Not Your Average Travel Stories: Week of Sept. 3

This week: Do airlines know your secrets? Are avocados tasty? Is Capt. Morgan a fun guy? Yes to all!

Best bathroom: Tampa’s airport is one of the finalists in the Best Restroom contest sponsored by Cintas (known for paper towel and soap dispensers). Full disclosure: I’ve been in Tampa’s restrooms and they were certainly up to the task – but were they award-worthy? You tell me.

Airlines have your private info: Bloomberg frets over airlines getting their mitts on personal data, warning us to prepare for the day “when flight attendants know your birthday” but that cat’s already left the bag. See, there’s this thing called Facebook?

Disappearing discounts: Remember senior fares, bereavement discounts, perks for military? Most are long gone but not all and we tell you where to find these deals. We also explain why you might not want them.

Today’s amusing headline: “6 New and Exciting Ways to Use Avocados!” Don’t pay those high prices for airline food, bring your own avocado pizza.

Nannies on board: Book a flight for the family on Etihad then sit back and relax because its onboard nanny service costs zip. However, the airline’s only non-stop (and non-codeshare) flights out of New York are to the Abu Dhabi so maybe those nannies aren’t totally free.

Quicker security – what’s the catch? We tell you everything you need to know.

Puke tax: Oh, dear. Cabbies in Key West are sick of tourists getting sick in taxis and want to impose a $50 add-on to fares “in the event a passenger soils the interior of a taxicab with bodily fluids or solids.” Just in time for the city’s famous Fantasy Fest featuring a very special guest: Capt. Morgan!

Welcome back, pilots: United has announced the recall of its nearly 600 pilots currently on “furlough” (translation: out of work). No word on how long they’ve been on this unwanted vacation or if any have left the flying biz altogether.

Bad passenger: JetBlue had to divert a flight because one fellow got a little too rambunctious as he demonstrated the one thing you should never do on a plane.

Food question: CNN asks, “Would you choose an airline based on its menu?” Uh, what menu? I guess all those reporters and field producers are flying business class these days. For the rest of us, enjoy those packs of peanuts.

Bumpy weather: Turbulence injured 12 aboard a TAM flight from Madrid to Sao Paulo, so severe that passengers were “slammed” against the roof of the cabin. Anytime you’re in your seat, buckle up. Turbulence can hurt you.

Death and frequent flyer miles: Forget putting frequent flyer miles in your will, when you die many airline miles die with you. So what are you waiting for? Get on a plane and go.

Baggage theft: 7 bag handlers at JFK have been arrested for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars in jewelry, electronics – all kinds of expensive stuff. Question: Why is anyone still putting valuables in a checked-bag? [By the way, one paper refers to handlers as ‘ramp rats’ – in this particular case, that sounds about right]

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Published: September 3, 2013