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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.
Table of Contents
Featured Trip Reports Of The Day
- DDF Trip Report:
DDF member Something Fishy’s trip reports are legendary and this 2016 trip report to Cuba with 2 other DDF members is no exception.
- DD Trip Report:
The most fun I’ve ever had on a plane was flying United’s 747 retirement flight from San Francisco to Honolulu. If only all flights were like this one!
Seoul-Tel Aviv Route Suspended After Israel Rejects Korean Air Flight After Landing
Korean Air flight 957 departed Seoul on Saturday at 2:28pm local time and arrived in Ben Gurion Airport at 7:44pm yesterday.
It didn’t stay long. Israel decided to refuse entry to all 200 foreign nationals on the flight and kept them on the plane due to Coronavirus fears. The 12 Israelis onboard were allowed into Israel and sent home in ambulances for a 2 week self-quarantine. The flight left Israel less than 2 hours after it landed.
Korean Air has cancelled flights to Israel until at least the end of March.
Non-Israelis who have visited China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, or Thailand in the past 2 weeks are not welcome into the country.
El Al was slated to start flying nonstop to Tokyo starting on March 11, but that seems extremely unlikely to happen with Coronavirus spreading throughout Japan and with the ban on foreign nationals who have been to Japan recently. El Al will also likely suspend flights to Bangkok.
Israel is risking diplomatic ties with Asian countries over the foreign national bans, but it stresses that it cares more about keeping its citizens safe.
Surely it also wants to keep its lucrative tourism sector safe for visitors from North America and Europe.
But the real question is can the world really avoid community spread of Coronavirus at this point?
Trade In Your E-ZPASS For An E-PASS Xtra To Pay Tolls From New York To Florida
A major pain point of toll transponders is that they don’t work across the country. They were supposed to years ago…
Flying into Miami and renting a car is always a pain as you’ll get slammed with massive fees for using a rental car’s toll transponder for the airport road toll.
A reader sent me a link to E-PASS Xtra and it looks great! It works throughout the Northeast, Midwest, and down to Florida as well. “E-PASS Xtra is fully compatible with E-PASS, SunPass, LeeWay, PeachPass, NC QuickPass, E-ZPass, RiverLink, I-PASS and FastPass toll systems.”
Having one toll account for all of that sounds awesome!
Of course some states provide discounts for their residents on local tolls, so you’ll still be stuck with 2 transponders. But at least this one is easy to get and free to maintain.
Do you have an E-PASS Xtra?
Goodbye To An Excellent Marriott Points Hotel Option In Venice
Mimi and I spent a Shabbos in Venice a decade ago and it was truly magical. Venice should definitely be a bucket list item for everyone.
Marriott’s category 6 Grand Hotel Del Dogi is located less than 1/3rd of a mile from Chabad of Venice, which hosts excellent Shabbos meals. That’s an incredible location for a points hotel.
Alas, they are leaving Marriott on May 1st along with Rome’s Palazzo Naiadi, Budapest’s New York Palace, and Prague’s Carlo IV.
DD reader Harry writes that they are honoring his points bookings made for after May 1st, but they won’t honor any elite benefits.
AMEX Centurion Lounge In Charlotte Opens Tomorrow
AMEX is opening a lounge in Charlotte tomorrow. It’s great to see them expand their lounge network, especially as airlines lock down their lounges to passengers flying on their flights that day.
Cards that provide Centurion lounge access, aside from Centurion cards, include:
- AMEX Business Platinum: Primary and secondary Platinum cardholders, plus 2 free guests
- AMEX Consumer Platinum: Primary and secondary Platinum cardholders, plus 2 free guests
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card: Primary cardholder, plus 2 guests at a cost of $50 each.
- Delta Reserve Credit Card: Primary cardholder, plus 2 guests at a cost of $50 each.
Currently, there are Centurion Lounges in:
- Dallas/DFW (Terminal D, near American)
- Houston/IAH (Terminal D, near United)
- Las Vegas (Concourse D, near United)
- Miami (Concourse D, near American)
- NYC/LGA (Central terminal B upstairs, before security)
- Philadelphia (Terminal A West, near American)
- Phoenix (Terminal 4)
- Seattle (Concourse B)
- San Francisco (Terminal 3, near United)
International locations include:
- Buenos Aires/EZE
- Hong Kong (Terminal 1)
- Mexico City
- Monterrey, Mexico
- Sao Paulo/GRU
- Toluca, Mexico
Future lounges include Charlotte, Denver, London, Los Angeles, and 2 level Centurion lounge in JFK terminal 4. Terminal 4 includes airlines like El Al, Asiana, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, KLM, Singapore, South African, Swiss, Virgin Atlantic, and more.
Capital One Will Open Their First Airport Lounge
Capital One is just full of surprises ever since they started allowing points to be transferred into airline miles.
Capital One will open their own branded airport lounge in Washington DC/IAD in 2021. We’ll have to see which cards will give access to it.
It’s great to see more banks get into the lounge space. Your move, Chase and Citi. 😀
United and Chase Extend Their Exclusivity
United and Chase already had an exclusivity agreement for the United co-branded credit cards through 2025, but United was unhappy with the terms of that deal. United complained that the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards are so good that people weren’t using their own cards.
They have reached a new agreement that will pay United more starting immediately, and will include exclusivity through 2029.
I’d guess that we’ll see annual fees on premium cards like the United Club cards climb.
The real question will be if Chase and United can find a way to make their co-brand cards more competitive for spending. They offer great benefits for having them, but there aren’t many good places to actually use the cards.
Baseball Is Having A Really Bad Off-season
What an off-season for the national pastime…
First MLB confirmed what everyone knew, the Astros cheated to win the 2017 World Series trophy.
Next came rumors that Astros hitters actually used wearable buzzers to cheat.
Somehow the franchise and players escaped any major punishment, though I think they should at least be forced to revert to the original name of their ballpark, Enron Field.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, already facing heat for failing to discipline players, then called his game’s highest honor, the World Series Trophy, “a piece of metal.”
Players across baseball are livid that the Astros will keep their trophy and even LeBron James got involved in calling out Mr. Manfred.
Instead of fixing that problem, Mr. Manfred announced new rules requiring relief pitchers to face a minimum of 3 batters and a silly new format for baseball playoffs including a reality style TV show where teams pick their opponents.
You know things are bad when Trevor Bauer, the pitcher who arguably cost the Indians the 2016 trophy by goofing around with a drone and who found a one-way ticket out of Cleveland by throwing a ball over the center field fence during a temper tantrum, makes more sense than the commissioner of baseball:
For those looking for more of my feeling on this here you go https://t.co/77Em1yXaU6
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) February 11, 2020
Baseball turned into gimmicks and jokes this off-season. Never thought I’d say this, but can we have Bud Selig back?
Japanese Mother And Son Rack Up The Points, Learn The Hard Way That Pigs Get Fat and Hogs Get Slaughtered.
When someone on DDF posts about a loophole, I often remind them that PGFHGS, or pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.
A Japanese mother and son figured out that they could rack up millions of points by booking hotels and cancelling them as some hotels rewarded points despite the cancellation.
Sure, you could discover that by accident and do it a few times without anyone being the wiser. But do that for 3,200 stays while racking up millions of points and you’re bound to get caught. They now face charges in a country with a 99.9% conviction rate.
American Just Keeps On Proving That They Are The Worst
But this story just makes me angry. Their agents seem to take pride in causing problems where problems shouldn’t exist:
As the perpetrator of this crime in the air (I swapped seats w Adrienne) I can assure all that she is, if anything, downplaying this horrific experience.
#Horrendous #EvenBy @AmericanAir #Standards #LUV @SouthwestAir
— Tony Sarsam (@TonySarsam) February 12, 2020
And then comes the form letter responses:
We evaluate the circumstances and try to be reasonable and fair in our decisions. We're sorry you're unhappy with the results.
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) February 12, 2020
And when a real live human actually responds, the compensation is a measly 10,000 miles. Not nearly enough for a replacement first class seat. How pathetic.
Finally got another call from someone else in the Customer Relations executive office who confirmed this is NOT a policy & gave me a real, human apology. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 Thank you, @AmericanAir. pic.twitter.com/9O0yM68l23
— Adrienne Chance (@msgatoradr) February 18, 2020
United Is Doubling Down On The Awesome CRJ-550
United’s solution to their long-time problems of flying awful 50 passenger planes due to being capped out of additional 70/76 passenger planes was the brilliant CRJ-550. They ripped 20 seats out of the plane to make for a truly spacious flying experience with closets onboard for baggage.
The pilot union thought that United was bluffing and would never move forward with the CRJ-550, but it has been wildly popular with passengers and United has announced that they will add 20 more to their fleet. In turn, they will be able to add 20 more of the comfortable 70/76 seat ERJ-170/175s to their fleet as well.
I haven’t yet flown the CRJ-550, but hope to soon. Hopefully United will eventually be able to phase out the miserable CRJ-200 and ERJ-145s from their fleet entirely!
The Latest Boeing 737MAX Fiasco: Debris In Fuel Tanks
Will Boeing’s 737MAX problems ever end?
Boeing has found debris in 737MAX fuel tanks. That will push back the timeline for the plane’s return to service even further.
Not that I’m looking forward to the return. I’m sure the 737MAX will be the safest airplane ever once it’s re-certified, but I’ll try to avoid it as it will remain an uncomfortable plane due to airlines packing in more seats than ever with miserably tiny bathrooms.
Etihad’s Terrifying A380 Landing In London
Etihad’s pilots managed to bring this A380 safely down during London’s Storm Dennis, caught in this crazy video:
But while some have praised the landing, many pilots and Etihad themselves have criticized the pilots for not going around,
“This official view from the Training Department is a simple one – THIS IS NOT WHAT WE WANT TO SEE. There is a time to give an approach away in the interest of safety.”
Israel’s Drone Dome Is INSANE!
Move over Iron Dome.
This is straight out of Star Wars. Drones can be used to attack Israel, so Israel has figured out how to shoot them out of the sky with a laser. Amazing!
No word on whether you can buy one of these to shoot your nosy neighbor’s drone out of the sky 😉
Another Way To Get From Manhattan To Boston
Forget the train or the airport. You will soon be able to take a one hour seaplane from E. 23rd St in Manhattan to Boston operated by Cape Air. The maximum capacity will be 9 passengers and TSA screening won’t be required.
Flights should start next month and will cost about $400. But, will we be able to use miles to fly?
Airport Security Manager Falls For Gift Card Scam, Loses Job
I’ve never understood how people can fall for scams asking for gift card codes over the phone or email.
But if you’re the an airport security manager and fall for it, I’m sorry, but you deserve to get fired!
Nostalgia: “Tell Me” Is Still Around
Back in the days before we carried around the internet in our pockets there was “Tell Me.” You could call the 800 number for sports scores, the weather, and so much more.
A day didn’t go by in high school when I didn’t call it.
The number stopped working years ago, but DDF member thebudgetdeals points out that you can still access it by calling 866-895-3124. I can’t say it’s useful for me anymore, but it was fun dialing in and traveling 20 years back in time.
PSA: Hyatt Won’t Extend Or Convert Chase Free Nights
I’ve had success getting Hyatt to convert free category 1-4 nights into 10K points or free category 1-7 nights into 20K points. You need to wait until after the nights have expired in order to request points.
Alas I learned the hard way that Hyatt is no longer doing that for anniversary nights issued by Chase. Bummer.
$10,000 To Downgrade From Business To Economy Plus To Hawaii? Where Do I Sign Up?
Ever since the Dr. Dao incident, United ramped up the compensation they offer to get bumped before a flight.
Yesterday, United swapped a 767-400 for a 767-300 from Newark to Honolulu, resulting in a loss of 9 business class seats. The old United would have just shifted those 9 passengers to coach, but the new United offered a whopping $10,000 each in United vouchers to voluntarily downgrade to Economy Plus.
I’d take that windfall in a heartbeat, especially on a non red-eye, even if the 30 remaining passengers do get real Polaris seating on the route.
It looks like United is swapping out tomorrow’s Newark to Honolulu flight again from a 767-400 to a 767-300 and first class is showing full. If you’re flying to Hawaii tomorrow, get ready to jump at a sweet offer!
This is how badly United didn’t want to give me cash: pic.twitter.com/sI7vmbeB2Q
— Allison M. Preiss (@allisonmpreiss) March 22, 2018
United’s New Travel Campaign Pictures Are Kind Of Awesome
These photoshopped images are designed to inspire wanderlust. I was born with a few extra helpings of that, but these images sure work on me!
Share your thoughts on these stories or post a comment about what other stories that I missed!
Catch up on what you missed!
- Sunday News Roundup 2/16/20: New US Airlines, Cruise Quarantines, #Reclinegate, Yiddish Harry Potter, Aeroplan Infant Awards, And More!
- 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!
- Sunday News Roundup 1/19/20: Pilotless Flights, El Al Diversion, Mobile Boarding Passes, MLB Cheating, Handy Credit Card, United Backdoor Link, And More!
- Sunday News Roundup 1/5/20: Kosher Thailand Hotel, Mexican Jail Mileage Run, Jeopardy GOAT, Fugitive Ex-Nissan CEO Escape, EgyptAir Coverup, And More!
- Sunday News Roundup 12/22/19: #KosherAntarctica Cruise, The Residence, AA Shutdowns, TWA, Amazon Israel, NY Small Claims Change, United Cape Town, Backdoor Marriott Links+More!
- Sunday News Roundup 12/15/19: Jersey City Terror, TLV Hotel, Bonvoyed, Protect Your Ring, Check Your Passwords, And More!
- Sunday News Roundup 12/8/19: 8 Quick Takes On Travel; DansDeals Interview, Falklands Tanya, Aegean Devaluation, Travel “Nightmare,” Airline Meals, Near NFL Forfeit, And More!
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- Sunday News Roundup 11/17/19: 12 Quick Takes On Aviation And Travel; Dubious Marriott Claims, TWA Ice Rink, A380 Failure, Mileage Ban, And More
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