(This commentary originally aired Dec. 14, 2012)
Every now and then we hear a news report about some guy banned from an airplane flight because the slogan on his t-shirt is deemed offensive by a flight attendant. Or a woman is denied boarding (as happened to the woman in this accompanying photograph) because her garb is considered too revealing by an airline employee. So what are the rules?
The truth is there really are no rules. At least not hard and fast ones. American Airlines bans passengers who “are clothed in a manner that would cause discomfort or offense to other passengers.”
Southwest Airlines bans garb that is “lewd, obscene or patently offensive.”
United Airlines outlaws anyone who is five years or older who is barefoot or otherwise inappropriately clothed unless required by medical reasons.
You can see the problems here—these are squishy definitions. Well, except the one about everyone over five having to wear some kind of footwear. I guess “inappropriately clothed,” “patently offensive,” or “a manner that would cause discomfort to other passengers” is sort of like good or bad art—you know it when you see it.
If you want to make a flight, don’t push the boundaries.
(This commentary first aired 2 Nov 2012)
Not all travel insurance is the same. And I hope you weren’t one of the thousands of customers of the New Jersey tour company called Club ABC Travel that closed its doors without warning a couple a months ago. Because if you bought travel insurance from Club ABC to protect the money you paid for a future trip, you might be out of luck.
If you have to pay up front for an expensive trip, cruise, or vacation home rental, it could pay to buy travel insurance. If you fall ill, if you suffer a death in the family, if catastrophic weather causes you to cancel your trip, or any number of other events, travel insurance can cover many losses.
But don’t buy it from the cruise line you’re sailing or the tour company arranging your trip. If they go out of business, you may not be covered.
There are dozens of third-party sellers of travel insurance. Two of my radio sponsors are TravelGuard and OnCall, and both offer a wide range of policies that cover all kinds of eventualities including some you might not think of.
You may compare and contrast travel insurance offerings and prices at this website.
And never pay cash for future travel. Put your charges on a credit card so you can dispute any charges if–as in the case of some unfortunate customers of Club ABC Travel–you don’t get what you paid for.
The hotel made famous by the movie version of Stephen King’s book called The Shining, announced plans in 2013 to excavate a neighboring pet cemetery to build a wedding pavilion. That hotel, by the way, is The Stanley Hotel in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado (pictured here). Yes, you can check in.
A traveler asked if he could register in a hotel under a code name as he’d be traveling with his son’s wife rather than his own. Another hotel guest bugged the hotel three times asking that an escort service date be arranged for him. Both of these are courtesy of LastMinute.com.
The Australian low-fare airline Jetstar apologized to a passenger when his suitcase came off the carousel with “I AM GAY” written in tape in large letters across it.
A glitch in Apple’s new maps app caused at least two drivers to drive onto the runway of the Fairbanks, Alaska, airport in September. Fortunately the incursions were early in the morning, and no one was hurt. One driver was simply trying to return his rental car to the airport.
In May, an Air India pilot and co-pilot showed flight attendants how to monitor the cockpit as they retired to take naps while the Airbus caring 166 passengers cruised from Bangkok to New Delhi on autopilot.
That’s just one of the bizarre travel stories of 2013.
The two pilots didn’t get much of a nap because they had to rush back to the cockpit and seize the controls after a flight attendant accidentally turned off the autopilot. Both pilots were suspended.
And speaking of falling asleep, just this month a passenger didn’t wake up when his plane landed in Houston at night. He awoke to find himself alone on a dark, cold, and empty plane. Locked inside, he had to call his girlfriend to get authorities to free him.
This summer the US airline that brought you fees for stashing luggage in an overhead bin came up with something new: wine in a can. Spirit, the Florida-based discount carrier, charged $7 a can for a wine with half the alcohol of most wines. Called “Friends Wine in a Can,” it came with names like Strawberry Moscato and Friends White.
More weird travel stories tomorrow.
While state laws are beginning to change, federal law has not. It’s still illegal on the national level, and so marijuana is banned from any federal property or areas under federal control which means the screening areas in airports and on airplanes. So even if you stash your stash in your checked luggage, you’re violating the law. Nor can you ship marijuana home legally.
And federal law makes no distinction between medical marijuana and marijuana used for other purposes, so even if you have a medical prescription, don’t expect to find much sympathy if a TSA agent stops you while going through security.
TSA agents are not law enforcement officers, so if they find marijuana in your carry-on luggage—which, by the way, they aren’t specifically tasked to look for—they’ll turn the situation over to a local law enforcement officer.
Travelers coming in the US, however, are banned from bringing in marijuana or any articles intended to be used with grass.
You’ve been warned.