Travel Newsstand for Nov. 16-30, 2017
HOME E-MAIL JOE PRINT 2017 COLUMNS ARCHIVES SEARCH LOG OUT
Read all about it! Delta Air Lines thinks it's master of the universe and bullies suppliers, politicians and other airlines. Guns don't kill people. Hotel Do Not Disturb signs kill people. The hardscrabble and the happy in England. A passenger doesn't get upgraded and cops detain a flight crew. RVers find a friendly welcome at Walmart. And more.
Why It's Okay to Hate Delta Air Lines
There's a Groundhog Day quality to the airline industry: Whenever an airline decides it is running better than competitors, the chief executive also decides he is the master of the universe. Happened for years at American with Robert Crandall and Continental with Gordon Bethune. Now it's Delta Air Lines and chief executive Ed Bastian. At an event this week at the Detroit Economic Club, Bastian (left) explained that Gulf Carriers offer "high quality service" because they don't have to worry about making a profit and are subsidized by their governments. The latter is true, of course, but the former? Not so much. Otherwise Etihad wouldn't be shrinking, Emirates wouldn't be cutting back on first class and continuing to run a sub-standard business class on many routes and Qatar Airways wouldn't be so interested in forging alliances. And even the former claim of subsidy is undercut by Bastian's boasting about Delta's investments, including China Eastern, the most heavily subsidized Chinese airline. Not to mention the subsidies Delta receives from cities and states like Indiana, which is paying upwards of $5.5 million to underwrite Delta's flights between Indianapolis and Paris. By the way, Bastian mentioned, he's hoping to monetize free snacks by forcing food suppliers to pay for distribution of their products as samples. Unlike some previous master-of-all-they-survey airline bosses, however, Bastian has bought-and-paid-for minions in Congress. Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson, who has been showered with perks by Atlanta-based Delta, is doing Bastian's bidding in the current "tax reform" bill. As Politico.com explains today, Isakson inserted language that would impose U.S. corporate taxes on the Gulf Airlines. Literally, the provision is written in such a convoluted way that it would only affect the three Gulf carriers and Saudi Arabian Airlines, which, ironically, is partners with Delta in the SkyTeam Alliance. (Delta has always insisted it never wanted Saudia, but deferred to Air France, its code-share and joint-venture partner.)
Guns Don't Kill People. Hotel Do Not Disturb Signs Kill People.
In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Las Vegas last month, when Stephen Paddock killed dozens from his perch at the Mandalay Bay Resort, city hoteliers are taking a firm stand. Oh, no, no, no, they are not checking to make sure no one brings guns onto their premises. They're taking a much harder line: policing Do Not Disturb signs. As the Las Vegas Review-Journal explains, Las Vegas hotels have decided their failing was allowing Paddock to keep the Do Not Disturb sign on his guestroom door too long. So Boyd Gaming, which operates a dozen Vegas hotels and casinos, says it will conduct a "safety and welfare" check after a Do Not Disturb sign is displayed for two consecutive days. And Wynn Resorts last month explained it would roust guests after 12 hours if they don't leave the room and continue to display Do Not Disturb signs. As Newsweek notes, however, the Mandalay Bay Resort has not changed its Do Not Disturb policy.
England's Peculiar Sense of Place
There'll always be an England, but whether you'd be happy there is an open question. It really depends on where you happen to be on this so-called blessed plot. The latest survey from the U.K.'s Office of National Statistics offers up all manner of charts, graphs and comparisons about the relative well-being of the average Brit. The upshot after crunching the numbers? The happiest place is in the Northwest of England, in Yorkshire, specifically the district of Craven. The heart and soul of Craven is the market town of Skipton, a burg of about 15,000 phlegmatically jolly Yorkshiremen. The New York Times journeyed to Skipton and decided it is "one of those places [that] is absolutely beautiful in the rain." In the Northeast of England, however, the seaside resort of Blackpool is the, er, polar opposite. The Financial Times suggests Blackpool is "stuck in its own strange dynamic. The more the economy rots, the more some people come." The situation is so dire, the FT says, "the local government sold all 6,000 [deck chairs] three years ago."
Tight Connections ...
Juice run When the daughter of a former government minister in Argentina didn't get her upgrade on a flight between Paris/CDG and Buenos Aires, she did what we all do: complain. But when you're the daughter of a former government minister, you got juice. When Air France Flight 228 touched down in the Argentine capital, the flight crew ended up detained for hours by local police.
Park it here If you've got an RV and don't want to pay for a hookup at an appropriate location, go to Walmart. As The New York Times explains, "Walmart is often a willing host for overnight guests." Letting travelers use its parking lots overnight "has made the retail giantís stores a reliable, if somewhat improvised, destination."
Chicken or ick An airline-food catering operation at LAX has been hit with an outbreak of listeria. Several carriers have stopped using the facility, the Los Angeles Times reports. But Delta Air Lines continues to provision some food items from the company, says the Associated Press.
Hot stuff A lithium-ion camera battery exploded, caught fire and began smoking last week at Orlando International Airport, says NBCNews.com. I'm surprised people still have cameras ... -- Joe Brancatelli
This column is Copyright © 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.