Some stories and deals don’t get their own post, but should get some coverage. Here are some quick takes on stories that caught my eye.
Table of Contents
Featured Trip Reports Of The Day
- DDF Trip Report:
DDF member Hershelsdeals flew to Tehran Iran in 2012 and shares his trip report with the DDF community.
Synagogue in Tehran:
Tomb of Mordechai and Esther:
- DD Trip Report:
In 2017 I finally used miles to fly in Emirates Shower Class to the Maldives and Etihad Shower Class on the way home, here’s the Emirates Shower Class Trip Report.
Thoughts On The Wuhan Novel Coronavirus
Who would have thought just a month ago that the US State Department would be advising to avoid all travel to China?
A new Coronavirus made it’s way from animal to human at a Wuhan wet market and the virus is spreading across the globe.
After initially covering things up, China has gone to the other extreme in closing off cities to control the spread of the virus. I don’t think any other country in the world could get away with quarantining cities of millions of people the way China has. But is it too late? The numbers worldwide keep climbing and it’s unlikely we’ll see any slowdown for quite some time.
The Coronavirus has already overtaken SARS and will likely be the health story of 2020. It took 6 months to contain SARS, will it take longer to contain the Novel Coronavirus?
I don’t think I’ll be taking this flight bargain anytime soon, even if it is just 12K Chase points…
Meanwhile, leave it to China to take things too far and make virus prevention downright creepy:
Walking around without a protective face mask? Well, you can't avoid these sharp-tongued drones! Many village and cities in China are using drones equipped with speakers to patrol during the #coronavirus outbreak. pic.twitter.com/ILbLmlkL9R
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 31, 2020
At any rate, apparently it’s now cool to make fun of billionaires like Jack Ma for “only” donating $14MM to help find a vaccine. What a sad state of affairs when we turn our nose up in response to a generous donation just because we think more can be given.
Wuhan Novel Coronavirus And Its Effect On Airlines
With the US banning entry to foreign nationals who have been in China in the past 14 days starting at 5pm today, air travel between the 2 countries will come to a standstill. US citizens who have visited Hubei province in the past 14 days will be subject to quarantine.
Several countries, including Italy and the Philippines, have banned flights to Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific is now waiving change fees for passengers flying to or transiting Hong Kong.
While the state owned Chinese airlines will survive, one has to wonder how Hong Kong Airlines and Cathay Pacific will fare if the Coronavirus remains a concern for longer than a couple months.
Personally, I’m booked using miles to fly one last hurrah on Cathay Pacific first class between NYC and Vancouver next week, but am leaning towards cancelling that. It just seems like an unnecessary risk, even if it’s a small one, to fly in a metal tube with passengers and crew that are coming from areas plagued with Coronavirus. And how enjoyable will that one last flight actually be under the circumstances?
US airlines have suspended flights to China and most Hong Kong flights. That means they will have tons of extra capacity until the virus dies down. If the virus spreads worldwide it will mean that people will avoid flying to more places than just the far east.
What will they do with all that extra capacity?
Currently US airlines like American and United are missing planes due to the 737MAX fiasco. With extra 777 and 787 capacity, perhaps we’ll see those planes shifted onto transcontinental routes like NYC-Los Angeles? Airlines may test out bigger planes on routes they think may support the extra capacity.
Of course that risks lowering airfares, which is great for consumers, but bad for the airlines’ bottom lines. But idling planes and crew isn’t ideal either.
Will we see new routes launched? That may depend on how long airlines project the China slowdown to last. United has the most excess capacity as they are the largest US carrier into China. I’m sure many of my readers would love to see United try out Los Angeles or Chicago to Tel Aviv 😀
United could accelerate the conversion of their planes to Polaris seating…except those conversions are done in Hong Kong and Xiamen, China. Oh well.
Meanwhile, United’s decision to heavily increase the spending required to earn elite status may wind up hurting them. Without flights to China, many passengers will struggle to spend the $24,000 needed to attain 1K status. If there’s a global air travel slowdown, they will have definitely overplayed their hand with consumer unfriendly changes like eliminating award charts and other benefits. Do you think we’ll see Scott Kirby and United roll back some of these changes in the face of industry weakness?
Goodbye To Kobe
Hushed voices filled the cabin as news of Kobe’s death spread on my flight from Charlotte to Nassau last Sunday. Could this be real? Maybe it was just #FakeNews from TMZ? Please?
Everyone in the Bahamas seemed shocked and choked up. Our taxi driver was in tears and spoke about what Kobe meant to him. The checkin agent at the Hyatt asked if we had heard the news.
Kobe was a basketball brand ambassador to the world.
Some people have expressed that it seems like we’re making a hero out of a flawed person.
Was he a perfect individual? No, but how many people look perfect when they’re under the limelight 24/7/365 for over 20 years?
The bottom line it that he was taken far too young, and he died alongside his daughter and 7 other people in a horrific manner.
I’ve flown in helicopters in Hawaii and Iguaçu Falls. Of course I’ve heard about accidents happening there, but you don’t believe that it will happen to you. Hearing about a helicopter crash certainly hits home.
When you hear Kobe explaining why he took helicopters so often it hits home even more:
The story behind why Kobe flew in a private helicopters in LA 💔 pic.twitter.com/0jeB9qCpHd
— Tequila Taze (@TazerBlack) January 27, 2020
There are certainly lessons that we can take from Kobe. He was a man that got up before the crack of dawn and worked tirelessly to perfect his craft and be the best at what he did. He was calm and clutch under pressure and was the man you wanted to hit the game winning shot. He did everything he could to spend more time with his family.
But as you can see from just one of the many stories that have come out over the past week, he also took time to visit sick kids who looked up to him. And he specifically didn’t do it for the PR, as you can see in this Tweet:
Wow wow wow! pic.twitter.com/xyXXzyUqxj
— #Truthbetold (@truemira) January 28, 2020
But regardless of your feelings on Kobe, we can surely agree on this. Hug your loved ones and let them know that you love them whenever you can. Because you never know if this day will be your last. Just a month ago I buried a lifelong friend. Appreciate your friends and don’t take life for granted. If you live every day like it’s your last, there’s no telling what you’ll be able to accomplish.
Is Delta’s New Domestic First Class Product Revolutionary…Or A Step Backwards?
Personally those seats look really close together for first class. And the seats look thin and poorly padded.
One of my beefs with Delta’s A350 suite is its poor padding. It sure doesn’t seem like this product will be more comfortable.
American’s Ejection: Malodorous or Anti-Semitic?
They said they showered that morning and that the odor could not be coming from them. In fact they asked dozens of people if they smelled and everyone said they did not.
American refused to give them back their luggage, leaving them without their clothes, carseat, or diapers until they could catch a flight home the next day.
But the worst part of the story is that the American gate agent allegedly told them that he knew that “Orthodox Jews take baths once a week.”
I’ve heard people think some weird stuff about what Orthodox Jews do, but I’ve never heard that one before.
It’s often not easy to identify where a bad odor is coming from when you’re on a plane. If the American agent’s comments are correct as reported, it sure sounds like Anti-Semitism was involved in this case.
The Adler’s are now suing American and say that when you Google “body odor” their names now come up. I’m not sure how a lawsuit will help that as it is just creating new headlines, but I wish them them luck.
As for the Facebook comments on the story…it’s just sad to see this kind of bigotry and Anti-Semitism. Not even one person tried to dispel the claim that Orthodox Jews take baths once a week, they just take it as a fact.
FICO 10 Is Coming, Here’s How It Will Affect You
Fair Isaac is constantly changing the formula for their FICO score. I wrote about the basics in my “Where to start” guide to credit cards.
Traditionally your FICO score just looks at data from your most recent credit report. With FICO 10, greater weight will be placed on payment and utilization ratios from the past couple years. It will look if your debt has been increasing or decreasing and if you have missed any payments over the past 2 years. It will also look at whether you are maxing out any cards over the past 2 years.
My same advice will be more true than ever, try to pay off your credit cards before your statement closes, aside from a buck or 2, in order to maximize your score. This will be more important than ever as FICO takes a longer look at what you’ve done in recent years, rather than just look at what you’re done in the most recent month.
Or just use a business card that doesn’t report spending on your personal credit report.
FICO 10 will also decrease your score if you have personal loans and credit card debt on your report.
It may take years for FICO 10 to be widely used in the industry though, so you shouldn’t expect things to change overnight.
An Economist Journalist Was Stuck For Months In Iran
Economist writer Nicolas Pelham shares his incredible story of being trapped in Iran last year. Apparently being a UK based Jewish writer who speaks Hebrew and has been to Israel makes you a rather suspicious character in Iran.
It’s a long read, but I found it to be a fascinating look into Tehran, its citizens, its Jews, and the regime there. And it’s a good reminder that even if I had the opportunity to visit Iran, I think I’ll suffice myself with reading trip reports from others 😀
A Deep Dive Into The JetBlue Cuts At Long Beach
I was in yeshiva in Los Angeles when JetBlue started flying nonstop between JFK and Long Beach. They were really a great airline back then, before they forced their founder out and started copying the cuts from the major network carriers.
American was so scared of JetBlue that they too started service between JFK and Long Beach and they offered a free ticket anywhere in the world if you flew the route twice. I wound up earning 7 tickets to anywhere that American flew 😀
AA eventually gave up and JetBlue took over, but the city of Long Beach was never really comfortable or happy with JetBlue’s operations there. The city fined the airline for curfew violations and residents never liked the extra noise and flights. Long Beach never did become the powerhouse west coast hub that it could have been as Boston, Fort Lauderdale, and JFK are on the east coast for JetBlue.
JetBlue’s best chance of a west coast hub these days would involve a merger with Alaska Airlines…
Air India Will Double Tel Aviv-Delhi Flights
They received permission to fly over Saudi Arabia, the first for a flight going to Israel.
Apparently the flight is a success, as starting in April the flight will operate daily, except Fridays.
Catching The Northern Lights, In-Flight
The picture is great, but he confirms my suspicions that it wasn’t really visible to the naked eye. I’ve seen the Aurora green on flights before, but never had a tripod ready to catch it with a long exposure.
I think the best part of this may be American’s utterly clueless response to the picture 😀
Wow, that's incredible! It looks a lot like the Northern Lights and thanks for the great view.
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) January 23, 2020
Have you ever tried capturing the northern lights from a plane?
Super Bowl Saturday?
There’s a viral petition to move Super Bowl Sunday to Super Bowl Saturday. The reasoning goes, why drink all that beer and overeat just to have to go to school or work the next day?
NFL games on Sundays are a fluke of history thanks to a law passed by Congress 60 years ago to keep Saturday for college football. But some playoff games switch to Saturday once the college season wraps up and the Super Bowl could be moved as well.
Of course that would be bad for Sabbath-Observant Jewish sports fans.
How about just moving the game to earlier in the day on Sunday? People will still tune in to the biggest game of the year in the afternoon and they won’t have a hangover Monday morning.
Of course in the end of the day, the NFL is going to pick the date and time that will have the most viewers. It’s all about the greenbacks.
Then again that’s why my son has never seen a full live World Series game due to its late start time. Perhaps the short-term dollars will hurt the long-term dollars?
Helpful Link: American’s award map is a very useful flight search tool, if you know how to use it
You can type in where you want to depart from, what region or activity you’re interested in, how many miles you want to use, whether you’ll take a connection, and what cabin of service you want to fly in and it will generate results.
It’s a great way to find AA.com web special award pricing. I just wish it had the option for flexible dates.
The major bug that the map has is that it takes you to the old award search. That’s fine for coach tickets, but web special pricing for business/first class is not available using the old award search.
After finding a good deal you’ll have to go to the AA.com homepage and search for it. AA doesn’t make it easy as it doesn’t even let you sort the results for lowest price for first class, it only sorts for coach. But with enough scrolling you can find the discounted first class web special pricing.
Yup, that’s a lie-flat first class seat on an A330 from Philadelphia to LA for just 15K miles instead of 32.5K miles via the old award search link above!
Share your thoughts on these stories or post a comment about what other stories that I missed!
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