TRAVEl BRIEFS

Sunday , April 15, 2012 - 7:04 AM

The Los Angeles Times

Plane restroom the best place to change a diaper

Q: I recently flew first class from Orlando, Fla., to Los Angeles. There was a couple with a little girl, maybe 2 years old, and the kid screeched the whole time. ... I could have ignored the screeching, but when they changed her diaper, the whole first class filled with an unpleasant stench. As a mom and grandma, I felt this was disgusting. Maybe there should be a rule that kids needs to be changed in the toilet area. What's your take on this?

A: The Federal Aviation Administration doesn't have a rule on where diaper changing should occur, only when -- and the when is when the seat belt sign is off. If an airline has no regulation (check websites), it is up to the parent.

April Masini, who writes the relationship advice column "Ask April" and is the author of four books, agrees that the restroom is the place. But, she adds, "This is not for beginners. Airplane bathrooms are too small for even Clark Kent to become Superman."

Masini says the change requires "level-two yoga techniques," never mind the skills required for "Olympics-level origami."

"Complain to the airline," says Masini, who doesn't have children, "not the mother."

Susan Kuczmarski, author of books about parenting and families and the mother of three sons, says, "All parents must go to the plane bathroom and use either the top of the sink area, or a less favorable location, the top of the toilet with seat down, of course. While this is not easy, nor optimal, it is the only spot on the airplane that is acceptable."

Both authors make excellent points, noting that moms have enough challenges without passengers piling on to point out their deficiencies. If you do decide to say something, be kind.

Airline rewards 'wild, weird, wonderful'

Would you fly more often if your reward was a regular supply of socks or a leather vest autographed by George Clooney?

With demand for air travel on the rise, the competition for passengers is heating up. One way airlines are trying to lure passengers is with tantalizing rewards offered through frequent-flier programs.

And many of those rewards are, well, weird, according to a study by IdeaWorks, a Shorewood, Wis., airline consulting firm that studied more than 150 airline reward programs. The firm released a list last week of the top 40 "weird, wild and wonderful" rewards.

For example, passengers of the Latvian national airline AirBaltic who accumulate 13,754 airline points can trade the points in for a dog-sled adventure.

American Airlines passengers can trade in 14,700 points for a beer-tasting tour in Brussels, the study found.

With 21,000 points on Lufthansa, passengers can get a "sockscription" that includes a delivery of three pairs of socks immediately, followed by identical deliveries four months and eight months later.

Passengers who accumulate 650 miles with Icelandair can trade in the miles for a traditional Icelandic oatmeal and rhubarb cake known as a "Happy Marriage Cake."

And if you want the leather vest signed by Clooney, the star of "Ocean's Eleven" and "Up in the Air," you'll need to rack up 177,000 miles with Air Canada.

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