"Air rage" is on the rise. During the past four to five years, the number of reported incidents has increased significantly, according to the International Air Transport Association. The reason? Overbooked flights and longer delays are testing passengers' patience.
On a recent trip to Spain, for example, a flight attendant was beaten with a broken vodka bottle. Earlier this year, a flight on its way to Chicago had to make a mid-flight U-turn because an apparently intoxicated passenger began beating his girlfriend.
Airlines are trying to stop the mile-high madness. Virgin Atlantic Airways chairman Richard Branson is supporting a plan to blacklist violent passengers. And the German Pilots Association wants crew members to parcel out nicotine gum to smokers who are cut off from their cigarettes and to limit the number of drinks served by flight attendants.
Air rage activist Mike Sheffer says travelers are also vulnerable to unprovoked attacks. "It can happen anytime," he warns. He should know. His wife, who's a flight attendant, was assaulted by a passenger who tried to break down the door to the cockpit to "bless the pilot."
"Be aware of your surroundings," Sheffer recommends. "Notice who's getting on the airplane with you. If someone seems to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, point it out to the gate agent or a law-enforcement official. It's illegal to board while under the influence."
Sheffer also advises passengers to alert a crew member if a fellow passenger is drinking too much during a flight or suddenly turns abusive. And, he adds "Get moved if possible."
Christopher Elliott is a writer in Annapolis, Maryland. Contact him at http://www.elliott.org
The Right Connection
Overseas Internet access made easy
Sending and receiving e-mail from the road is becoming a business essential. But the accessories needed to gain Internet access while you're overseas can be cumbersome and pricey. A typical setup can cost upward of $300 depending on your location, and it's sometimes as bulky as a laptop computer.
But these accessories can also be lifesavers. Not only are foreign phone outlets almost always incompatible with the standard RJ-11 jack used in the United States, some of the phones are hardwired, meaning you can't unplug them at all. Add to that the practice of tax impulsing--an intermittent tone used to register usage in some European countries that can disconnect you from the Net--and you're virtually cut off from the World Wide Web.
But TeleAdapt Inc. may have a solution. Its connection kit, which includes a phone and power adaptor, costs between $49 and $59, depending on the country you need it for. The Euro-Pak, also from TeleAdapt, covers more than 70 countries and is priced at $195. What if you want it all? The WorldPak--the ultimate connection kit, which features 39 TeleDaptors, a mobile connectivity pocket guide and an analog line tester--costs $450 and can keep you connected no matter where your travels take you.
- Next month, Virgin Atlantic Airways will begin daily service from Chicago to Heathrow. The carrier has also opened a new club lounge at JFK airport in New York City.
- Ontheroad.com has begun offering an Internet-based information and concierge service for business travelers. It combines reservations and ticketing capabilities with the company's recommended restaurant and event information.
- Days Inns of America now offers special "Work Zone" rooms that feature oversized work desks with chairs, data ports, free incoming faxes, and access to business services and supplies.
Business & Pleasure
St. Petersburg, Florida
A center of commerce on Florida's West Coast, St. Petersburg boasts an average temperature of 73 degrees and 361 sunny days a year, making it a great place to work and play.
Where to stay: The Don CeSar Beach Resort & Spa, a historic resort built in 1928, offers plenty of meeting space near the beach; (800)?82-1116.
Don't miss: The Salvador Dali Museum, featuring a large collection of oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, sculptures and other media.
For more information, call the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800)?45-6710.
International Air Transport Association,email@example.com
TeleAdapt Inc., (877)?35-3232, http://www.teleadaptusa.com
Virgin Atlantic Airways, (800)?62-8621, http://www.fly.virgin.com