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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Previous roundups:


Featured trip reports of the day:

Photo: Moishe Hersko
Photo: Moishe Hersko
Photo: Moishe Hersko

 

  • DD throwback trip report: Back in October 2014 I flew with Mimi and the kids to Iguaçu Falls.  Eleanor Roosevelt had it right when she said “Poor Niagara” upon seeing it. Instead of being in middle of a concrete jungle, it’s in middle of beautiful rainforest with wonderfully fresh air. It’s much bigger and far grander than Niagara Falls.

It’s also insanely cheap to fly to from NYC to Brazil, nonstop in lie-flat, direct aisle access business class right now and you no longer need a visa for Argantina or Brazil! What are you waiting for? Go!

Pictures don’t do justice to breathtaking Iguazu Falls. Photo: Dan Eleff

 

Photo: Dan Eleff

 

Photo: Dan Eleff

 

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.

Click on the headline in each blurb to read the full article.


I was interviewed by the Yated about my favorite deals, airline, most viewed posts, and more (Read the full interview here).

This past Friday’s Yated ran this “3 Minutes” interview with me, where I shared quick takes on all kinds of questions they threw my way.

Hard to believe it’s already been more than 7 years since I wrote this article in the Yated about the El Al glitch!

In general, I shy away from Jewish and mainstream media as I’m rarely happy with the end result. The amount of errors in nearly every article I’ve been interviewed for is nothing short of astounding, just ask Something Fishy about his best Antarctica photo 😉 . In this case, I gave in after I was offered the ability to write my own answers to ensure accuracy.

Then again, every article I read about topics I’m most familiar with, such as credit cards and miles, are nearly universally terrible.

Which is why I love late Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton’s explanation of the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect,

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

 


The First Sefer Tanya Ever Printed In The Falkland Islands Arrived In The US 

The story of how last year’s Kosher Antarctica cruise wound up in the Falkland Islands is fascinating. Equally interesting was the problem it solved regarding the numerous halachic questions about when Shabbos would be according to the Alter Rebbe, the 1st Lubavitcher Rebbe. Due to the easterly detour, we never made it far enough south to a point where there might have been a question of how the Baal HaTanya V’Shulchan Aruch would hold about when Shabbos is, based on his unique understanding of sunset. You might almost say the situation was destined to be that way, much like the Alter Rebbe’s own boat story.

Based on the Rebbe’s campaign to print a Tanya everywhere on Earth, it only seemed appropriate to print a Tanya in the Falkland Islands, where it had never been printed before. As a Tanya had already been printed in Antarctica, we didn’t plan on printing one there. However DansDeals Antarctica raffle winner Levi Benjaminson spent his time in the Falklands locating a printer and this past week the Tanyas arrived in NYC!

The 7,237th printing of the Tanya:


Aegean Plays Dirty, Devalues Miles Without Notice

It’s bad enough when airlines devalue miles with advance notice. But at least that allows time to take advantage of lower rates before the devaluation goes into effect.

Last week Aegean devalued their award chart without any notice at all. That type of devaluation erodes trust in a program and is further reason why you should not transfer points to an airline without having a use for them.

Star Alliance tickets from North America to Europe or Israel for example went up from 30K miles each way to 35K miles each way in coach and from 45K miles each way to 55K miles each way in business class. That’s not the end of the world, but a program that devalues once without notice will do it again.

As I mentioned in the Yated, this sort of short-term thinking may create a profit for this quarter. But the lost loyalty over the long-term will have a longer lasting negative effect.


The Curious Case Of The Fired 79 Year Old Delta Flight Attendant

A flight attendant making $250K/year?!? Who knew.

Ida Gomez Llanos is accused of a laundry list of items from stealing cereal, chocolate, and milk, to drinking on the job, to saying how she hoped to get fired, to paying off colleagues to switch positions with her, and failing to do her duties.

She claims that it’s all one big setup to get her salary and seniority off the books and is suing Delta.

It’s hard to make heads and tails of the story or who is right, but this will be a fun lawsuit to watch. What do you make of her claims?


You Can Now Go To A Restaurant Serving Airplane Meals

A restaurant serving airline meals? What in the world?!?

Maybe I can’t relate because kosher airline meals are just gross. Then again, I once told a blogger to order a kosher meal just for giggles for a review and now he actually consistently orders kosher meals because they like them better than regular meals!

Some are certainly worse than others, such as this pile of cat food from Stogel that I’ve received on several airlines in business class from Europe, which made me wish they would have just forgotten my meal altogether like United did on the final 747 flight, when they gave me 15K miles to make up for the forgotten meal.

Or when I got a tray of frozen gefilte fish in SAS business class,without even a hot entree:


Or when DDF member Yaalili got this Passover meal on Aeromexico business class from KOSHair several weeks after the holiday had ended:


It’s not all bad.

Hermolis meals are usually decent enough.

Hermolis sliced lamb stew kosher meal served in Cathay Pacific first class from Hong Kong to Toronto in January 2011:


 

My favorite kosher meals have been from even more exotic locales. The KSML on Singapore from the Maldives catered by Sydney based Lewis caterers and the KSML on United from Honolulu catered by Oahu Kosher stand out the most.

Whenever possible I BYOK. That’s when I double wrap a meal from a restaurant and ask the flight attendant to warm that up for me after they see how atrocious the KSML (kosher meal) is or if they are missing the KSML. But not all flight attendants will do that.

The owner of Weiss caterers told me at a DansDeals Seminar that airlines relentlessly drive costs down for KSMLs. The race to the bottom has led to the meals being as awful as they typically are.

DDF member ChAiM’l spoke to the owner of Hermolis about the issue and got a blunt response. “NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE ARE COMPLAINING.”

He told him that so many people complained to British Airways that their kosher food from Argentina was awful, so BA started catering Hermolis meals from Argentina.

Is the reason that kosher meals are so bad our own fault? Should we be letting the airline know what we really think about them?

Do you ever complain about poor quality KSMLs? Can you imagine going to a restaurant that served them?!?


A Washington Post Freelance Writer Whines About United. Is He Crazy?

Richard Morgan wrote a diatribe for the Washington Post on Thanksgiving week about troubles he had at the airport over the summer. I’m not sure why the article ran months after the incident, perhaps it was submitted previously and the WashPo needed some travel content for the busiest travel week of the year?

In it, he whines, whines, and whines some more about airline policies and capitalism in general, along with some side rant about Facebook, Apple, and John Deere just for good measure. Yet, everything in the article points to self-inflicted wounds and zero personal responsibility!

To wit:

  • United told him they anticipated weather issues and offered the ability to change his flight, but he decided to fly anyway.
  • After United cancelled his flight, a phone agent rebooked him on American so that he would be able to get to the wedding he was traveling to. That’s amazingly generous of United! Airlines have no responsibility to rebook on another airline in case of weather and had he booked on an airline like American, JetBlue, Southwest, or Spirit, they would have told him to pound sand, but United is actually pretty good about rebooking on other airlines.
  • The phone agent said that they could not offer a hotel voucher due to weather, but he still thought it would be a good idea to get into a massive line that had more than 400 people to ask for a hotel voucher. He writes that he got into line at 10:57pm and it took 12 hours to reach the front of the line, before he was denied a voucher. He was already told this by United on the phone and a Google search would have confirmed that airlines don’t provide hotels for weather cancellations, but I suppose he waited 12 hours because it would make a good story?
  • Due to a gate change, he slept in and missed his American flight. Relying on there to be noise at his gate, he didn’t set an alarm to get up for the flight. OK then.
  • To American’s credit, they didn’t charge him anything to put him on another flight, but the author then goes into a diatribe about having to go standby and the nerve of airlines for overbooking. Airlines overbook less than ever post-Dr. Dao, but when there’s bad weather, flights often fill up due to other cancellations and they have long standby lists. He turned American’s generosity against them and railed about being told to buy a new ticket if he didn’t want to keep standing by for a seat.
  • This whole time, he never writes if he researched other options, perhaps from an airport like Philadelphia, that may have had available space.
  • He ends up clearing standby and whining that he could have driven faster, while bemoaning unfair capitalist practices of airlines in the US.
  • It’s worth noting that while US carriers are usually pretty good about putting you on standby for free if you miss your flight, most foreign airlines will say that you need to pay for new tickets. But, sure. Blame the US airlines for booking you on another airline for a weather cancellation and then having to go standby because you slept in. Makes perfect sense!
  • Gell-Mann Amnesia effect…check, as mentioned above.

Am I being too harsh on this writer? If the WashPo is looking for actual stories on airlines behaving badly, perhaps look at our London fiasco with American and what it took just to get a refund.


The Verge does a fascinating dive into the lives and disappearance of Google’s Co-Founders.

Google has always intrigued me. I’ve used their search engine and email services since very early on. I wanted to invest my bar mitzvah present money into their IPO, but my father and his financial advisor assured me it was just a fluke.

The company has certainly made my life better and not a day goes by when I don’t use their suite of products. I just hope they never kill off the powerful ITA Matrix, as that will be one very sad day for expert level travelers.

It will be interesting to see where Google goes from here without their co-founders at the helm. Do you think this will be another case of Steve Jobs or Michael Dell returning to actively lead their company after a hiatus? Or are the growing internal pressures at Google not worth the toll they take on people that have all the money they will ever need for generations to come?


The Chiefs forgot to unload their equipment from their United charter flight. They nearly had to forfeit.

The Kansas City Chiefs flew on a United 767-400ER from Kansas City to Providence yesterday. Somehow they left a container with all of their equipment on the flight.

They didn’t realize it was missing until after plane flew to Newark!

I’m not too familiar with how luggage works on chartered flights, but apparently it’s the Chiefs’ responsibility to unload and not United’s. Or perhaps the ramp agents were just Pats fans 😉

At any rate, they would have been forced to forfeit without the equipment. But the container flew on a United 737-800 commercial flight that arrived in Boston just hours before kickoff.

Mass State Police even escorted the equipment to Foxboro:

https://twitter.com/MassStatePolice/status/1203769860662140928?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1203769860662140928&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fsports.yahoo.com%2Fmajor-mistake-equipment-bags-for-roughly-35-chiefs-players-are-in-newark-not-new-england-190927315.html

 

And it made it in time for the Chiefs to avoid forfeiting:

 

The Chiefs wound up beating the Patriots, 23-16.

Hopefully they put their charter flights on a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Preferred so that they can claim compensation for baggage delay reimbursement 😉


Share your thoughts on these stories or post a comment about what other stories that I missed!

Leave a Reply

49 Comments On "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!"

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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LA

I must say that I found your Yated interview fascinating, eye-opening and entertaining. חזק ואמץ. Keep up all the good work!

Falkland Islands!

Where can I buy a copy of this Tanya please?

Levi B

Sure! Email Me at falklandtanya@gmail.com

MaaYanky

Wow! We need these compacted articles more often!

chaim

did you also write the questions for the yated interview because i found them on the ball and the type of questions i would have asked you?

Grazee

Maybe the Chiefs just keep rabbeinu TOM

deb

About a year or so ago, I did something unheard of– I wrote an email to ElAl and to Borenstein Caterers *complimenting* them on their meals in ElAl Business class. I received a large assortment of thank yous from quite a few employees at Borensteins. Sounded like no one ever praised them before. I really felt like I made their day. Eventually I received an acknowledgement from ElAl as well.

Ben

Love the inerview …. thanks for my one cent iPhone 11 pro case!

chaz

like i have told you many times in the past. these are the posts all veterans are yearning for. please keep them coming. thanks guru.

Yeshiva guy

Love these short and cute posts !

EliJelly

Great article! And an awesome interview, as always, spot on answers!

oaul

dan can we have a shaft on tanya for the oilam? a tanya ddfo likovad yad kislev

1991

Can we get a link of the article about the shower shabbos passenger and the disappeared plane?

Peerim

Not happy about the MA cops and the escort.

Levi

Dan,
While I am a great fan of yours and the website, I also use matrix a lot. That being said is there a way you could tell us some of the tricks you use with it. Ie hidden city ticketing etc?
Levi

ITA

Check out ddf.

Interested

Can you expound more on what “lchatchila ariber” is and what it specifically changed? First time I’ve heard of it (I’m not chabad)!

!

What about a link for the google story ?

savta

Great interview for the Yated Thanks as always for all that you do. You are truly inspiring. My family has benefited greatly from all your information and tips We have been able to travel too many locations.

H

Loving these roundups. Make them permanent please. Keep it up Dan!!

Bruce

Hi. Question about the Tesla model 3. With no information directly in front of you, does it bother you to keep having to look to the right for driving information such as the cars speed?

FreakwentFlyer

Hey Dan,
Massive massive fan. Love this kind of post!
What ever happened with the whatsapp notifications? It was going to move to groups but I never got added and the DD business number is not receiving messages anymore.

Samy

Thanks for the post.
Very entertaining and informative.
Can you share more about the Tesla?
Say you wanted to drive to NY and back what would it entail ?
Also, when was Tanya printed in Antarctica?

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