Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio August
By Sarah J.F.Braley
DEPARTURE TIMES...CITY GUIDES
Major airlines try a new tack to avoid delays
Watch the closing doors. Major airlines
continue to come up with experiments to improve on-time departures
and arrivals on domestic flights. In April, United Airlines
launched its Time to Go! program, and US Airways followed with a
similar push in June.
On United flights, all passengers should be on board and seated
10 minutes before departure time; the door is closed five minutes
before the flight, and the plane then pushes back on the button. US
Airways is aiming to have aircraft ready to leave five minutes
ahead of schedule.
"Our on-time departures improved in May," says Joe Hopkins, a
spokesperson for United, "and we have had fewer delays in flights
because of cabin-checked baggage. We're quite pleased to see US
Airways instituting basically the same program." United is
considering applying the program to international flights as
Java jive. Passengers who buy a cup of joe in
the terminal no longer have to dump the brew before boarding,
thanks to a ruling by the Federal Aviation Administration. In June,
the agency said coffee does not count as a carry-on that has to be
stored before takeoff.
The topic was brought to the FAA's attention when a flight
attendant for Alaska Airlines complained that an FAA inspector was
making attendants collect carry-on coffee cups so passengers would
not be splashed with hot liquid if a plane made a sudden stop.
Alaska had noticed that some competitors were not being asked to
follow the same rule.
The FAA also decided to allow airlines to evaluate their
preflight routines, suggesting flight attendants ask passengers if
they want to discard any items they have brought on board before
takeoff. By rule, any drinks that are supplied by the airline have
to be picked up.
The agency still is discussing its policy regarding the use of
glassware in first class before takeoff. Because the FAA requires
U.S. airlines to use plastic and to collect it before a plane
begins taxiing, some carriers have complained they cannot give
passengers the same top-notch service as their international
counterparts, which do not have to follow the same rules.
Breathe deeply. Travelers passing through the
British Airways Lounge at Heathrow's Terminal Four are looking
around for the lawn mower or the beach. On alternating days, heated
capsules hidden in the floor emit the scent of either fresh-cut
grass or sea air.
Handheld destinations. PalmPilot owners now can
load city guides in their devices' memories. Aramis Communications,
a developer of travel products for handheld computers, has teamed
with Weissmann Travel Reports (a division of Cahners Travel Group,
publisher of M&C) to distribute the electronic
information for $19.95 per city. Two Web sites that offer the
guides are the Aramis site (www.aramis-inc.com) and PalmCentral
cities are available, including Amsterdam, Bangkok, Beijing, Las
Vegas, Nairobi, New Orleans, Paris and Vienna.
Bookshop. It's hard enough to decipher menus when traveling
abroad, but what is a vegetarian to do? The Well-Prepared Traveler
book series now offers Speaking Vegetarian, "the
globetrotter's guide to ordering meatless in 197 countries," by
Bryan Geon (Pilot Books, Greenport, N.Y., $14.95). The book is
broken down geographically and translates phrases like "I am a
vegetarian" into such diverse languages as Kazakh, for travel in
Kazakhstan, and Vietnamese.
Also new for the bookshelf is The Smart Woman's Guide to
Business Travel, by Laurie D. Borman (Career Press, Franklin
Lakes, N.J., $14.99). Inside is a collection of strategies and
tips, including chapters on safety, keeping the office running
smoothly and handling emergencies on the road.
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