Greetings! I took yesterday off since it was such a historic day for the USA and the world. To keep this newsletter politics-free, let’s just talk about highlights from yesterday that hopefully everyone can agree on in hopes that we can all unite. I thought Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old inaugural poet laureate from Los Angeles became an instant star. CBS News did a profile on her and it’s really inspiring, especially considering she overcame a speech impediment, just like President Joe Biden – and me.

I also absolutely loved the performances by Lady Gaga and Garth Brooks and I thought last night’s made for TV inaugural celebration, instead of the usually fancy inauguration ball, hit it out of the park. I hope future presidents do the same even when there’s not a pandemic so everyone can participate and not just a select few.

Flight Attendant’s Tips For a Comfortable Flight While Wearing a Mask
I’m not flying right now since I haven’t been vaccinated, COVID-19 is running rampant and the new strains are reportedly much more contagious. Unfortunately, experts believe we will need to wear face masks on airplanes for the rest of the year so since they will be our reality for some time to come, read these flight attendant tips for a more comfortable flight while wearing a mask.

Travel Hack: Never Get Your Valuables Stolen
Yesterday’s glorious weather made me want to take a dip but the water was freezing cold. But it got me thinking about beach hacks. I’ve often been on the beach alone and wanted to take a dip but don’t want to leave my valuables unattended while I’m in the water. So what do you do? Here’s a hack that’ll guarantee no one ever touches your stuff!

Disneyland Is Ending Its Annual Pass Program
Disney Park News released a statement announcing they’re ending their Disneyland Resort Annual Passports. Get all the details here.

President Biden to mandate masks on planes. Will it reduce number of in-flight scofflaws?
Veteran travel analyst Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research said mask wearing will go from an airline policy to a government policy, with muscle behind it. “It is a federal policy and you have two choices: comply or don’t fly,” he said. (USA Today)

Southwest Airlines Sale
Southwest Airlines launched a fare sale through Feb. 8, 2021 with fares starting as low as $50 one-way in honor of its 50th Anniversary. (Southwest)

Travel Contests
Round-up of travel contests! Good luck!

TSA Checkpoint Numbers
TSA officers screened 542,338 people at checkpoints nationwide yesterday, January 20. One year earlier, 1,801,444 people were screened at airport security checkpoints across the country. (Twitter)

Today’s Newspaper Covers From Around The World
Today’s newspaper covers from around the world thanks to The Freedom Forum.

Biden Says He Will Reverse Trump’s Order to Lift the Coronavirus Travel Ban
President Joe Biden has pledged to reverse efforts by President Donald Trump in the final days of his presidency to lift a COVID-19 travel ban on passengers arriving from Europe and Brazil. (Travel + Leisure)

Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Midtown to see security scaled back
Once a fortress, security in and around Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue will begin to loosen possibly as early as this week when the building’s namesake departs the White House. (ABC 7 NY)

KLM suspends long-haul flights as Netherlands requires rapid test before entry
On Wednesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced additional measures in the fight against the coronavirus, including a temporary ban on flights to the United Kingdom, South Africa and South American countries, pending a new quarantine law. (Brussels Times)

Royal Caribbean to sell Azamara brand for $201 mln, focus on bigger cruise lines
Royal Caribbean Group said it would sell its Azamara line to private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $201 million in cash, to focus more on its bigger brands as the cruise operator deals with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sycamore would acquire Azamara’s three-ship fleet and associated intellectual property, Royal Caribbean said on Tuesday. (Reuters)

American Airlines Extends Waiver for Change Fees
The waived change fees are applicable to any first-class, business class, Premium Economy, Main Cabin or Basic Economy tickets purchased on or before March 31 for future travel. American passengers must pay any applicable difference and fare rules may apply depending on the ticket. (TravelPulse)

Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Carnival cancel more cruises into spring
-Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. announced Tuesday that it would cancel sailings on all three of its cruise lines until May.
-Royal Caribbean International All sailings canceled through April 30, including Spectrum of the Seas from Feb. 16-28
-Princess Cruises has announced it will cancel all cruises from U.S. ports through May 14 — more than a year after the industry came to a standstill in the middle of March last year. (USA Today)

Rapid antigen COVID-19 tests now available at LAX
Los Angeles International Airport is now offering COVID-19 test results in as little as 30 minutes with the addition of rapid antigen tests at the airport’s on-site laboratory, officials said Monday. The lab opened in late December, offering rapid Polymerase Chain Reaction nasal swab tests with results available in 3-5 hours for tests collected at the lab across from Terminal 6, and results in less than 24 hour for samples collected at the Terminal 2 and Tom Bradley International Terminal locations. (FOX LA)

Virgin Australia is trying to retain frequent flyer members by offering them a share of 20 million points – here’s how to get a slice
To get in on the points, frequent flyer members have to download the Velocity app by midnight on Tuesday 26 January and activate the offer. And according to the terms and conditions, “there is a limit of one share per Velocity member.” (Business Insider)

10 Everyday Things No U.S. President Is Allowed to Do While in Office
If the president ever had the aching desire to take an American Airlines flight, the Secret Service would reply with a “Sorry, no can do.” Dr. Karla Mastracchio, a cybersecurity instructor for SecureSet, notes that this is one of the few “normal things” that the president absolutely cannot do. “Presidents can do most of the things regular people can do but with a lot more restrictions,” she says. When you have Air Force 1, why would you want to deal with the hassles that come with commercial airlines anyways? (Readers Digest)

Spirit agent hospitalized, passengers arrested after bag dispute
Two Spirit Airlines agents were injured on Sunday after three passengers “attacked them” while trying to board a flight from Detroit to Atlanta “without authorization” on Sunday, the airline said. Spirit Airlines told ABC News that the group became combative after the agents asked the passengers to verify that their carry-on bags met the airline’s luggage size requirements. (ABC News)

Where Can Americans Travel Right Now?
If you’re itching to leave the U.S., there are several countries around the world that will accept you (and your negative coronavirus test results), though some specific restrictions will apply. If you decide to travel, be sure to evaluate the risks and understand the safest ways to travel. You should also look out for yourself and others by taking necessary safety precautions and investing in one of the best face masks for travel. (MSN)

American being deported from Bali after promoting island as ‘LGBT-friendly’
An American graphic designer is being deported from the Indonesian resort island of Bali over her viral tweets that celebrated it as a low-cost, queer-friendly place for foreigners to live. (USA Today)

Amanda Gorman makes history as youngest known inaugural poet
Amanda Gorman has written poems for historic occasions. Now she has made history herself. Gorman, 22, became the youngest known inaugural poet when she performed at the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Wednesday. She delivered her original composition, “The Hill We Climb,” at the Capitol in front of President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and the entire nation. (CBS News & Good Morning America)

Boeing 737 MAX can return to Canadian skies this week
Canada said on Monday that it will lift a near two-year flight ban on Boeing Co’s 737 MAX on January 20, joining other countries like the United States that have brought the aircraft back following two fatal crashes. (Al Jazeera)

Thailand to introduce new tourist fee
Thailand’s National Tourism Policy Committee has approved the proposal for a THB300 (US$10) fee payable by all arriving international travellers. (TravelMole)

Teen sentenced to prison in Cayman Islands after breaking quarantine rules is back in U.S.
The 18-year-old sentenced to two months behind bars in the Cayman Islands for breaking quarantine rules is out of prison and back on American soil. (ABC News)

49 Chinese passengers tested positive for Covid at Paris CDG Airport
About fifty Chinese travelers tested positive at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport on Sunday. Coming from different countries, they all went to Shanghai and were placed in solitary confinement. New tests, the results of which are expected, were carried out on Monday. (24 News)

All UK travel corridors now closed
All UK travel corridors, which allow arrivals from some countries to avoid having to quarantine, have now closed. Travellers arriving in the UK, whether by boat, train or plane, also have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed entry. (TravelMole)

TSA investigating ‘hundreds of names’ linked to Capitol riots for possible inclusion on no-fly list
Federal officials are investigating people who took part in the riot at the U.S. Capitol to determine whether they should be barred from traveling on airlines. (USA Today)

Singapore Airlines hopes to be world’s first fully-vaccinated airline
Singapore Airlines confirmed all of their crew members — including pilots, gate agents, flight attendants and anyone whose job requires contact with the public — have been offered free coronavirus vaccines by the Singaporean government. (CNN)

COVID-19 exposure on flights is more common than you think. The US doesn’t share details, but Canada does
Data from Canadian public health authorities show a near daily occurrence of flights where a passenger may have been infected while flying. From the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March through early January, the Public Health Agency of Canada has identified potential exposure on more than 1,600 international flights and more than 1,400 flights within Canada, for a total of more than 3,000 flights, including nearly 200 in the past two weeks alone. (USA Today)

COVID-19 exposure on flights is more common than you think. The US doesn’t share details, but Canada does
Data from Canadian public health authorities show a near daily occurrence of flights where a passenger may have been infected while flying. From the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March through early January, the Public Health Agency of Canada has identified potential exposure on more than 1,600 international flights and more than 1,400 flights within Canada, for a total of more than 3,000 flights, including nearly 200 in the past two weeks alone. (USA Today)

Two entire planes affected by COVID days after Canada implements negative test requirement
At least 72 international flights land in Canada with infected passengers since negative test requirement began Jan. 7. All rows. That’s how Health Canada described the impact of two Air Transat flights that landed in Montreal from Haiti this week, purportedly carrying so many infected passengers that everybody on board was at risk. (Toronto Sun)

U.S. airlines back Biden plan to mandate masks for passengers
Airlines for America – which represents American Airlines Co, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and others – asked Biden in a letter seen by Reuters to “allow air carriers to maintain their existing policies and practices which are aimed at de-escalating conflict in-flight and allowing the aircraft to continue while providing a consequential enforcement backstop on the ground.” (Reuters)

Trudeau leaves door open to tighter travel ban
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is leaving the door open to tighter travel restrictions, including a possible ban on outbound air travel as COVID-19 case counts climb across the country. “We’re always open to strengthening them as necessary,” Trudeau said, referring to measures restricting international flights. (Travel Industry Today)

‘It’s unlikely’: No overseas travel for Australians until 2022
“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions – even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he told the program. (Yahoo)

Australian Open: 47 players In quarantine after positive Covid-19 tests on two charter flights
Twenty-four players on a charter flight from the US to Melbourne are required to quarantine for two weeks after a member of the flight crew and a passenger — not a player — tested positive. Both had tested negative within 72 hours of boarding the flight, which carried a total of 79 people. Another 23 players are also in quarantine following the arrival in Melbourne of a charter flight carrying 64 people from Abu Dhabi. One person — again not a player — tested positive after the flight, despite presenting documentation of a negative Covid-19 test prior to takeoff. (MSN)

UK bans travel from South America, Portugal in light of new COVID-19 strain in Brazil
The United Kingdom is banning travel from the whole of South America and Portugal amid concerns over a new variant of the coronavirus in Brazil, authorities announced Thursday. The ban does not apply to British and Irish nationals and third country nationals with residence rights in the U.K. However, anyone returning from the banned destinations must quarantine themselves for 10 days with their households. (USA Today)

FAA: No more warnings for unruly passengers on flights
Passengers can expect to have penalties including fines up to $35,000 and even jail terms if passengers physically assault or verbally threaten airline crews or other travelers. “First strike and you’re out. We applaud FAA Administrator Dickson for taking this clear stand for our safety and security,” Sara Nelson, the head of the largest flight attendants union, said in a statement to the AP. “This will help serve as a deterrent to unruly passengers who had been bucking the rules of aviation safety.” (The Hill)

Annual passes are likely only the first of many things to go at Disneyland
Disneyland likely won’t offer FastPasses in the beginning either, but even when they do come back, those delightful little paper ride reminders won’t. I hate to say it, but you’ve likely pulled your last physical FastPass already. Also likely gone? Single rider lines, which are almost definitely not coming back when the park reopens, because it will be too hard to manage capacity from two entrances at once. Which means your one loophole for being able to ride everything you want in a single day, no matter how crowded it is, without ever having to rush, is likely gone. (SF Gate)

Covid test chaos at airports in UK
Passengers have been refused permission to fly to Britain from the US today after their negative Covid results were rejected because they were lateral flow tests – despite the Government insisting they should be accepted. There was also woe for thousands arriving at Heathrow Airport as they were forced to wait for 90 minutes in ‘chaotic’ queues as border staff checked test certificates and quarantine locator forms after all Britain’s travel corridors were closed for the next four weeks from 4am this morning. (Daily Mail)

Man lived inside O’Hare for 3 months before detection, prosecutors say
A California man who police said claimed to be too afraid to fly due to COVID-19 hid out for three months in a secured area of O’Hare International Airport until his weekend arrest, prosecutors said Sunday. (Chicago Tribune)

18-Year-Old Dies After Contracting COVID-19 for the Second Time
An 18-year-old from Denver has died after contracting the novel coronavirus for the second time, according to family and friends. Portillo, a CEC Early College graduate who launched an online sporting goods retailer called My Journey My Success, first fell ill with COVID-19 months into the pandemic following a business trip to Los Angeles. (People)

He Just Wanted to Play Catch. They Got Relief From Troubled Times
A callout on social media for a game of catch in Dallas drew a varied group of strangers who found escape from society’s turbulence in the most banal ritual. (NY Times)

Post-COVID lungs worse than the worst smokers’ lungs, surgeon says
Scary stuff! “A Texas trauma surgeon says it’s rare that X-rays from any of her COVID-19 patients come back without dense scarring. Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall tweeted, “Post-COVID lungs look worse than any type of terrible smoker’s lung we’ve ever seen. And they collapse. And they clot off. And the shortness of breath lingers on… & on… & on.” “She says patients who’ve had COVID-19 symptoms show a severe chest X-ray every time, and those who were asymptomatic show a severe chest X-ray 70% to 80% of the time.” (CBS News)

SF man who can’t remember Bitcoin password says he’s ‘made peace’ with $220M loss
The San Francisco man who can’t remember the password to unlock his $220 million Bitcoin fortune says he long ago “made peace” with the reality he may never gain access. (ABC 7) <– I would’ve made peace too by jumping off the GG Bridge

MORE Airline and Airport News:

Cruise News:

  • When will cruising resume in 2021? Here’s the good news
  • Cruise Ship Construction Proceeding Despite Continuing Industry Pause
  • Celebrity Returns to Mexican Riviera Cruising After 8 Year Hiatus
  • Adventures by Disney offers first expedition cruises, to Antarctica, Galápagos
  • See all the cruise news that’s got people talking this week…

Domestic News:

  • Southwest Airlines extends Companion Passes as airlines try to hold onto frequent flyers
  • Woman Who Refused to Comply With Airline Mask Rules Arrested After Landing at Washington, D.C. Airport
  • Graceland begins virtual tours: Here’s how to tour Elvis’ home without leaving your own
  • The ‘No Pee Rule’ Returns to DC Airports For Alaska Airlines Flights
  • See all the domestic travel news that’s got people talking this week…

International Travel News:

  • Seychelles allowing vaccinated travellers to skip quarantine
  • The toughest travel rules in a lifetime for arrivals into the UK have taken effect.
  • Australian Open: 47 players In quarantine after positive Covid-19 tests on two charter flights
  • I’m 60 and want to retire on between $800 and $1,200 a month, ideally near the ocean in Mexico — where should I go?
  • See all the international travel news that’s got people talking this week…

Hotel and Lodging Travel News:

Miscellaneous Travel News:


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