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Using a Computer Simulation to Predict a Vacation Catastrophe



After spending all of Spring 2020 sitting in our homes, eagerly awaiting the return to normal life and our usual activities, the country is finally starting to reopen a bit! Many local and state governments are easing travel restrictions and revising some guidelines to give us back some of the privileges we used to take for granted in the days before the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those of us with severe cases of cabin fever, the combination of warm weather, summer vacation for the kids, and a bit more freedom to travel safely and within recommended guidelines is getting us into serious vacation anticipation mode! However, we’re not quite out of the woods yet, and it may still be in our best interests to hold off on that big, fun trip we’ve been dreaming about for at least another couple of months or so. In the meantime, one thing we can all do right now to help ease the boredom of too much time at home is plan fun future trips that keep us looking forward to all the great adventures we’ll have when we’re able to resume our normal travel activities. 

Planning a much-needed vacation to a thrilling and exotic destination (which, at this point, means “anywhere but our living room couch!”) can be a real mood-booster as start taking baby steps to getting our summer back on track. However, no matter how prepared you try to be, there’s always a chance that something unexpected will occur to derail your good time on vacation. 

Plan all you want, but there’s always a possibility that inclement weather, a vehicle breakdown, losing your luggage, or some other travel catastrophe will ruin what was supposed to be a relaxing getaway, regardless of how much travel prep time you put in. Wouldn’t it be amazing if some sort of algorithm existed that could predict the odds of various travel catastrophe? A tool like that could help you tighten your plans until they are almost disaster-proof! Good news- in the not-too-distant future, safeguarding against all foreseeable (and unforeseen) calamities before packing for a trip may become a reality!

Predictive analytics tools are already in use by a number of consumer platforms, health care providers, insurance companies, and more. These algorithms work to predict people’s future behaviors, preferences, and needs based on past choices. Predictive analytics can help companies determine everything from what kind of automotive part needs to be replaced next on your car to which pair of pants you’re more likely to buy online. By including predictive algorithms on a website or mobile app, companies can also gather important data about their consumers to help them streamline their practices to better serve their target audiences’ needs.

Since predictive simulations are already pretty widely used, it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine that such a simulation could be developed to help a person plan the perfect vacation free from any fun-ruining hiccups or bumps in the road. Imagine being able to pinpoint any trouble spots of a vacation by running through a simulation. You’d be able to make important corrections that may help you avoid any issues when it’s time to take the trip in real life! For instance…

Avoid Airline Anguish

Let’s say you’re taking a trip that involves getting on a plane and flying to your travel destination. Think of all the things this entails. First, you need to be sure you’re going to get to the airport on time, which, according to TSA recommendations, is at least two hours prior to your scheduled departure time. In order to do that successfully, you’ll need to know what traffic is like so you can plan accordingly. This hypothetical algorithm would need to provide an accurate look at traffic patterns and any road construction hazards or accidents that could prevent you from arriving on time. 

Hooray! You’ve made it to the airport with at least two hours to spare! But wait- is your flight still scheduled to arrive on time? No worries- thanks to your vacation simulator, you’ve examined the likelihood of getting bumped or rescheduled based on ATC data, weather patterns, and other predictive data, and used that information to book your flight at a time where delays and cancellations are least likely to occur. Looks like smooth sailing ahead! (Now, if you get stuck in an airline seat next to that guy who wants to tell you his life story, we’re sorry but we can’t help you out there!)

Rectify Road Trip Ruin

Hitting the open road with a couple of your best buddies? Fun!…At least, there’s the potential for fun as long as something wrecks your road trip vacation. We’d hate to sound like Debbie Downer here, but there are a few things that could go really wrong on a driving trip. However, a computer simulation designed to mitigate the chances of roadside disaster, you’d have a little extra insurance that your trip would be awesome from start to finish! A road trip algorithm could help you simulate your journey, taking note of important checkpoints like gas stations or restaurants along your route so that nobody gets “hangry” or runs out of gas.

 Predictive modeling could also help you to determine the likelihood of experiencing a breakdown, based on the age of your car, how many miles you’ve put on it, and how long it’s been since your last routine service check. You’d even be able to decide which of your friends to choose as your alternate drivers (as well as which ones to politely ask not to drive) based on data from their insurance and driving records. The future looks bright for road trips once we get simulations like this in place- until then, just choose your road trip mates wisely and invest in an extended car warranty or mechanical breakdown coverage.

Fight Freak Accidents and Phenomena

For most travelers, if your plane lands without a hitch, you find your baggage at the carousel on the first try, and you’re able to easily find your way to your hotel, you’re off to a great start! But there are those nervous vacationers out there who tend to worry about the probability of some seriously freakish occurrences robbing them of a good time. To these folks, we say take heart! Technology will someday make it possible for you to run a trip simulation that can help you answer some of your burning questions, such as, “What are the odds of a shark attack? How can I prevent being mugged? What are the chances of being attacked by a shark while I’m being mugged?” 

Those of you who are worried about contracting food poisoning while staying at your five-star hotel will be able to rest a little easier once you can compute the probability of that happening on your vacation. (On the other hand, those of you who ask the same question about the gas station sushi you just wolfed down on your road trip probably won’t like what you see.) 

We already live in a world where companies build and use complex computer simulations to pull in all kinds of data from huge warehouses. If that’s the case, there’s no stopping us from building one that details every possible mishap that can statistically occur on a vacation to help us ensure a virtually foolproof travel experience in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, the best we can do is plan ahead, take necessary safety precautions, and be prepared for any circumstances we can think of that could potentially prevent us from having the vacation of a lifetime!

The post Using a Computer Simulation to Predict a Vacation Catastrophe appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

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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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