Bed Bugs Have Found a New Home: Airplanes. Here's How to Spot Them

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iStock

Few people expect intercontinental air travel to be terribly comfortable, but for the most part, we do expect it to be clean. So it's particularly horrifying to hear that in addition to worrying about things like making it through security, fighting fellow passengers for overhead bin space, and praying you aren't sitting in front of someone who will kick the back of your seat for the whole flight, you also have to worry about insect infestation when you fly. According to Thrillist and Fox5NY, Air India has had multiple reports of bed bugs in its business-class seats. It's not the first airline to receive bed bug complaints, either, so if you travel frequently, you should probably learn how to spot these pests.

On July 17 and July 19, two separate Air India passengers tweeted about seeing—and being bitten by—bed bugs on flights from the New York City area to India. And it wasn't in economy—one of the passengers said he paid $10,000 for business-class tickets for his wife and three children. After 17 hours in the air with bed bugs as seat mates, the passengers disembarked bloody and covered in bites. The Times of India reported that the airline had received reports of bed bugs on another flight on a different aircraft, but "appears to have ignored them."

But you can't just swear off Air India and assume you'll be safe from bugs on your next flight with another carrier. In 2017, a passenger flying from Canada to the UK on British Airways said that she and her daughter were bitten during their flight, too. In 2010 and 2011, British Airways and United Airlines both had bed bug infestations that left passengers riddled with bite marks. Travelers can easily carry bed bugs from their hotel onto a plane and then into their homes, and short of delaying every flight while the crew inspects and treats every seat, there's not much airlines can do to stop it.

The best you can do is be vigilant, and if you do see bed bugs (first, make sure you know what one looks like) tell a crew member immediately. To minimize your own exposure, cover yourself up—bed bugs can't bite through your clothes—and bring your own pillow and blanket. To really ensure you and your clothes stay bug-free, bring your own protective seat cover to put over your plane seat. You’ll look pretty wacky to your fellow passengers, but you'll have an extra layer of protection.

And before you attack your airline for exposing you to an infestation, consider your own role. Since bed bug bites might not become apparent until a day or two after you're bitten, it's possible that you might not notice them if you've only been at your hotel a short time. If bugs are biting you in your airplane seat, it's very possible that you're actually the one who brought them on the plane in the first place. That's why one expert, Joe Ballenger of Ask an Entomologist, told Lifehacker that he recommends alerting both your airline and all the hotels you stayed in if you find bed bugs after your trip.

[h/t Thrillist]

Australian Accounting Firm Offers Employees 12 Weeks of ‘Life Leave’ to Strike the Perfect Work-Life Balance

iStock.com/karenfoleyphotography
iStock.com/karenfoleyphotography

What would you do if you could take a three-month vacation each year? Would you book a flight to Hawaii, catch up on your favorite Netflix shows, or simply spend some quality time with your partner, kids, or dogs? The employees at one Australian accounting firm undoubtedly have a few ideas about how to spend the six to 12 weeks of “life leave” they will soon be granted.

As Travel + Leisure reports, Ernst & Young Oceania decided to introduce more flexible work hours in an attempt to attract and retain top talent. “We’re innovating so we don’t lose these people while they pursue passions outside of work,” company official Kate Hillman told The Independent. Hillman went on to cite volunteer experiences, training programs, and even a trekking trip to Nepal as different ways that employees might take advantage of the new policy, which goes into effect April 1.

Employees can either use their leave all at once or split it into two smaller vacations. The only catch is that the leave is self-funded—so it’s essentially an unpaid vacation. Still, if someone has the burning desire to backpack through Europe for a couple of months, or work on a project, it’s a safer option than quitting their job only to return unemployed and broke.

In addition to this policy, employees can choose to reduce their hours to a part-time schedule for up to three months each year. Parents may also choose to take advantage of a term-time arrangement, which lets them work regular hours when school is in session, then take time off during school holidays.

According to the firm’s research, flexibility at work boosts employee engagement by 11 percent. There are plenty of other reasons to take a vacation, too—not the least of which is evidence that time off may help you lead a longer, healthier, and happier life. Plus, you’ll come back refreshed and motivated, so your boss will be happy, too.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

The World's 10 Most Expensive Cities

An apartment complex in Hong Kong
An apartment complex in Hong Kong
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If you think San Francisco is pricey, you should see some of the other metropolises that appear in a new ranking of the 10 most expensive cities in the world. As The Real Deal reports, Singapore, Paris, and Hong Kong have been jointly named as the three cities with the highest cost of living in a new analysis by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

It was the first time in the history of the Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living report that three cities have tied for first place. Billing itself as a global business intelligence group, the EIU takes the prices of more than 400 items into consideration for its annual list, including food, clothing, household supplies, private school fees, and recreation.

Singapore's appearance on the list is no surprise, considering that it has been crowned the world’s most expensive city for the past five years in a row, and Paris has consistently made the top 10 since 2003. Hong Kong, meanwhile, rose three places in the newest ranking, while Osaka, Japan rose six places.

New York City and Los Angeles also made the top 10 list this year, tying with other cities for fourth and fifth place, respectively. This is partly due to exchange rates.

“A stronger U.S. dollar last year has meant that cities in the U.S. generally became more expensive globally, especially relative to last year’s ranking,” the report notes. “New York has moved up six places in the ranking this year, while Los Angeles has moved up four spots.”

Check out the 10 most expensive cities below, and visit the EIU’s website to download a full copy of the report.

  1. Singapore; Hong Kong; and Paris, france (tied)

  1. Zurich, Switzerland

  1. Geneva, Switzerland; and Osaka, Japan (tied)

  1. Seoul, South Korea; Copenhagen, Denmark; and New York City (tied)

  1. Tel Aviv, Israel and Los Angeles (tied)

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