I Was Just Thinking…

Is it just me, or do you find you’re getting less work done when you’re at home than you expected? Let’s leave aside for the moment distractions like children or dirty dishes.

I have no children at home, and my dishwasher works fine. But I do have months of receipts I need to annotate for a bookkeeper, and when I had to stop traveling, I figured, great, now I’ll have plenty of time to do that.

But between watching the governor of New York’s morning reports on the Coronavirus (clear and empathetic) and then the president’s evening reports (not so clear and not so empathetic), and then comparing notes with friends via texts, Zoom, and phone calls, I find I’m only accomplishing the absolutely necessary work I need to do for my weekend radio show www.rmworldtravel.com and a new, Thursday afternoon webcast called “I Was Just Thinking . . .”

Maybe the constant drumbeat of the virus crisis in the back of my mind affects my focus in ways difficult to realize. But in three weeks of sheltering in place, I haven’t annotated a single receipt.

It didn’t help that Uncle Sam pushed back the deadline for filing 2019 taxes. Because like the laggard journalist I’ve always been, I need fear inspired by tight deadlines


Look Who’s Back: Eastern Airlines 3.0

Well, not the original. Which was spelled “Eastern Air Lines.”

This is the second effort to launch a new Eastern since the demise of the original that began flying in 1926 but went out of business in 1991. (Much of its assets were then acquired by Continental Airlines.)

The latest Eastern’s first scheduled flight from its base at New York’s JFK airport was between Guayaquil, Ecuador, and New York City on January 12th using a Boeing 777 acquired from Kenya Airways.

Then came the Coronavirus, and while other US airlines started downsizing, Eastern—in coordination with the US State Department–got busy ferrying more than 8,000 stranded Americans from Paraguay, Argentina, Haiti, Guyana, Suriname, and other Central American and Caribbean nations.

That effort is ongoing.

Will that be enough to build a brand that will attract passengers when we return to normalcy? Maybe. As our President likes to say, we’ll just have to wait and see.

You can find more info at the startup airline’s web site here.


Short Takes

  • Virus-related airline cancellations mean airlines owe passengers $35 billion in refunds or flight credits this financial quarter, according to the International Air Transport Association. Different regions have different refund and credit requirements.
  • Homebound? You don’t need to leave your armchair or desk to visit some of the world’s great museums, writes Andrea Romano in Travel & Leisure. Click here to take a virtual tour of some of the world’s big-name museums.
  • Delta Airlines extends to May 31, 2022, the period of time you can use dollars you’ve been credited for cancelled flights. That’s an extra year. Good idea. And both Delta and United Airlines tells members of their frequent flyer programs they will extend their status this year through all of next year.
  • United Airlines offers free, round-trip flights to the New York City area for medical volunteers willing to help with Coronavirus patients. The airline intends to extend the same offer to other destinations that might need helping hands. Another good idea.
  • Thailand extends ban on all international flights until April 18th . . . British Airways cancels flights to Japan on April 7th because it expects Japan to declare a state of emergency due to a rise in number of Coronavirus cases . . . Heathrow closes one of its runways and two of its terminals. Terminals 2 and 5 remain open; Terminal 2 is for Star Alliance airlines, Terminal 5 is for British Airways and Iberia . . . Singapore closes two of its terminals, as well.
  • Beginning Sunday, April 12th, United cuts 90% of its flights serving LaGuardia and Newark airports for at least three weeks. The most dramatic decrease is at Newark, where United’s normal schedule of 139 flights will be trimmed to . . . 15.
  • And at United’s San Francisco hub, the airline on Monday cut the number of its flights from 290 to 50.


America’s Shrinking Airlines

Expect US airlines to offer far fewer flights when they return to full service.

But that $50 billion worth of federal aid destined for US airlines comes with strings. The Department of Transportation proposes that airlines that fly between two cities five or more days a week must provide at least one flight per day five times a week.

Airlines that serve a destination fewer than five times a week only would have to fly once a week. Airlines that serve multiple airports in the same market can consolidate flights at a single airport. And airlines can seek a waiver if they want to quit flying to a destination they served before the crisis began.

Regional carriers and Frontier Airlines protest that they should be free to fly wherever there are passengers and ought not be required to fly empty planes. This story isn’t over—the airlines’ lobbyists in DC are asking for another cash infusion.

Footnote: Should you take advantage of low airfares—some of them totally ridiculous— for future flights being offered by some airlines now? Answer: Only if you can cancel without penalty should you need to.


Oscar-worthy Quotes

“Niagara Falls is simply a vast unnecessary amount of water going the wrong way and then falling over unnecessary rocks . . . Every American bride is taken there, and the sight must be one of the earliest, if not the keenest, disappointments of American married life.”

–Oscar Wilde

“Alas, I am dying beyond my means.”

Oscar Wilde as he lay dying, with a glass of Champagne, in his room at L’Hotel in Paris. (Guests can still check into the Oscar Wilde suite at L’Hotel.)

As a reminder, this week’s webcast (today, Thursday April 9th at noon Pacific) features author Phllip “Rumor Of War” Caputo on his drive across America in search of what keeps Americans together in these polarized time and Wolf Hengst, former president of Four Seasons hotels (for 30 years) on the future of hotels after we return to normalcy. Register here if you haven’t already. 

— Rudy