Short Takes

It was only a matter of time until someone made a movie built around Uber. Witness the recent release of “Stuber,” an action comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista that involves an Uber driver hired to hunt down a murderer . . . Which isn’t so far fetched. In Albuquerque, a (real) Uber driver unwittingly participated in a gas station robbery when his customer asked him to wait while he ducked into a gas station. Not until the police showed up at the Uber driver’s home an hour later did he realize why his customer seemed in such a hurry to get going when he jumped back in the car.

When Marriott and Starwood merged, putting the two hotel companies’ frequent guest programs together was a highly publicized nightmare. Which might be why Marriot is making nice now by surprising some Bonvoy members with lavish gift baskets, $50 gift cards, and more. One guest was refunded points used to book an award-point stay. The gestures seem random, though I’m sure there’s some algorithm behind this PR offense . . . You can now book award tickets on Japan Airlines through the American Airline website. JAL and AA, of course, are alliance partners . . .

United, American, and Southwest airlines have taken the Boeing Max 737 out of their schedules until early November, but news reports are suggesting it might be grounded until January. All three airlines had hoped the plane could be back in service by September. For United alone, this will result in 2,100 canceled flights in September, 2,900 in October. Delta, by the way, is the only one of the four largest US carriers that has no 737 MAX aircraft it its fleet. Which is one reason Delta enjoyed a record $2 billion, second quarter profit this year

My favorite travel-related quote so far this year came from my public television colleague Rick Steves: “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much.”


Why You Should Save Clothing Receipts

Airlines have gotten much better at delivering your checked luggage to the right destination. On average, airlines “lose” about two bags for every 100,000 they check, but that number includes bags that are temporarily misplaced. Your bag must go missing for 21 days for it to be officially declared “lost.”

You know airlines will reimburse you for a lost bag and its contents . . . up to a point. You may not know that in deciding how big a check to send you, the airline depreciates the value of your bag and its contents depending on the age of items lost and what you paid for those items.


Here’s the fine print in Delta’s “contract of carriage,” for example: “Actual value for reimbursement of lost or damaged property shall be determined by the documented original purchase price less any applicable depreciation for prior usage.”

Note that word “documented.” That’s why I recommend saving receipts for anything you buy that might someday go into a checked bag on an airline. Not just clothing but other items—a pricey bottle of perfume or cologne, perhaps, or an expensive hairbrush—that you carry on trips.

If you’re a real worrier, you can photograph everything you pack for a trip. That will impress an airline if you ever need to file a claim. I don’t do that, but I have a fat file that holds all my receipts for clothing, shoes, and more. I figure if my bag is truly lost, I’ll pick out receipts that approximate what was in my luggage.

It’s effortless, and it may never matter. Until it does.
Obviously, never put jewelry, electronic equipment or anything else you can’t stand to lose in checked luggage. And know an airline’s maximum liability is capped at $3,500.

FOOTNOTE: The three airlines least likely to lose your bag are, in descending order, Delta, Frontier, and Spirit. Delta loses 1.55 bags per 100,000 passengers while United loses 2.9 per 100,000. Southwest comes in at 3.6 and American Airlines at 4.3.


Pakistan & India Make Nice Again — At Least in the Air

Pakistan re-opened its skies last week. The country closed its airspace in February in retaliation for what it said was an air strike by India on a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. That forced airlines to spend tens of millions of dollars avoiding flying over Pakistan, a key airline corridor. Almost immediately, United Airlines, which had stopped flying to India beginning last June, announced it would resume direct service from Newark to Delhi and Mumbai beginning early September and would launch seasonal service linking San Francisco to Delhi in December.


— Rudy


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