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What Month Is It? Pandemic Scrambles the Travel Calendar



For classic summer destinations such as New York’s Hamptons, Nantucket, Mass., and Saugatuck, Mich., business was surprisingly brisk in late summer as travelers sought outdoor diversions at a safe and healthy distance.

Now, during back-to-school season, with families once again looking at the prospects of remote learning and working from home, many summer resorts are hoping to stretch the season into fall. The appeal of autumn activities is, they hope, an irresistible incentive.

“There’s a term out here, Tumbleweed Tuesday, when everyone leaves after Labor Day,” said Kristen Jarnagin, the president and chief executive of the tourism agency Discover Long Island, on New York’s Long Island, a few days before the New York City school system delayed its start. “We don’t anticipate experiencing that this year.”

According to the travel marketing firm MMGY Global, in the seventh instance of an ongoing survey of 1,200 American adults on their travel intentions, 61 percent said they were likely to take a domestic trip in the next six months. The firm uses the term “stretch season” to describe the extended interest in fall travel.

“People are looking to extend their summer or, if they don’t have children going back to school, to come out here and operate from Nantucket,” said Jason Curtis, the general manager of the Jared Coffin House, a 48-room inn on Nantucket Island, where reservations are trending stronger and longer — four or five days on average versus the normal two to three — for fall.

Many resorts are repositioning themselves for long-term stays. A week after offering roughly half of its 67 rooms at Baron’s Cove in Sag Harbor, N.Y., for rent from Oct. 12 to April 1 at $14,000, the owners, Cape Resorts, said they were nearly sold out. The company is also offering four-month terms from January to April at its rooms and rentals in Cape May, N.J., for $4,100.

For those with tight budgets, fall also represents value season, as lodging rates tend to decline after Labor Day. The home rental site Vrbo said rates in popular destinations like Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and Cape May, N.J., have fallen 20 percent on average from August through October compared to the busiest summer dates.

“For weekends in fall, in some respects, it’s harder to get rooms than in summer,” said Reg Smith, the vice president for hotels with Stafford’s, which owns three hotels in the Petoskey, Mich., area.

Midweek stays offer value for those with flexible schedules. In mid-September, a room at Stafford’s Perry Hotel in Petoskey was recently listed at $169 versus $459 on a Saturday earlier in the month.

Wild Dunes Resort near Charleston, S.C., is offering seven nights for the price of five through December for stays through March 2021 (starting at $175 a night).

Even if more bargain hunters and flexible workers travel this fall, operators expect the numbers may be balanced by the potential decline in travel among those people over 60 who normally travel in fall, but are more vulnerable to Covid-19.

Some summer communities, too, are poised for a quieter-than-normal fall. Bar Harbor, Me., normally has its busiest months in September and October because of New England cruise ship calls, which will be absent this year while the cruise industry determines how to restart safely.

Resorts and home rental agencies are eager to attract more shoulder-season visitors with an array of amenities designed to assure workers and parents that they can maintain their productivity during work and school hours, while enjoying the great outdoors thereafter.

“We’re seeing a lot of hotels promoting how good their Wi-Fi is to appease those people working from home or people attending school digitally,” said Jim Paino, the executive director of the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce in Cannon Beach, Ore., a popular summer coastal town.

On the East Coast, Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina in Newport, R.I., is offering a “Work from Hotel” package that includes breakfast, midday coffee, letterhead and a “business butler” to help with printing and scanning (from $379 a night).

Historic Smithton Inn in Lancaster County, Pa., used its virus-enforced slowdown to upgrade its internet system and just introduced “workcations,” including a “video conferencing menu” of complimentary breakfast items to be delivered during online meetings (from $143).

In New Paltz, N.Y., the 151-year-old Mohonk Mountain House, which offers access to 85 miles of hiking trails on and around its 1,200 acres, is adapting its vintage rooms to suit mobile workers with its new “Work from Our House,” providing a power strip, printing services and a desk chair (from $656, including meals).

Some resorts are even offering remote educational programs. Beginning Nov. 1, the Coppola Family Hideaways, which include three resorts in Belize and Guatemala, will offer a daily slate of in-person classes for children staying at the properties. The classes, which will be adjusted based on the ages of guests, may include Spanish language, studying birds or medicinal plants as scientific subjects, and working on sustainability projects like mangrove restoration ($150 a day for three to four hours; room rates from $179).

The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Cambridge, Md., has set up a classroom-style “learning room” for guest use and will provide a list of area tutors for hire on an hourly basis (rooms from $199).

“Instead of ‘How close is this to the beach?’ people are asking, ‘Do you have a spot where the kids can quietly work and how’s the Wi-Fi?’” said Chris Dekker, the general manager of Michigan properties for Vacasa, the home rental agency. “The amenities have shifted a lot.”

For others, the lack of connectivity is part of the appeal. Getaway, which operates 12 locations with tiny house cabins spaced for privacy in wooded areas outside of cities like New York and Austin, Texas, is following up the largely sold-out months of July and August with occupancy at 99 percent in September and October, versus 88 percent last year (rooms from $99).

“We don’t really get digital nomads,” said Jon Staff, the founder and chief executive of Getaway. “We kind of don’t want them either. We want them to take a break.”

Since the pandemic freed many workers from their offices and prevented children from attending school in person, flexible vacations — or what some call “flexcations” — have been on the rise. They often take the form of longer stays or midweek visits and have accounted for periods of sellouts this summer in the Hamptons.

In a survey of 887 of its customers in July, Vrbo found 67 percent said they needed a “change of scenery” via a family vacation and half agreed that flexible school schedules offered more opportunity in how and when to go, including longer stays and visits during nonpeak seasons. Interest in one-week stays is up 25 percent over last year, according to searches on the site.

“When we reopened in June, travelers who booked well in advance kept their Thursday to Monday bookings, but we filled in the gaps with travelers who stayed Monday to Thursday because their plans were so flexible they could come and stay during the workweek,” said Mr. Dekker of Vacasa.

The portfolio includes 50 properties in the town of Saugatuck, Mich., on Lake Michigan where summer occupancy volleyed between 95 and 100 percent on weekends. The collection is at 75 percent capacity for some weekends already in September, when normally it would be 50 percent.

Travel accounts for 80 percent of the local economy in Cook County, Minn., home to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway. Officials there were bracing for summer business, its busiest season by far, to be down at least 50 percent after the pandemic. Since, it’s been up at least 10 percent over last year.

Linda Jurek, the executive director of Visit Cook County, a regional tourism group, said she expects the upswing to continue into fall. “Now that people are being forced to work from home,” she said, “they’re saying, ‘OK, but I can wake up from a home that overlooks Lake Superior.’”

By: Elaine Glusac
Title: What Month Is It? Pandemic Scrambles the Travel Calendar
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Published Date: Tue, 08 Sep 2020 09:00:16 +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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