In one of those two incidents a few weeks ago when two commercial airline flights were diverted to make unscheduled landings, a device called the “Knee Defender” was at the center of a brouhaha over reclining seats in coach class.
The Knee Defender allows you to prevent the person sitting in front of you to recline their seat. I talked with the creator of the device on my radio show recently, and Ira Goldman told me he thinks his invention saves people from having someone slam their seat into your head if you’re taking a nap on a tray table. And it may save your laptop from getting crushed when someone abruptly puts his or her seat back.
Airlines don’t allow the Knee Defender, and some passengers don’t even know one has been affixed to the back of their seat. When I can’t recline, I just figure the seat is broken and it’s the airline’s fault.
Look, it all comes down to manners and common sense. Before you recline your seat, ask the person behind you if they mind. Put it back up if you leave to use the lavatory or when you’re done napping. It’s just that simple.
I fly Delta Airlines a lot, and I’ve noticed that when flight attendants walk up and down the aisles to collect trash, they’re lately been separating out all the plastic cups in which drinks are served. I wish all airlines attacked recycling in equal measures.
I often note flight attendants carrying discarded newspapers separate from other waste, which may explain the hundreds of tons of paper, aluminum, and plastic the airline has recycled and therefore kept out of municipal landfills.
The airline also recycles its used carpeting that is used as alternative fuel. It sends safety vests worn by ground crews, vests that have lost their fluorescence, to a non-profit organization where weavers turn those vests into iPad covers and other products, Travel Weekly reported recently.
Alaska Air uses coffee cups that are made of 50% recycled water bottles. Spirit Airlines is using battery-operated baggage tractors rather than ones powered by gasoline. Lufthansa is doing that with vehicles that push aircraft away from gates as well as with catering service trucks.
More and more airports provide trash bins for paper and plastic. It’s a trend that should only get bigger.
The Department of Homeland Security has a team that watches out for cyber fraud. It’s called the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, or NCCIC.
And recently, the NCCIC sent out a warning to hotels to be on guard for bad guys who go into hotel business centers and upload a piece of malware into computers that tracks every keystroke anyone makes on those machines.
This is software you’ll never see, not some external contraption like a bad guy’s card reader on an ATM. The software sends to the thief every one of your keystrokes, so if you go into your bank account, someone can get your user name and password. Or passwords.
If you go to your airline’s web site to print out a boarding pass and are asked to sign in, capturing that information would allow a cyber thief to go into your frequent flyer account and issue him or herself award tickets.
In short, don’t do anything on a hotel computer you wouldn’t want a crook to see.
That’s just one of the downsides of technology, right along with annoying folks on trains or busses having loud and long conversations on their cell phones. And phone rings that go off in movie theaters of symphony halls.
But the most annoying incidence of a hotel offering a high-tech service happened to me on the Hawaiian island of Lanai where I was staying by myself at a luxury hotel on business. That hotel is now managed by Four Seasons, but it wasn’t then.
I received an angry call from the woman in DC whom I loved. She wanted to know the name of the woman with whom was I sharing a room. I wasn’t there with any woman, but my girlfriend had called my room earlier when I was out and heard this message: “If you’d like to leave a message for Mr. and Mrs. Maxa . . .”
You can see the problem. Thank you very much, front-desk people. It took some convincing, but Susan didn’t break up with me. Well, at least not then.
We all know from traveling that $100 in one place doesn’t buy the same good stuff (or dinner or a hotel room night) as it will in another place. But you might be surprised at which states cost the most.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis developed a uniform measure to estimate average price levels in each state for household consumption including rental costs, so this is NOT a side-by-side comparison of common travel costs. But because the average price of similar goods are higher in California or New York than in, say South Dakota, the same amount of money will generally buy you less in higher-priced states.
So according to the Tax Foundation you’ll get the equivalent of $115.74 for your $100 in Mississippi. But you might be surprised to learn where your $100 buys the least stuff. It’s our nation’s capital, Washington, DC, where $100 is only worth $84.60. That means is if you live in Mississippi and are considering a job in DC, you should demand a 37% raise just to stay even.
I suspect if only a basket of travel costs were considered, New York would come in the highest. Here’s a link to a map of all the states states and what $100 is “worth.”