Congratulations to Continental for suing some of its fellow airlines at Washington's Dulles Airport.

The other carriers at Dulles voted to install carry-on baggage templates on the X-ray machines at a shared concourse. Continental says it bought bigger overhead bins for its planes, and it accuses the other airlines of conspiring to prevent it from capitalizing on its investment in customer service.

That may be a valid claim, but there is another issue here: cowardice.

The X-ray checkpoint is not the place for the airlines to enforce their baggage policies. Security screeners are not customer service agents. They are not even airline employees.

If the airlines want to be strict about carry-on baggage, they should have the guts to say "No" to our faces. Hiding behind underpaid security workers is bad form, a customer service cop-out for which the pusillanimous airlines deserve to be sued.

• • •

Pause

Statistics about the on-line world flash by at a pace that defies analysis. Just when we stop to absorb the news that on-line travel sales topped $500 million in January, we learn that the number may reach $11 billion for the year and could double in three years. Whoosh.

Now comes a report from Media Metrix in Seattle about the Web as an advertising medium that contains a few statistics to pause over: Travel accounts for only 3% of Web advertising. Travel agents and other intermediaries account for 87% of Web travel advertising. Suppliers account for a mere 13%. Of all Web users, 61% do not visit travel sites at all. Whoosh.

Frankly, we don't know what to make of all that. We haven't had time to stop and think about it, but we're pretty certain that somebody should, before everything doubles.

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