Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio April 2001 Current Issue
April 2001 On TravelPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

On Travel

By Sarah J.F. Braley


A Washington, D.C., think tank hatches a plan to fix a troubled system

Taking control. This will come as no surprise to frequent flyers, but the Federal Aviation Administration reports air traffic delays were up 20 percent in 2000. A Washington, D.C.-based think tank called the Reason Public Policy Institute says a reorganization can fix this and other problems, including how to upgrade the antiquated air traffic control system.

In February, the RPPI released a report suggesting that air traffic control be spun off from the FAA into a nonprofit corporation. The report outlines the following features of such a system.

  • Oversight by a board of directors. Made up of representatives from airlines, airports, the Federal government, the traveling public, air traffic employees and general aviation users, the board would choose a CEO to run the day-to-day operation of the system.
  • Separation of oversight and service. The FAA would maintain oversight of safety and provide funding for safety-related matters, but all air-traffic services would be the responsibility of the corporation, funded by user fees.
  • A modernized system. Upgrades could be financed with long-term revenue bonds. Meanwhile, in Europe, forecasters predict air traffic will increase from the current 8.5 million flights a year to 17 million by 2015. The European Space Agency and a consortium of European firms are joining to create a satellite communication system to help reduce congestion. It will use both data and voice transmission, linking cockpit crews in the air to air traffic management on the ground. The system is expected to be ready for practical demonstrations by fall 2002.
  • Guidance for the disabled.
    This fall, the Automobile Association of America will begin publishing a series of travel guides for people with disabilities. The first two volumes will cover central Florida and California (San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco). Books to follow in 2002 will look at New York City; Washington, D.C.; Las Vegas; Hawaii; and Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. Information on special-needs accommodations also will be added to the AAA’s TourBooks, beginning with the 2002 editions.

    Click and drive.
    Most rental-car Web sites give users the ability to reserve a car online, but Alamo Rent A Car goes a step further. Using QuickRent, travelers can now reserve a car at any of 36 locations (including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Orlando and both Washington, D.C., airports) and sign the agreement electronically. At their destination, customers swipe their credit card through a kiosk computer, and a receipt showing the car’s parking space and location is printed out.

    In other rental car news, Dollar Rent A Car now allows customers to book cars wirelessly using handheld devices with Internet access. Just go to www.dollar.com and download the Palm Dollar Reservations application.

    Take a deep breath.
    Hotels in the On Command movie-service family will now have the option to offer pay-per-view yoga. Gaiam, a Broomfield, Colo.-based company that markets yoga videos, signed a deal with On Command in January.

    Not staying at a hotel with On Command? Pack a yoga class in your suitcase. New York City’s OM Yoga Center offers OM yoga in a box. It’s filled with two CDs, 68 flash cards, a six-foot yoga belt, a tea candle, sandalwood incense and an incense holder. The CDs feature instruction by Cyndi Lee, the center’s director. Call (212) 229-0267 or visit www.omyoga.com.

    Who is Rick Steves?
    People familiar with the travel book Europe Through the Back Door know author Steves well. His Web site, www.ricksteves.com, offers his full slate of European guide books, as well as monthly features on sites around the Continent.

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