The Demise Of Super Shuttle

Those blue and yellow, shared-rider vans operated by Super Shuttle at airports since 1983 are fading away.  The company began at Los Angeles’ airport (LAX), and eventually grew to serve airports in 30 states.

Blame the rise of car-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft for decimating Super Shuttle’s business.

The company shut down service at LAX at year’s end and is closing—or has already closed–its operations at Phoenix, Burbank, Minneapolis/St. Paul, DC, and Baltimore, as well.

With, I suspect, more closures to come.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the number of shared van rides at LAX fell by two thirds in the first half of 2019 compared to 2016; Uber and Lyft rides serving the airport more than doubled.

United Changes Its Frequent Flyer Rules

United Airlines made achieving elite status more confusing beginning this year.

Last year, it took flying 100,000 miles on United and spending $15,000 on United flights to achieve 1K status.

Now, miles are off the table when it comes to achieving elite status.  It’s all about how much money you spend and how many segments you fly.  To reach 1K this year, you must spend $24,000.  Or you must spend $18,000 AND fly 54 segments.

To reach gold status–the lowest level of elite status that offers free, economy-plus seats and priority baggage handling—you must spend $10,000 on United or $8,000 AND fly 24 segments.

And, like Delta Airlines, United shifted to a “flexible” award schedule, which means you won’t know until you want to book how many miles are required for an award ticket.

There are a couple positives.  You’ll earn qualifying dollars on flights ticketed and operated by other Star Alliance partners as well for money used to pay for upgrades and airline surcharges.

If you’re a United flyer and status matters to you, familiarize yourself with the intricate (and sometimes confusing) new rules here.

Short Takes

Headed to Atlanta before the end of March?  Consider checking into any of the 14 Marriott properties there and collect 4,000 bonus Bonvoy points PER NIGHT if you book before March 2nd.  Four thousand Bonvoy points are worth about $30, by the way. Details here.

Footnote: The Marriott Suites Midtown offers only 3,000 points per night . . .

For the 10th year in a row, Vienna ranks as the most livable city in the world according to an annual “quality of living study” from the global consultancy Mercer. Zurich came in second of the 230 cities studied; factors considered included housing, education, public services (including public transportation), the natural environment, recreation, and a city’s political and social environment . . . With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois, Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports install “amnesty boxes” so you can toss your stash before passing through security.  It’s illegal to take marijuana to a state where it’s still illegal for recreational consumption.

Thieves from the San Francisco area are scouring tourist spots in Los Angeles’ Westside (Santa Monica, Venice, et. al.) and smashing windows to break into parked cars.  The crime wave has alarmed police who say the bad guys look for rental cars or for tourists exiting parked cars . . . Delta Airlines employee filed a class action suit against the manufacturer of their new uniforms, Land’s End, charging the fabric is making them sick and causing rashes and boils.  Both Delta and Land’s End say the uniforms underwent extensive testing and are fine . . . The White House recently banned charter flights from the US to all cities in Cuba except Havana.  In October, the Trump administration banned all commercial flights from the US from landing anywhere in Cuba except Havana in Cuba, but charters were allowed to continue to operate.  Now, charter companies have two months to wind down their flights.

How To Win a Bar Bet

The methane from the manure of a typical cow is roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of a car that gets 20 miles per gallon and is driven 12,000 miles.  Which is why companies are beginning to build “digester” plants near large livestock centers that will covert animal waste to fuel and fertilizer, as reported here in the Wall Street Journal

— Rudy

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