While the ebooks will be based on current information in the web sites, new ideas are welcome, so please feel free to send any ideas you have to AirSafe.com at feedback.airsafe.com. In my own recent trips, I've had several situations that will probably end up in one of the ebooks.
The Stowaway Dog
My flight flight from Boston to London was crowded but uneventful, until about a half hour before landing when it became clear that a young woman in the row behind me had a dog, and that the dog had just had a bowel movement.
Fortunately, this happened at the end of a six hour flight, and not at the beginning. From a conversation the passenger had with the flight attendant on the way out of the aircraft, it was clear that the passenger had been trying to hide the fact that she had a dog, and that she owed the airline some kind of fee or fine.
What this passenger did was against airline regulations, and more important may have put the dog through unnecessary stress. It is legal to travel with pets on most flights, but it is important to follow the relevant rules or regulations to ensure that your pet arrives safely. This usually includes an additional fee paid to the airline, and in the case of international travel, a passenger would have to follow the appropriate rules of the destination country. If this were not done, and my belief is that the passenger on my flight probably didn't do this, then the dog may be put into quarantine, or even worse denied entry into the country.
After thinking about this incident for a few days, I decided that in the future, if I thought that a passenger were trying to sneak an animal on board, and I found this out while the aircraft were still at the gate, I would inform a flight attendant about the situation.
International connections and airport security
Having made several international flights recently, I've had a chance to see how security for international transit passengers is handled in several countries. While the general rules and restrictions are similar, how they are enforced is a bit different depending on where you are.
We've written extensively about the TSA, and nothing I saw recently represents a major change in policy. However, some things that are now normal in the US are not done in the same way overseas. For example, when making a connection through London's Heathrow Airport, I had to pass through a screening checkpoint before boarding my connecting flight. While the checkpoint had the standard x-ray machines for baggage and the walk-through metal detectors for passengers, passengers could keep their shoes on and there were no full-body scanners like the types that are becoming more common in the US.
Another difference was the treatment of electronic devices. While the TSA allows passengers to keep iPads and notebook computers in their carry-on bags, the UK authorities required all electronics to be taken out and screened separately.
While making a connection in Bahrain, I observed a very different approach to security. It was clear that the security personnel put a high priority on processing passengers quickly. There were a shortage of plastic bins for items like laptops, and I only saw a few passengers taking anything out of their carry on luggage for screening. It didn't seem to matter. I didn't see anyone slowing down the conveyor belts to give any bag a more thorough review, and although the walk-through metal detectors were beeping regularly, I saw no secondary screening of passengers.
Lessons to take away
The observations I made on these flights led to a few insights. First, I'm continued to be surprised by passengers who take shortcuts to save a few dollars, and in the process put others (including small animals) at risk. My advice is that when you travel, plan ahead of time if you are going to do something that is out of the ordinary, because the consequences of not planning may spoil your trip.
Also, in this post Osama bin Laden era, security is still a concern, but there appears to be less consistency in how different countries deal with security issues. Passengers should continue to follow all the common rules and guidelines about security, but be prepared to deal with differences you may see during your travels.
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