A Passenger's Guide to Interstellar Travel

[Recovered from the list serv archive, written by kveldulf, circa Spring 1998]

A Passenger's Guide to Interstellar Travel
Although the Frontier colonies have been spacefaring civilizations for hundreds of years, many UPF citizens never leave their birthworld. UPF census reports for the last decade that although 75% of UPF citizens have made a suborbital or orbital flight in their lifetime, only 60% of UPF citizens have made an interplanetary journey, and only 35% an interstellar trip. Now, with the Frontier relatively peaceful and the economoy booming in most systems, many citizens are making their first trips off-planet and out-system. It is for such first-time travellers that this datafile was created. The information below offers a broad overview of space travel today, from a passenger's perspective. More detailed questions can be directed to your local travel office or researched on the public data nets.

Booking your Journey
Booking an interplanetary or interstellar space flight is a simple process on all but the most remote colony worlds of the Frontier. Simply contact a local travel agent (numerous independent agents and megacorp travel offices can be fouind in public data listings), describe your requirements and reserve your ticket(s). Be sure to review your carrier's safety record (see below) before leaving for your journey. Also, make sure you take advantage of any applicable discounts available. Common discounts include a 10% discount for double occupancy cabins if both tickets are purchased at the same time (all acceleration couches / beds are designed for double occupancy); 10% discount for round trip ticket purchase (non-refundable if return flight is cancelled, and the discount is forfeit if the date of the return flight is changed by more than 1 standard GST day). Note that no discount is available to senior (post-fertility period) beings due to the higher insurance costs associated with such passengers in space.

Once your flight is booked, be sure to arrive at the departure terminal at least 2 GST hours before departure time to allow time for customs inspections, cargo loading and boarding. If you are travelling storage class, you must arrive 10 GST hours prior to departure to allow for customs inspection, pre- flight physical and hibernation (freezing) procedures. Remember to allow similar time at your destination when you debark from the ship when planning your trip.

Although space travel is commonplace on the Frontier, many citizens rarely travel offworld or have never been spaceside at all. For those passengers new to space travel, the following guidelines outline the amenities offered by most passenger vessels in service today:

Note the following is a table I'll have to straigten out
Typical Cabin Class Cabin Size / Common Area* Amenities Storage n / a none (4 cubic meter pressurized hibernation unit with luggage loaded in separate cargo bay). Journey 32 Cabin - personal acceleration couch / bed; (usually 4 x 3 x 2.5m**) zero-gee washroom and shower; videophone terminal with access to ship's education, entertainment and information databases; emergency spacesuit. Common Area - dining, lounge and gym facilities; holovid theatre; public observation bubble; individual holovid cubicles and / or remote data access to Frontier data and communication nets via public access terminals at varying rates. Luxury 72 Cabin - as per Journey class, plus individual (usually 6 x 4 x 3m**) holovid player, data access terminal and one or more cabin portholes; common options include personal valet android (passenger's choice of apparent sex), wet bar (steam bath in shower for dralasites) and other luxuries depending on ship. Common Area - full serve dining area, lounge and gym facilities; options include full-immersion VR entertainment theatre and cubicles, gambling areas, live entertainment, and liquid water swimming pools (operational only when ship is under 1 gee thrust).

* Common areas are open to all passengers of the appropriate ticket class on board the liner.
** Dimensions are length x width x height; these vary widely based on the ship's hull and cabin designs.

Safety Considerations
Safety is uppermost in the minds of many space travellers today, and it is important to check on the safety record of the corporation or independent liner you will be travelling with. Answers to basic questions such as life support capacity, provision of emergency spacesuits (mandatory under UPF law for all passengers except storage class), and number of lifepods / boats carried should all be available from your ticket agent or on file with local port authorities. Note that most ships today carry enough lifepods and boats to suffice for all crew and non-storage passengers, but some cut-rate carriers carry enough for only half the passenger complement or none at all. Some of these cut-rate carriers offer additional life insurance policies to passengers at discount rates, but these should be avoided as they are often financed through dubious companies which may not pay out in the event of a tragedy.

Besides physical safety provisions, passengers should also verify that their spaceliner meets the minimum staffing requirements set out by UPF transportation laws. These requirements are:
Stewards / Flight Attendants: Minimum of 4 organic (ie. non-robot) steward / attendants per passenger ship, plus 1 per every 50 non-storage class passengers. Liners carrying with only storage-class berths are exempted from carrying stewards or attendants. In addition to the required organic attendants, most vessels will provide androids (usually 1 per organic attendant aboard) to better serve passengers..

Medical Specialists: Minimum of 1 certified doctor per passenger ship, plus 1 doctor / nurse / medical assistant per 100 non-storage class passengers aboard; vessels carrying storage-class passengers must carry 1 additional doctor / nurse / medical assistant per 50 storage berths in addition to the ships' doctor and any other medical personnel. Passengers travelling in storage class have an entirely different set of concerns from other passengers. When travelling storage class, make sure the physician putting customers in hibernation is a licensed doctor as required by UPF law. Before purchasing a storage class ticket, be sure to check with your own physician (beings with cardiopulmonary or nervous system problems are at high risk for complications when revived from hibernation). Under no condition should pregnant beings, budding dralasites or immature (pre- adolescent) beings travel storage class; should a travel agent or liner captain offer you such an option, report them immediately to port and UPF authorities as they are in violation of UPF safety guidelines.

Luggage / Cargo Considerations Luggage / cargo allowances on spaceliners are based on the passenger's ticket / cabin class. Storage class passengers have the lowest allotmens, while luxury passengers have the greatest allotments. Luggage allotments are based ona combination of luggage mass and volume. Although exact figures vary between individual corporations, destinations and ships, the following are typical for the Frontier:
Mass / Volume Allotments Class Legal Minimum Typical Allotment Storage 10 kg / 0.1 cubic meter 100 kg / 1 cubic meter Journey 50 kg / 0.5 cubic meters 250 kg / 2 cubic meters Luxury* 100 kg / 1 cubic meter 1000 kg / 5 cubic meters Extra Cargo Space**: 50 Cr per 100 kg / 1 cubic meter
*Note that cargo space for luxury passengers is guaranteed to be buffered, pressurized. 10,000 Cr of luggage insurance is included in the ticket price for luxury travellers in case of damage to luggage or luggage contents, subject to investigation and arbitration by the insurance carrier; additional coverage can be purchased from the ship's insurance carrier at varying rates.
**Certain ships known as "bulk liners" operate with a combination of numerous storage berths and a few luxury berths for independent merchants.

Since the storage class passengers don't take up much cargo space, the leftover space is sold to the merchants at a discount rate of between 10 to 25 Cr per 100 kg / 1 cubic meter. This practice is common for merchants who sell small lots of specialty cargoes (such as jewels, spices, and high-end / custom electronic equipment) and travel with their wares from system to system. Since such merchants don't sell enough in each system to merit operating their own ship or chartering a freighter to haul their goods it is cheaper to book a passenger flight and buy the extra cargo space (most freighters require customers to purchase large cargo lots to make a run worthwhile).

Void Sickness and other common medical questions
Many first-time space travellers have health questions relating to their trip. Below are answers to the most common:

Q: What is Void Sickness and how do I avoid it?
A: Void Sickness is a feeling of disorientation, motion sickness and occasionally nausea that some travellers experience during the brief minutes a ship spends in the Void during interstellar trips. For most passengers it is an uncomfortable but fleeting feeling. Those passengers with a history of bad reactions to Void exposure or who are apprehensive about the experience can request to be sedated by the ship's doctor prior to Void transition; no adverse effects have been reported by sedated passengers after a Void transit.

Q: What about other space ailments such as exposure to cosmic rays, solar flares, and loss of muscle and bone mass?
A: The hulls of all Frontier ships are shielded against the background radiations found in space, preventing exposure of passengers to radiation levels higher than those found on typcial planets. Passenger vessels specifically avoid high-raditaion areas such as belts around gas giants and the like, and are kept aware of unusual phenomena such as solar flares, plasma clouds, etc. by local planetary authorities and UPF observation posts. Most ships have a heavily shielded "storm shelter" near the engineering section for emergencies, but they typically enter and exit the Void close enough to planets that they can seek refuge within a nearby planet or moons magnetic field in the event of a flare. Muscle and bone mass is rarely experienced, since Frontier ships near-continuously accelerate to Void entry, then near- continuously decelerate to their destination after Void exit; the simulated gravity provided by accel- and deceleration counteracts the muscle and bone effects of low and zero-gravity exposure. Frequent space travellers may suffer some side effects after 6 months or more of frequent variable-gee travel, but this is uncommon and easily treated. As a general note, nearly all primary UPF space routes are short-duration (15 days or less) which keeps space-related health risks to a minimum.