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Away on Business: Travel tidbits

Tidbits for the business traveler.
/ Source: Reuters

Leg space varies by airline and type of aircraft, and is ultimately determined by how many seats a carrier tries to fit in an individual plane. But sometimes the width of a seat — the distance between the arm rests — can be just as important to passenger comfort.

Consumer Reports Travel Letter, in its annual look at seat comfort, has found bad news on that front. It said the widest economy class seats it tracked down were 18 to 18 1/2 inches —a space that is narrower than the average American filing those seats.

There was one exception: All seats offered aboard Midwest Express flights are 21 inches wide, it said. The widest economy class seats in other airlines — the ones in the 18-inch range — were found on American’s Boeing 777s and United’s 767s and 777s, it said. Further information on the travel letter can be found at 1-800-234-1970.


Wireless connectivity on the road is spreading. In addition to cards that allow laptop users to connect to cellular telephone waves almost anywhere, a growing number of facilities have their own wireless environments.

Texas-based Wayport Inc. says two hotels — the Adolphus in Dallas and the Hilton Newark/Fremont in northern California —are now totally wireless inside.

That means a guest checking into a room or sitting in the lobby, a meeting room or a lounge — can connect to the wireless network with laptops equipped for “Wi-Fi” use. Guests whose equipment is not compatible can get an adapter from the hotel.

Wayport has also installed wireless environments covering all gates and terminals at four airports — Dallas-Fort Worth, Seattle-Tacoma, San Jose, California, and Austin Bergstrom in Texas.


It may seem that nothing on the road ever gets cheaper. But there is evidence that may not be true for lodging prices —the second-biggest cost in most business travel situations.

Forecasts recently released by American Express and the travel procurement division of Rosenbluth International both see tough times ahead for innkeepers in 2003.

Rosenbluth estimates hotel rates (as actually paid compared to published) will fall 5 percent. It says “A buyer’s market continues with softness across the sector particularly in upscale and full service brands ... We expect continued sluggishness in the Bay Area, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.”

American Express in its outlook for 2003 says average hotel room prices will decline up to 1 percent. The lodging industry, it says, continues to struggle with “relatively low demand and — in some business travel destinations — an oversupply of rooms.”


Staying fit on the road can be a challenge even if there’s a good workout facility waiting at the evening’s lodging. But once the laptop gets plugged in and maybe a room service meal is on the way, virtue can get lost in the distraction of e-mails and unfinished business.

Four Seasons Hotels says it has an answer for that situation. With advance notice all of its properties will set up state-of-the-art equipment, such as Lifecycle or Nordic Track, in the guest’s room, along with complimentary workout videotapes.

It says personal fitness training — yoga, low-impact and step aerobics, aromatherapy, Swedish massage, manicure and pedicure — can also be made available in the room.