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Greetings from Los Angeles! It was like summer earlier this week with temperatures in the high 80s but now the temperatures are below normal with highs in the low 60s. The weather is crazy, just like this week’s travel news! I’ve compiled pretty much everything you need to know and then some in this week’s newsletter.

First up: The top stories on this week

8 Face Mask Accessories You Didn’t Know You Needed
International-Inspired Foods From Trader Joe’s
12 Podcasts Travelers Love
The Best Toy Airplane for Any Kid on Your Holiday Shopping List
Random Acts of Kindness Travelers Have Experienced

And in other news:
I know it might seem like I’ve been a bit doom and gloom lately but I’m just calling it the way it is. The travel industry is going to go through even more difficult times in the months ahead, just like everyone else. There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is out of control but fortunately, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel thanks to the news of two very promising vaccines. We just need to sit tight until they’re widely distributed in mid-2021. For now, we all need to keep wearing masks, practicing social distancing and getting ready to travel when the time comes.

Is It Ethical to Travel For the Holidays?
Can you believe next week is Thanksgiving? It seems inconceivable. According to AAA Travel, “with health and government officials stressing that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick, AAA anticipates at least a 10% drop in travel – the largest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008.” We’re staying home for Thanksgiving and I’ve been pondering this question for a long time. Is it ethical to travel right now? Here’s my post.

Do Certain Destinations Even Want Tourists?
Obviously it’s in my best interest if people travel because that’s how I make money (from sponsors, affiliates, speaking gigs, etc.) but I’m not going to recommend something that’s doesn’t feel right to me. After listening to the experts (and not the politicians), I don’t think it’s the right time to travel out of state unless it’s essential. Doctors say that December and January are going to be the United States’ darkest days since this pandemic began, which makes me scared as hell. Hospitals are filling to capacity and the weather is getting cold in most parts of the country so people will be indoors a lot more. So, the question is: Just because we can travel to certain destinations, should we? Read the full story here. I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section.

My Dad’s 92nd Birthday
My dad’s 92nd birthday was on Monday and I thought I would be spending it with him … or better yet, cashing in my miles and points and taking him wherever he wants to go, something I’ve done every year since my mom passed away. We’ve gone to Europe, Hawaii, Florida, Vegas (multiple times) and the Caribbean, just to name a few destinations where we’ve celebrated. Last year, he chose to come to California to meet his granddaughter for the first time. This year, I can’t even see him since it’s too risky.

Fortunately, my sister Carol lives near him in South Florida and took him out to dinner. Carol is a talented artist (as is my sister Georgette) and has an art show going on right now in the new Ben Hotel in Palm Beach. I hadn’t heard of the hotel before but she kept telling me how great it was and said that’s where she was taking my dad for his birthday so he could see her artwork.

Well, the morning of their dinner, I received an email from the hotel’s PR team informing me of their Black Friday Deals (I get so many of these emails, I just quickly scan them to see if there’s a really good deal or not and then either make a note or delete). When I saw that the email was about the Ben Hotel, I wrote back and said it was such a coincidence because my dad was going to dinner there that night. The hotel team made it extra special by having the chef come out and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and bring an assortment of desserts on the house. Very appreciated! Anyway, The Ben, Autograph Collection is offering a 20% discount on stays booked on November 27th and can be used through December 30th.  My sister’s art show is on display until December 3.

Zoom Gives Everyone a Thanksgiving Day Gift
Since this Thanksgiving is going to be very different for most, it can still be fun. We just have to get creative. And Zoom is trying to help by giving everyone a Thanksgiving gift. Read the full story here.

Just In: The CDC now recommends against in-person gatherings for Thanksgiving.

Cruise Industry Delivered Huge Blow
The cruise industry took a huge blow this week and cruise expert Gene Sloan saw it unfold firsthand. Gene was one of the 53 passengers on the SeaDream (now nicknamed SeaNightmare) as they attempted to be the first cruise to restart sailing in the Caribbean. They supposedly did everything right as Gene tweeted, “Passengers were tested twice in advance of boarding. First, at home, up to three days before boarding, with a laboratory-processed PCR test. Then day of departure, at pier, with a rapid molecular test — the one processed on the Abbott ID NOW machine.”

But it seems SeaDream made a huge mistake. According to Gene, “SeaDream didn’t initially require passengers and crew to wear masks on SeaDream 1.” No one knows for sure if it was because of the masks or just the fact that COVID-19 doesn’t show up right away in tests (I’m guessing a bit of both) but within a couple of days, six people had tested positive and everyone was quarantined in their cabins with no windows for at least four days (hence, the nickname). Here’s Gene’s story.

After that fiasco, SeaDream ended up canceling all their cruises for 2020 and so did others including the largest cruise line Carnival, which canceled sailings for 2020 and the first part of 2021. Cancelations include:

  • All embarkations from U.S. homeports from Jan. 1-31.
  • Additionally, Baltimore, Charleston, Jacksonville, Long Beach, Mobile, New Orleans and San Diego embarkations through Feb. 28.
  • Embarkations on Carnival Legend out of Tampa through March 26.

100,000 Cruise Volunteers Needed
If you’re still interested in going on a cruise (and believe it or not, there are countless people who are), then watch this two-minute Good Morning America video describing how the CDC is requiring cruises to test COVID safety measures before restarting operations. They need 100,000 volunteers who must acknowledge in writing that they are putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus.

Boeing Max Is Ungrounded. Would You Fly It?
Yesterday, the FAA made it official. The 737 Max is ungrounded. Bloomberg reports: “The Max’s comeback will be gradual. It won’t be widely flown for several months as airlines must first train pilots, inspect jets emerging from long desert sojourns and complete the FAA-mandated repairs. Of the U.S. operators, only American Airlines Group Inc. has put the Max jets back into its schedule, with flights starting Dec. 29 on a lone round trip: Miami to New York.” Would I fly on the 737 Max? Find out in my story.

Delta Extends Blocking The Middle Seat Again
Here’s some good news: Yesterday, Delta Air Lines announced they’re extending blocking the middle seats by a few months. All the details are here, including which other airlines are blocking middle seats and their end dates to help you decide which carrier to book on your next trip.

JetBlue Refreshes Mint Service
Today, JetBlue launched the first major refresh of their JetBlue Mint service, the airline’s premium travel experience that disrupted the industry with its category-redefining fares and award-winning product since 2014. The airline has introduced a completely new lineup for Mint, including Delicious Hospitality Group, Tuft & Needle, Wanderfuel and Master & Dynamic. The new partners will transition into domestic and Caribbean Mint flights over the next six weeks, appearing on flights as early as today (November 18).

When my wife, son and I flew Mint two Thanksgivings ago, she leaned across the aisle and asked me, “Why haven’t we been flying JetBlue instead of American? They’re so much better!” She was right because hands down, JetBlue Mint is better than American’s Business class in all categories (food, drink, service, headphones.) Except when it comes to lounges (JetBlue doesn’t have one), frequent flier perks and route network. I particularly like JetBlue’s new convertible blanket with a built-in foot pocket and memory foam lined pillow with a soft pillowcase (they sent me a goody bag to check out).

American Airlines Extends Expiration of Miles
More good news! According to American Airlines they have paused the expiration of miles through June 30, 2021. If your miles are scheduled to expire on or before June 30, 2021, they said, they will now expire in July 2021, if there’s no additional activity in your account before then. They say they’re working to update member accounts with the new expiration date.

Good To Know: AA Flight Change
A reader sent me an email the other day that I think American Airlines fliers will be happy to read. “I flew AA from Indy to Orlando to see the Space X launch, and when they postponed the launch a day, I had to change my return flight. Not only did I change the flight easily online using the AA app, I got a $21 refund (because it’s cheaper flying Monday)! This is a thumbs up for the AA app!” John J, Brazil IN.

American Airlines Cuts Flights
My buddy Brett Snyder over at wrote his weekly post about airline flight schedule updates (they’re always changing). Some not good news for American Airlines: “It’s a dark cloud descending over the Atlantic for American. London sees further cuts between December 1 and January 5 with Charlotte, Chicago, and JFK all being suspended. That leaves only a single daily flight from DFW to both London and Frankfurt as the airline’s entire European network. The cuts on flagship routes go even further. In the first half of December, American will now only operate a single daily flight between JFK and LA.” I find this shocking, particularly the last line because I know AA used to have 14 flights a day between LAX and JFK.

TSA By The Numbers
By looking at the TSA numbers you would never know that COVID-19 is more out of control now than it was a few months ago (note: the numbers are still way down from a year ago). Security throughput numbers are going up, which is great for airports and the airlines in the short term but it doesn’t bode well for them long term. As you can see here, the Sunday trend continues as the busiest day of the week.

One reason that makes the increased TSA numbers surprising is because more and more destinations are either on or going on lockdown or increasing their COVID-19 requirements. For example, California, Oregon and Washington are advising that anyone visiting or returning to these states must quarantine for 14 days.

Californians Must Wear Face Masks
On top of that, people in California must wear face coverings when they are outside of the home, unless one of the exemptions listed here applies.

Los Angeles Going To Shutdown Again?
I watched L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s press conference a few nights ago and he scared the hell out of me with all the stats. He also asked for city residents to remain at home when possible. “This is a different kind of moment, a new level of danger,” he said. “If we don’t make these decisions now, there really is only one outcome: We will almost certainly have to shut things down again. And more people will get sick and die.”

BREAKING: California Gov. Gavin Newsom announces overnight curfew for nearly the entire state as coronavirus cases rise at record pace.

Pennsylvania’s Testing Requirement For Travelers
“According to new orders from the state, anyone who visits Pennsylvania must have a negative coronavirus test 72 hours before arriving in the state. If someone cannot get a test or chooses not to, that person must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Pennsylvania. This order, which takes effect on Friday, November 20, does not apply to people who commute to and from another state for work or medical treatment.” – WKBN

Colorado: Cancel Your Social Plans
“In a press conference Monday, Gov. Jared Polis announced plans to extend the statewide mask mandate for an additional 30 days and continued to look to local governments in Colorado to turn around their worsening COVID-19 rates in lieu of further statewide restrictions. “It’s not about enforcement… the Grim Reaper is the ultimate enforcer. More Coloradans will die if Coloradans don’t simply cancel their social plans and wear masks in public and I know that we can do it,” Polis said.” – The Denver Channel

Chicago Goes On Lockdown
On Monday, November 16, the Mayor of the City of Chicago advised all residents of Chicago to stay at home in response to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the city. “Residents are advised to only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up food, or receiving deliveries.

Additionally, residents are strongly advised to:
-Not have guests in their homes unless they are essential workers (e.g., home healthcare providers or childcare workers)
-Cancel traditional Thanksgiving celebrations
-Avoid travel
-This advisory shall remain in place for 30 days or until such time as the Commissioner of Health determines a change to the guidance is appropriate.”

Hawaii Imposes New Mask Mandate
Hawaii Governor David Ige imposes new decrees for statewide mask mandate, clarifying previously confusing rules. “Now, “All persons in the state shall wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in public,” according to Ige’s proclamation. While exemptions remain, they are now uniform across all islands.” – Star Advertiser

The Latest Quarantine Rules For Each State
I could be here for days writing about this as there are just too many updates for each state. So be sure to check out this page which lists each state’s COVID-19 rules and regulations.

International Travel
BTW: The same goes for international destinations, with all of their restrictions and lockdowns so always research before you plan a trip and then again just before you leave. One notable update is from Sweden, which at first, was considered a model for fighting COVID-19 since they never went on lockdown.

Sweden Toughens Restrictions
Sweden will now dramatically reduce the number of people allowed to gather, including in bars and restaurants, from 300 to just eight, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told reporters on Monday. “The new government restrictions will take effect on November 24, and last at least four weeks. The country has not officially closed gyms or libraries, but authorities are urging people not to use them. “Don’t go to gyms, don’t go to libraries, don’t host dinners. Cancel,” Lofven said. “We are living in a trying time — it will become worse — do your duty, take responsibility and stop the spread of the virus.” – CNN

What’s It Like To Live In Sweden During COVID-19
In case you’re curious what it’s like to live in Sweden during COVID-19, here’s an interview I did with American travel expert, Doug Lansky. It’s available on my YouTube and Podcast.

New Yorkers Moving Out?
I found this NY Post article interesting. It shows how many people moved out of the Big Apple because of the pandemic. It wasn’t surprising that they moved to the suburbs but as you will see, many went to Florida, California and Hawaii! “More than 300,000 New Yorkers have bailed from the Big Apple in the last eight months, new stats show. The postal data shows that many fleeing New Yorkers simply crossed the border to Long Island, Westchester or New Jersey. But some New Yorkers went far afield — 8,587 asked for their mail to go to Los Angeles and 421 to Honolulu. There were 13,009 requests for the Sunshine State counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade.”

VIDEO: SpaceX and NASA’s
Did you watch the launch and docking of SpaceX and NASA’s Falcon 9’s of Dragon’s first operational crew mission (Crew-1) to the International Space Station (ISS)? It’s really mind-boggling that this can take place and that we have such incredible live video. I watched with my jaw dropped. FYI: ISS orbits about 200 miles over the Earth, traveling 17,500 miles an hour, making one full orbit every hour and a half. Every 45 minutes the sun either sets or rises for them. Remarkable.

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