Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio December
By Sarah J.F. Braley
WHAT LURKS IN AIRPLANE WATER?
Tests find taps teeming with contaminants&Who really
turns off cell phones in flight?
Don’t drink the water. The Wall Street Journal published a study
on Nov. 1 by two reporters who gathered vials of bathroom and
galley tap water from 14 flights. Analysis of the samples turned up
salmonella, staphylococcus, insect eggs and other frightening
ingredients. Contamination levels were typically tens, even
hundreds, of times above U.S. government limits, the article
The reporters flew both short and long trips, including a
Boston-to-LaGuardia flight on US Airways, a Los Angeles-to-Sydney
trip on United and from Chicago to Mexico City on Mexicana
Airlines. Some airline spokespeople refuted the findings, saying
contaminants might have been left by other passengers. The Journal
stood by its report.
Even more intimidating: Most carriers typically offer bottled
water during beverage service, but if it runs out, pitchers are
filled from the tap, the Journal found.
The lesson: Pack your own water, and use it to brush your teeth,
if necessary. Also, consider carrying a waterless, hand-sanitizing
lotion like Purell, sold in supermarkets.
Passengers weigh in. A survey released in
October by Fodor’s Travel, a top publisher of travel guides, took
the temperature of airline passengers on the subjects of new
airline fees and onboard cell-phone use. A resounding 61 percent of
1,200 respondents said ticket-change fees top the list of
• Twelve percent (more women than men) are disturbed by fees
levied on overweight passengers
• Nine percent resent paying for extra baggage. Notably, more men
than women are bothered by this fee.
• A tolerant 15 percent of the respondents are accepting of all the
The majority of those surveyed follow the rules when it comes to
cell phones, with 68 percent saying they do not turn their mobile
phones on until they are in the terminal or unless they need to
make an urgent call.
• Of the 32 percent who occasionally break the rules, twice as
many men as women never turn off their phones on the plane. When
the flight attendant announces that it’s time to shut off all
electronic devices, 8 percent of men and 3 percent of women
• Of those who do shut down in flight, 16 percent of men turn their
phones back on the moment the plane touches down, compared with 8
percent of women.
A recent incident suggests that for rule-breakers, the
consequences can be dire. On Nov. 8, a passenger on an AirTran
flight from Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport to New York’s
LaGuardia refused to turn off his cell phone when instructed to do
so. He continued on with his conversation, and when a flight
attendant repeatedly asked him to turn the phone off, he reportedly
became verbally abusive. The plane, which was still on the ground,
returned to the gate, and the talkative flyer was arrested.
Another survey says&The J.D. Power and
Associates report on passenger satisfaction at 46 major airports
worldwide found that 74 percent of travelers are happy with the
on-time performance of flights, up from 66 percent in 2001. But
flyers are not so pleased with the process of going through
security. Just 32 percent of the 10,250 people surveyed in August
and September are satisfied with airport security, compared with 39
percent before Sept. 11, 2001.
The study also ranked overall passenger satisfaction with major
airports. The top five large airports (serving more than 30 million
passengers a year) are, in descending order, Chek Lap Kok in Hong
Kong, McCarran in Las Vegas, Schiphol in Amsterdam, Phoenix Sky
Harbor and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Flyers’ favorite midsize airports (serving 10 million to 30
million passengers a year) are Singapore Changi; Tampa, Fla.;
Orlando; Pittsburgh; and Portland, Ore.
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