy No-Jet-Lag, a chewable tablet you take when your plane takes off, once every two hours in flight, and when the plane lands. Available at airports, hotels and pharmacies.

Doubletree plans to open 100 new Club Hotels by the year 2000. Already open in cities such as San Antonio and Jacksonville, Florida, Club Hotels let guests indulge in pastries from Au Bon Pain, leave documents with the Kinko's staff, and enjoy other amenities without ever leaving the hotel.

Frequent fliers may have noticed T.G.I. Friday's restaurants popping up in airports such as Atlanta Hartsfield, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Pittsburgh. Friday's fans will be happy to know that the company plans to expand its reach in the airport niche by opening restaurants in Washington National and JFK International airports.

Looking for information about airport services worldwide? Check out Air Travel Card's Business Travel Airport Directory, available for $2.50. To order, call (800) 222-4688 or (202) 626-4225.

Delta Air Lines has added National Car Rental/Interrent to the car rental partners featured in its SkyMiles program. Members receive 500 SkyMiles when they rent a National car in conjunction with a Delta flight.

Octel's FaxMail enables busy travelers to receive faxes as messages in their voice-mail boxes from any fax-sending device. From the voice-mail box, fax messages can be reviewed, printed and forwarded 24 hours a day. For information, call (800) 899-6429.

United Airlines and Mexicana Airlines have signed an agreement to offer travelers service between Mexico and the United States. Subject to government approvals, the agreement should go into effect in May.

Contact Sources

Air Travel Card, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20004, (800) 222-4688;

Club Hotels by Doubletree, (800) 444-CLUB;

Delta Air Lines, (800) 323-2323;

Global Source, 345 California Dr., #747, Burlingame, CA 94010;

Hilton Hotels, c/o Douglas Consulting Group, 7758 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046, (800) HILTONS;

Kensington Technology Group, 2855 Campus Dr., San Mateo, CA 94403, (800) 535-4242;

National Fire Protection Association, P.O. Box 9101, Quincy, MA 02269-9101, (617) 984-7275;

National Sleep Foundation, 1367 Connecticut Ave. N.W., #200, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 785-2300;

Runzheimer International, Runzheimer Park, Rochester, WI 53167, (414) 767-2200;

T.G.I. Friday's, (800) FRIDAYS;

USAir Shuttle, La Guardia International Airport, Flushing, NY 11371, (718) 397-6059;

United Airlines, (800) 241-6522.


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