4/16/23 News Roundup: Podcast, War On Liquids, USB Charging, Aviation Close Calls, Price Drop Guarantee, Flight To Nowhere, More Passenger Bumps, 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. Let’s hear your thoughts about them in the comments below!

View previous roundups and commentary here.

Featured Trip Report

ponash123 shares another one of her epic trip reports, this time to Vietnam.

Add another one to the bucket list!

Our first podcast

JJ has been all about the social media push and on a trip with Rafi to New York for the Chidon Hamitzvos game show last month, JJ and I sat down with Eli Langer for his Kosher Money podcast to shmooze about the history of DansDeals. It was a lot of fun, though we barely scratched the surface! Maybe it’s time for a DansDeals podcast to delve deeper?


Beginning Of The End For One Of America’s Longest Wars?

The US may have pulled out of Afghanistan in 2021, but the war against liquids on planes, which launched in August 2006, continues in full force.

I guess we should all be very happy that the US didn’t have the same knee-jerk reaction when the underwear bomber tried taking down a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit as they did when there was a threat from liquids?

The TSA fails to find knives, guns, and explosives some 70-95% of the time. That’s due in part to being so focused on the critical war against liquids. Agents rarely ever miss a water bottle, which are so dangerous that they are promptly dealt as the hazardous materials that they are…by dumping them into the garbage.

In Thailand in 2010 we were stopped at security with a jar of peanut butter and made sandwiches at security, as apparently the threat from peanut butter is neutralized when it comes into contact with bread.

You can bring as much liquid as you need, as long as it’s under 100ml, as terrorists don’t know how to bring an empty bottle and combine their 100 ml liquids together.

Talk about security theater!

But hey, it did introduce the freedom baggie into our vernacular.

Help is on the way though, which should lead to an end to the long and dehydrating war.

The TSA is investing in Analogic (you can’t make this stuff up) CT scanners, which will be able to detect explosive liquids.

In fact, London City Airport is now allowing all sizes of liquids as they have converted to CT scanners. The UK has given other airports a deadline of June 2024 to convert to CT scanners, so liquids should soon be allowed from other airports as well.

In the US, it seems unlikely that liquids will be allowed from airports that convert to CT scanners as long as there are still US airports that don’t have them. Barring a government mandate, that process will likely take quite some time.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Until then, just do what I do. Fill a Hydroflask with ice and fill it with water in the airport. Thanks to Priority Pass, I have several lounges to choose from to do that rather than pay $8 for a bottle of Dasani.

1 Year until The Great North American Total Solar Eclipse of 2024

On 4/8/24, a total solar eclipse will pass through cities like Dallas (1:40-1:44pm CT), Indianapolis (3:06-3:09pm ET), Cleveland (3:13-3:17pm ET), and Buffalo (3:19-3:22pm ET).

I was lucky enough to see the 2017 total eclipse in Missouri and it was truly spectacular!

If you can make it to an area of totality, do it! It should be on everyone’s bucket list!

“Diamond ring” as the moon covers the sun in Boonville, MO, August 2017


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In case it wasn’t obvious, COVID leaked from the Wuhan lab

I originally wrote COVID potentially coming from the Wuhan lab in an April 2020 news roundup. Back then, saying that would get you banned from Facebook or Twitter.

Other bloggers and forum posters took offense to me citing that as a possibility:



But what was once derided as a conspiracy theory is now the most likely cause.

That’s according to the FBI director, the US Energy Department, and other deep dives into the origin.

Why did the US cover up for that in the first place?

It seems likely that the US funded the Wuhan lab and gain of function research, but didn’t exert enough oversight of its practices. And at that point in time, it didn’t want to rile China up and devolve into a finger pointing match. Both sides were more than happy to blame it on a animal link that never made much sense. Don’t expect any accountability either.

Think twice before charging your phone via USB

The FBI has put out a warning to avoid charging your phone via public USB ports. It’s long been known that these can be tampered with and used to hack your phone. That can lead to a world of pain if hackers can hijack your phone number, email, and passwords and take control of your digital life and real life finances.


Instead, always use a traditional wall charger in public, or carry a power bank. I’m partial to this one, which can power your laptop, cell phone, and more.

Delta will start bumping more passengers

Over COVID, airlines started allowing passengers to make free changes to flights. Unsurprisingly, that means more passengers are making last flight cancellations.

Delta says they will combat this by further overselling flights. For example if a 200 passenger flight is currently sold to 206 passengers, they will climb to 208 or 210 passengers.

Of course that means there will be more bumped passengers if everyone shows up, but Delta is pretty good about offering sufficient compensation to get people to voluntarily give up their seat, which is how they maintain low involuntary denied boarding numbers.

That’s good news for people who like collecting big money to take a later flight, but that’s bad news for irregular operations, as fewer flights will have empty seats to reaccommodate passengers.

It’s bad news for people who like to win the flight lottery by getting an empty middle seat.

It’s also bad news for airline non-rev passengers who only get to fly on a standby basis, as there will be fewer empty seats on flights.

Finally, it will be bad news if other airlines that don’t offer generous voluntary denied boarding compensation, as that will lead to more involuntary denied boarding situations, which are never fun.

JetBlue’s 13 hour flight to nowhere

JetBlue flight 205 from Newark to Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday had quite the ride to nowhere.

Due to flooding that closed Fort Lauderdale Airport, the flight had to divert. Oddly, it chose to divert to the Bahamas instead of other Florida airport options.

Personally I always travel with a passport, but I’d imagine that the vast majority of people don’t do that on domestic flights. What would have happened if the crew timed out?

The flight was supposed to depart Newark at 9:35, but was delayed until 1:38pm. It then landed in Nassau at 4:58pm.


Fort Lauderdale remained closed, so the flight refueled and sat on the ground for several hours, before departing Nassau at 8:23pm and landing back in Newark at 10:56pm.


Newark gets taken for a ride

Poor Newark.

NYC Mayor LaGuardia famously refused to get off of his TWA flight from Chicago to New York, as he declared that he bought a ticket to New York and not to Newark. 5 years later he opened the eponymous airport in Queens that President Biden called a 3rd world country.

On April 17th, IATA will drop Newark from the NYC city code. It’s still unclear how that will affect airfare searches or switching flights between Newark and the NYC airports.

And last month, the city of Newark signed a ceremonial deal to become a sister city with United States of Kailasa.

Minor problem?

The United States of Kailasa don’t actually exist. Indians fugitive Swami Nithyananda scammed the city into believing that it did.

It took Newark a week after signing the agreement to figure that out and void the agreement. That’s even more embarrassing than the long security lines at the city’s airport.

Why have there been so many close calls in aviation recently?

There sure seems to have been a lot of close calls in aviation in recent months.

A close call in Austin:



A close call between an American and Delta flight in JFK.

A close call on a United flight from Maui, nearly plunging into the ocean.

A close call on a Qatar flight from Doha.

A close call on an AA flight in Burbank.

A close call on a JetBlue flight in Boston.

2 United planes hitting each other in Boston.

A close call on a Southwest flight in Baltimore.

Are pilots rusty from COVID breaks? Or overworked due to forced COVID retirements? Is the FAA to blame? Or are we just hearing more about close calls then we used to?

Japan Finally Removing COVID Entry Restrictions

After more than 3 years, Japan will finally drop their COVID entry restrictions.

Currently you need to provide proof of having 3 shots or a negative COVID test for entry.

As of May 8th, those requirements will finally be dropped.

I wrote about my accidental trip to Japan in 2015 here and spent several weeks there in 2005, it’s a fascinating country to explore!

It’s not soon enough to help for my ANA first class award flights that I booked, but it’s great to see the world returning to normal.

Austrian Fighter Jets Intercept An El Al 777

Last Monday, an El Al 777 from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv failed to respond to Austrian air traffic control after it was handed over from German air traffic control.

2 fighter jets were launched to make contact with the El Al 777 after failing to reach the pilots of the flight via multiple frequencies and channels of communication. Visual contact was made at 37,000 feet and communication was reestablished, so luckily nothing tragic happened.

Was there a mechanical malfunction? Did the pilots doze off while autopilot did its thing? What are your guesses for what happened?

Is ChatGPT the future or a fad?

OpenAI’s ChatGPT is without a doubt, incredible. It has scared Google enough to bring back its founders and rush out Bard, despite it being clearly inferior for the time being.

It can tackle any question under the sun, help you write an essay, plan a trip, and endless other possibilities.

Will it replace the need for everything from programmers to writers?

Maybe one day, but my problem with it now is that far too often the answers it gives are dead wrong. Facts are off, it makes suggestions that are impossible, or it suggests things that may have worked or been open in the past, but no longer exist. If it doesn’t know an answer, it will often make one up.

It offers no sources or information on where the answer is coming from.

Like I wrote in a 2019 roundup and mentioned in the podcast above, it’s the Gell-Mann amnesia effect, but now on steroids. Until the information is far more reliable, it’s not something that can be counted on.

But it can still be a good starting point at long as you verify the information. I do think we’re a way off from the technology really making a difference in most of our day to day lives.

What have you used ChatGPT for?

United’s new MileagePlus CEO comes from…Comcast?

United has hired Richard Nunn as the new CEO of their loyalty program, MileagePlus.

He has no airline experience, but most recently worked at Comcast, known as being one of the most hated companies in the country.

What can possibly go wrong?

Want to fly on the 747? Try out for the Fins:

Now that’s a sweet ride around the country!

A big month for El Al 

Israel’s national carrier had some pretty high profile routes launches last month.

The airline finally returned to Turkey:

It also launched flights to Tokyo, Dublin, and Porto and will launch service to Mumbai, Delhi, and Melbourne.

And it launched in-flight negel vasser service 😀

With a small chain, natch:

Google Flights bring back the price guarantee

As originally noted on DDF, Google has brought back their price guarantee after a COVID hiatus. If Google Flights shows a price guarantee badge and you book via Google, the company will refund the difference if the price drops:

It’s only available on select flights that show the price guarantee, but it’s a neat feature indeed!

If you’re going to be diverted, it may as well be to Pago Pago

Passengers boarded a United flight from LA to Sydney, expecting to spend new year’s in the stunning Australian city.

A mechanical issue forced the plane to divert to Pago Pago and the passengers wound up not having a a new year’s eve at all as it took off on 12/31 from Pago Pago and crossed the dateline into 2023 just after takeoff.



But hey, it’s not the worst place for a diversion!


A Flyertalk member shared their trip report here. United does well with irregular operations and flew a plane from Sydney to Pago Pago to pickup the passengers. In the end, they had to wait extra time in the Pago Pago terminal so that they wouldn’t land in Sydney during the overnight curfew hours.

A science journal endorsed Joe Biden. A study shows how that backfired.

Nature endorsed Joe Biden for President in 2020.

Did it help? Nope.


Nature’s endorsement did nothing to change people’s opinions of candidates, but it did change people’s opinion of Nature. Trump supporters that knew of the endorsement thought significantly less of Nature, while there was no similar positive effect among Biden supporters.

Have you ever changed your Presidential vote due to an endorsement?

It takes a village: Helping a solo student pilot land a plane with no nose wheel

21 year old Taylor Hash was flying her 3rd ever solo flight when the unthinkable happened. Her plane’s nose wheel came apart during takeoff, which would make landing the plane a major challenge for a novice pilot.

Lucky for her, it was noticed by pilots on the ground, and other pilots were able to talk her through safely landing the plane.

The pilot that took the lead in helping her out choked up when she said her name was Taylor, as that’s also the pilot’s daughter’s name, who is also a pilot.

The ATC audio is just heartwarming:


Do you fly through Jordan?

Hundreds of Jews fly through Jordan daily, which is why the occasional stories that come out of there perplex me.

In the latest one, a rabbi from Dubai says that he was told in Amman that his tefilin were a security threat and the straps were cut off in order for him to board his flight.

I’ve heard a small handful of stories like this over the years, but it seems like 99.9% of people have no issues flying from or transiting Jordan, so I can’t make heads or tails of why these happens to some people.

Have you flown through Jordan? Anyone have a theory for why some religious Jews run into trouble there?

Seems like Avi Liberman managed to make it just fine 😉



Forget investing in Apple, the best move was investing in iPhones

Karen Green’s friends bought her an OG iPhone back in 2007.

But hey, the first iPhone wasn’t really all that great (Apple has always been masterful in selling beta products and then improving on them), and she never even opened the box.

She sold her phone at auction earlier this year, and it went for an astounding $63,356.40 after a heated bidding session.


Hertz settles with 364 people falsely reported for car theft

I previously covered the absurd story of Hertz falsely reporting cars as stolen, with several  renters spending over a month in jail before being able to prove their innocence.

The car rental company, also known for devaluing their points without notice, has settled more than 95% of those claims for $168 million, or about $460K per claim. Nothing quite like a company that tried to have their customers arrested without reason.

40 years since the Tylenol Poisonings

I learned about the Tylenol poisonings in a business school case study for how a company should react in a crisis situations, but this article does a great job in sharing the human side of the tragic story.

Even if you own the island, you can still get pulled over

Larry Ellison may own the island of Lanai, but apparently that’s not enough to stop you from getting a traffic ticket.

The billionaire was pulled over on Lanai and issued a speeding citation. Hawaii cops aren’t messing around!

As for the island itself, personally I didn’t find it particularly compelling compared to the other Hawaiian Islands, but it did make for a fun day trip.

Friends don’t let friends fly Spirit:

This story is just insane.

A man left his bag at the gate counter and requested security footage from the airport.

It turns out the gate agent took the bag, stole items from it, and threw away the other items, including medication, one by one.


Friends still don’t let friends fly Spirit.

Yes, things usually go fine. The problems begin when things don’t go fine.

Oh my.

I may need to go to Bali

This is going to be a villa for rent? I rarely use cash for travel, but man is this tempting!



Previous roundups

Catch up on what you missed!

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27 Comments On "4/16/23 News Roundup: Podcast, War On Liquids, USB Charging, Aviation Close Calls, Price Drop Guarantee, Flight To Nowhere, More Passenger Bumps, And More"

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


Great idea about the podcast.
I listened to the FM weekly 80 podcast while running.. lots of fun


Great roundup! And finally one without a mention of Yehuda57 :-p


Love the roundups! Thanks!


Thanks for the afikoman present! Great read as usual

Eric from Dallas

For the Austin incident, as ATX acknowledges further down in the thread, this is a simulation. It is not video. The actual event was in near dark and low visibility, which made it even more dangerous.

For the total eclipse, anyone planning to visit Dallas for the occasion, let me know – our shul is planning events around this – we’re currently looking for an appropriate guest lecturer – perhaps an astronomer (or astrologist )


Try Rabbi Dovid Heber.
An expert on Jewish calendar, the dateline, zmanim and astronomy. He covered the last eclipse in St. Joseph, MO.
@Dan – I think he helped you with the zmanim for your your Antarctica trip?

Texas Totty

Rabbi Heber is a great choice (and I’m not related as Shmueli may be). Also, Rabbi S.H. Ostreicher is a foremost expert on all things in the sky and beyond. PM me through DDF for his contact info.


With your connections with the airline industry and also with politicians perhaps you can finally end the war on liquids.


Fyi, a lot of the commented on the WN-fedex near miss say that video is a simulation, even though there was an actual near miss before dawn.


Thanks for the roundup! Need these more often. 😉

Private Island

Thank you for posting the round up . I look forward to it whenever if comes out .

I didn’t know one of the Hawaiian islands are privately owned . Cool !

Eric from Dallas

Sure, ChatGPT hallucinates (makes stuff up) constantly. But software gets better with every release, and, (sadly) people don’t.


If you would have put $700 into apple stock in 2007 you would have approx $35,000. Not bad too


Love the roundups! Keep it coming


JetBlue 2584 today MCO- JFK delayed more than 12 hrs
Chabad was at the airport with bagels and pasta!!


JetBlue has become worse than Spirit with on-time arrivals and % of cancelled flights. What example am I getting for spending triple the price? A can of Sprite and chips with blue food coloring in it?


Just booked my hotel stay at a Hyatt in Austin for next year. Thanks for the reminder!


@dan curious why you always travel with a passport


I just flew from Manchester UK with my 10 month old baby the security there was a nightmare in regards to liquids, they weren’t letting me through with water/formula/motrin… can’t wait for this stuff to be over

@Dan is it the type that I can get some compensation for being mistreated by airport security while flying w a baby?


More roundups please


ChatGPT was not put out as a finished product, it’s quite obvious that they want it to be able to learn from all the questions that it’s being fed.


I flew through Jordan, it was pretty uneventful, besides for the fact that they made me remove my Kippah by security(they allowed me to wear a mask on my head) & they checked every single persons Tefillin.


Dan an JJ you were great on the Kosher Money podcast! Would love to hear you guys more. I do feel like a family on DDs. My fave part of that Spirit news video was that Spirit offered “to refund his ticket”! So Spirit. One and done for me with Spirit. it was 2 days before pesach a few years ago. my whole family was booked from LGA-MCO and they sent a plane with 60 less seats than supposed to. BH we made the flight but 60 angry customers didnt. of course no one of us was seated near each other (Even though we paid for seats) I was happy i had a middle seat because it was at least a seat. I even was the “lucky middle seat” winner- which i never redeemed since: Never fly spirit!


This is great! Love the round ups. Thank you very much!


Great great interview on kosher money podcast! Much Much more elaborative then the Ami Article!! DAN THE MAN!


Thanks for featuring my trip report!


Was totally shocked that a lighter is allowed aboard an airplane! I just flew and accidentally left one in my pocket and it went right through! I think a lighter is a bit more dangerous than a waterbotlle…