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That Airport Spa? It’s a Coronavirus Testing Clinic

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Until recently, XpresSpa was known for offering manicures, pedicures, massages and waxing services at 25 airports in the United States and around the world, where travelers with some time between flights could get themselves spruced up.

But on Wednesday, the company began offering a rapid molecular coronavirus test, manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, that will return results within 13 minutes at Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports under the name XpresCheck.

“We believe rapid Covid-19 testing at airports can play a major role in slowing the virus spread and decreasing the risk of new community outbreaks linked to travel as cases continue to rise throughout many states,” said Doug Satzman, chief executive of XpresSpa Group, in a statement.

The company’s move comes as the number of people flying remains low — on Tuesday the Transportation Security Administration screened about 590,000 people, compared with more than two million on the same date in 2019 — whether out of fear of air travel or because the 14-day quarantine requirements in some states make travel unattractive.

In recent weeks, airlines including United, Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue, as well as airports, said they would begin offering coronavirus tests; with a negative test often meaning that the traveler can skip quarantine at their destination. As the travel industry grapples with how to get people traveling again, testing at the airport presents an opportunity to put people at ease about getting on a plane. No airline in the United States has suggested that it will require a negative test before boarding.

In March, when the coronavirus took hold of the world, XpresSpa was deemed nonessential. The company speedily closed its spas. Mr. Satzman said that he was, “feeling pretty helpless like a lot of people — at home, distressed and thinking about how I could help.”

At the suggestion of the chairman of the company’s board, XpresSpa started looking into whether it could shift into coronavirus testing.

By June, the company had hired medical staff and started testing airport and airline employees in the arrivals hall at Kennedy Airport’s Terminal 4. In August, testing was extended to passengers and the company started offering tests at Newark Liberty International Airport’s Terminal B for passengers and employees of airlines and the airport. The company was administering polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., tests and blood antibody tests, which can take 2 to 3 days to return results.

Although the company brought back most of its corporate staff who had been furloughed, including those who worked in construction design and human resources, most of its employees who worked at airports are still furloughed.

To some, the conversion of a business offering chair massages and mani-pedis into a medical testing facility might seem like a stretch.

But, “if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that businesses of all kinds have got to find ways to pivot in order to say alive,” said Scott Mayerowitz, executive editorial director of the travel news site The Points Guy. “If you asked me last year if a series of airport spas where people went to relax and escape the stress of travel would be offering medical services in a year, I would have laughed. But now it feels like a smart business move.”

XpresCheck’s Kennedy Airport clinic can test up to 500 people per day, and since August, Mr. Satzman said, many travelers opted to take both the PCR nasal swab test and the blood antibody test. At Newark Airport, the clinic can test up to 350 people a day. XpresCheck’s clinics charge $75 for one test or $90 for both the antibody and the PCR tests without insurance. The new rapid molecular tests cost $200 and are not covered by insurance.

The Abbott rapid coronavirus test, called the ID NOW, is fast and easy to operate, giving results in just a few minutes, but the test is less accurate than laboratory tests that use a P.C.R. technique. The test has not been cleared by the Federal Drug Administration, but it has been authorized by the agency for emergency use by laboratories and in patient care settings.

Mr. Satzman said that a company like his offering testing is just one part of a larger effort, and in order for tests to be more widely available, airlines, airports and companies need to coordinate.

“We are one piece of this to provide testing in the airport,” he said. “We’ve been on the phone lobbying congressional offices and representatives from the White House, the F.A.A., T.S.A. urging funding for testing in airports,” Mr. Satzman said.

The International Air Transport Association, a global airline trade group, along with Airlines for America and the World and Airports Council International-North America, requested in September that all international travelers be tested systematically before flights. That could make a coronavirus test an expected part of airplane travel, akin to having passengers take off their shoes and discard liquids before heading to the gate.

XpresCheck plans to open at La Guardia Airport and at Boston’s Logan Airport soon. Mr. Satzman said that the company is working to expand into other airports around the country.

By: Tariro Mzezewa
Title: That Airport Spa? It’s a Coronavirus Testing Clinic
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/10/07/travel/coronavirus-airport-testing-xpresspa.html
Published Date: Wed, 07 Oct 2020 23:51:18 +0000

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

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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 Airliners.net 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?
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/ansett-airlines-inflight-bar-menu/
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?

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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?
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/science/shrimp-parade-thailand.html
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?

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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.

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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: travelupdate.com/aer-lingus-manchester/
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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