Sunday, August 13, 2006

Travel Just Got...Tougher


With the arrests this past week of terrorists who were planning on using liquid explosives to blow up planes traveling just got allot tougher. TuesdaysTraveler is working on helping you get through this with as little pain as possible.

The US Department of Homeland Security yesterday banned from carry-on luggage all ‘‘beverages, shampoo, sun tan lotion, creams, toothpaste, hair gel, and other items of similar consistency.’’ The new rules resulted in long lines at airports and garbage bins full of discarded cosmetics. So how’s a traveler to cope? Here are five strategies from travel experts to help.

SCHEDULES: Allow for plenty of time when arriving at the airport. Federal officials advise checking with your airline and airport to determine how much time is needed for your flight. United Airlines said passengers should arrive at least three hours early for all flights. Northwest Airlines advised passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights. And beginning today, passengers will go through double screening to make sure they are not carrying liquids on to planes — with carry-on luggage getting checked not only at the main security checkpoint, but also a second time at the boarding gate.

PACKING: In case your checked luggage is lost in the confusion, label your bags well, with name, business address and phone on the outside, and an itinerary and contact information packed inside, on top, said Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler. Rather than throwing away banned items, bring a checkable bag big enough to accommodate items you can’t take on board. Business travelers ‘‘must carry essential tools with them,’’ Foster said, but be prepared in case a ban on all carry-on luggage is suddenly imposed domestically, the way it was in England. Leave room in your checkable luggage for that stack of reports. Consider faxing, e-mailing or FedExing copies of important documents ahead to your destination.

PERSONAL CARE: ‘Airplane air is as dry as the Sahara,’’ said Linda Wells, editor-in-chief of Allure magazine. But new rules ban moisturizer and similar items from carry-ons. So put on heavier-than-usual moisturizer before you leave home, with either a moisturizing self-tanner or tinted moisturizer on top. ‘‘You want to wear as little makeup as you can. What’s worse than not having your makeup with you is having it smear all over your face and not being able to fix it.’ Other cosmetics that will last include waterproof mascara, and lip and cheek stain. Apply hairstyling products before you leave for the airport and then ‘‘reactivate’’ them before you land by running your hands under the water in the lavatory sink and running damp fingers through your hair, Wells suggested. Pack shampoos and other lotions so they don’t spill, Wells said. Take the cap off the bottle, squeeze the product so it reaches the lip of the open top, then screw the top on again tightly, forming a vacuum like seal. There will still be an indentation in the bottle. You may want to put them in a sealed plastic bag as well.

TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN: Prepare kids for long lines and stringent security. ‘‘Tell the kids, ‘this is what we have to do to make sure everyone is safe,’’’ said Eileen Ogintz, a syndicated columnist who offers advice on family travel on her Web site. Explain to toddlers ‘‘why they need to put their blankie or teddy on the belt,’’ she added. Give a lollipop or other small reward for cooperation. Check kids’ backpacks for toy guns, plastic swords, etc. ‘‘I just came back from Disney with two 10-year-old boys,’’ she said, ‘‘and with Pirates of the Caribbean out, everything they bought was stuff like that.’’ If your kids are flying unaccompanied, make sure they understand the new rules. Remind them to get something to drink before they get in line, rather than bringing a water bottle, and warn them against making sarcastic comments or jokes about security threats, Ogintz said. Teenagers should notify airline personnel if they are flying alone, so that they get priority to stay on the flight in case passengers are bumped. To entertain young children, bring a deck of cards, and paper and pencil. ‘‘You can draw pictures, make designs, play Hangman,’’ Ogintz said. Play ‘‘I Spy’’ on a long line or if you are forced to check the toy bag, she added.

CRUISES: If you miss your cruise because of a delayed flight, ‘‘you fly to the first port of call,’’ advised Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of a Web site that offers advice to cruisers. Contact your cruise company to see if schedules or policies have been revised because of the new rules and delays, or if their staff can help you rebook. Holland America delayed the weekend departure times for several ships around Europe and North America to give passengers extra time to make connections.

INSURANCE: If you bought trip insurance, you may be eligible for compensation related to delays, according to John Ansell, president of the US Travel Insurance Association, which represents 90 percent of US-based travel insurance firms. Comprehensive travel insurance typically covers rebooking flights, hotels if you are stranded, loss of personal belongings and other problems related to missed connections and cancellations, he said. Most travel insurance companies have hotlines to assist you. If you want to buy insurance for a future trip, a comprehensive cancellation policy — which typically includes medical insurance — will cost four to seven percent of the total price of your trip, Ansell said.

Here at TuesdaysTraveler we believe that this is just the beginning of more restrictions for airline passengers. We would not be shocked to see all electronic devices banned by years end. This would include ipods, laptops, cell phone and the hand held gaming systems that keep younger travelers occupied. Let's hope it doesn't come to this.

Some content provided By Beth Harpaz – New York - AP

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