Greetings from cloudy and cool Southern California. The high temperatures have finally started to break so it’s kind of feeling like autumn (the emphasis on ‘kind of’ because the high is still 70F along the coast and the low is 61F). But it’s supposed to get even “colder” next week, when temperatures dip to 66/54F. I can’t remember the last time I wore pants but I’m pretty sure it was early March before we went into quarantine.

Ireland Entering a 6-Week Lockdown
Except for some medical experts, I don’t think anyone really thought we would still be in this mess seven months later and unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem like it’s getting better. COVID-19 cases are spiking and not just in the United States but around the globe. Ireland went into lockdown yesterday, making it Europe’s first country to return to a nationwide lockdown … and it’s for six weeks! “Nonessential retail businesses are ordered to close. Residents are expected to stay within about 3 miles of their homes, except for work and other essential activities.” Source

Europe’s Second COVID-19 Wave
They’re not alone. Per the Economist, “For a few months this summer it was almost possible for Europeans to believe that life had returned to normal. Parisian museums and Barcelona’s cafés were open, if less crowded. Germans, Dutch and Danes jetted off to holidays on Mediterranean beaches. In August and September, as children across the continent returned to school, COVID-19 infections began to rise. Yet governments, worried about a backlash, chose not to reintroduce harsh social-distancing measures. Their decision has had a price. A second wave of COVID-19 is now washing over Europe. In many countries the daily numbers of confirmed cases exceed their spring peaks, though this is mostly because there is a lot more testing; death rates are substantially lower.”

Why Hawaii’s COVID-19 Testing to Avoid Quarantine Isn’t Going to Last Long
Thank God the number of COVID deaths in the United States is lower than it was in the spring, but because the number of cases is so out of control, travel is just not worth the risk for some. If I didn’t have two young kids and a history of asthma, I would have been on the first flight to Hawaii on October 15th to report on what it was like when they dropped their quarantine (I was invited by an airline). Sadly, I’m not confident that their new tactics to get travelers to the island by getting tested in advance to avoid quarantine are going to work. Read the story here.

Canadian Border to Remain Closed
The U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to nonessential travel through November 21. “At present, individuals involved in cross-border trade and transport are exempt, as are other “essential” personnel — including health care staff and emergency officials — and individuals who transit the border daily for work or to obtain basic necessities, such as food or medicine. The acting secretary also stated that the U.S. government is working with the Canadian and Mexican governments to ease the existing restrictions in the future. The border restrictions, which do not apply to air travel, were initially enacted on 21 March and had been set to expire on 21 October after multiple renewals on a monthly basis.” Source: UHC Global.

Translation: Canada isn’t opening their border until the U.S. gets COVID-19 under control and sadly, that doesn’t look like it’s going to be soon. If I were a betting man, I would say they will open the border in April but please God, let it be sooner. We miss our Canadian friends and family.

TSA Throughput Breaks the One Million Mark
I just can’t figure out the data on U.S. air travel. The good news is that on Sunday, October 18, the U.S. crossed over the one million mark as TSA screened 1,031,505 people at security checkpoints nationwide. “It’s the first time volume topped 1 million since the pandemic low point of April 14, when 87,534 people were screened. It’s still 60% lower throughput than one year ago.” Read my post on the milestone.

But looking at the numbers from the past several days, I’m scratching my head. The numbers on the left are the Total Traveler Throughput and the number on the right is Total Traveler Throughput (1 Year Ago – Same Weekday)” Keep in mind that those numbers are not just for passengers but also account for everyone who goes through security, including airport workers and airline crew.

Date     Total Traveler Throughput        Total Traveler Throughput (1 Year Ago – Same Weekday)

10/22/2020    934,386    2,541,581
10/21/2020    694,150    2,245,199
10/20/2020    662,484    2,126,637
10/19/2020    921,031    2,514,673
10/18/2020    1,031,505    2,606,266
10/17/2020    788,743    2,049,855
10/16/2020    973,046    2,637,667
10/15/2020    950,024    2,581,007
10/14/2020    717,940    2,317,763
10/13/2020    680,894    2,313,632
It looks like was taking a huge jump forward, then it dropped. Then today, the numbers went back up. Throughput will probably break a million again today and Sunday but we shall see. Here’s the direct link to the TSA so you can make sense of it.

Is Airplane Air Really Cleaner Than the Air Inside Your Own House?
Despite that anomalous decline on Wednesday and Thursday, TSA numbers did jump last week. Is it because people are seeing studies that suggest that the air on airplanes is cleaner than the air inside your own house? Find out how clean the air on an airplane actually is. Would this make you consider air travel?

How to Quickly Find Out COVID-19 Rules, Regulations and Cases For Every Country
One of the big challenges with traveling these days is that the rules and laws are constantly changing. It’s difficult to get up-to-date information about basic questions like: Can I travel there? Do I need a visa? Do I need to provide a negative COVID-19 test? Do I have to quarantine for 14 days? Well, this easy-to-use tool lets you see at a glance what the rules and regulations are for entering any country in the world.

CDC Updates Mask-Wearing Guidance and Recommends Kicking People Off Who Don’t Comply
More head-scratching news: The CDC updated their guidance on wearing masks while on planes, trains, buses and other transportation a couple of days ago. It’s a lot of information but below is a small sample of what they recommend, which is basically to kick people off of transportation if they don’t comply.

-board only those people who wear appropriate masks;

-monitor the conveyance for any person who does not wear a mask and seek compliance from such person; and at the earliest opportunity, disembark any person who refuses to comply;

-if possible, have masks available for those passengers who do not have a mask.

American Airlines Is Bringing Back The 737 MAX – Would You Fly It?
It looks like the time has come (over a year and a half) for airlines to bring back the 737 MAX even though they probably don’t want it, since they already have too many planes grounded. But once the plane gets cleared by the FAA, they will be obligated to add them to their fleet. According to Bloomberg, “American will fly the Max, contingent on that approval, daily on one Miami-LaGuardia-Miami routing. The flights can be booked starting Oct. 24, and customers will be made aware that they will be flying on a Max, the airline said.” Here’s more, including whether or not I would fly it.

Southwest Airlines Will Stop Blocking the Middle Seat on December 1st
Airlines released their third quarter results this week and, well, it was a bloodbath. Southwest Airlines was no exception but has been one of the few U.S. airlines to block middle seats. However, it looks like that’s coming to an end on December 1st.

RELATED: Which U.S. Airlines Are Blocking Middle Seats During COVID-19

The Travel Gadget Flight Attendants Never Leave Home Without
I have a lot more time on my hands these days, now that I’m not traveling like a madman. To get my travel fix, I watch a lot of travel webcams from around the world (like this compilation) and more recently, my wife and I have started watching videos made by flight attendants and pilots. Sadly, almost all the flight attendants who have popular YouTube channels have been furloughed but many of them are still creating videos, just with a different spin. The ones we watched last night featured their must-have travel products, the things they never leave home without and it got me thinking I should share some of my carry-on must haves. If you’re a road warrior, you may already have some of these items but if you don’t travel as frequently, you may have an ‘aha!’ moment. So here’s the first travel essential that’s always in my carry-on bag.

Why You Should Use Shoe Covers at Home and When You Travel
Here’s a tip about disposable shoe covers and why we started using them in our household. Find out why you might want to start using them when you’re at home and when you travel.

20% Off: FogAway Anti-Fog Spray For Your Glasses

Glasses fogging up while wearing a mask is a problem for many of us. Early on in the pandemic, we offered up a few tips to prevent this from happening (you can check them out here and here). But if you’re still having problems, check out FogAway Anti-Fog Spray. This silicone-free anti-fog spray prevents fog build up due to heat, cold, or high humidity and has been used by military, first responders and athletes and it’s on sale for 20% off. TIP: Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth like these to clean your glasses.

And Just For Fun …
After seven months in quarantine, we all need a little fun. Have you ever played Akinator? My wife made me play it on Alexa last night (there’s also an app and website version) and MY. MIND. WAS. BLOWN. Check it out here … and enjoy!

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