Newsstand for Nov. 29 to Dec. 13, 2018
Read all about it! The Sunday after Thanksgiving was the busiest flying day in post-9/11 history. How Denver added more international flights. A very African airline war. Indonesia's Lion Air crash was beyond tragic, it was criminal. Adam's Mark, home of corporate lodging discrimination, limps on. Britain runs out of Indian chefs. Amtrak vs. Iowa. And more.

Flying Now: Holiday Crowds, International Hijinx--and Disaster







Nov. 25, 2018


Sunday after Thanksgiving


Nov. 28, 2004


Sunday after Thanksgiving


July 20, 2018


Summer Friday


June 29, 2018


Friday before Fourth of July week


July 26, 2018


Summer Thursday


June 22, 2018


Summer Friday


July 8, 2018


Sunday after Fourth of July week


Nov. 19, 2004


Friday of week before Thanksgiving


July 27, 2018


Summer Friday


June 30, 2017


Friday of Fourth of July week

Source: Transportation Security Administration

The Transportation Security Administration, which has made our lives on the road miserable since late in 2001, reports that last Sunday (November 25) was the busiest day ever for airport screening. According to statistics released by TSA, more than 2.7 million passengers and airline crewmembers passed through airport checkpoints around the nation. (The weather last Sunday was awful in the Midwest, too, causing a raft of cancellations and delays at Chicago/O'Hare and Chicago/Midway as folks headed home from Thanksgiving weekend.) The Sunday rush represented a few thousand more flyers than on the second-busiest TSA day, the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2004. Six other days in 2018 are in the agency's top-ten days for U.S. air travel.
      Metro Denver is booming, yet Denver Airport can still handle many more international flights. The reason? The Denver catchment area--airline jargon for the population of potential flyers within a reasonable driving distance--is tiny. (That's what happens when you're surrounded by mountains, of course.) Denver finally is attracting new international runs, however. How? By stressing the airport's strength as a connecting hub that can funnel travelers from other communities to those long-haul international destinations. An example: Only about 10 percent of travelers on Lufthansa's Denver-Frankfurt flight are actually flying nonstop between Denver and Frankfurt. The others arrive in Denver on a connecting flight and/or flying onward from Frankfurt. (Ironically, today United Airlines announced its own Denver-Frankfurt nonstops.)
      Burundi has no national carrier--Air Burundi stopped flying in 2009--but its government has very high standards for airlines that want to fly to the East African country. Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, Burundi has barred Kenyan carrier Jambojet because it has no business class. "Our high State officials travel to the world mainly via Nairobi and need to be treated in business class conditions that are acceptable considering their rank," Burundi transport minister Jean-Bosco Ntunzwenimana told Jambojet's chief executive. Jambojet, the budget-airline subsidiary of Kenya Airways, responded by cancelling the route between Nairobi and Bujumbura, capital of Burundi.
      The tragic and apparently completely avoidable Lion Air crash last month in Indonesia continues to reverberate in the airline community. The aircraft, a months-old Boeing 737 MAX, was "not airworthy," say Indonesian investigators. Black-box data reveals pilots fought to control the aircraft for the entirety of the 11-minute flight, which killed all 189 people on board. Shortly after the crash, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order covering a potentially malfunctioning sensor. And local media has been reporting how Lion Air encouraged a corporate culture of lax, do-it-on-the-cheap safety.

Adam's Mark, the Home of Corporate Hotel Racism, Limps On
Adam's Mark, the hotel chain brought down by racism, refuses to die. Although the name has come off its huge property in Buffalo (left), the hulking, 40-year-old building adjacent to the city's convention center remains a mystery even to its new owner and developer. "There's a lot of housecleaning to do," explains Canadian Harry Stinson. "I'm still discovering nooks and crannies of the building every day." Opened in 1978 as the Buffalo Hilton, the 7-acre property has 484 guestrooms, a 600-seat restaurant, a 500-car parking structure and 72,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel's new name? The Buffalo Grand. It took nearly a decade for the conversion. As I reported in 2009, the building was slated for a renovation and conversion to the Crowne Plaza chain. But the owners at the time never completed the deal and finally sold the property to Stinson. However, even the demise of the Buffalo branch isn't quite the end of Adam's Mark or its history of systemic, corporately supported discrimination. The Kansas City Adam's Mark is still open--in fact, it reverted to that name in 2015. The nearly 400-room property near a major sports complex has also traded as a Sheraton, a Clarion and a Holiday Inn. It is probably best-known as the site of an ugly racial incident in 2015. That's when a hotel manager hung a black slave doll on a noose from a back-office doorway.

Tight Connections ...
      Fish and Chips It Is Brexit is causing chaos in Britain and may even topple the government of Prime Minister Theresa May, who is stumping for an exit deal that most of Parliament opposes. But there is hardship and then there is hardship. Brexit has crimped immigration, specifically chefs who can cook in Britain's curry houses. On average, one Indian restaurant is closing each day because there are no chefs to staff the kitchens. That means no chicken tikka masala, which is more popular these days in Britain than fish and chips.
      Airport Restaurants That Get Priority We talked last autumn about Priority Pass' new emphasis on complimentary airport dining as an alternative to airport club access. Bob McGarvey raved last month about his Priority Pass-sponsored meal at New York/Kennedy. And now a Boarding Area blogger has posted an updated list of airport restaurants and bars around the world that offer Priority Pass privileges.
      Stars, Diamonds and Inspectors I'm not sure we pay much attention to AAA hotel ratings anymore, but the always reliable Catherine Hamm of the Los Angeles Times covers the life and work pattern of an AAA lodging inspector. "Ninety-nine percent of what they say makes sense," one hotel manager told Hamm.
      Washington's Secret Chemical War A hundred years after the end of World War I, the U.S. government is cleaning a secret chemical-weapons testing site in Washington, D.C. Mortar and artillery shells--and more deadly chemical weapons--were tested near a reservoir and dispatched from a secret facility on the campus of American University.
      Amtrak Stumbles in Iowa Even given its parlous condition, Amtrak is growing ridership around the nation. But not in Iowa. The latest figures show that ridership at Iowa's six stations tumbled by more than 4 percent in the 12 months ending September 30. That is just 57,995 travelers--or around 150 passengers a day on the two trains traversing the state. Of course, Amtrak has never operated in Des Moines, the state capital and Iowa's largest city. It hasn't had passenger rail service since 1970. The Quad Cities metropolitan area hasn't had train operations in 40 years. -- Joe Brancatelli

This column is Copyright 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. 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.