Travel Newsstand for July 20-31, 2017
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Read all about it: This week in Trump travel and the details are tough to keep straight. The Twitter fight between Ann Coulter and Delta Air Lines yields at least one good (if never to be implemented) idea about selling airline tickets. The Titanic battle between Uber and London's black cabs. The dawn of pop-up hotels, the case of the missing golf clubs and more.
This Week in Trump Travel
The Trump Administration is clearly attempting to reshape how we travel internationally. The net-net? Regardless of what you think about President Trump or his agenda, it's getting harder to travel and more confusing to understand the rules. And it is happening on so many fronts at once that it is hard to keep all the developments straight. Here's this week's best shot at clarity:
The Supreme Court, which cleared the way for Trump Travel Ban 2.0 to go into effect pending arguments in October, isn't too happy with how the Administration is executing the ban. The Supremes this week upheld a lower court judge's ruling that the Trump Administration was defining the Supreme Court's definition of immediate family ties too narrowly. NBC News has the details.
Even before the ban's upcoming day in the Supreme Court, the Trump Administration seems to be planning to impose a de facto global ban on many more travelers seeking visas to enter the United States. The details are in new cables examined by Politico.com.
Leaving the country could be harder, too, even for U.S. citizens. Homeland Security is pushing for facial recognition scans of all flyers leaving on an international flight. ABC News has those details.
Despite its bellicose rhetoric last month on widened laptops and electronics bans, Homeland Security has now lifted March's restrictions from the final airport (Riyadh) and final airline (Saudi). Endgadget.com has that piece of the puzzle. And Ben Muztabaugh of USA Today traveled to New York/Kennedy from Doha on Qatar Airways last week to see what it's like to carry a laptop home from a country that had previously been hit with a ban. Needless to say, the new security kabuki is impressive in its own warped way.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly claims the agency blew up a plane with a prototype laptop bomb before it imposed the laptop ban that has now been lifted. NBC News reports that Kelly claimed the new procedures for electronic devices on international flights are "no compromise" between security and convenience. And, by the way, he provided no proof that the agency actually blew up an aircraft. And since this is the Trump Administration, where facts are fungible, well, er ... let's see the proof.
Customs and Immigrations officials have also ramped up their snooping around in our mobile devices when we return to the United States. For the protection of you and your data, Quartz.com explains what Customs can and cannot do when they ask to inspect your smartphone.
A Good Idea for Selling Airline Tickets
Consider yourself lucky if you haven't heard about Ann Coulter's nasty Twitter fight with Delta Air Lines. Coulter was moved from a coach seat assignment for which she had paid $30. The hateful pundit, who even Conservatives have largely disavowed, went on an epic Twitter rant, attacking Delta, its employees and even the poor passenger who was inadvertently assigned to the seat Coulter wanted. The hateful airline, which rarely deserves the benefit of the doubt, pushed back hard against Coulter's attitude. The fight has been covered ad nauseam this week in mainstream newspapers, on television and even--surprise!--on social media. But only Joe Nocera, a Bloomberg business columnist, used the silly Coulter sideshow to make some solid suggestions for improving the airline-ticket purchase process. He was also kind enough to note that I proposed a similar solution--nonrefundable tickets that can be sold on a secondary aftermarket--five years ago. Not that anyone listened to me, of course, just as they will ignore Nocera's commonsense ideas.
Uber, Black Cabs and the Battle for Control of London's Streets
For all of its icky corporate behavior and the fact that it doesn't actually seem to make any money, Uber has changed the face of the world's transportation scene. And in no place has that disruption been more interesting to track than London, where the city's legendary black cabs can track their lineage to the 17th century. The story of how Uber plotted its invasion of the British capital was the subject of a long and deeply researched piece last year in The Guardian. The continuing battle between Uber and the entrenched black-cab industry has now become bitter and personal. It also seems to echo the fight over Brexit and immigration in Great Britain. The New York Times has that reporting in an equally long and deftly written piece.
Tight Connections ...
Boeing or bust! Alaska Airlines chief executive Brad Tilton says that the carrier will probably dispose of Virgin America's fleet of Airbus aircraft after the merger is completed. "My dad was a 32-year Boeing guy," the Puget Sound Business Journal reports Tilton says. Alaska Air, which currently flies an all-Boeing 737 fleet on mainline routes, "could not be more in love with Boeing, or loyal to Boeing," he adds.
Pop-up hotels? Yup, that's a thing. According to a story in The Wall Street Journal appearing on FoxBusiness.com, several start-up firms temporarily repurpose blocks of residential units as hotel rooms. The companies also bring in all the appropriate hotel-like services.
Fore! times lost. Airline lost your checked bag lately? Could be worse. Julian Suri, a U.S. player on the European pro golf tour, has played with scrounged clubs for four weeks running. The reason? Vueling has lost his golf clubs repeatedly. In case you don't know, Vueling is a Spanish low-fare/high-fee carrier owned by IAG, parent company of British Airways and Iberia.
Behind the Great Wall of corporations. Ever heard of HNA? You should have by now. It owns Hainan Airlines, the fast-growing Chinese airline. HNA has also bought into Hilton and owns Swissport and Gate Gourmet, important airport-services groups. The Financial Times was the first to question HNA's finances. Now The New York Times has a deep dive into the nearly impenetrable maze of corporate and family connections that control the shadowy firm. -- Joe Brancatelli
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