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28 July 2012

New Ideas for the Ebook Project

The Ebook project is still in its early stages, and will continue to accept contributions until the end of next month. To read more about the project, please visit

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 at 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.

Tell Us Your Story
If you have an idea about what should be added to the upcoming ebooks, please contact us at If you want to pass on an airline complaint, visit the complaint system at

Finally, please support the Ebook Project at

24 July 2012 Air Launches Traveler Ebook Project

After the positive response to's first ebook, Baggage and Security Guide, we've decided to launch a new series of ebooks aimed at air travelers, and we'd like to ask for your help.

Like the first ebook, this one will be provided without cost to the traveling public, and will provide air travelers with a valuable resource that will help them avoid or manage many of the common problems they face when they fly.

Check out the Ebook Project Video

The Problem
For years, has provided the traveling public with vital information about airline safety, airport security, and other issues that matter to travelers. But because this information is available exclusively online, it is often out of reach just when you need it most...
  • An airline damaged your luggage, and you want to make sure that you ask the right questions and get the right paperwork filled out.
  • The gate agent announces your flight is cancelled, and you need to book an alternate flight quickly.
  • On the way to the airport, you realize you left your driver's license at home, and you need to know what alternative IDs the TSA will accept.
  • A TSA agent is conducting what you think is an inappropriate search, and you don't know how to respond to the situation.
All these situations are covered by, but are not accessible to airline passengers if they can't get online. If passengers had this kind of information in their smartphones or a tablet device, it could be a great help to them.

The Solution plans to take the best of its online information and put it into a series of ebooks that anyone can download for free and keep on hand at all times. A traveler in trouble just turns on a smartphone and all the information he or she needs is available in an instant.

The Project
The goal of the project is to use the insights gained from running to create several ebooks, each of which covers a specific area of common air traveler concerns:
  1. Airline Complaints Do's and Don'ts - Will cover the basic rules and requirements that passengers must follow when they file a complaint against an airline, airport, or government agency.
  2. Travel with Children - Will include many of the common concerns parents face when flying with infants or children, plus key information for parents whose children need to fly alone.
  3. Dealing with common travel issues - This ebook will give very practical advice on how to deal with problems like lost bags, cancelled flights, air rage, and inappropriate behavior by security personnel.
  4. Once all three ebooks are completed, a fourth one containing all the content from the first three ebooks will also be published.

How You Can Help has teamed up with Indiegogo to ask you to support this project. This project seeks to collect $5,000, and all of the money will be used for professional services such as editing and ebook formatting, in order to ensure that the products will work with all popular ebook devices and smartphones, including the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and iPhone.

Your support will help ensure that these ebooks will continue to be offered for free, and will be able to help travelers for years to come.

You can contribute using PayPal or a credit card, and everyone who contributes $1 or more will receive's thanks, as well as other benefits. Please visit for more details.

Find Out More
Visit or check out the video above to find out more about this project and more about the work of