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How Many Snowbirds Will Be Flying South for the Winter?



Travel spending in the United States is down by hundreds of billions of dollars, Europe is locking down again and flying remains a fraction of what it was last year.

Yet one corner of the world is aflutter with activity: snowbird groups on Facebook. Property owners boast about homes on the “EDGE OF PARADISE!!” Sunseekers probe for pet-friendly rentals. Members discuss condo amenities, taxes, too-good-to-be-true deals.

“The whole country has pandemic fatigue,” said Lisa Carter-Knight, 53, who splits her time between Kensington, N.H., and Lakeland, Fla. “And now that the virus is everywhere, we’re hearing people say, ‘Well, I might as well be somewhere warm.’”

Yet travel restrictions and other factors ensure the tradition of snowbirding — the pastime of flocking to Florida and other sunny shores for the winter, usually by retirees — will look different this year. Here’s how.

Although Ms. Carter-Knight’s Florida home is in a 55-and-older community — common throughout the state — by law people under 55 are allowed to occupy up to 20 percent of the units.

“There have been increasingly more inquiries from young families looking to rent,” said Ms. Carter-Knight, the owner of a digital marketing agency with a division dedicated to real estate marketing. “There are loads of families migrating South to find better value on home prices, more space, better climate and no state income tax.”

Melissa Di Giacomo, 25, manages her parents’ two-bedroom condo in Bonita Springs, Fla., about 15 miles from Naples, and has always rented to 50-plus retirees — until now.

“This is the first year where we’ve gotten renters in their 30s with a young child — it’s a huge difference,” said Ms. Di Giacomo, who lives in Chicago and works in education. “Some residents may see joy in seeing younger children, but some may not like it if they are running around.”

Sibarth, a real estate company that rents out luxury villas on St. Barts, will also welcome a different mix: “Much less retirees than before, and more working professionals between 40 and 60 traveling with their children,” said Ashley Lacour, the company’s president. “Some have even enrolled their kids in the local public schools.”

Earlier this month, Melanie Granuzzo and her husband, Brandon Fried, locked up their home in Darien, Conn., and hit the road for the winter with their toddler daughter, Amelia, and Yorkshire terrier, Winston.

“Typically we avoid traveling through the holidays, but this year is different,” said Ms. Granuzzo, 30, the director of social media and editorial at a digital agency. “Covid has basically changed the entire landscape — even client meetings are remote. So why not skip the winter here?”

Their first destination was to Naples, Fla., to see Mr. Fried’s parents. Around Thanksgiving, they will head to the Atlanta area to visit Ms. Granuzzo’s parents and sister. They’ll boomerang back to Naples for the month of January before eventually making their way to Montage Palmetto Bluff, the South Carolina luxury resort where they got married four years ago. They’ll forge the rest of the plan from there.

“As parents of a young child, we don’t want to be stuck in the cold,” Ms. Granuzzo said. “So we might consider a short-term rental in Florida or Charleston — somewhere where we would normally not be traveling that time of year.”

Brandreth Canaley, the director of operations at Sextant Stays, a Miami-based vacation-rentals agency, said multi-stop “Southern swings” like that are a new pattern this year.

“We’re seeing young professionals traveling around the country, spending a month or two in different cities,” said Ms. Canaley. “We’ve had guests like that in South Florida and in New Orleans. It’s one of the surprise opportunities of the pandemic, for those who are able to work from home.”

The United States-Canada land border has been closed to all nonessential travel since March; the closure is slated to last through Nov. 21, though it may be extended. Although people can still fly from Canada to the United States, a reliable bloc of snowbirds is, for now, marooned: More than 70 percent of the more than 110,000 members of the Canadian Snowbird Association usually reach their winter destination by car. And they’re not all eager to jump on a plane in the middle of a pandemic.

“Many are in a holding pattern just waiting for further updates on the border closure restrictions prior to making a decision on their travel plans for the current season,” said Evan Rachkovsky, the association’s director of research and communications.

Air travel booked through travel agencies from Canada to Greater Miami is down by about 90 percent through March compared to last year, according to data from the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“For the last two months, people who — like me — have rentals were saying, ‘Oh my god, what am I going to do? Canada’s canceled,’” Ms. Carter-Knight said.

Margie Nelson, a 66-year-old retiree, was hoping to weather the winter not in her house in Port Colborne, Ontario, but in her double-wide modular home in Largo, Fla. Flying isn’t an option: She and her husband have two cats and a 20-year-old poodle mix.

“We love it and we can’t go this year,” Ms. Nelson said. “Everybody’s happy down there. They call Florida the Sunshine State and it is — you wake up every morning to sunshine.”

Ms. Nelson will wait for the land-border restrictions to lift. Others, meanwhile, are trying to find creative workarounds.

“People have said, ‘Can you help us?’” said Amy Russo Coleman, who owns Roadies Car Delivery Service, a company that transports cars and personal belongings for snowbirds. “I’m like, ‘Listen, I can’t get in. I don’t know about y’all getting out, but I’m not Superman. I can’t lie to get across the border — you know, there are rules now.’”

Early last month, Susanne Heger, 57, traveled from Germany to the Dominican Republic for 17 days: just enough time to outlast the Schengen Area travel ban, which bars most visitors who have been in Europe in the last 14 days from entering the United States.

From there, she continued on to Florida, where she and her husband own three homes. About a week and a half after she landed in Miami, Germany announced a partial shutdown.

“My husband and I are so glad that we’re not there anymore,” said Ms. Heger, a journalist and author. “It’s much easier in Florida — you can have social distance, you stay outside, you breathe fresh air.”

Ms. Heger and her husband, whose primary residence is in Wildeshausen, Germany, will spend six months in Florida, rotating between their homes. Their Naples condo will be occupied by the same New Jersey resident who has been coming every fall since 2015. But for the first time, their 2,700-square-foot house in Bonita Springs will welcome not a single European.

“All of a sudden we got people from Miami — even the other side of Florida,” Ms. Heger said. “That’s just something we never had before.”

Ms. Canaley, of Sextant Stays, is also seeing domestic guests tip the scales.

“In a normal year you might have family members from Latin America or Europe coming over for the holidays for a few weeks, whereas now we’re seeing those bookings come from domestic travelers — a good portion from the Northeast,” she said.

Despite schedule reductions on most other routes because of the pandemic, Amtrak’s Auto Train — which allows passengers to forgo driving up and down I-95 while still transporting their vehicles — continues to operate two trains daily: one in each direction between Sanford, Fla., and Lorton, Va.

Even the highest end of the sales market is seeing a demographic shift. At Arte, an ultraluxury condominium complex in Surfside, Fla., north of Miami Beach, potential buyers are scouting not only the Northeast — to be expected — but the Midwest and California.

“That is to me the most surprising thing,” said Alex Sapir, the chairman of Sapir Corp, the parent company of the firm that developed the building. “The fact that you have people now from Los Angeles and San Francisco saying they are moving to Florida is shocking.”

Mr. Sapir, who spent 18 years as a snowbird himself until he moved to Miami, also said buyers are planning on staying much longer than expected.

“Now, it looks like most people are going to be spending eight to 10 months down here,” he said. “People are coming down to spend the month or the season, but then they end up living here, having their kids in school and being part of the community.”

Ms. Carter-Wright said she’s seen rental properties fill later than usual as would-be snowbirds, warily eyeing infection rates and travel restrictions, finally cement their plans.

“At first there were lots of open vacancies, but now we’re starting to see the vacancies start to close up with Americans,” she said.

In South Padre Island, Texas, Marco Island, Fla., and St. Augustine, Fla., rentals are booking up about a month closer to arrival compared to last year, according to Key Data Dashboard, a data company that analyzes the vacation rental market.

But after a year that has left no travel and tourism economy unscathed — hotel reservations in Miami-Dade County hovered around 50 percent of last year’s numbers for much of September and October — even last-minute arrivals are welcome.

As for the fear of getting sick, especially among older adults, Ms. Coleman, the self-described “car girl,” is feeling the effects on her transport business.

“Oh, they’re going. They’re just driving themselves — they’re afraid to fly,” she said. “All I can say is this: Keep your eyes open because the I-95 corridor is going to be jam-packed.”

By: Sarah Firshein
Title: How Many Snowbirds Will Be Flying South for the Winter?
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Published Date: Tue, 17 Nov 2020 10:00:23 +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.
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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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