Got travel troubles? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that

Airport security has been the recent topic of conversation among the traveling public, thanks to a Nigerian passenger with explosives hidden in his underwear on a flight bound for Detroit on Christmas day. Fortunately, the only person that was harmed was the alleged terrorist — at least physically. What this 23-year-old would-be terrorist did do was shake our faith in the Transportation Security Administration and make air travel more inconvenient.
Sure, this fanatic is sitting in a jail cell somewhere, but he stole our peace of mind — or what little we had left — and his actions will probably make navigating the airport security gauntlet even more daunting.
I can’t imagine underwear searches as some have suggested, but who knows what additional barriers the TSA will come up with in the coming months.
Yes, I feel sorry for the traveling public, but I also have sympathy for TSA employees. The regulations aren’t their fault; they just have to enforce them — and deal with ever increasingly agitated passengers who feel their personal spaces are being violated.
When you’ve been treated remarkably shabby by the TSA, or on the rare occasion exceptionally well, what do you want to do?
Call someone and complain (or praise), of course.
Well, now there’s an app for that.
You can tell the TSA just how its employees are measuring up immediately after passing through the security checkpoint by downloading and completing a survey (it’s free) via your cell phone, and the results will go directly to the TSA.
“The survey also allows travelers to add photos and comments that they feel will help the TSA improve the national security system,” said Ken Kimmel, president of On The Spot Systems, a Boston-based company that developed the application originally to track customer satisfaction with restaurants, hotels and retailers.
“The survey is used by the TSA to rate screening procedures and gauge consumer confidence in the security of air travel,” explained Lori Moretti, spokeswoman for On the Spot Systems, and it will be available indefinitely.
iPhone users can download Survey on the Spot from the Apple App store. Those with Android and Blackberry phones can use their mobile Web browser to go to surveyonthespot.com. For more information, visit onthespotsystems.com.
When children travel alone
I can remember sending my kids cross-country on a plane in the 1980s with nothing more than a note that contained my phone number and the phone number of a relative on the other end. But those days are gone. Traveling with a minor, even if the child is yours, can prompt a lot of questions from the airlines and security.
One single attorney/mother in New York City has come up with a set of prepared legal documents that contain all the answers and then some.
“My goal was to create really great documents that provide protection for children when they travel without us,” said Linda Kagan, founder of Forms4Travel, a service that provides multiple documents for various travel situations: the single parent who must have a notarized document to take a child out of the country; the grandparent or baby sitter who travels with a child; the child traveling alone; and parents who leave their children in the care of others when they travel.
The forms, about $17 each, include travel authorizations, medical authorizations, temporary custodial authority information, emergency and insurance information and more.
The company also provides three-document travel packages called Travel Stix ($28.95 each), flash drives that resemble credit cards. For example, the Child Traveling Alone Package contains authorization for travel alone (within the United States); authorization for medical emergency care and doctor appointments; and authorization for custodial care and school/camp decisions.
For more details, visit www.forms4travel.com. Also see the U.S. State Department site: http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html
International travel
Relations between the United States and other countries of the world are constantly changing. For up-to-date information on international travel, visit http://travel. state. gov/travel/travel_1744.html.For the latest security information on traveling abroad, check these U.S. Department of State sites: http://travel.state.gov/; http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_1168.html; and http://travel.state.gov/
travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_1161.html.

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