An item in the June 6 Travel section incorrectly identified Iceland's national airline as Icelandic Air. The correct name is Icelandair. (Published 6/8/04)
UPRIGHT AND LOCKED
Although children under age 2 fly free, Christina Severinghaus of Vienna always buys tickets for her kids so they can be safely strapped in a child safety seat. She was dismayed to find at check-in that Icelandic Air prohibits the use of child safety seats during take-offs and landings.
In fact, Severinghaus says she was told she would have to check her car- and airline-approved safety seats at the gate and should hold both her baby and her toddler in her lap. She says she protested at every leg of the journey. Each time, flight attendants said they would "break the rules" to at least allow her to bring the seats on board.
Icelandic Air spokeswoman Debbie Scott responded that you should be allowed to bring on board a safety seat if you've bought a ticket. However, she added, Icelandic Air insists that you hold children under 2 during take-off and landing, and strap any child over 2 into a regular seatbelt. Why? "I assume it's an FAA rule," said Scott.
In fact, the FAA strongly recommends that children under 40 pounds be secured in a safety seat. The agency has repeatedly considered requiring that, but has backed off because it may send more parents on long-distance driving trips, which could be more dangerous than flying unsecured.
Icelandic Air's rule "sounds odd," says FAA spokeswoman Alison Duquette. "Take-off and landing are critical phases of flight; you'd most definitely want a child in a safety seat during take-off and landing." But although the FAA requires U.S. carriers to let parents use safety seats in available seats, the rules don't apply to foreign carriers.
Nearly 700 million people a year travel internationally -- a figure expected to double by 2020. Whether those travelers enhance or destroy the environment depends in large measure on decisions made by both travel providers and tourists, says Costas Christ of Conservation International (CI), a Washington-based environmental advocacy group.
To encourage responsible tourism, CI has teamed up with National Geographic to promote a competition among travel providers who tread lightly on the land and the locals. On Tuesday, Queen Noor of Jordan will come to National Geographic headquarters to announce four winners. The competition drew contestants from 40 countries.
Finalists include the Casuarina Beach Club in Barbados, which adheres to strict environmental practices that include composting and recycling, and the Al Maha Desert Resort in Dubai, where camels are the mode of transportation at a resort whose owners convinced government officials to set aside 5 percent of the country as a nature reserve.
Winners will be posted Tuesday at www.conservation.org.
Visitors to national parks this summer will see the results of the neglect that the Bush administration insists isn't taking place, the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees said last week. The group's study of a dozen parks found employees being cut at all 12, including reductions in law enforcement. Budgets were down at eight parks. Some are closing toilet facilities, others reducing mowing, the report said. Details: www.protectamericaslands.org . . . The final proof that frequent-flier miles programs have gone over the edge came in CoGo's mailbox this week: You can get 300 American AAdvantage miles when you buy three "Coca-Cola fountain drinks" this summer at any Cinemark Theater . . . Had she survived the Holocaust, diarist Anne Frank would turn 75 on June 12. To mark the date, Kraushaar Galleries in New York is showing, through July 30, pictures from the Frank family album. And from June 12 to Sept. 12, a similar show will be in Amsterdam's Museum of Photography.
BARGAIN OF THE WEEK
Cruise between Panama and Costa Rica for $599. Details: What's the Deal?, Page P3.
Reporting: Cindy Loose.
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