Baggage Fees Going Up, Up, Up

Jet Blue and United got the ball rolling, and now Delta and American are following suit with a baggage fee increase.

Delta and American are both increasing the fee for the first bag from $25 to $30. The fee for a second bag on both carriers is increasing from $35 to $40.

United Changes Boarding Process

United Airlines has changed the boarding process to improve the customer’s experience. In the video below the spokesman explains that United tried and reviewed the new process in various airports around the world “until we got it just right.” In time we’ll see if they got it just right or not. I’m not sure that certain things (like the boarding process) can made just right, particularly when so many different people (i.e., personalities) are involved.

Here’s United’s 2min22sec video that explains the process.

Plastic Airport Security Trays Full of Viruses

The following article was provided by Incentive Connection Travel.

The highest levels of respiratory viruses at airports are on the plastic trays used at security checkpoints, a new study finds.

Researchers took samples from a variety of of surfaces at Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland and found evidence of respiratory viruses on 10 percent of the surfaces.

The highest virus levels were found on plastic trays used at the hand luggage X-ray checkpoint, but viruses were also detected on shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children’s play areas and in the air.

No respiratory viruses were found on toilet surfaces, according to the study published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.

“This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread. People can help to minimize contagion by hygienic hand washing and coughing into a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve at all times, but especially in public places. These simple precautions can help prevent pandemics and are most important in crowded areas like airports that have a high volume of people travelling to and from many different parts of the world,” said study author Jonathan Van Tam, a professor of health protection at the University of Nottingham, in the U.K.

“The presence of microbes in the environment of an airport has not been investigated previously. The new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports. The results also provide new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment,” study author Niina Ikonen, a virology expert at the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, said in a Nottingham news release.

Discipleship Travel LLC comments:

We have found Purell Sanitizing Wipes (see box below) to be a helpful airport travel item. We use them to clean the seat area, including armrests, seat belt buckle, tray table, etc., before getting settled into our seats. With the recent study results, it might not be a bad idea to wipe the plastic trays in security.

 

Common International Travel Mistakes

When traveling internationally, the following are common, but easily avoidable mistakes.

1. Packing essentials in checked luggage. This means medicine, cash, laptop chargers (and laptops), valuable jewelry, anything you really can’t afford to lose or be without.

Locking your luggage isn’t a solution, since in the short run, just having a bag misplaced can cause as many problems as having things stolen.

2. Not having ANY currency for the country into which you are flying. Yes, most airport money changers charge high fees, along with other U.S. currency exchangers. But while airport shops may accept any currency, and some countries accept U.S. dollars, many do not. Especially at smaller shops or restaurants.

If you don’t know for a fact that your dollars will be accepted, get a small amount of foreign currency. At least this will mean you can get a snack, cab ride, or make a small purchase at, say, a drugstore, if an ATM is not readily available. A few dollars worth of local currency can be a lifesaver until you arrive at your hotel.

3. Not making a copy of your passport. This takes only a minute, and usually isn’t an issue. But it only takes misplacing or losing it once to change all that. While you’re making a copy, check the expiration date. (This last potential mistake happens more often than you might think.)

4. If you’re in a country that doesn’t use a Western alphabet, not having your hotel name written on a card or a piece of paper. English may be one of the most common languages in the world, but that won’t help if you find a taxi driver who doesn’t speak it, or if you just get lost and need directions back to your hotel.

5. Make sure itinerary dates match. On an itinerary where you have done air and hotels separately, spend a couple minutes making sure the dates match. Especially where overnight flights are involved. It’s bad enough to arrive at a hotel a day earlier than your reservation, it’s much worse to arrive a day late.

Holy Sepulchre Closed for 2nd Day

Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a regular tourist stop for most Christians visiting Jerusalem, has been closed for two days (from noon Sunday through Monday, so far) in protest of the Israeli government’s claim that the Church owes several million dollars in tax debt. The leaders of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer opted to close their church building to tourists on Monday in solidarity.

The government insists it is not taxing church activities, which have historically been exempt from taxes. What is in dispute is whether church properties that are commercial and not specifically for religious use should be taxed. The government says yes. The church says no. Jerusalem’s mayor claims the tax debt is 650 million shekels, which is over $186,000,000.

At the time of this writing, church officials remain uncertain how long the church will be closed to tourists.

See the Arutz-7 article here and the ABCNews article here.

Priests pray at the Thirteenth Station of the Cross: The Stone of Anointment in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (Photo: ©2006 Craig A. Dunning)

Priests pray at the Thirteenth Station of the Cross: The Stone of Anointment in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (Photo: ©2006 Craig A. Dunning)