Drinking the Water
A dozen U.S. airlines have agreed to improve their water testing and disinfection protocols, the Environmental Protection Agency announced last week. The deals come two months after random tests by the EPA found coliform bacteria in the drinking water of one of every eight planes, domestic and international.
Although the airlines challenge the EPA's study and contend their water is safe, they are acting voluntarily.
The agreements cover all major U.S. carriers except Delta and Southwest, which were still negotiating separately with the EPA at press time. The other 12 airlines agreed to disinfect each plane's water tank every three months and to test each plane and report results to the EPA. If the tested water doesn't meet EPA guidelines, the airlines will have 24 hours to disinfect, but extensions can be granted.
CoGo avoids the airlines' lukewarm coffee and tea anyway, and plans to stick with another longstanding policy: Ask the attendant if the water is bottled or tap. If tap, order vodka, neat. Details: www.epa.gov.
upright and locked
A Book? What's That?
American Airlines and United's Ted are testing whether customers will pay to be entertained. On select flights, American is offering passengers a laptop-like "Pea" -- a Personal Entertainment Appliance -- loaded with audio books, games, TV shows, three daily newspapers and 10 to 12 movies not yet available in stores. A double jack means two people can use the Pea at once. Coach riders pay $10 or $12 -- the airline is testing prices. First class: free.
If enough customers bite, American will offer Pea on most flights by the first half of 2005, said spokeswoman Laura Burris.
Ted is trying out DVD players in a partnership with InMotion Pictures, which already rents players and movies at about 20 U.S. airports. In Ted's trial, you pay $12 for the first movie, $5 for each additional.
Alaska Airlines already has found success renting digEplayers, similar to the Pea, for $10, and plans to expand availability. Virgin Atlantic Airways has yet another version -- "Yes," short for Your Entertainment System -- on some flights.
JetBlue touts its system, installed in seatbacks. But CoGo's betting on the growth of portable devices: They're cheaper, and airlines can charge extra.
Baltimore Washington International is having a holiday "garage sale" from Nov. 15 to Jan. 15. Prices to park in the hourly lot next to the terminal during those dates will drop to a max of $20 a day, down from $30. Meanwhile, the airport's long-term parking rate of $8 a day is beating the lowest rates at formerly cheap Pre-Flight, which charges $9.50, or $8.25 if you use an online coupon available at www.longtermparking.com . . . Get a flu shot in Jamaica as part of an all-inclusive "wellness" package at Grand Lido Negril. Prices start at $294 per night. Details: www.superclubs.com . . . New York's Museum of Modern Art will hike its adult admission fees to $20 on Nov. 20, and the Guggenheim this month raised fees to $18. Thank goodness for half-price Fridays . . . California's new Green Lodging Program puts a seal of approval on hotels that comply with a range of eco-friendly standards, including recycling, landscaping that doesn't suck up water, and shampoo dispensers instead of individual bottles. Hotels that make the grade are listed at www.ciwmb.ca.gov (click on What's New.) . . . For eco-friendly lodgings and restaurants in 14 cities around the globe, go to www.travelorganic.com . . . Travelers with disabilities may order a free booklet about air travel from 800-444-0120, www.unitedspinal.org.
BARGAIN OF THE WEEK
Hawaii for Less
Fly from the West Coast to Hawaii for under $300. Details: What's the Deal?, Page P3.
Reporting: Gayle Keck, Cindy Loose.
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