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Printing Book's Carry-On Tip Was Irresponsible

October 09, 1994

"Ideas for the Busy Traveler" (Sept. 29), which provided tips to business travelers as recommended by Christopher McGinnis in his book "202 Tips Even the Best Business Travelers May Not Know," included a small item about how airline passengers can sneak carry-on baggage aboard a flight and avoid restrictions which the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration have developed. The inclusion of that item was irresponsible on several fronts.

First, on a philosophical level, I find it amazing that The Times would repeat advice that tells its readers how to "break the rules." Would you undertake a similar effort to advise readers how to avoid having to pay for newspapers by pooling their change and taking five Sunday newspapers from the corner stand when only paying for one copy?

Secondly, the suggestion directly contradicts security measures that airlines undertake to protect the safety of airline passengers. Passengers are advised not to accept the luggage of strangers, and in fact, international passengers are specifically asked if they are carrying on the luggage of another passenger, or if any other person helped in the packing of checked luggage.

While we may never know the factual details, there is some speculation that the tragic crash of Pan Am Flight 103 was the result of a passenger carrying on an item for another passenger that might have contained the bomb that brought down the aircraft.

Whether or not The Times got this information from another source, I believe you have an obligation to provide responsible information to your readers and the traveling public. Mr. McGinnis has backed away from this recommendation.

Just in case there is still any confusion, passengers should never agree to carry on or check luggage of strangers.



Air Transport Assn.


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