Greetings! It’s hard to believe that this weekend is Labor Day – the unofficial end to summer. Where the heck did the time go? You would think that during a pandemic, time would stand still, not do the opposite. The good news (besides the fact that I’m fortunate enough to live in Southern California and have an endless summer) is that United Airlines, shockingly, delivered some positive news to consumers and the other major airlines have followed.
HUGE NEWS: Airlines Are Permanently Getting Rid of Change Fees
When I saw United Airlines’ tweet on Sunday announcing that they’re eliminating change fees, I had to doublecheck that it wasn’t April 1st (who knows what day it is, anyway?). I mean, what?! Within 24 hours, Delta and American followed and now Alaska Airlines is the latest to join. Here’s what you need to know and why American Airlines has the best policy of them all.
As you could probably guess, the airlines eliminated change fees in the hopes of luring more travelers to the skies. Last weekend, TSA throughput numbers at airport security checkpoints nationwide were: 738,873 on Friday, Aug. 28; 591,734 on Saturday, Aug. 29, and 807,695 on Sunday, Aug. 30. If you’ve been keeping tally like Joe Brancatelli, then you can see the three-weekend trend is going down, not up:
-August 14-16: 2,336,588
-August 21-23: 2,232,096
-August 28-30: 2,138,302
I personally don’t think that eliminating the change fee will get people back in the air. I think the only way to recover from COVID-19 is to get it under control with more rapid and accurate testing, wearing masks, physical distancing and staying home if exposed or sick. A vaccine would obviously be great but that still seems a ways off and I’m sure there will be some initial skepticism about its safety and efficacy.
‘Only in LA’: Pilots Report Man Flying Jet Pack Near LAX
NBC News: It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a guy in a jet pack. A couple of pilots got quite a surprise while approaching Los Angeles International Airport over the weekend, when they spotted somebody apparently flying at about 3,000 feet in the air with a jet pack. The pilot of American Airlines flight 1997 radioed the LAX tower Sunday evening to make the unusual report. “Tower, American 1997. We just passed a guy in a jet pack,” the pilot said on the radio transmission. Story here.
Magician David Blaine Floats High Above Arizona With 52 Helium-Filled Balloons
Speaking of flying, I just caught the tail end of magician David Blaine’s latest death-defying feat that streamed exclusively on YouTube, which funded the project. Not sure what the point of it was and how the balloons were not a hazard for planes but Blaine completed the mission successfully. He was wearing a harness holding 52 helium-filled balloons and had an oxygen tank. His goal was to reach an altitude of 18,000 feet but he made it to 24,900 before he unhooked himself. He opened the parachute over Arizona at 7,000 feet. You can watch the replay here.
Chadwick Boseman, The Movie 42, Colon Cancer
Over the weekend, my wife and I rented the movie 42 from Amazon ($3.99). I first watched the film on an American Airlines flight and when I returned home, I told my wife she had to watch this movie. In fact, every American should watch it regardless of whether you’re a baseball fan or not. After we learned of the sad death of the lead actor Chadwick Boseman, we finally made the time to sit down and watch it. If you’ve ever wondered why the number 42 is the only number to be retired by every MLB team, you will know after seeing this movie. Two huge thumbs up.
Chadwick died of colon cancer, which is sadly what killed my mom 20 years ago. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of and pray for her. Chadwick was only 43 but most health insurance policies don’t cover colonoscopies until age 50, even if you have a family history like I do. A colonoscopy will cost me over $3,000 in L.A. so I once traveled to Erie, PA where my sister was living at the time and got one for a third of the price. I was going to get it done in Bangkok but the timing wasn’t right. Have you ever traveled to save on a medical procedure? If so, where and how much did it cost? Please leave a comment below.
The Cost of Living in India as an Expat
Another way to save money is by living abroad and my buddy Tim Leffel recently published this piece on the cost of living in India as an expat. “Living in India may not have the same universal appeal as moving to Ecuador, Portugal, or Thailand does, but it might belong on the short list for adventurous people who love a good value. India can be one of the cheapest places to live in the world if you do it right and for some nationalities anyway, it’s got one of the best long-term residency visas in the world.” Here’s the full post.
Baby Shark Bites Man’s Arm, Latches on Even After He Gets Out of Water
If you have little kids, then you most definitely know the song “BABY SHARK Doo, Doo, Doo, Doo, Doo…” One way to get that song out of your head is to read this story where a baby shark latches on to a Florida man and doesn’t let go.
Father-Daughter Fishing Trip Turns into Unexpected Whale-Watching Experience
Here’s a much better video and one that shouldn’t leave you with nightmares. It took place off the coast of Canada in Conception Bay.
The Tech Guy with Leo Laporte
In case you missed my weekly travel segment on Leo Laporte’s The Tech Guy, here’s the latest one! (I go on at 1:26:00)
The Best Face Masks for Flying During COVID-19
Before COVID-19, travelers were told not to leave home without their credit cards. Well, thanks to the current pandemic, you can add face masks to the list of travel priorities. Keep in mind that not every face mask is airline-compliant or comfortable, so if you’re planning on flying soon, check out the best available options in this new post on JohnnyJet.com.
Travel news roundups (scroll down)
Once again, there’s a ton of travel news so I created separate posts for each category (air, cruise, domestic, international…) to help organize it. Below are links to most of the major travel industry stories…
Airline and airport news:
- Norwegian Air Is at the Mercy of the Elements
- Airlines Are Going To Have To Fly Full Europe Schedules This Winter To Keep Their Slots
- See all the airline and airport news that’s got people talking this week…
- Updated Cruise Ship Policies and Cancellations
- Thousands flock to see the ‘ghost fleet’ of empty cruise ships off English coast
- See all the cruise news that’s got people talking this week…
- Hawaii installing facial recognition technology to aid in virus detection at airports
- Airline pilots report seeing ‘guy in jetpack’ flying near LAX during approach
- See all the domestic travel news that’s got people talking this week…
International travel news:
- The Cost of Living in India as an Expat
- Kentucky man faces $750,000 fine, possible jail time for violating Canada’s Quarantine Act
- See all the international travel news that’s got people talking this week…
Hotel and lodging travel news:
- MGM Resorts lays off 18,000 previously furloughed employees
- The Secret Service Has To Pay Resort Fees To Trump Hotels
- See all the hotel and lodging news that’s got people talking this week…
Miscellaneous travel news:
- Obesity increases risk of complications from Covid-19, damages vaccine efficacy, study finds
- 14 Things You Probably Never Knew About Grocery Store Produce
- See all the rest of the travel news that’s got people talking this week…