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More work tags along on vacations, survey says

Also: Airport security measures annoy pilots and flight attendants, and United Airlines dedicates a plane to 'Oprah.'

November 15, 2010|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times

Although Americans plan to travel for leisure a bit more next year than this year, vacationers may have a hard time leaving work behind.

In 2011, Americans will travel more often and spend more but will also stay connected with work more than ever, thanks to advances in mobile phones and the Internet, according to a survey of more than 3,000 U.S. travelers.

In the survey by the travel website TripAdvisor, nearly 80% of respondents said they planned to spend more or about the same for travel in 2011 than in 2010.

But 62% said they check their work e-mail during vacation trips, and 13% said they routinely call the office to check in.

"It does seem that the line between vacation and work has been blurred," said Amelie Hurst, a spokeswoman for TripAdvisor.

Some travelers have learned to cut themselves off from work while on vacation. The survey found that 8% consider the remoteness when choosing vacation spots, specifically to avoid being in contact with work.

The survey also asked the American travelers who they think are the friendliest travelers they encounter. The top answer: Americans.

And who do Americans think are the most annoying travelers? The top answer: Americans.

• Security measures annoy pilots, flight attendants

The switch to a more aggressive pat-down procedure by the Transportation Security Administration and the addition of full-body image scanners have drawn the ire of many air travelers.

Added security measures have also irked pilots and flight attendants, who say they shouldn't have to go through the same crowded security checkpoints as passengers.

The unions that, combined, represent the 16,500 pilots at American Airlines and US Airways urged their members to choose a private pat-down search instead of passing through a full-body scanner that uses radiation to reveal objects hidden under clothes.

Union leaders say they worry about the levels of radiation that the pilots would endure during repeated exposure to the scanners. Federal health officials have said the radiation levels from the machines are too low to cause harm — even for frequent trips through the scanners.

Union leaders are also frustrated that pilots must go through the same security procedures as passengers even though they have already passed background and security checks. Some pilots are even armed and trained to thwart terrorist attacks.

"We don't think everyone should be treated like criminals," said Gregg Overman, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Assn., the union representing American Airlines pilots.

Flight attendants share that frustration. This month, the Assn. of Flight Attendants, a union with more than 50,000 members, urged the TSA to create separate security checkpoints for airline crew members.

"Flight attendants are subject to extensive background checks, so there is no reasonable explanation why this highly vetted group of aviation employees continues to be exposed to lengthy airport security lines which may affect their ability to report to the aircraft on time," union President Patricia Friend said in a statement.

• United dedicates plane to 'Oprah'

Now that Chicago-based talk show host Oprah Winfrey is wrapping up her last season of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," United Airlines has unveiled a tribute to her: a Boeing 757 jet.

The airline won't give Winfrey the jet. She can afford her own. Instead, it has repainted the plane to include the Oprah signature and the words "the farewell season" emblazoned on the fuselage. It marks the first time Chicago-based United has repainted a jet from nose to tail for a special promotion.

During the plane's inaugural flight from Chicago to Los Angeles on Nov. 4, passengers saw a video greeting from Winfrey and received monogrammed "Oprah" fleece blankets.

The plane will retain its "Oprah" theme until May. The fleece blankets are all gone, but passengers will be shown the Winfrey welcoming video after the airplane safety instructions.

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