Oversize bags being turned back You might have noticed...

TRAVEL SMARTS

January 02, 2000|By Tricia Eller

Oversize bags being turned back

You might have noticed if you flew United, Delta or American airlines this holiday season that the lines seemed to move a little more quickly when boarding the plane. No, it wasn't a Christmas miracle: the speedier entry might be due in part to new enforcement of the carry-on luggage size regulations.

Beginning Dec. 1, American joined Delta and United in using a template at the luggage X-ray machines to check bags for size as well as safety. Overstuffed or too-big baggage, which can't fit under the seat or in the overhead bin without hogging it, is vetoed for carry-on before the plane even docks. If the bag exceeds the 15- by 9-inch standards for suitcases or the 24- by 5-inch maximum for folding bags, it and its owner are sent back to the ticket counter to check the bag into the under-plane storage. The hope is that less time will be wasted by those who try to carry on bigger bags and then hold up boarding while the luggage is put in the baggage hold.

American Airlines fliers departing from one of 10 U.S. cities -- including San Francisco, Miami and Chicago -- can check out the difference for themselves. But first, you might want to take a tape measure to your own carry-on, just to make sure.

PADDLING WITH THE WHALES

Winter wonderland takes on a new meaning for travelers on one of Sea Kayak Adventure's journeys. From Jan. 30 through April 30, the U.S.-based outfitter offers weekly six-day guided trips around Mexico's Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California

Surrounded by warm waters, the towering mountains of the Baja peninsula and cactus-dotted deserts, adventurers forget about snow as they maneuver two- person kayaks through the winter gathering place of blue whales. Paddling alongside the bus-size creatures as they surface and sink mere yards from the kayak is the highlight of the tour.

Guests also explore the area's islands on foot and spend nights under the stars camping on se-cluded beaches in personal dome tents.

Kayaks, paddling gear and camping supplies are included in the $1,050 price, along with meals, featuring Dutch-oven-prepared specialties, and an outdoor island happy-hour, complete with hors d'oeuvres. Excursions are limited to 12 guests.

No kayaking experience is necessary.

For information and reservations, call 800-616-1943 or go to www.seakayakadventures.com.

Lone wolf is just a myth

During a lonely night traipsing across mountain wilds, the solitary wolf bays at the moon, right? Not exactly. In fact, the lone wolf is an exception. Most live in packs and have strong familial bonds. The Virginia Air & Space Center's IMAX Theater presents a myth-debunking film this winter that follows the development of a wolf pack within Yellowstone National Park as its members grow, play, hunt and struggle to survive. Learn about the history of wolves in North America, why they seemingly disappeared for 70 years and why Native Americans have deemed them kindred souls. The show runs from Jan. 14 through April 13; ticket prices range from $5.50 for adults to $4.50 for kids age 3 to 11. Also available are combination tickets for the museum and a double feature of "Wolves" and "Amazon," an exploration of the giant river. Call 757-727-0900, Ext. 703, for tickets.

'PassPorter' to Disney World

Atrip to Walt Disney World is more than just a vacation -- it's an exercise in itinerary planning. With 47 square miles packed by thousands of tourists, four theme parks, 20 resort hotels and more than 250 restaurants, planning a relaxing excursion might seem impossible. But a new book published by Spread the Word Press promises to help. The 216-page "PassPorter" has restaurant and lodging reviews, price lists, maps and transportation options, but it also has spaces for memorable moments and a carry-all organizer good for tickets, photos and other mementos. Priced at $19.95, it's available on the Web at www.amazon.com or www.passporter. com, as well as by calling 877-WAYFARER.

Zagat survey outtakes

Everyone's had them: those awful nights at a restaurant that raise the question of how the place stays in business. The folks at Zagat, who survey people and compile dining guides, have published outtakes on the Web at www.zagats.com. Here's a taste:

"Suffers from delusions of adequacy."

"If I want a fatty sandwich served by a walking attitude, I'll go to mom's."

"Food tastes like socks."

"Waiters make the Three Stooges look elegant."

"The cockroaches are more energetic than the management."

"So noisy you can't hear yourself taste."

"Grandma cooked like this, Grandpa died young."

"Let the kids spill, no one will ever notice."

"Perfect for your fasting day."

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