February 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio February 2003 Current Issue
February 2003 On TravelPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

On Travel

By Sarah J.F. Braley


New guidelines for checked luggage...Earning miles based on dollars spent

Unlock the luggage. Now that all checked bags are in line to be scanned for explosives, the Transportation Security Administration has issued some suggestions on how and what to pack.

At the top of the list is leaving those little locks off your bags so they won’t have to be forced open if further inspection is needed. The TSA might soon provide travelers with free, padlock-like seals that screeners will be able to snip open for a search. For now, travelers are advised to use zip ties instead of locks. A note will be placed in bags that have been opened for inspection.

Other suggestions include packing footwear on top of other contents and putting personal belongings in clear plastic bags to reduce the need for a screener to handle them. Books should be spread out and not stacked. Food and beverages should be carried on.

For other tips on how to pack to avoid having your bags ripped open and how to dress to go through security, visit

A better way. While rethinking bag-packing strategy for the TSA’s sake, consider tactics for saving space and preventing wrinkles. At the Fodor’s Travel Guides Web site (, you’ll find helpful excerpts from the book How to Pack. On the home page, scroll down to the advice section and click on “Clever Tricks for Packing a Bag” to learn about the rolling, interlocking and twin-towers methods of filling up your suitcase.

New rules for miles. Cutbacks in the airline industry are beginning to affect how frequent-flyer miles are awarded. Delta Air Lines tweaked its SkyMiles Medallion program in December and is now awarding elite status based on a combination of miles flown and fares purchased. In other words, a person who spends $1,000 for a ticket gets more miles than the person who spends $400 for the same itinerary.

Points for BusinessElite, first- and business-class tickets (designated by fare classes A, C, D, F, I, J and P) are calculated by flown miles times two. Coach fares (B, M and Y tickets) count as flown miles times 1.5. Discounted coach tickets (H, K, Q and S fares) receive just the flown miles. Deeply discounted coach (L, T and U tickets) are credited for only half the miles flown.

Cruise miles. At American Airlines, members of the AAdvantage program now can earn miles at sea through an agreement with World’s Leading Cruise Lines. Awards range from 1,500 miles for one to five nights on board to 10,000 miles for trips of 13 nights or more on all six of World’s members: Carnival Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Seabourn Cruise Line and Windstar Cruises.

Keys and skis. Travelers arriving at Denver International Airport on their way to the mountains now can rent skis at the Hertz counter. Through a partnership with Denver’s Specialty Sports Ventures, skis, snowboards, boots and children’s equipment can be picked up before driving off to the mountains. Discount lift tickets also are available from Vail Resorts properties, including Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail.

No reservations for equipment or tickets are required. If renters have trouble with the equipment once they reach their destinations, they can contact one of Specialty Sports Ventures’ 60 mountainside stores.

Find a room. Online travel powerhouse Orbitz has launched an upgraded hotel search engine. Through the site’s Hotel Matrix Display, users enter their dates and destination and hit the search button. Up pop results arranged by quality (using star ratings) and distance from a designated location, such as a neighborhood or an address. Searches also can be customized by specific hotels or chains and amenities.

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