Travel Newsstand for Sept. 6-20, 2018
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Read all about it! Bernie Sanders wants to know why American Airlines earned $1.9 billion last year but has employees on food stamps. Bugs (the medical kind) on a plane--and on airport security trays and hotels, too. Storms knock out Kansai and O'Hare this week. Plus the best view restaurants, hotel restaurants and hotels with runway views.
Still Another Way Taxpayers Underwrite Airline Profits
If nothing else, U.S. carriers are consistent: Bosses make big bucks and the line workers are squeezed for pennies. I first wrote about what I then called the "airline axis of excess" 15 years ago when the carriers were reeling after 9/11. Line employees--pilots and flight attendants, mechanics and gate agents--were pressured into massive givebacks, but C-suite compensation kept rising. The phenomenon may have reached its zenith in 2007, when I wrote about then-United boss Glenn Tilton earning around 2,000 times what new hires were paid.
Things haven't improved in the last decade and, if anything, have gotten worse. It also turns out that taxpayers underwrite the pay gap. According to a new report from the Institute of Policy Studies, 27 percent of employees at American Airlines [commuter carrier] Envoy Air ... rely on public assistance. American is hardly alone, of course, and you can read the full report in PDF form here. American's situation has gone viral, however, with a video put together by one of the airline's unions and featured on Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' Facebook page. Net earnings of $1.9 billion last year with a CEO on track to earn $30 million this year and employees on taxpayer-funded food stamps is not a good look for American.
Sanders, who's speechified about the pay gap for years, hasn't stopped at a social media post. He has introduced legislation that would reclaim from profitable companies all federal assistance paid to its employees. The "headline" firms in Sanders' legislation are retail giants such as Walmart and Amazon. In fact, Sanders calls it the BEZOS bill--as in Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the world's richest man. But American Airlines would be on the hook to repay more than $16 million. The chance of the Sanders bill passing? Nil, especially if Republicans hold the Senate in November's elections.
Bugs (the Medical Kind) on a Plane--and the Airport and Hotel
Okay, now let's talk about icky medical stuff. Emirates Airline Flight 203 arrived from Dubai yesterday (September 5) and was promptly shunted off to a quarantined area of New York/JFK airport. The reason? At least 100 of the approximately 500 passengers on the Airbus A380 fell ill. (CNN has the latest coverage.) Centers for Disease Control officials and a phalanx of emergency vehicles met the plane after the 14-hour nonstop from Dubai. In a series of Tweets, Emirates claims "about 10" passengers were hospitalized and the others did not need attention or declined further treatment. (Numbers are still in flux, both for the full passenger and crew load and the number of people hospitalized.) The good news? New York City medical authorities say preliminary lab tests and symptoms indicate nothing more serious common colds and influenza. In any event, we can conclude that authorities decided it was not about the aircraft itself. After passengers disembarked, the plane was cleaned and used as Flight 204 to Dubai. That departure was delayed by more than five hours due to the earlier medical issue, but the flight landed without incident today (September 6) in Dubai. Meanwhile, because everything has something to do with celebrity these days, Vanilla Ice, the rapper turned TV reality show host, was a passenger on Flight 203. He told Time that he wasn't even aware of the in-flight illnesses.
That, of course was literally yesterday's news. Today (September 6), two American Airlines aircraft arrived in Philadelphia with ill passengers. According to Philadelphia Airport officials, a dozen people on the American flights--from Munich and Paris--experienced flu-like symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control says it'll have test results in the days ahead. A local TV news report says some flyers arriving from Paris recently attended the Hajj in Mecca. That matters because there was a flu outbreak last month at the annual religious pilgrimage. New York officials are also looking to people returning from the Hajj through Dubai as a possible cause of the problems on Emirates Flight 203.
And this seems to be the appropriate place to mention that British and Finnish researchers believe "half of plastic airport security bins may carry viruses that cause respiratory infections." The security trays carry more germs than airport toilets, The New York Times feels compelled to tell us.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reports that a major tour operator discovered E. coli and staphylococcus at an Egyptian resort where a British couple died. Although some tests at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in Hurghada came back as normal, there were food and hygiene problems. The visitors died last month at the four-year-old, five-star family property with 700 rooms and extensive water features.
The Wrath of Mother Nature From Osaka to O'Hare
Typhoon Jebi ripped through Osaka and Western Japan on Tuesday (September 4) and killed at least eight people and injured more than 300. Property damage is extensive after Japan's most powerful typhoon in more than two decades. It has also knocked out Kansai International Airport (KIX), built on reclaimed land in Osaka Bay. As you can see by the video and a slideshow of photographs at Weather.com, ground access to the airport was knocked out when a 300-foot tanker ship was blown against the causeway connecting Kansai to the mainland. The airport runways flooded, too. About 3,000 stranded flyers were evacuated by boat. There are no official reports about when KIX can or will reopen.
Here at home, what a local television station called "pop-up storms" created chaos at Chicago/O'Hare Airport. Major roads leading to the sprawling airport closed. The airport itself was inundated with rain and floodwaters. The result? Cascades of water seeping through terminal walls and falling from ceilings. The result? More than 1,000 delays and 300 cancellations on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
Tight Connections ...
A Scenic Dining List If you believe OpenTable.com, these are the 100 restaurants with the best views in the country.
A Scenic Runway List If you believe CNN.com--and care about views of runways--these are the best airport hotels with best runway views.
A Hotel Restaurant List If you believe Hotels magazine, a major lodging industry trade publication, these are the world's ten great hotel restaurants.-- Joe Brancatelli
This column is Copyright © 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2018 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.