The U.S. House and Senate have approved $7 BILLION worth of new airport security equipment which will make the screening of checked bags almost completely automated according to USA Today.
‘Key to the new system are bomb-detection machines built onto conveyor belts that can screen luggage 10 times faster than current systems that scan luggage piece by piece. The older machines are being strained by the 1.5 million bags checked each day at U.S. airports.
Louis Miller, executive director of Tampa International Airport, called the funding “extremely important.”
“We can go a long way in a hurry with that kind of money,” he said.’
You may decline your right to recline after reading veteran flight attendant James Wysong’s column - lest you fall victim to a curious contraption called the “Knee Defender”.
Carry-on weight limits for major US airlines usually top out at 40 pounds or more, but my definition of light travel does not include a bag that weighs as much as an elementary school student. Because you can carry on 40 pounds doesn’t mean you should. Lifting 40 pounds over your head (or dropping it on your fellow passenger’s head) is no fun. The light traveler should shoot for a packed carryon that slips under the more restrictive weight limits of smaller airlines and international carriers - around 22 pounds. Under 20 pounds will get you comfortably on to almost any plane, and your back, neck, and shoulders will thank you. Get it to 11 pounds (5kg) or under and you’ve passed from lightness to sublimity. And there will be hardly an airline on the planet that will turn your carryon away.
Here’s an overview of international baggage rules for international air travel from the worldly perspective of the International Herald Tribune’s Roger Collis. Judging from trends described in this story, traveling light is becoming more of a necessity than an option.
An excellent story about liquid restrictions from today’s International Herald-Tribune includes lots of tips for women who carry on. Some highlights:
“Marcy McKenzie … has started asking dermatologists and dentists for one-ounce samples of creams, toothpaste and mouthwash. She has also collected empty prescription-drug containers from pharmacists that she refills with shampoo and hair gel.”
“A friend … skirted the rule by wearing a push-up bra that lacks wires (so it does not set off security alarms) but includes a small pocket for gel inserts. By removing the inserts, Bos said her friend had enough space to stash hair-gel tubes.”
“So after the 3-1-1 restrictions were announced, he bought four toiletry kits at a local drugstore and stocked each one with about $15 worth of his favorite talcum powder, shaving cream, toothpaste, hair gel, face lotion and hand cream. He stashed the kits at the four Dallas hotels he stayed in most often …”
I still worry about unmarked containers - you never know when a screener will balk at them. BTW - You can buy almost anything in TSA-approved travel sizes here.
The Times of London reports on the latest in cheap travel accomodation, couchsurfing - literally staying on a stranger’s couch. It doesn’t sound like my thing, but if it sounds like yours the story has links for couchsurfing organizations and websites. One more reason to travel light - your hosts will appreciate your small footprint.
Is more face-to-face contact with a slight increase in legroom coming soon to an airliner near you?
” Airline passengers may be required to sit facing the rear of the aircraft by a new seating layout designed to pack more people in as well as giving everyone more legroom….could add up to 50 seats to each aircraft and increase the seat pitch, the gap between one seat and the seat in front, by four inches (10cm). But they would have to persuade passengers to spend up to 15 hours facing the back of the aircraft and trying to avoid eye contact with passengers facing the other way. People in the rear-facing seats would have a slightly greater chance of surviving a crash landing….The “yin-yang” seating formation has been developed by a British company and is being unveiled this week at an exhibition in Hamburg.” - from the Times of London
Here’s a second story from the Times with more detail and some “psychological” analysis.
Packing light means taking fewer clothes, which means washing them as you go. Any discussion of travel clothing and laundry involves unpleasant discussion of odor and the results of the dreaded sniff test. Please forgive all such comment found on this site. It is necessary. That being said, the more testing I do on the Incredible Stinkfighter 1.0 homemade sink-wash laundry formula, the more convinced I am of its effectiveness. It turns ordinary poly/nylon underwear into high-performance anti-microbial underwear that doesn’t stink at the end of the day. Since travel is about spending time in close quarters with people you know and meeting new people you don’t know, odor reduction is definite plus, even if it makes for unpleasant, travel-geeky conversation.
This story from the Seattle Times is several months old, but is certainly still relevant:
“Reports of lost, damaged, delayed and pilfered checked luggage filed with the Department of Transportation have been rising as the TSA has been screening more intensively and more people have been leaving their bags unlocked.
The actual number of incidents are few — 5.86 per 1,000 passengers — reported to the government by 20 airlines for the first six months of this year, but this was a 37 percent increase from the same time period in 2003.
With both TSA and the airlines handling baggage, resolving who is responsible for theft or damage can turn into a huge hassle. The headaches will likely increase if more people start checking bags”.
The Ex Officio Air Strip Lite shirt is recommended by many serious travelers. The 80% polyester/20% nylon fabric dries quickly and shows few wrinkles after a sink wash. The fabric is soft, has a nice hand, is very comfortable, and doesn’t wear blisters on your neck like some “travel” shirts do. An adjustable back vent and slits on the sides with mesh lining make it a perfect choice for mild or hot weather. The fit is excellent and it stays tucked nicely, if you’re a tucker.
My ony quibbles are that the pockets are placed a little too low on the chest and that the pocket gussetting is too baggy. The Air Strip Lite is available for men and women, in long and short sleeves. I prefer long sleeves even in the summer to protect from the sun and from overly-aggressive air conditioning (I’m cold natured). I bought mine when a local store put it on the end-of-winter sale rack because it had long sleeves, but it’s definitely no winter shirt.
Luggage Express chairman Richard Altomare wants to ban luggage on airplanes - not all airplanes, mind you, just passenger planes. He’s quite happy to load your luggage (for a not-so-small fee) on his cargo delivery planes and is lobbying in Washington to end the traveler’s right to carry luggage. And he’s kind enough to support the “Coalitiion for Luggage Security”. One look at this group’s website would convince you that Lady Liberty, the founding fathers, and Uncle Sam himself approve of this ridiculous intrusion on travelers’ liberty. More from Mr. Altomare:
“We’ve moved 31 million suitcases and we’ve never misplaced or lost one,” he claims. “The suitcases are picked up by one of 4,000 companies that we contract, including UPS, FedEx and DHL. The luggage is barcoded and tracked from the beginning and tracked the whole way.” He says the company is moving “300 to 500 orders a day … More and more people are using us. This is an alternative. I’m not saying it’s a replacement for the existing system yet.” — from ATWonline.com
…YET? How about NEVER! A luggage ban would hurt everyone except cargo companies like Altomare’s. Travelers may be in for a real fight in coming years.
MORE - How about this from the Coalition for Luggage Security’s blog:
“The Coalition for Luggage Security was created to help create safer skies by separating luggage from passengers. Creating a new concept where by things are done differently is often a challenge, but a worthwhile one. Being active as an organization, and as a member can help create positive change in all areas including luggage security, passenger security, airline security and airport security.”
Separating luggage from passengers - I thought that was the airlines’ job…
The quicket way to lose seven pounds from your travel kit: Leave the laptop at home. This may not be possible for business travelers, professional/addictive bloggers, journalists, or photographers. But, if you can, leave the little monster at home. If you must write, get a Moleskine notebook and a tubular ink-based data entry device (pen). The rugged little Moleskine is instant cool. I’ve gone with the even lighter soft-cover Moleskine cahier for travel. Let’s face it, the little Moleskine looks better at dinner than the Dell.
Best place to learn the potential of the little notebook is at the Moleskinerie.
(Photo below from Irish Typepad on Flickr)
Jim Markel of redoxx.com sends in this solid tip:”I recently returned from a trip and had some issue with TSA on liquids, so i have been searching the world over for alternatives. Check out Lush.com’s solid shampoo, works well!”
Another way to save space in the TSA-approved one-quart baggie is to use shaving oil rather than shaving cream. I picked this up from Doug Dyment of onebag.com. He recommends a British brand of oil, but I found a great USA brand - Pacific Shaving Company. The tiny, thumb-sized, half-ounce bottle is said to be good for almost 100 shaves. I believe it - I can shave with only 8 drops, and it’s a better shave than foam or gel. I have hair on my head, but I’m guessing it would work great on a bald head or a lady’s legs…
If shaving cream is more to your liking, you can buy almost anything in TSA-approved travel sizes here.
Gee, a guy that runs a luggage delivery company wants to see luggage banned from international flights. I’m glad he has our best interests at heart. Wow, thanks Mr. Altomare! You can view his speech from week’s U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Aviation 2007: Ready for Takeoff” summit in New York.
“The Coalition for Luggage Security, with Universal Express, Inc. announced today that making air travel safer demands a new system to eliminate luggage from domestic air travel by requiring travelers to voluntarily ship their suitcases prior to the departure date.” - from BusinessWire.com
Here’s an ad placed by this bogus group in Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper which targets members of Congress and their staffs. Looks like one-baggers need a lobbyist of their own. Unfortunately luggage companies like Samsonite and Tumi support this group. Watch for more on this subject.
If you haven’t traveled since the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquid rule came about, let me seriously suggest that you not wait until the night before departure to pack your one-quart baggie — which is smaller than you might think. And those three-ounce bottles are smaller than you may suppose as well. Some of us require — er, use — very little in the way of beauty and personal products. If your needs are extensive, going carryon-only may be tough. A reminder: TSA’s rules don’t prohibit unmarked containers, but some people are getting hassled with them. Better to refill an empty branded container than risk confiscation in my opinion. You can buy almost anything in TSA-approved travel sizes at minimus.biz.