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Forget Long Weekends: During the Pandemic It’s All About Short Weeks



Health declaration forms and virus tests. Quarantine-on-arrival (and on return) requirements. Infection rates that change by the day and labyrinthine middle-seat policies that require an advanced degree to decipher.

Combine those new hurdles with the ability to work and virtual-school from anywhere and the desperate need for a change of scenery, and some travelers are kicking the archetypal weekend getaway to the curb. Trips that might have been two or three nights last year now feel too brief — not worth all the hoops, not quite enough time away. Instead, a new pandemic travel pattern has emerged: not “long weekends,” but “short weeks.” And the people who take them agree: What a difference a day (or two) makes.

“You can’t go touristing anymore like you used to, but weekends away — traditionally crammed into sneaking out of work slightly early on a Friday in a dash to have some repose — now mean heading out on a Wednesday night, logging on to work and coming back Monday night,” said Tom Caton, the co-founder and chief revenue officer of AirDNA, a data firm that analyzes more than 10 million vacation rentals worldwide.

Summer vacations expanded this year, with many rental homes booking up for a month or more. Custom AirDNA data from several key East Coast vacation markets shows that weekend trips were longer, too: Although there were fewer bookings than there were last year, the average stay was longer.

In Great Barrington, Mass., in the Berkshires, summer weekenders stayed for an average of 4.4 nights — up from three nights last summer. In Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., it was about five nights, up from about three. The trend will continue into fall. In East Hampton, N.Y., the average booking last fall was two nights; this year, that number will be about double.

At Discover 7, a luxury travel agency, weekend trips are now four nights on average, up from two last year. Destinations in the West — Aspen, dude ranches in Wyoming and Montana — have been popular this summer and fall.

“The most dramatic behavioral shift emerged in the demographic that can carry their virtual office in a laptop case,” said Eric Grayson, the company’s founder and chief executive. “The knowledge that their vacation can restart every time they finish work creates a very different feeling on Friday at 6:30.”

Before the pandemic, Marcia Prentice, a Los Angeles photographer, spent several weekends a year visiting her parents and her brother’s family in Green Bay, Wis. Around her birthday in August, Ms. Prentice, 38, made the journey for the first time since February. She stayed five nights.

Before the trip, there were lengthy discussions with her mother, who is at an increased risk for the coronavirus, and two drive-through coronavirus tests.

“It took so much effort to go — it’s so much organizing that of course you want to stay longer,” Ms. Prentice said. “On top of that, I didn’t know when I would see them again, so it was like, OK, let’s have this really nice quality time together now.”

Five-night bookings have become increasingly common at Holiday Park Ace, which rents out luxury lodges around the United Kingdom. Last July and August, bookings of that length accounted for 8 percent of the business; this year, the number has jumped to 24 percent.

“This is unsurprising — people are looking to make the most of a long holiday in case they don’t get one in the future, and we are seeing this pattern continue into the holidays,” said Joe Spencer, the company’s owner.

Longer bookings can help offset the financial toll of fewer bookings. But Mr. Spencer said that each reservation now carries more weight, particularly with the added risk that renters will pull out because of illness, travel restrictions or cold feet.

“If a group books a five-night stay and cancels last minute, it is a big problem as we then have to try and fill the lodges last minute — and usually the only way we can do this is by offering it at a discounted price,” he said. “For a two-night stay, it’s a lot easier to get it filled.”

Reservations at TurnKey Vacation Rentals, a rental management company with more than 6,000 homes across the United States, are increasing by about one day per month, over last year. The median length of stay for October is five nights (up from four last year); November is six nights, up from five; December is seven, up from six.

Jennifer Grimes, the founder of Red Cottage Inc., which manages independently owned rental homes throughout the Catskills and the Hudson Valley, has seen such a year-over-year difference in booking patterns that she’s changed the company’s rate structure. Barring normal seasonal or holiday fluctuations, weekends and weekdays now cost the same.

“We were always functionally more about weekends, long weekends and longer stays for major holidays,” Ms. Grimes said. “And now it’s just totally changed. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Tuesday or a Saturday night — people want to get away.”

Red Cottage’s public availability calendar shows the “What day is it?” pandemic-era joke in action: There are reservations from Sunday to Friday, from Friday to Tuesday and even a Monday check-in or two. In response, Ms. Grimes said, the company has adapted.

“We basically have had to tear down and rebuild our housekeeping department,” said Ms. Grimes. “There was a business model that ran under certain assumptions — checkout dates, gaps between bookings. Combine that with the fact that people are living in these houses — three meals a day, more wear and tear — and there has been a huge shift.”

Short-week stays are also on the rise at hotels. Club Med Sandpiper Bay, an all-inclusive resort between Miami and Orlando, has seen a 9 percent year-over-year increase in four- and five-night reservations from June to October. Four-to-six-night stays are up 55 percent over last year at The Foundry Hotel, a boutique hotel in Asheville, N.C. At The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills, the average stay this month is 5.2 nights — double last October’s figure.

New hotel packages spur — or reward — guests who submit to an extra night or two. The fifth night is free for every four nights booked at Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort; the offer also includes a $50 food-and-drink credit per stay. At the Hotel del Coronado, near San Diego, families who stay six nights or more get discounted room rates and a $350 resort credit per stay. The WFP: Work From Paradise package at Conrad Punta de Mita, in Western Mexico, includes a $75-per-night resort credit for rooms booked for least four nights.

But for Glen Broomberg, 54, the real value of a few extra days away with his wife and three children, 13, 11 and 5, goes beyond any physical perk.

The Broombergs, who live in Santa Barbara, Calif., had planned to stay only two nights at the Farmhouse Inn, in Sonoma County, at the tail end of July. Taken with the setting, the staff’s hospitality and the Michelin-starred food, they extended their trip twice — first to four, then to seven, nights.

“We kept saying, ‘This is so much fun. Can we just stay another day, and then another day?’ said Mr. Broomberg, the co-founder of a luxury packaging company. “You often go on vacation and take things for granted. This put it back into focus for us: That we actually need to be appreciative of our time away because we missed it this year.”

Sarah Firshein is a Brooklyn-based writer. She is also our Tripped Up columnist. If you need advice about a best-laid travel plan that went awry, send an email to

By: Sarah Firshein
Title: Forget Long Weekends: During the Pandemic It’s All About Short Weeks
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Published Date: Wed, 04 Nov 2020 10:00:18 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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