Airline passengers should be aware of this unsettling truth: Your property can be stolen, even at cruising altitude.
To protect your bags in the sky, Kevin Coffey, a police detective who investigates crimes against travelers and runs Corporate Safety Travel, offered the following tips.
• Board as soon as possible so you can claim overhead space near your seat. If your bags are out of view, other passengers can rifle through them or take them off the plane.
• Stash your bag in the compartment across from your seat, not above it, so you have better sight lines. Place the zippers and openings toward the back, so it's more difficult to get inside the bag.
• Take valuables with you when using the lavatory or stretching your legs.
• If you carry important items in your pants or coat pockets, keep them in a buttoned or zippered pouch.
• In some planes, passengers can grab items placed beneath their seats by those sitting behind them. Turn your bag upside down to cover the zipper. Or wrap the bag's strap around your foot.
• Before leaving the plane, account for all your belongings. If an item is missing, contact the head flight attendant and ask for assistance from airport police.
Win a vacation for four
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia Tourism has launched the Go Green on the Blue Ridge Parkway Sweepstakes. Sign up by Nov. 1 to win a seven-day vacation for four, including airfare, hybrid rental car and accommodations at Virginia Green properties such as the Wintergreen Resort and Shadow Mountain Escape. For more information, go to virginia.org.
You'll pay for a 'Skycouch'
Air New Zealand is setting a new benchmark for long-haul flights by offering beds in economy class, but they come with a catch: Passengers need to buy three seats to enjoy lie-down travel.
The airline's "Skycouch" will use three economy seats, folded flat to the seat-back in front, creating a space where children can play or people can relax and sleep, airline chief executive Rob Fyfe said. The Skycouch is aimed at couples and families, and will be the price of about 2 1/2 seats.
Passengers will pay the standard economy fare for two seats and receive the middle seat for about half price. Presuming it's a couple that buys the seat, the total amounts to about 7,600 New Zealand dollars ($5,420) per person for a return flight to London.
First lady in wax at Tussauds
Now you can get sort of up close and personal with first lady Michelle Obama and her fabulously toned arms. Madame Tussauds in New York has unveiled a wax figure of her in a one-shouldered white gown inspired by the one she wore to the inaugural ball. The first lady's likeness joined a tuxedo-clad President Barack Obama. His figure was unveiled last year.
Soon, the Obamas will exchange their formal wear for everyday wear. The museum says Michelle Obama will don a mint green J. Crew skirt and an embellished cream cardigan. The president will get a business suit.
Boss at rock hall for entire year
A Bruce Springsteen exhibit is sticking around for an encore at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame through the end of 2010. The collection of Springsteen artifacts, handwritten lyrics and guitars had been set to close in the spring.
"From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen" is one of the most extensive exhibits on a rock star ever presented at the hall. Several new items have been added since last year's opening, including Springsteen's first car and his 2009 Kennedy Center Honor and Golden Globe Award.
Hey Andy! You're a museum
For 15 years, memorabilia relating to Andy Griffith and his role in the fictitious Mayberry have been displayed in various locations in Mount Airy, N.C., the small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains where the actor-singer was born 83 years ago. Now a permanent museum has opened that expects to welcome huge crowds this year as the town celebrates the 50th anniversary of the debut of The Andy Griffith Show in 1960. A good time to visit might be during "Mayberry Days," the weekend festival in Mount Airy each September sponsored by the Surry Arts Council. Now in its 21st year, it offers pie-eating contests, games of checkers, bluegrass music and more. This year it's Sept. 23-27. The Andy Griffith Museum is at 218 Rockford St. For details, call (336) 786-1604 or go to andygriffithmuseum.com.