June 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio June 2002 Current Issue

On Travel

By Sarah J.F. Braley


Once-suspect items OK’d for flight...Local celebs offer wake-up calls&Travel tips to go

Keep that nail file with you. The new Transportation Security Administration, an arm of the Department of Transportation that has taken over certain regulatory duties from the Federal Aviation Administration, has issued a new list of items you can take on a plane. Now approved: pets (if the airline permits), walking canes and umbrellas (after they have been inspected), nail clippers with nail files attached, nail files, tweezers, eyelash curlers, safety razors (including disposables), syringes (with medication and proper labels identifying the medication or manufacturer’s name) and insulin delivery systems.

The list of items that aren’t allowed through security and must be checked is much longer and includes axes, baseball bats, box cutters and cattle prods. To view the complete list, visit the TSA’s Web site at

The TSA also reports that about 170 CAT-scan-like X-ray machines are now in use around the country, and 1,100 more are being set up this year to peer into checked baggage. The machines damage unprocessed film, so be sure to pack it in your carry-on. Scanners at security checkpoints are unsafe only for very high-speed, technical film, so it’s OK to leave regular print or slide film in your carry-on. Those carrying the more sensitive film are entitled to have it hand-searched the old-fashioned way.

Abandoned laptops. Now that travelers are spending a little more time getting through security, some are boarding planes without their laptops, having forgotten to pick them up after passing the shoe or gunpowder test.

What to do? Before traveling, put identifying stickers on all items that a security person might handle: laptop, cell phone, PDA, camera, etc. Then, keep an eye on these valuables as you pass through security and gently insist on picking them up before moving on to have your shoes or hands checked. Before you leave the area, take a quick inventory of your belongings.

Online improvements. The American Airlines Web site ( has a whole new look and many new features. Chief among them is the “My Account” section, allowing travelers to customize the site to give them fare specials based on preferred airports or cities; updates on AAdvantage status; and sign-ups for Net SAAver Alerts, which notify travelers of fare sales in up to 30 city pairs.

The new business programs section includes information on corporate, group and meetings travel, as well as incentive flight and gift certificates.

Loo with a view. Get a little claustrophobic in airplane bathrooms? Fly business class on SAS (Scandinavian Airline System). The company has installed windows in that section’s lavatories.

New twist on wake-up calls. Instead of an automated voice saying, “this is your wake-up call,” guests at the new 485-room Inter-Continental Houston are greeted with a recorded “Good morning” from representatives of the city’s performing-arts groups. The four choices are the CEO of Theatre Under the Stars and a song from Kiss Me, Kate; a principal dancer of the Houston Ballet, followed by a selection from Swan Lake; the conductor of the Houston Symphony, with a few bars from an orchestral work; and the executive director of the Houston Grand Opera, followed by an aria.

All in one book. New from AAA Publishing’s “Ready, Set, Travel!” series is Travel With Ease: Tips for Safe, Fun and Stress-Free Trips ($15.95; available at AAA offices, by calling 877-222-2665 or online at Author Ann McAlpin, billed as a world traveler and expert packer, compiled hundreds of tried-and-true suggestions, including safety tips, advice on traveling with kids and tips for booking online.

Back to Current Issue index
M&C Home Page
Current Issue | Events Calendar | Newsline | Incentive News | Meetings Market Report
Editorial Libraries | CVB Links | Reader Survey | Hot Dates | Contact M&C