October 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio October 2002 Current Issue
October 2002 On TravelPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

On Travel

By Sarah J.F. Braley


Testing keyless airport lockers... No more superfluous security questions

Safer lockers. Heightened awareness around the country has led to the disappearance of a traveler’s convenience: the airport/bus station/train station locker.

After Sept. 11, 2001, storage facilities inside airport security checkpoints were shut down and have yet to be reopened. The fear was that an airport employee not subject to security screening could put something a gun, explosives into a key-operated locker, to be retrieved by a co-conspirator and taken on the plane.

Soon, however, a spot to store your stuff might return. The Transportation Security Administration is testing new secure public lockers at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. A product of St. Paul-based Smarte Carte Inc., the bins use fingerprint technology to lock and unlock.

If the TSA is happy with the results of the pilot program, it will revise the policy that currently prohibits the use or installation of any lockers at airports.

Yes, I packed my bag myself. Wondering why you haven’t been asked the usual security questions lately when you check in for a flight? The Transportation Security Administration decided the questions no longer had much meaning for the safety and security of air travelers. “We are working hard to balance world-class customer service with the need for world-class security,” says Admiral James Loy, Acting Under Secretary for Transportation Security, who was also instrumental in lifting restrictions on carrying drinks in paper or foam cups through airport metal detectors. “Over the years, the questions have lost whatever original value they contributed,” he adds.

Medic alert. If you need to get in touch with one of your doctors when you’re on the road, there’s a free Web site that will help save you money on the toll call. ( is a clearinghouse for sending nonurgent messages to just about any medical practice in the country. Communications are sent directly to the doctor’s fax machine.

Patients contact their doctors using the service to renew prescriptions, ask a question, make an appointment or find a referral.

Emergency airlift. Insure-MyTrip (, a conglomerate site for travel insurance that offers quotes from several companies, now offers among it’s many options medical evacuation coverage with MEDJET Assistance, an annual membership program that provides transportation from practically anywhere in the world.

Among its other products, InsureMyTrip gives quotes on package policies designed for a single trip that can be used for cruises, tours, flights, house rentals and other voyages. Policies cover trip cancellation, baggage, medical, dental, emergency evacuation, 24-hour assistance, baggage delay, travel delay and accidental death. Other options include collision/damage coverage for rental cars and flight insurance. Some package policies include coverage for children at no extra charge. Multitrip deals also are available.

Detective notes. Finding that pilots and flight attendants are happy to share their destination secrets, Peter Greenberg, travel editor for the Today show, has compiled their insights in The Travel Detective Flight Crew Confidential (Villard Books, The tips, offering advice on shopping, services, food and more, come from more than 300 crew members representing more than 30 airlines.

The author’s earlier book, The Travel Detective (Villard,, is even more indispensible, offering insight into how to get the best service and deals from travel providers. His knowledge includes which cruise ship brochures lie and which credit card companies will be the fastest or slowest to come to your aid in a foreign land.

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