July 01, 1998
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio July 1998 Current Issue

On Travel


Buckle Up...Smoke Out...Steakholders

Airlines are asking flyers to stay belted in for the entire trip

Strap down for safety. Starting this summer, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will require passengers to stay buckled up whenever they are seated. This does not mean that the seat belt sign will be on during the entire flight - just during takeoff, landing and turbulence, as usual - but you will be expected to put the belt back on when you return from the bathroom or sit back down after stretching. Both flight attendants and crew will announce the policy to the passengers, and if a flight attendant sees someone unbuckled, he will remind the passenger politely to buckle up. But you will not be reprimanded or arrested if you choose not to comply.

"We have found that in our turbulence encounters, the passengers who are injured have always been those who were not buckled up," says John Hotard, a spokesperson for American. He adds that when planes hit the bumps, passengers who are unbuckled are likely to come out of their seats and smack their heads into the overhead, resulting in neck and head injuries. The new rule should help reduce those injuries.

The 11-ounce lifesaver. The most important item in your carry-on could be one you'll never use but don't want to be without: a smoke hood, like the $69.95 EVAC-U8 made by Vancouver-based Brookdale International Systems Inc. ( Whether there's a fire in a hotel or a plane, the hood can give you precious minutes of clean breaths in order to escape. The EVAC-U8, which comes with a five-year warranty, keeps out the smoke; you breathe through a filter that works for about 20 minutes. The hood is made of a DuPont material called Kapton and comes in a canister that can look threatening on an x-ray; carry the instruction sheet with you to avoid problems at airline security checkpoints. If you ever have to use the hood in an emergency situation, send a testimonial to Brookdale and the unit will be replaced for free.

Here's the beef. In May, Delta Air Lines announced that travelers in coach will have the option of dining on steak during dinner flights. To create some yummy recipes, Delta will work with famous steak house chefs from around the country and prepare the dishes using premium Omaha steaks. Participating restaurants include Chops in Atlanta, The Precinct in Cincinnati, St. Elmo's in Indianapolis, The Grill in Los Angeles, Ben Benson's in New York City, and Ringside in Portland, Ore. Michael Jordan's The Steak House in New York City will be added in the next phase of the program. Menus will be rotated frequently, offering customers a choice of Omaha Steaks or Tyson Chicken, among other options.

Supply closet. Last fall, 36,000 survey cards were distributed at nine Loews Hotels to find out which items guests leave behind most often and which they would love to find at the hotel. The results are being used to create a "Did You Forget...Closet" at each of Loews' 13 North American properties. Travelers noted that they most often forget (or wish they had in the first place): rain gear, a cummerbund and bow tie, a Walkman to use while working out and a fax machine in the guest room.

Several elements guests can borrow from the new "Closets" will be common to all hotels - like calculators, miniature tape recorders, dictionaries, athletic clothes, first-aid kits, small black evening bags, humidifiers, dog leashes, cat nip, Zagat Surveys and a slew of items for kids (videos, night-lights, games, coloring books, crayons, potty seats) and conferences (karaoke machines, cameras, name badges, place cards). Additional items will be available depending on the location, like sunglasses and beach toys at resort properties, and rain gear, wool gloves and hats at hotels in the Northeast and Colorado.

Tell it like it is. You might not think that a pilot for a major airline would be any good as a writer, but S.B. Canyon (probably not his real name) may start a trend. Every month or so, an article by the captain shows up on the Web at (, an online-only magazine. Canyon recently wrote with wit and style about what the airlines should do to treat business travelers better; previous pieces in his "Plane Truth" archive have demystified airline public address announcements, tackled staying healthy on board and explored why neither pilot nor passengers should drink alcohol while flying (that one's called "Why Pilots Wear Clip-On Ties"). If you're stuck on layover with Internet access nearby, let Canyon help you pass the time.

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