Sunday News Roundup 2/2/20: Coronavirus, RIP Kobe, Something Smells At American, Super Bowl Saturday, Stuck In Iran, 15K Lie-Flat Transcon, And More!

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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.

View previous roundups and commentary here.


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.

View this post on Instagram

#Bedtime from #Emirates #ShowerClass #Suite

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#Emirates #A380 #ShowerSpa #HeavenOfTheSkies

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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:

 

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:


 

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:

 

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?

Business Insider calls Delta’s new domestic first class seat revolutionary.

 

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?

Yehuda Yosef, Jennie Adler, and their 19 month old daughter were tossed off an AA flight from Miami to Detroit last January.

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.

Oy.


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

Fly Data Guy does a fascinating dive into why JetBlue is killing off their Long Beach hub.

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

Air India started flying nonstop between Tel Aviv and Delhi in 2018 with 3 weekly 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

Andy Luten shares his photography setup on how he captured 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 😀

 

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

American has released a very useful flight award search map.

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!


Previous roundups

Catch up on what you missed!

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44 Comments On "Sunday News Roundup 2/2/20: Coronavirus, RIP Kobe, Something Smells At American, Super Bowl Saturday, Stuck In Iran, 15K Lie-Flat Transcon, And More!"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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Yochai

Ihg discontinuing pointbreaks!

Bob

“But idling planes and crew isn’t ideal either.”

Why?

Those African diamond producers should just ramp up production, to keep the equipment and miners busy?

LAYid

Really nice write up!!! I love them and always look forward. Thank you

Simcha

+1

Mendy from Lakewood

Dan I love these posts!

pinay

There is a video of the gate agent claiming that Orthodox Jews only bathe once a week, an outrageous lie which corroborates the Adlers, I hope they make millions, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YEyMeZS3mE

Eliteflyer

I did not hear that claim made by the gate agent in your linked clip.

pinay

“you told me for religious reasons you don’t shower”, 1st 3 seconds of the clip.

Doesn\'t matter

@pinay “you told me for religious reasons you don’t shower” ≠ claiming that Orthodox Jews only bathe once a week. This video corroborates nothing

Philanthropist

According to the Gizmodo article, “Jack ma’s $14mm donation is equivalent to the average family donating $33.”
Well, that’s still more than the average person gave…..
If only everyone would give an average $33….

Kenny

Flight crews have way to much power, that really got to their heads. I Know someone, thrown off an AA flight because when he boarded, his seat was filthy with what looked like vomit or what not. The cabin crew threw napkins at him to clean himself. When the captain, and officers agreed with him, it was still the flight attendants choice whether he could fly. Then they made up some other excuse of why flight was held up, because of the lack of logic from the stewardess.

There is no accountability for the behavior of the flight crew, as it is blended in for the safety reasons, but it makes me fear asking the flight attendant for anything, in case they woke up on the wrong side of the bed, you may end up off the flight.

S

Big games wouldn’t be the same earlier in the day.
The NFL doesn’t quite care about orthodox Jews.
Besides, if it would maintain the 6:30pm start time on Saturday, it wouldn’t even be an issue (on the east coast), just complicate parties.

Eli

Nice write-up!
Is Delta trying to create a walled in suite illusion with adding some plastic around your head??

A Weitz

We just had a horrific situation with American using their web special tickets. After receiving 6 confirmation emails for the 6 tickets purchased and 6 seats assigned in my AA app for our trip to CA for Jan break, we were notified at the airport that the $11.20 in taxes was not paid on our two small children, the other 4 tickets were fine. I wasn’t that worried. It was 5:30am and the flight wasn’t until 7:00; obviously this was a fluke so I assumed I would pay the $22.40 for the two tickets (which I was sure was paid but didn’t care at that point). The desk agent was horrendous. We tried to call everyone at AA we could think of and although some said the desk agent could and should take our money, he refused. My husband had to stay back with the two kids. They were delayed multiple times, redirected on a 3 flight path to LAX only to have that flight cancelled, etc. they finally arrived to LAX 14 hours after we landed in Orange County. AA was totally unapologetic. When asked for an apology they offered $100 voucher (when i balked they reluctantly upped it slightly). After being a customer for 30 years, I will never again fly american.

Zali

Nu, maybe epes for Yud Shvat – Shivim Shana?
Probably Choshuv enough to make it in there.

LAYid

Hi. Im not sure where to ask this off topic question. I rented a car using chase sapphire points. Will the car be covered with the primary collision insurance?

Than you sir

Great stuff as always. Love these keep it up!

Discover cardholder

Interesting part about the Fico new score, and I actually think that’ll help me, because I tried to recently start paying off, except for $1/$2, thanks Dan.
Also, I noticed that when I paid the full balance on my Discover It (student) CC,except about $1.50, they just add that amount, so it comes out my balance ended in Zero.
Just something to keep in mind.

Juryduty

For east coast Jews, Saturday night would have the same advantage. (Granted food prep would be more difficult.) For those further west, you would run into shabbos issues.

Shtuli

Nothing on the Lot diversion to Iceland
And the services the Chabad Rabbi provided ?

Feuer

Horray!! Sunday news is back!!! (I missed it last week!)

aradisc

Still waiting on parts 3 and 4 of the Maldives TR

y id

Whats your take on Delta dumping fuel over LA schools? Where do they normally dump fuel, the ocean?

Mo

Interesting; I have spoken to Mr. Adler directly and never heard a word about a gate agent saying a word to any of them. Is this something new that the lawyers concocted? I’m not saying it didn’t happen but he certainly never mentioned it and I don’t think he forgot to mention such an important piece of info.

Neal J

@dan
Curious your thoughts and decision on flying cathay from jfk-yvr this coming week in regard to coronavirus?

wpDiscuz