Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio February
BY SARAH J.F. BRALEY
Some airlines have already cut back on carry-on
One bag or two? That's a question you may have
to answer in the future when deciding how much money you want to
pay for an airline ticket. In order to relieve the problem of
overstuffed overhead bins, the Federal Aviation Administration has
suggested that airlines limit passengers to two pieces of carry-ons
with a total weight of 20 pounds. Many airlines are already
experimenting with new restrictions, tying the number of bags
passengers are allowed to drag into the cabin to the amount of
money they pay for their ticket.
On Nov. 20, after an experimental period, Northwest Airlines
implemented a permanent policy systemwide: Coach passengers are
allowed just one carry-on plus a laptop or a purse.
Business and first-class travelers still are allowed two bags plus
a laptop or a purse. The only coach passengers who are exempt are
the airline's most frequent flyers -- World Perks Gold members and
International Gold Elite card holders.
On Dec. 1, United Airlines instituted an experiment called
"Take-Off Fares" out of Des Moines, Iowa. For the month-long trial,
low-fare passengers were limited to one carry-on so people paying
higher fares would have more overhead storage room for their bags.
Those flying on Take-Off Fares also had to use e-tickets. "So far,
the test has been well-received by customers," said United
spokesperson Tony Molinaro two weeks into the experiment. "Many
have said that it was about time an airline tried to address this
issue." Again, Mileage Plus Premier members are exempt from the
Straight out of Star Trek, United also is experimenting
with an electronic "dimensionalizer," which measures the size of
your carry-on to make sure it fits the carrier's specifications.
United's current carry-on standard is a maximum of 45 linear
inches, generally meaning nine inches wide, 14 inches high and 22
inches long. If a bag is too big, it goes into the hold.
The initiatives aren't just being put in place to make full-fare
passengers happy; there are serious safety reasons for keeping the
overhead bins from bulging. Both flight attendants and passengers
have been injured by luggage that tumbled out when the bin was
opened. Such accidents would happen less frequently if more of
those bags were checked.
The National Business Travel Association backs the trend. "The
current debate over carry-on restrictions has economic and safety
parameters, but is also a matter of value and service from a
consumer perspective," according to Norman R. Sherlock, executive
director of the association of corporate travel professionals. In a
survey of its members, NBTA reported that 63 percent of the 450
respondents would like carry-on restrictions to be applied to all
passengers, regardless of ticket class or airfare. Nineteen percent
believe the limits should be levied only in coach, and 16 percent
think the restrictions should be based on fares paid.
On the flip side, the Yesawich, Pepperdine &
Brown/Yanklovich partners' 1997 National Business Travel Monitor (a
survey representing in-depth interviews with 1,500 households
nationwide) shows that consumers want more space for carry-ons, not
What do you think about the carry-on limit? E-mail your opinions
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Up in the air or down to Earth. GTE Airfone now
sells a prepaid calling card that can be used on planes equipped
with the company's Advanced Digital Airfone Service and with
cellular and traditional phones. The card is available on the
ground at Airport Cellular in Chicago's O'Hare Airport in
denominations of $10, $20, $60 and $120; GTE also sells $30, $60
and $120 cards over the phone (800-AIRFONE). They'll soon be
available at a number of service stations, convenience stores and
hotel and airport gift shops. The cards can save you as much as 36
percent on calls from the plane, but the savings do not carry over
to calls made on the ground.
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Working well away from the office. For people
who are having trouble getting business done while traveling, June
Langhoff has written The Business Traveler's Survival Guide: How to
Get Work Done While on the Road (Aegis Publishing Group, Newport,
R.I.). This $9.95 book is full of tips on getting your road office
together, including types of equipment and how to use it
effectively. Langhoff, a freelance writer who specializes in
telecommunications and technology, also offers advice on focusing
your attention on work anywhere -- at the airport, in a plane, in a
car, from a pay phone and even in an RV.
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