Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Airport Carry-on Update

This is a follow-up to my post on Monday after one full day of implementation of the new TSA carry-on regulations. It appears that all major U.S. Carriers are adopting the TSA regulations without any internal modifications. This is good news as it will cut down on confusion.

Flights on all carriers to international destinations are subject to different requirements. Some of the most restrictive rules concern itineraries where you make a connection in the United Kingdom. Be sure to check with your airline or travel professional if you’re flying internationally. Many foreign flag carriers have not updated their websites to address the new carry-on rules.

One final observation: media reports suggest that many travelers have overlooked the TSA requirement that the small size liquids be packed in a one quart size clear plastic bag. That bag is only slightly larger than a sandwich bag. Don’t show up with a gallon bag – you won’t be allowed through security with it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Myth of Getting Bumped

jetBlue is the IDB champ with only one IDB per 140,629 passengers (Jan. - June 2006).
Photo Credit: Joe Popp

Since I started blogging I’ve taken an interest in reading other travel-themed blogs, especially those that dispense advice. I’ve been surprised to see one topic covered exhaustively: the issue of getting bumped from a flight. The precise term of art is Involuntary Denied Boarding (IDB) and it describes the situation where a passenger holding a ticket for a flight is not allowed to fly (against their wishes) because the airline has overbooked.

The experts go on at great length talking about the airlines’ Contract of Carriage, their obligations under Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations etc. Apparently this is a topic that people are very interested in.

It’s an unreasonable fear. Passengers are seldom denied boarding against their will. It’s never happened to me, my family, my friends, or any of my clients. In fact, because airlines are required to report Involuntary Denied Boardings to the DOT the actual statistics are available for review.

During the first six months of 2006, 1.22 passengers were denied boarding involuntarily for every 10,000 passengers. If that statistic held true in the future, you could fly every day for twenty years before it happened to you. In 2005, the same period resulted in 0.97 IDBs per 10,000 passengers.

We all know that airlines routinely overbook flights – if there’s a problem it’s usually handled through voluntary denied boarding. That’s where passengers volunteer to skip the flight for a later one in return for some kind of compensation like a free ticket or cash. I’m one of those people who hope it will happen so I can get the free ticket. How do you think I took my family on vacation this year anyhow?

So don’t worry about getting bumped, it probably won’t ever happen to you. Worry about something realistic – like weather-related flight delays – but that’s another post…

Monday, September 25, 2006

Alert: TSA Refines Liquid Ban for Air Travel

The Transportation Security Administration announced that they are changing the regulations governing liquids carried onboard aircraft effective tomorrow.

Small size (less than 3 oz.) containers will be allowed if carried in a single, one quart size, clear zip-top bag. Additionally, travelers will be allowed to carry beverages purchased in the secure area of airport terminals onboard.

I think that it's important to point out (and I haven't seen anyone in the media address this) that the ability to board with beverages, indeed with any liquid is at the discretion of each airline. I'll be watching to see what they do. I expect that most will follow the TSA's lead -- but I'm sure that one or two will not.
Visit the TSA website for more details and as always, check with you airline or travel professional before flying.

Top Hotels Make Special Plans For Younger Guests

The Carlyle Hotel Entrance

New York
The Carlyle – This legendary hotel is discreet and jewel-like, conveniently located in a tony neighborhood on the Upper East Side. It was the hotel of choice for President John F. Kennedy, Ingrid Bergman and Diana, Princess of Wales. It’s also been a focus of café society since Composer Richard Rodgers moved in when the hotel opened in 1930. The Café Carlyle has attracted music lovers for years with classy performers like Bobby Short, who headlined at the Carlyle for 37 years.

The Carlyle's Bemelmans Bar

Another of the Carlyle’s famous spaces is the Bemelmans Bar, named for the author and illustrator of the Madeline books, whose murals cover the walls. Children and their parents are invited to come for a Madeline-themed high tea afternoons from Wednesday through Sunday. Special snacks and desserts like Pepito’s crudités and Eiffel Tower Hot Fudge Sundaes help make the experience memorable. Kids may want to study the murals to find where Bemelmans included Madeline and her classmates. Oh, if your name is Madeline – the whole experience is on the house.

The Merrion Hotel's Georgian Door

The Merrion – Topping every hotel guide for Dublin is this elegant hotel located between Merrion Square and St. Stephan’s Green. The Merrion is located in four elegant Georgian town homes, including Mornington House, birthplace of the Duke of Wellington. Providing more than luxury lodging, today The Merrion boasts Ireland’s most exclusive spa as well, The Tethra Spa.

Young Travelers can enjoy the comforts of The Merrion with the Miss & Master Merrion program that includes all manner of customized amenities for boys and girls of any age including Frette bathrobes! An exclusive kid’s menu has been created by the chef and a kids-only area is available during the Merrion’s famous Sunday brunch.

The Beverly Hills Hotel

Beverly Hills
The Beverly Hills Hotel – The Pink Palace of Beverly Hills is a grande dame who’s had a lot of work done – by top people. She retains the style and sophistication of a 1912 classic with all the latest comforts and luxuries. Located on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Beverly Hills and surrounded by gardens that give it a private feel, The Beverly Hills Hotel seems like a private estate.

You can bring your little mogul-in-training to The Beverly Hills Hotel, perhaps to do lunch at the Polo Lounge where you might see Nancy Reagan and Russell Crowe. The exclusive VYV (Very Young VIPs) Program will cater to all the needs of your tyke with hotel Teddy Bears, free drink cards and sports activities. If Mommy and Daddy need some alone time, you can count on the elite babysitting services offered.

The special services offered by these hotels require advance notice or reservations. Contact your travel professional (like me) to arrange them.

Photo Credits:
Carlyle Hotel - Rosewood Hotels
The Merrion - Leading Hotels of the World
Beverly Hills Hotel - Dorchester Group Hotels

Sunday, September 24, 2006

British Columbia, Vancouver Aquarium

My daughter loved the Beluga whales at the Vancouver Aquarium. Perhaps the best Aquarium I've ever seen and certainly the best for kids.

Photo Credit: Christopher Gould

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