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Trip Report: My First Flights During the Covid Era

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I celebrated my 50th birthday in February by joining friends and family aboard a cruise. My official birthday party was on a 3-night cruise to the Bahamas, then my wife and I remained on board the ship for 2 more cruises, or what some of us cruise fans would call a B2B2B. On February 17th, we flew home, and that’s where I stayed for 235 days. Suffice it to say that a year that looked like it was going to be very active for travel changed a lot due to the pandemic.

Time to Fly

In March, my day job halted all travel, and I certainly had no need for leisure travel. Throughout all this, I’ve maintained that I would be willing to fly if I had a need to. I’ve felt all along that airplanes probably weren’t a big risk for being exposed in and of themselves, as long as passengers follow the rules. Finally, in late September, I was invited to Colorado Springs. That’s not drivable for a weekend from Washington, DC, so I started exploring flight options. I discussed taking the trip with my wife before I booked it. I pointed out that Colorado was not on the list of states that required a 14-day quarantine (note that it’s been added since my trip), that virus numbers in both DC and Colorado Springs seemed to be doing OK, and that I would not be hanging out in any bars and restaurants. I felt comfortable going. I did not get the impression she was excited about the prospect, but she agreed.

While I might not be “worried” about catching a virus from flying, my first thought was that I wanted to fly an airline that was blocking seats. Unfortunately, Delta’s schedule into Colorado Springs from DC just wasn’t viable for me. I briefly considered flying into Denver and driving down, but ultimately settled on American Airlines flights with a connection in Chicago. I booked first class to ensure more space, including being in a seat by myself on the E-175 flights between Chicago and Colorado Springs.

Departure day finally arrived for my early morning flight. I took Lyft to DCA (first time in a shared ride for 235 days too) and arrived to find an eerily quiet terminal for a Friday morning. Unfortunately, Clear did not open until 6am, but TSA PreCheck was still a snap. Once I arrived at the gate area, I lost the sense of eery quiet as it was apparent that my flight was going to be quite full. Soon enough, I was on board and on my way to Chicago. I’ll skip comments on seats other than to say, you might recognize my old friend, noAAsis. (Note: even the inflight magazine has been treated with some kind of “anti microbial process.”)

My old friend, oasis.

Inflight Service

This will be a short paragraph. There was no inflight service. At least none was offered on my flight to Chicago. I’m aware that I could’ve requested something, but in truth, I didn’t want anything that early. For my other flights, flight attendants proactively offered drinks, and on the longer flights between Chicago and Colorado Springs, a “snack pack” of bottled water, biscoffs, and an individual hand sanitizer was offered. All in all, service was fine. The flight attendants on 3 of my 4 flights were very attentive and offered beverage top offs throughout the flights. It was good to be in the air again!

Approaching Chicago

Airport Lounges

I only had time to hit the Admirals Club in Chicago. As you might expect, things are different now. Seating was well spaced, and menus for beverages and food were available via QR code. The bar staff was friendly as usual, and all food items were individually wrapped or in some kind of plastic container. I had plenty of time for the Admirals Club breakfast of champions.

The avocado toast is back

To Fly or Not to Fly

While I’d likely pick driving over flying for any kind of reasonable distance, that wasn’t an option so I weighed the risks and chose to fly. Airlines appear to have done a good job with enhanced cleaning protocols and reducing possible touch points during flights. Aircraft ventilation systems apparently reduce the likelihood of viral transmission, and of course, everyone is wearing a mask. I did not see one instance of anyone without a mask or wearing one incorrectly during my flights. I did see one person waiting to board a flight in Chicago with no mask who didn’t seem to care that dozens of people were giving him the stinkeye.

In the end, flying during a global pandemic is a personal choice within the confines of any state-mandated restrictions. In my case, I carefully evaluated all the available information I could find on infection rates at my destination, packed my masks and hand sanitizer, and booked my flights. The bottom line for me is that I’d fly again, but I honestly do not know when that will happen.

By: MJ on Travel
Title: Trip Report: My First Flights During the Covid Era
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/trip-report-my-first-flights-during-the-covid-era/
Published Date: Fri, 06 Nov 2020 16:30:28 +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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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: travelupdate.com/aer-lingus-manchester/
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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