Smoking areas under fire


Study Criticizes Airport Smoking Areas — Airports such as Atlanta’s that have smoking areas are putting the health of travelers and workers at risk, according to a federal report released Wednesday, near the peak of the holiday season. Most of the nation’s small airports ban smoking, but most large hubs let people light up. Hartsfield-Jackson International, which has doorless smoking rooms, was cited as one of the worst contributors to secondhand smoke.

TSA copes with holiday chaos — Nearly 20 percent of the 45,000 employees TSA hired after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have quit or been fired over the past year, and the agency only now is beginning to replace them. With an average salary of $30,258, the airport’s 433 TSA screeners are commonly asked to work mandatory overtime, with an average total of about 46 hours a week. Holidays are nearly impossible to get off.

Donating miles for faceless child — Jack Coale knows a thing or two about organization and about planning and execution of ideas. For years, he’s been a project coordinator for the Haskell Company, one of the region’s top design and build construction companies. He also volunteers with a local medical clinic downtown. But when Jack saw the First Coast News story about little Juliana Wetmore, he says he was moved into action. “She needs miles! They need miles!,” said Coale, referring to frequent flier miles on Delta, American and Southwest airlines.

No more breast exams, government promises — The Transportation Security Administration announced late Wednesday that it is modifying pat-down procedures at airports — a decision that comes after hundreds of complaints, most of them from women, that the procedure is too intrusive. Under the new guidelines, screeners will not be able to pat-down a passenger’s breast area unless the handheld metal detector goes off or if there is an irregularity in the passenger’s clothing outline, said TSA spokesman Dave Steigman.

Tobacco industry loses flight attendant case — A state appeals court Wednesday upheld a $500,000 award to a flight attendant who blamed secondhand smoke aboard airliners for her bronchitis and sinus disease. The decision could clear the way for damage trials on up to 3,000 similar claims. The ruling for former TWA attendant Lynn French was a test case interpreting a $349 million settlement reached in 1997 between the tobacco industry and nonsmoking attendants. The flight attendants blamed their illnesses on smoke in the cabin before smoking was banned on domestic flights in 1990.

Holiday airport dilemma: where to sleep? — If you travel a lot, you probably don’t need hypnosis to make you drowsy. Chances are your sleep patterns are already off kilter, and you find yourself nodding off in some uncomfortable places — like the guy in the nice suit I recently saw slumped over his briefcase in a noisy gate area at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.