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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:
One of DDF member Something Fishy’s earlier trip reports, with a short report to Rocky Mountain National Park:
- DD Trip Report:
We have traveled to Israel twice in the past 2 years with the family and made some truly amazing memories. Splitting our time between Herzliya and Tel Aviv, here’s a look at the Ritz Carlton Herzliya and surrounding areas:
Walmart+ Is Not A Prime Killer
Walmart+ will offer unlimited same day grocery delivery for $98.
The media decided that this would be a Prime killer. It’s not even a Prime competitor.
It seems obvious that it’s competing with Instacart and not Prime. Walmart is not offering free shipping with no minimum on everything from their site like Amazon does.
They tried that a few years ago and they killed it without ever trying to market it. With a $35 minimum purchase requirement, I’m far more likely to buy from Amazon than Walmart. And Walmart+ does absolutely nothing to stop that, so please stop calling it a Prime killer or Prime competitor.
Italy Goes On Lockdown
Northern Italy, including Milan and Venice, are now on lockdown through at least April 3rd. That includes 17 million people under quarantine.
Residents are being asked to take off of work, stay home and avoid travel.
Hospitals are maxed out as 7,375 Italians have tested positive for coronavirus and 366 have died.
However, unlike in China, there was nobody stopping people from taking trains and planes outside of the quarantine zones, rendering it rather ineffective. Without enforcement, people will just leave the quarantine zone, which will spread coronavirus even further.
Will Israel Be The First With A Coronavirus Vaccine?
A vaccine can’t come soon enough give that the virus is spreading like wildfire and has the potential to cripple hospitals and economies worldwide.
The only question is what will BDS supporters do?
AMEX Centurion Lounge In Los Angeles Opens Tomorrow
AMEX is opening a lounge in LAX 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.
It will be located in the TBIT terminal and it will be walkable airside from terminals 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 without needing to exit security. There’s also an airside shuttle from terminals 2 and 3 to TBIT without needing to exit security.
The massive 14K square foot lounge will feature everything from tranquility rooms to free spa services.
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:
- Charlotte (Intersection of Concourses D & E, mezzanine level)
- 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 Denver, London, and a 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.
Amtrak Suspends Nonstop Acela Service Between NYC and DC
Amtrak is suspending nonstop Acela between NYC-DC from 3/10-5/26 due to low demand.
They’re also offering change fee waivers on bookings through 4/30.
Personally I’d just advise people to sanitize their seat, but it seems people plan on avoiding all travel for the near-future.
United Making It Harder To Get A Refund
Airlines are hemorrhaging cash due to coronavirus. While they are announcing free change policies on new bookings to generate revenue, they are trying to avoid doing so on existing bookings, though you may have luck if you specifically ask for a waiver.
United is reducing their schedule on many domestic and international routes and wants to avoid handing out refunds. Previously a 30 minute schedule change was enough for free changes and a 2 hour schedule change was enough for a free refund.
However, now United is looking to conserve cash by offering refunds only when the schedule changes by 25 or more hours!
How much does @united want to conserve cash? Before Saturday, after a schedule change of more than two hours, United happily would refund you. The new policy is 25 hours. Spokeswoman said: "We do everything we can to rebook customers in as timely a manner as possible." pic.twitter.com/BgEQ1PsyHA
— Brian Sumers (@BrianSumers) March 7, 2020
25 hours is a ridiculously high threshold for a refund. I think that United is trying to get passengers to look at alternate flight options rather than hand out refunds, but will ultimately give a refund if other options don’t work.
Still, this seems rather petty of United at a time that they are losing passengers and cutting flights. It’s certainly not a policy change that will generate good will.
United COVID-19 Flight Cuts
United previously announced that they would reduce flights due to coronovirus. They didn’t specify the exact cuts, but those are now leaking out, including some cuts to Tel Aviv service.
Not sure if this has been reported elsewhere, but source tells me these are international cuts @united is making. Some have been previously announced. The airline said this week it is cutting 20% of its April international schedule to match supply amid #COVIDー19 panic. pic.twitter.com/kG7pruFp4w
— Brian Sumers (@BrianSumers) March 7, 2020
Let The Elite Status Wars Begin: 50% Bonus Miles With Alaska
Many passengers with elite status are grounded and are at risk of losing their status due to coronavirus.
I’d expect to see more elite status promotions as time goes on, assuming that coronavirus remains a threat.
China Will Pay Airlines To Restore Flights
Airlines across the globe cut service to China indefinitely.
China is hoping to reverse that by offering subsidies to airlines flying to China through June 30th.
It would be rather ironic if China manages to contain coronavirus, only to have it boomerang back from passengers coming from countries that can’t lock down cities like they can.
I’m not sure which airlines will return in exchange for a small subsidy, the flights will return on their own if there is demand for them.
Flybe Goes Under, But Let’s Not Chalk This Up To Coronavirus
Many news reports are saying that Flybe is the first airline to be killed by coronavirus.
That conveniently ignores that the airline was going broke before coronavirus began. Its demise may have been expedited by a few months, but it didn’t stand a chance of making it through 2020 regardless.
There will be airlines that fall victim to coronavirus. But it’s hard to count Flybe in that list.
Math Should Not Be This Hard…
My 8 year old with a Yeshiva education laughed hysterically at this math discussion. How is this even possible?!?
— OJPAC (@OJPAC) March 6, 2020
Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani Is Sentenced To 3 Years For Tampering With An American Plane
American Airlines mechanic Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani pleaded guilty to tampering with an American plane and has been sentenced to 3 years in prison.
That light sentence was because the judge found that he was reckless in order to get a pay raise, rather than intentionally endangering the aircraft. That’s despite the FBI finding a disturbing ISIS video on his phone that he forwarded with the message that Allah should take revenge against non-Muslims. And that’s despite video footage showing Mr. Alani deliberately sabotaging the plane.
The American pilots noticed the problems with the plane before takeoff and cancelled the flight, avoiding potential tragedy.
Here’s hoping Mr. Alani isn’t trusted with public safety ever again.
Stay Twice At Choice Hotels And Get A Free Night
If you make 2 stays at Choice Hotels from 3/7-4/26 you can get enough points for a free night.
Register via the link above to take advantage of the free night promotion!
Jersey City’s Kosher Supermarket
The Jersey City shooting in December was gut-wrenching. My heart went out to Moshe Ferencz, whose wife was killed managing the store while he went out to pray.
I’m thrilled to read that the supermarket has reopened. Its located a few blocks away from the original location, in a place where he and his wife were planning on moving the grocery store before the attack.
Its new name is Olive Branch and we can only hope that it will peacefully exist for many years to come.
Iran Doesn’t Learn From China’s Mistakes, Threatens Leakers With Flogging
34 year old Dr. Li Wenliang tried to warn the world on December 30th about a novel coronavirus. China punished him for doing so and the good Doctor wound up dying of the virus. China eventually apologized for demonizing him.
As coronavirus devastates Iran with thousands of infections and hundreds of deaths, the country is cracking down on those who talk about how big the problem is in that country as they downplay the numbers there.
Why learn lessons anyway?
As Disney Raises Prices, Jungle Cruise Ride Sinks
Disney can seemingly raise prices to no end without any drop in demand. I can think of better things to do with thousands of dollars than pay to wait in line with whiny kids for manufactured entertainment, but clearly I’m in the minority.
But even with confiscatory entry fees, you still may get that sinking feeling when your Jungle Cruise sinks. But at least you’ll still be at the happiest place on Earth!
Even A Shark Can Get Phished
Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran nearly lost $380,000 when someone acting as her assistant spoofed an invoice to pay.
Lesson learned: Be careful when you wire money! https://t.co/ICW7ij9N8V
— Barbara Corcoran (@BarbaraCorcoran) February 26, 2020
Luckily for her though, the bank froze the transfer before it reached the scammer in China and she got her money back.
But it’s a good reminder to always be wary of fake emails. And to be sure to pick up the phone and confirm things before firing off thousands of dollars…
Sometimes, Airlines Do The Right Thing
DDFB member Debby shares her experience on British Airways. Her flight lost hydraulic controls upon landing and needed to be towed to the gate, which took over an hour.
She missed her connecting flight, but was upgraded to first class for the trouble. The agent even noted that she may not have kosher food on the new flight and that she should head to the first class Concorde Lounge for kosher food before the flight.
Now that’s how to provide service recovery!
Are Bunk Beds The Future Of Economy Travel?
When I was at Airbus Headquarters last year I got to tour some neat bunk bed concepts for economy class passengers.
Air New Zealand is an innovator in the economy cabin, with the ability to turn a row of seats into a SkyCouch.
They are now testing out the SkyNest, with a full size bunk bed for economy class passengers. Currently the plan is to have 6 of these per flight and to see what demand looks like for them.
You would have the SkyNest in addition to your regular seat.
Would you upgrade to have a bunk bed on a flight?
Air New Zealand sold a London Heathrow Slot For $27MM
Air New Zealand recently announced that they will fly nonstop from Newark to Auckland. At the same time they announced that they would discontinue their 5th freedom flight from Los Angeles to London.
They have now cashed in, selling their off-peak London slot for $27 million. That slot allows for one daily landing and takeoff at London Heathrow. Peak timed London slots have sold for as much as $75 million.
The purchasing airline is unknown. JetBlue is known to want London slots for flights starting next year, but it will likely settle for service to Gatwick instead of Heathrow.
Airlines are now flying to London Heathrow with nearly empty planes as they need to keep flying in order to maintain their slots. Ironically, London has some of the highest taxes on flights, ostensibly to go green, though I’m not sure what’s green about forcing airlines to fly empty flights.
Fired For Not Working On The Sabbath?
The Supreme Court has refused to hear a case about a Sabbath observing Seventh Day Adventist being fired from Walgreens for refusing to work on the Sabbath.
The lower courts ruled that Walgreens merely needs to reasonably accommodate employees religious beliefs, but they were allowed to fire Darrell Patterson for refusing to work on the Sabbath for an emergency training session.
I’m not aware of the specifics of the case, but it does seem worrisome that in 2020 companies can still fire employees over their religious practices. Was it really not possible to schedule the training session on another day?
When Smart Car Rentals Turn Into A Nightmare
New age car rental sound great on paper. But then you realize that your credit card won’t cover you for an accident if you rent from Turo.
Or in this article, the writer rented a car from Gig, only to find herself locked out when she lost cell phone coverage.
I think I’ll stick with Uber or a traditional car rental for now…
Did The Waldorf Beverly Hills Steal Secrets?
The WSJ has the scoop on a fascinating case of corporate espionage, with the Peninsula Beverly Hills suing the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills for stealing secrets on corporate rates, clients, and more.
The Peninsula alleges that it had a mole that gave the Waldorf the intel in exchange for a cushy job at the new hotel.
It found out about it after Middle Eastern royals, who spend millions of dollars on their stays, let the Peninsula know that they had a mole trying to poach them to stay at the Waldorf.
I stayed at the Waldorf last week using Hilton points. It was a decent stay, but not worthy of the paid rates they charge. But somehow I don’t think I’m the kind of customer that the Peninsula is suing over 😉
How Crazy Is It That A 5 Hour Flight Across The Pond Makes News Headlines?
The Boeing 747 was designed with its distinctive hump because Boeing figured that it would have a limited lifespan as a commercial airliner and would soon be converted to a cargo plane.
You see in the 1960s, airline manufacturers all assumed that the future was supersonic flying.
The Concorde launched in 1973 and it could fly from JFK to London in just under 3 hours.
And here we are, half a century later, reading news headlines of a 747 flying the route in just under 5 hours, setting a new subsonic time record.
I was just 18 when the Concorde was retired in October 2003, but I wish I had the chance to fly in it.
I understand that it was expensive and wasn’t particularly comfortable, but that’s true of most first generation products. It boggles my mind that the design was never tweaked and improved. Sure, the noise led to bans on overland flying, but surely newer technology could have mitigated that?
Instead we’re bragging about a 6 decade old airplane setting records that look pathetic compared to what used to exist. Is there any other technology on Earth that has gone so far backwards in 50 years?
And the new subsonic record was set in an airplane that soon enough will also no longer exist.
These are strange times indeed.
Amazon Go Is Thinking Big
Amazon has 25 Amazon Go stores that offer small scale convenience. You can walk into the cashier-less stores, pickup what you want, and just walk right out.
Amazon will now implement that concept into grocery stores 5 times the size of the current Amazon Go stores. That’s a big step into the grocery store wars.
All things being equal, I’d be more likely to shop for groceries at a store where I can skip the line.
The only question is will Amazon add the technology to its Whole Foods stores, or will it start a new chain from the ground up?
eBay Bans Masks And Hand Sanitizer Sales
With sellers gobbling up masks and hand sanitizer to resell online, eBay is striking back with a sitewide ban on those items.
On the one hand it seems silly to ban items that are useful for people, after all it’s a free market. But eBay is likely trying to avoid the bad PR and potential legal liability for price gouging during a crisis.
And maybe people will now leave some stock on the shelf for someone else to buy at retail.
This Is One Awesome Shot
94 Feet? No problem.
— Ole Miss Athletics (@OleMissSports) February 23, 2020
Share your thoughts on these stories or post a comment about what other stories that I missed!
Catch up on what you missed!
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