Healthier hotel rooms

You can breathe easier in your hotel room-that is, if you’re in one of Hilton Hotel’s Stress-Less Rooms equipped with nonallergenic pillows, among other items. To help soothe weary road warriors, Hilton’s installed a calming fountain, massage seat pads on desk chairs, blackout drapes, a massage belt, aromatherapy bath products and a yoga video and meditation CD.

Besides the Stress-Less Rooms, Hilton has also created the Health Fit Room as part of its “Traveler Lifestyle Centers.” Health Fit Rooms come complete with an exercise bike, resistance exercise tubing, a list of jogging trails, healthy foods menu, yoga video and fitness magazines. Its Sleep-Tight Rooms have special lighting, a sleep kit with a face mask and ear plugs, a biorhythm lightbox, soundproof windows and other things to help lull guests to sleep.

Other hotels are quick to offer extra amenities and special accommodations at a premium price and upon request. However, Hilton’s specialized rooms are priced at the same rate as a standard room. According to hotel spokesperson Jeanne Datz, these rooms have been debuted in eight Hilton Hotels, including ones in San Francisco, New York and Chicago. The chain expects to add more before year’s end.

Friendlier skies?
Earlier this year, Congress considered passing a “passengers’ bill of rights” that would impose new requirements on U.S. airlines. But in June this legislation was set aside when the airlines jointly introduced the “Customers First” plan.

According to the Air Transport Association (ATA), which represents 23 American and five foreign carriers, the plan calls for several improvements to be implemented by November. Under “Customers First,” ATA airlines will inform passengers on the telephone reservation system of the lowest fare available; customer complaints will be responded to within 60 days; passengers will be notified promptly of delays, cancellations and diversions; during on-board delays, food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical treatment will be provided; and cancellation policies, rules, restrictions will be disclosed and, upon request, data on seat size and pitch will be available. There may be legislation next year raising the lost/damaged baggage liability.

International Airline Passenger Association spokesperson Hal Salfen says legislation is needed instead of the airlines governing themselves. “These improvements should be enforced and the airlines who don’t abide by them need to be fined.” The ATA says travelers should expect a ticket price hike to accompany these service improvements. Consumers can effect more changes, notes Salfen. He suggests complaining to the airlines, the FAA (800-322-7873) and the IAPA (800-821-4272) and members of Congress.

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