Articles filed under Todd, Gail

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  • Travelers beware of looted luggage Mar 6, 2011 2:00 AM
    Ever since terrorist attacks required the government to increase airport security, slippery fingers have created a cottage industry for dishonest screeners.

  • Capture picture-perfect memories from your vacation Feb 5, 2011 12:01 AM
    Last week my husband and I spent the evening at his brother's house watching a slide show of his trip to Paris. Whoever said, “A picture's worth a thousand words,” never saw my brother-in-law's 30 shots of the Eiffel Tour.

  • Etiquette doesn't travel very well Dec 31, 2010 8:21 AM
    Last week, while traveling home for Christmas from California, my cousin Tom had a knee-jerking response. Literally. The passenger seated in front of him reclined his seat so quickly it hit Tom's knee. And Tom's foot responded with a swift kick. It turned into a verbal battle that escalated to where the other passenger said, “Do you want a piece of me?” Tom decided he would rather have peace on earth than a piece of the passenger, so he sat down.

  • Airport security deserves a dressing-down Dec 4, 2010 8:39 AM
    Did you hear about the woman who stripped down to her altogether on a flight from Chicago to New York last week? She took “dress is optional” to a new level on the Delta Air Lines flight. When flight attendants attempted to cover her with a blanket, she became agitated. The fact that there was a blanket available is quite amazing. But I digress. Authorities said she was emotionally disturbed. I believe she just may be ahead of her time. With the new body scanners and thorough pat-downs welcoming passengers at most airport security checkpoints, agents are exposing a lot more than terrorists, and it's not a pretty sight. One man wrote, “They should issue hospital gowns with boarding passes. The agent touched everywhere. I kept waiting for him to ask me to cough.” Last week at San Francisco International Airport, I overheard a woman, who was standing spread eagle in front of the whole world, say, “Usually someone buys me dinner before they do this to me.” But besides the embarrassment of being undressed in front of the whole world, there's also the fear factor. The FAA claims there's no danger from radiation from the scanning equipment. But common sense (something which is often lacking in our airline security policies) says otherwise. Hospitals use radiation shields to reduce the amount of radiation the X-ray machines emit. And doctors recommend limiting the number of body scans a person experiences annually. When the machines became a reality, both the pilot and flight attendant unions were adamant about the possible dangers of body scans to their members and the invasion of privacy caused by extreme pat downs. The FAA succumbed to the pressure and now both groups are exempt from the full-body scans and the intimate, personal pat-downs. Just as before, employees do need to go through the metal detector. But there's more. Several government officials and law enforcement officials also get to skip the severe screening techniques. At some airports, passengers are saying they've had enough. At the Salt Lake City International Airport, one man stripped down to a Speedo swim suit to protest the hands-on screening of passengers. At the same airport, a passenger took a video of a young boy who was too frightened to raise his arms for the scan and his father removed his shirt. The video has been getting a lot of attention on YouTube. Travelers at some airports are advocating passenger slowdowns by boycotting the body scanners and insisting on the personal pat-downs, which take more time and could cause passengers to miss their flights and general chaos in the industry. “It's one thing to fly once a year and go through a full-body scan,” said frequent flier Jean Cowden. “But getting zapped every week is a different story. I can't help think there will be consequences down the line.” If invasive body scans and pat-downs was the front-line defense against terrorism, nobody would complain. But security on the tarmac itself has still not been addressed. One pilot, who flies small planes, told me he has clearance to land at any major airport in the United States. He takes off from private landing strips and his plane is not checked out before or after he lands. He could have anything onboard and he's already passed our security lines. It's hard to take a body scan seriously when there are such holes in our security in other areas. And that's the bare facts. Ÿ Gail Todd, a freelance writer, worked as a flight attendant for more than 30 years. She can be reached at

  • Traveling overseas a new Thanksgiving tradition Nov 6, 2010 6:54 PM
    I just made my favorite thing for Thanksgiving reservations. I do this nearly every year. These reservations have nothing to do with the local restaurant that features the traditional turkey with all the trimmings. They have everything to do with travel.

  • Museum gives charter bush planes their due Jan 31, 2011 5:50 PM
    A couple of weeks ago I flew with Einstein to Pine Portage Lodge, a fishing camp in northern Ontario. Einstein was my seat partner on a Cessna 206. He's a real dog. Literally. He belongs to Jim Ryan, who is chief pilot for Watson's Skyways, a charter service that takes off from Wawa, Ontario, and lands on Lake Kabinakagami and other isolated areas in the wilderness.

  • Many tales of animal smugglers who got caught Mar 3, 2011 5:01 PM
    Did you hear about the woman from Thailand who tried to hide a baby tiger in her luggage? She drugged him and then packed him with other stuffed animals. It caused quite a roar with Thai security agents when their equipment detected a live animal in her bag.

  • Get ready for takeoff - clothes that is: Tips for traveling light Aug 1, 2010 12:01 AM
    What do you wear when you fly? Doug Wood wears a vest. It has 30 pockets. He keeps his camera, computer, Walkman, phone and his toiletry kit in it. It even holds a change of clothes.

  • Exercises you can do without leaving your seat Jul 4, 2010 12:01 AM
    For my dear Uncle Fred, flying has become a real pain in the neck. It has nothing to do with the long lines at the ticket counters or the frustration of getting through security check points with your shoes intact. It has everything to do with where he's seated.

  • A few tips for the solo traveler Jun 6, 2010 12:01 AM
    Early this spring, Carol Cross booked a canoe trip with a friend to Northern California. At the last minute, her friend bailed. Carol wasn't about to jump ship, so she joined the group as a solo traveler.

  • Frustrations take off with flight delays, cancellations May 2, 2010 12:01 AM
    Last week on a flight to Boston, I sat next to a young woman who was about to live her dream. For five years she had run marathons all over the world hoping to qualify for the big one - the Boston marathon. Last year in Chicago, she did just that.

  • Insects on planes can drive passengers buggy Apr 4, 2010 12:01 AM
    Did you hear about the recent flight delay out of Miami caused by some pesky travelers who bugged both flight attendants and passengers? They weren't the two-legged variety that board with an attitude.

  • Pets onboard become a peeve for some travelers Mar 7, 2010 12:01 AM
    Did you hear about the lady who let the cat out of the bag, literally? Last week when the owner was going through security at Newark Liberty International Airport, the agent required her to remove her cat from its carrier before putting the container through the X-ray machine. Apparently, Fluffy had an aversion to cat scans and bolted. She got stuck under a bomb-detection machine and caused the agents to close down the security line while they chased down the cat. The owner got her cat back, but she missed her flight and so did several other passengers.

  • Tips to keep your bags from taking flight Feb 7, 2010 12:01 AM
    Last week when Kelly Cline traveled with her 9-month-old baby to the Bahamas, she lost it. It wasn't that she became so violent that flight attendants had to handcuff her to a seat and call the men in white. In fact, it wasn't on the aircraft. It was at baggage claim. And it wasn't her temper she lost. It was her luggage.

  • Is inconsistency best weapon against terrorism? Jan 3, 2010 12:01 AM
    Last Sunday when my daughter flew from Chicago to San Francisco, she planned to finish knitting a Christmas stocking she started a year ago for her niece. But her plans became completely unraveled when the security agent confiscated her knitting needles.

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