12/13/20 News Roundup: Vaccine Wars, Rules For Thee, Another 2 Year Old Kicked Off Flight, Delta’s Loophole, Work From Hawaii, Basic Economy Rooms, 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.


Table of Contents

Featured Trip Reports:

DDF Trip Report:

PBaruch takes us along on his Panamanian adventure from earlier this year.

 

DD Trip Report:

I spent Chanuka 2018 in Buenos Aires, before having a run-in with the Argentine police and then making the southernmost Chanuka party in Ushuaia (“end of the world”) on our way to Antarctica.

It was truly the trip of a lifetime!

 

 

 

The FDA Has Approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine, Are You Ready For The Vaccine Wars?

The FDA issued an EUA approving Pfizer’s vaccine for COVID-19 for those 16 and older.

It will be several months before enough doses are available for the general public.

But if you thought the mask wars were contentious, just wait for the vaccine wars. I don’t think the government is going to mandate vaccination (though some may try), but private businesses certainly will as they have for masks.

Qantas has already said that they will require vaccination to fly. I’m sure that more airlines will do the same until we reach an end to this pandemic. A vaccine passport is on the way.

I’d imagine that long-term care facilities and many countries will require proof of vaccination to enter.

Of course the counter argument is that this is different than masks. After all, masks primarily protect other people, while those who want to be protected can get vaccinated and get their own protection.

But nevertheless, the vaccine isn’t 100% effective and it won’t be available to everyone for a long time. If businesses feel that it will be good for business and protect them from liability, I won’t be surprised to see it mandated.

What about people that had COVID and have antibodies? Data hints that those antibodies may last for years or even decades, though that’s still inconclusive. My guess is that places that require a vaccine won’t exempt them, but we’ll have to wait and see.

No trials have been done on kids yet, so they won’t be getting vaccinated anytime soon and schools won’t be able to require that. But will schools require it for next school year if the vaccine is approved for kids?

Stay tuned…

The Making Of The COVID-19 Vaccine Should Be Made Into A Movie

This play by play of the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine is riveting and well worth reading.

It is pretty incredible that we have a 95% effective vaccine the same year that the disease was sequenced! If all goes well, life may return to normal by May.

Did Trump’s Railing Against Mail In Voting Cost Him The Election?

Watching the election night results was riveting, and for a short while, it sure seemed like Trump would pull off another improbable victory.

And then came the mail in ballots.

Trump spent months railing against mail in voting, telling supporters that they had to go to the polls if they wanted their vote to count.

Which left me wondering, could Trump have won had he encouraged mail in voting instead?

With narrow losses in Arizona (~10K votes), Georgia (~10K votes), Wisconsin (~20K votes), and Nevada (~30K votes), Trump could have won re-election by flipping about 70,000 votes.

I’m sure there were voters that couldn’t make it to the polls and didn’t request or send in their ballot due to Trump’s rhetoric against mail in voting.

Was that enough to have flipped the election? We’ll never know, but I sure think it’s a possibility. It’s pretty incredible that once again, the margin of difference was so slim!

Rules For Thee, But Not For Me

As the COVID death toll in the US soars past 300,000, politicians continue to scold people about masks and social distancing.

But the chutzpah of seemingly countless politicians doing the scolding while on vacation or while also doing banned activities has no bounds.

 

I don’t base my behavior on political leaders, but is there any wonder why people don’t listen?

The Exodus To Low Tax States Continues

In an age where “work from home” may just become permanent, the need to live in a high tax state has never been less. The only question is when will high tax states learn the lesson that they are just chasing businesses and the rich away?

Ironically though, those moving states still keep their voting tendencies. Californians moving to Arizona have shifted that state to become Blue, and along with it, a 77% tax hike on income above $250K…

California Bilked Out Of $2 Billion In COVID Fraud

California says that COVID unemployment fraud could total a whopping $2 billion.

Incredibly, the state didn’t verify eligibility for COVID unemployment claims and money went out to people in prison, dead people, fake names, and out of state people. I’ve even seen ads to collect COVID unemployment if you have never had a job.

No wonder taxes are so high!

Another Day, Another 2 Year Old Kicked Off A Flight

Since nearly all US airlines except Delta started requiring 2 year olds to wear a mask, I’ve said there would be cringe-worthy incidents.

Sure enough, Southwest kicked off a toddler with autism and then JetBlue kicked off a 2 year old and then retroactively changed their policy. American also kicked a 2 year old off a plane.

And now United kicked a 2 year old off a flight for “non-compliance”. A United agent informed the family they are no longer welcome on United, though the airline says that they are still welcome back.

I’m all for mask requirements on a plane, but anyone that’s a parent knows that toddlers don’t exactly listen to requirements. Requiring a 2 year old to keep a mask on for the duration of a flight might sound good to a policy maker, but that doesn’t mean it’s practical. One of the many reasons we fly with carseats for our toddlers is so they will be secure in their seats for the entire flight. It’s just too easy for a toddler to take off their airplane seatbelt!

Commenter aaron said it best, “I have a hard enough time getting my 2 year old to keep his pants on!”

Once again proving that Delta is winning in being passenger friendly during the COVID-19 era. If you have toddlers, you’ll want to fly Delta unless you want to risk being tossed off your flight.

JetBlue Refreshed MINT Business Class

JetBlue will head to London next year and is taking the opportunity to refresh its MINT business class offering.

New comfy bedding, headphones, and food offerings will help it compete with transatlantic carriers, but it also puts JetBlue head and shoulders above the offerings on transcontinental flights.

 

Test Positive For COVID? Don’t Fly!

It’s mind boggling that this keeps happening, but a Hawaiian couple was arrested for flying home to Kauai right after testing positive for COVID. In Maryland, police caught a mother and child trying to board a flight after testing positive.

What happened to common sense and caring for your fellow humans?

Spirit Being Spirit

Where does Spirit find these flight attendants?

Permanent no-fly lists on all airlines? Spirit employees being government officials and Spirit planes being government property?

I don’t agree with the sentiment of the Tweeter, but this video is just unreal:

The 737MAX Is Back In The Air

The 737MAX has been grounded for 18 months since it crashed twice due to a poorly designed system intended to avoid pilots needing aircraft training.

But it’s been cleared for takeoff and is back in the air on GOL, flying from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre.

American will fly the plane between LaGuardia and Miami in the coming weeks.

Odds are that with this much scrutiny, the 737MAX is now one of the safest planes in the sky. But will that be enough for you to fly in one?

Delta Finds A Loophole To Avoid Tariffs 

While American and United have a mostly Boeing fleet, Delta has a mostly Airbus fleet.

When President Trump added hefty tariffs to Airbus aircraft, Delta got creative. By avoiding importing the planes they avoid paying tariffs. Delta can fly the planes to the US, as long as they don’t fly them within the US.

Delta has saved hundreds of millions in tariffs using this loophole.

And yet, the airlines get mad when passengers use hidden city ticketing to save a few bucks. 🙄

Is This The End Of Cashing Out Gift Cards In Walmart?

Walmart is circulating a memo instructing its staff to decline the purchase of money orders with gift cards:

 

Of course some Walmart stores already have this policy, but this may make it more difficult at other Walmart stores. Then again, plenty of employees don’t actually read the memos and will continue as before.

Domino’s Going Kosher Mehadrin In Israel

Domino’s Pizza has opened Mehadrin kosher branches in Israel and 10 more will open over the next 2 years.

It’s always great to see more Mehadrin options in Israel, though kashrus in Israel will never make sense to me.

Now, how do we get some chains to open kosher locations in the US? If Argentina can have a kosher mehadrin McDonalds, surely the US can support some as well?

Netanyahu Worries About Israelis Misbehaving In the UAE

Israelis can be, erm, a bit forward.

Apparently that has Prime Minister Netanyahu concerned as thousands of Israelis fill up planes and flock to the UAE.

It’s quite a difference from 3 years ago when the only Jew we saw was the Chabad Rabbi there.

Now there are 500 person Menorah lighting events!

With large weddings banned in Israel, people are heading to the Park Hyatt Dubai to get married. Hopefully they got a bunch of Hyatt points!

Have you traveled from Israel to Dubai yet?

Goodbye To Emotional Support Animals On A Plane

Airlines have decried the emotional support animals that passengers have tried bringing into the cabin with them, such as this emotional support peacock, which someone tried to bring on a United flight in Newark:

CREDIT: THE JET SET TV/FACEBOOK

 

The DOT says those days have come to an end.

Emotional support animals will no longer be considered a service animal and a service animal is now defined as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.

The new rules will go into effect on 1/1/21.

Skip A Meal On JAL, Get An Upgraded Amenity Kit

Japan Airlines is testing out allowing passengers to skip their meal on the red-eye from Bangkok to Tokyo.

If you skip the meal in economy class, you’ll get a regional business class amenity kit. If you skip the meal in business class, you’ll get a long-haul business class amenity kit instead of a regional kit.

My personal favorite is always the 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 is or if they are missing the KSML. That works most of the time, though some airlines, like Cathay Pacific, frown upon it.

Would you skip a meal for a better amenity kit?

El Al Now Flying To The Seychelles

With Israel considering most of the world “red countries” that require a quarantine upon return, El Al has been on the hunt for new routes.

They have added 3 weekly 787 flights between Tel Aviv and Mahé, Seychelles. No quarantine will be required upon return as it’s a green country. Sounds like a winning strategy to me…at least until Israel turns it red.

Cathay Pacific Permanently Ends 3 US Routes

Cathay Pacific is going to emerge from this pandemic as a smaller airline.

They have decided to permanently end flights to Newark, Seattle, and Washington DC. They will also stop flying to the Maldives.

China To Flight Attendants: Wear Diapers

China managed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, but they were able to do so by locking people in their homes and giving everyone in the country a barcode that would allow or stop them from traveling or doing other activities. It would be impossible to pull that off in a democracy.

But how far does China expect its citizens to go to avoid COVID-19?

The Civil Aviation Administration of China advises that flight attendants avoid using the bathroom on the plane as it could be a COVID-19 hot zone. Instead they advise flight attendants wear diapers and avoid the bathrooms.

Ew.

While Other Airlines Play Defense, Southwest Is On Offense

American, Delta, and United are cutting routes and trying to save capital, Southwest smells blood in the water.

Adding flights from Chicago O’Hare, Colorado Springs, Houston, Miami, Palm Springs, Steamboat Spring, Telluride, and more, Southwest plans to take full advantage of other airlines pulling back during the pandemic.

Thanks to a lower debt load than other airlines, Southwest may prove to be the big winner this year.

Smartecartes Have Jumped The Shark

Cost of a smartecarte at ORD.

Nope. There’s just no way I’m paying this.

Work From Hawaii, Get A Free Flight

Hawaii is offering free flights to select applicants who commit to working from Hawaii for a month. You’ll also have to commit to volunteering a few hours a week at a local nonprofit.

Will you apply to spend a month zooming from paradise?

FlyDubai Compensates Detained Israelis

I mentioned last week that some 155 Israelis were detained for 4 hours in Dubai after FlyDubai failed to obtain visas for the passengers.

Apparently each of those passengers will be getting a 1,000 AED voucher for future FlyDubai flights due to the delay:

Not bad indeed!

Andaz Singapore Now Has “Basic Economy” Rooms

The Andaz Singapore is now selling rooms through 3rd party booking sites that have no frills.

No breakfast, no gym access, no pool access, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Do you think other hotels will copy this model?

Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Finder Is Unmasked

I wrote about Forrest Fenn’s treasure being found in a previous roundup and the story the founder wrote.

People still doubted that he actually found the treasure.

He wanted to remain anonymous, but a lawsuit compelled him to come forward.

Jack Stuef, a 32 year old medical student, has come forward as the finder in this fun interview with Outside.

He is also speaking out against the frivolous lawsuit against him.

This is perfect:

 

Congrats Jack!

Google Will Delete Data If You’re Inactive

Google has never deleted any data due to inactivity. That’s changing.

Starting on 6/1/21 you’ll have to login to your account once every 24 months or else Google may just delete everything in it.

It’s also something to bear in mind in case a loved one passes away. All of their info will be wiped if you don’t log on every 2 years.

Uber Sells Off Self-Driving Unit

Travis Kalanick once bet his company on figuring out self-driving. It helped get him pushed out of the company he founded.

When a pedestrian was killed by a self-driving Uber, the company did some serious soul searching about the path forward.

And now those days are over as Uber is now selling and outsourcing self-driving to Aurora. Uber hopes to collaborate with Aurora, but clearly self-driving is no longer considered to be a core competency in the company.

Are Airbnb And DoorDash IPOs Just The Latest Signs Of A Bubble?

Airbnb and DoorDash had massive IPOs this week, with Airbnb jumping to $101 billion and DoorDash to $66 billion.

Neither company has come close to a profit, but they have thrived in the pandemic era, which undoubtedly helped their IPOs.

Still, DoorDash faces heavy competition from the likes of Uber and Grubhub. All of the companies use heavy promotions to boost sales at the expense of profits. It’s hard to see them being able to justify that valuation.

My hometown of Beachwood, OH has the right idea for a good path forward, with the city footing the bill for delivery people.

Airbnb’s competition is the traditional hotel, but could have a clearer path to profitability. Still, should it be worth more than Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt combined? Or is this just the latest sign of a bubble?

Shocker: Students Are Failing In Record Numbers

While schools have been kept open in most countries, the US has faced many school closures in major cities.

Schools claim to be alarmed at the record failing grades among students.

You mean kids do better in person instead of learning over Zoom? Who would have thunk?!

Super Nintendo World?!?

Didn’t see this one coming. Osaka, Japan will get a Super Nintendo World amusement park in February.

Olympics and Super Nintendo World in August, anyone?

Tesla Shorts Have Lost More Than The Airlines In 2020

Elon Musk has a lot of non-believers. He’s impulsive and is liable to tweet something that could mean the end of his ability to remain Tesla CEO. Tesla’s stock price assumes perfection, which has meant that many have bet against the company by shorting the stock.

That has been a massive mistake so far. Tesla short sellers have lost $35 billion just in 2020 alone. Elon even mocked the short sellers by selling Tesla branded “short shorts” earlier this year.

It’s tough to bet against Elon.

Resellers Making A Killing On PS5s

PS5s are selling like hot cakes and resellers have made tens of millions in profit flipping them on eBay.

And besides, just think of all those miles. 😀

An El Al 747 Bites The Dust

It’s always sad to see a 747 being torn apart. Below is El Al’s 4X-ELA.

 

It was later spotted by DDF member gold.

More video here.

ואיך עתה לוחכת את העפר…Alas, how the tongue of the magnificent 747 now licks the dust.

RIP, Queen of the Skies

Cats On A Plane

An El Al 787 was stuck in Hong Kong after cat tracks were found on the plane. Traps were set, but they never did find the cat.

Hopefully the cat had Israeli citizenship or else they’d have to fly it back to Hong Kong after they find it…

Bears On A Runway 

In a first, an Alaska Airlines flight hit and killed a brown bear when landing.

No human injuries were reported, but the plane’s left engine cowl was damaged.

I guess Jim was right after all, black bears are best.

Planes On A Highway

Here’s something you don’t see every day! Was Sully flying the plane?


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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50 Comments On "12/13/20 News Roundup: Vaccine Wars, Rules For Thee, Another 2 Year Old Kicked Off Flight, Delta’s Loophole, Work From Hawaii, Basic Economy Rooms, And More"

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YM

Any more info on that plane landing on the highway? Beautiful landing, that’s for sure.

jonny

No mention of the Cleveland Indians changing their name and dropping the name “Indians”??

Rob

So is it racist now for kids to play cowboys and indians do you think? Or is it ok as long as we call it something like Oppressors and indigenous?

Elikip

Made me realize I missed last month’s round-up. Was surprised to discover the “halfway to Hawaii” game was an official play. When the captain on my Honolulu-bound flight announced it, I thought it the coolest idea and was under the impression it was the Captain’s doing. It was memorable (mostly because I won ) I scored a tourist guide to Hawaii which I immediately paid forward to a family who impressed me with the team effort and ethic displayed as they worked studiously to solve the equation. I had no use for that manual as I wasn’t staying for more than a few hours.
$250 sure sounds more lucrative.

Thanks for the deal

Any update regarding JetBlue’s London kickoff date? I’d love to use the $500 healthcare worker voucher to get halfway to Israel…

BA

Healthcare jet blue – what is the expiration?
Anyone called to extend ?

Ploni

IANAL, but it would appear that the NY legislation to require vaccination wouldn’t apply until after a full FDA approval, not just the EUA.

yitz

“Californians moving to Arizona have shifted that state to become Blue”- I dont thnk thats why AZ went blue, I think the McCains have more to do with it. But the probability of TX going blue is very scary.
Why wont people learn??!!
“the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting dif results”

Beep

Please do not quote the NY Times as s scientific source. Their science reporting is almost as inaccurate as their Israel reporting. Truth is we just do not know how long-lasting covid antibodies will be and to say otherwise is without basis in fact.

biobook

Beep, Could you point out specific inaccuracies you found in the article Dan referred to? I’ve found the author, who has a MSc in biochemistry, to be one of the best science reporters out there.

Mike

But does he have a degree in Facebook and Blog comments?

DS

The Chinese airline story is absolutely the most noteworthy! If the flight attendant had to take care of “serious business” in her diaper she should just sit with that for the rest of the flight!! That’s excellent customer service. Just spray some extra perfume!!!!!

S

You see that plane in your rear view mirror, what you doing?

AM

So how do we get the airlines to change the idiotic rule that a two year old needs to wear a mask?

Hjay

So what’s the hack for the smartecart?? I couldn’t stomach the price until now, but many times I don’t really have a choice – but $9 is pretty crazy. Israel it’s just a ten shekel deposit.

A Different Dave

A little secret of life tip for you. Spend an extra 3- 5 minutes and go outside to the curb and/or start walking towards the entrance of the parking lot and you’ll get one free. Or…… work a “business strategy” and ask someone that instead of the $0.25 deposit someone will get for returning their cart, you’ll instead give them $1.00 for their cart.

Shmooger

In airports with different levels for arrivals & departures, always go to arrivals level, as there there are tons of carts sitting around. Try it once, and you won’t care when it goes up to $25 a cart

A Different Dave

Shmooger, agreed and valid points. It almost seems like an aveirah to pay regular full price for those carts

Ez

Love those roundups, keep them coming

Adam

Surprised nothing on the Galactic Federation story (https://m.jpost.com/omg/former-israeli-space-security-chief-says-aliens-exist-humanity-not-ready-651405)…unless of course you’re “one of them”

BT

If the U.S carriers won’t even block the middle seat I doubt they’ll mandate a vaccine to fly

Shmooger

Great roundup.
Do these once a day please

...

With all due respect I don’t think it’s appropriate to use something from asara harugei malchus in reference to airlines, however beautiful they may be….

hiii

agree. youve lost your mind dan

Seth

Seems pretty clear the parents of the 2 year old had an ulterior motive in this specific situation.

Sam

@Dan
You write “I’ve even seen ads to collect COVID unemployment if you have never had a job”
This was not a scam-they were actually offering unemployment if you applied for your first job and couldn’t begin to to covid…

rob

I can’t speak definitively to Arizona’s voting patters, but Texas has been pretty extensively researched and all signs point to the California migration having nothing to do with its political shift.

Research shows that the average California–>Texas transplant is actually to the right of the average Texas voter. Which is fairly intuitive – the people most likely to be driven away from California are the people who most hate its policies.

The shift has more to due with the rapid growth of the hispanic community and the shrinking percentage of whites as a percentage of total voters.

That’s why smart money had Texas eventually turning solid blue, but things have gotten a little muddier as Trump increased his hispanic vote in 2020 (and every other demographic other than white voters) so until we see whether it’s a one-off blip or a reversing trend, it’s hard to draw definitive conclusions. Lord knows “experts” will try, but they’ve also been wrong about pretty much every voting pattern the last 2 elections so they’re just throwing darts

Aron

I just flew United and my 2 and 3 yr olds did not wear a mask and no one commented and plenty of people were wearing it below the nose.

Josh

Would you say mosaic statues and tru blue points have more value now that JetBlue is going to London

David Djmal

We had a “support animal” sit next to my family once, was really exciting when he angrily barked at my kids and scared them. Allowing a non-disabled person to bring an untrained dog is beyond ridiculous; glad the rules finally have changed.

Josh

thanks even if the rates go low for redemptions your going to get hit with surcharges and taxes it won’t be any different then redeeming ba to london

Ba

Things will get back ro normal in may very nice but hashem wants us to learn something more the things just getting back to normal

Abe

Dan, can you do a conspiracy theory roundup about covid and the vaccine?

Josh

Any info on the flight path for the Seychelles. Bab-al-Mandab, or Saudis Arabia-Oman?

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