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Photo ID Requirement May Be Permanent for Air Travelers

September 11, 1996|MICHAEL CONLON

Airport security precautions that have been tightened and rigorously enforced since the July 17 explosion of TWA Flight 800 may eventually be eased.

That should be good news for business travelers now faced with unpacking, deploying and turning on their laptop computers en route to the gate.

But one aspect of the current requirements--that travelers produce a photo ID at check-in--may well become permanent.

"I think it's about time the airlines in this country knew who actually was flying on their planes," a Florida travel agent wrote in a letter published recently in Travel Weekly magazine.

"Working in the travel business for more than 10 years, I have seen cases where large companies have the entire sales force flying under one person's name (the owner's) so that one person can rack up all the frequent-flier mileage," he added.

"I have never understood how airlines, complaining about not making a profit, could let such a blatant theft occur daily," he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration is tightening the security requirement that travelers present a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, at check-in. There are variations among carriers as to what else an airline may demand and how it treats someone who does not have a picture ID.

Marlene Kowalsky of St. Clair Travel in O'Fallon, Ill., said travelers have adapted well to the requirement. She can also see why airlines like the idea.

Traveling under someone else's name for mileage credit or some other reason "is unethical and not a good idea," she said. "I could see this solving some of those problems for the airlines."

She said a travel agent with a client without photo ID can contact the carrier ahead of time to make sure there won't be any check-in problems.

Tom Parsons, author of a new book titled "Insider Travel Secrets," told the Chicago Tribune recently that the photo ID requirement will stay in place "no matter what. The airlines appreciate the requirement because they are catching a lot of people flying on other people's tickets."

Dennis Marzella, senior vice president for research and strategic marketing at Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown, an advertising and marketing firm heavily involved in the travel industry, said security concerns historically have been cyclical, ebbing and flowing with various high-profile incidents.

There is nothing to suggest that the stiffest requirements now in place will stay, he said.

The photo ID requirement is a minimal step, he added, but "if someone has a diabolical plan, they'll probably have a ticket and a photo ID to match. It probably does screen out some oddballs, though."


Business travelers who find working on the road is expansive may have plenty of company.

A recent survey found that half of more than 500 business travelers polled said they ate more while on out-of-town assignments than at home, and one in four said they hit the bar more often.

In addition, 57% said they ate later when traveling.

The survey was conducted for Hilton Hotels Corp. as part of its research into finding ways to help guests get a better night's sleep.

Avoiding heavy meals, especially late in the evening, and staying away from alcoholic beverages at least three hours before bedtime are two of the keys to a proper night's sleep, according to the company and the National Sleep Foundation, which helped conduct the research.

The hotel chain has been investigating what makes people sleep better away from home and soon plans to offer experimental sleep-friendly rooms with various amenities.

Among the items in or around the rooms may be extra insulation for soundproofing; live plants; devices that produce neutralizing sound, or "white noise"; a supply of pillows in a variety of shapes and textures; and a sleep mask and earplugs.


A survey conducted by Fodor's Travel Publications Inc. found that about six out of 10 guests always check the bedsheets first when they get into a new room.

Thirty-seven percent order room service; about one in four can't resist unlocking the in-room bar, whether they buy anything from it or not; and 31% take the complimentary toiletries when they check out.


The trend toward charging guests a fee for early checkout, which began earlier this year, appears to be spreading in the lodging industry.

Frequent Flyer magazine reports in its September issue that Inter-Continental is testing a $50 early-departure fee for convention guests at its hotel in Chicago, and Renaissance is trying out a fee of the same size at hotels in Dallas and Washington.

Fifty-dollar fees are also being tested by Wyndham at the Anatole in Dallas and by Lowe's at Washington; Annapolis, Md.; and Nashville, the publication said.

Variations of the fee concept are already in place at many Westin, Hyatt and Hilton properties.

Michael Conlon writes for Reuters.

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