A Cathedral in the Clouds Surrounded by an Amusement Park

A Cathedral in the Clouds Surrounded by an Amusement Park

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A Tibidabo Double-Play!

Today I’m showing two photos of the same place near Barcelona. It’s a beautiful cathedral called Tibidabo.

Daily Photo – A Cathedral in the Clouds Surrounded by an Amusement Park

So I like this second photo better. I obviously heavily processed it with one of my Lightroom Presets. I believe it was one of my “Sandstorm” ones from Burning Man. I think this place is beautiful, but I can’t figure out why they put an amusement park up there. It makes it all a bit garish, I think. Even in this photo, you can see part of a rollercoaster in the lower right. Oh, this second photo was taken with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro.

A Cathedral in the Clouds Surrounded by an Amusement Park

Photo Information


  • Date Taken2017-04-30 19:59:57
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/240
  • Aperture5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

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January 20, 2018 at 08:03AM

A Look at Iceland’s Music Scene

A Look at Iceland’s Music Scene

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Just like an airplane, music has the ability to transport you to a totally different time and place: Shut your eyes. Take a breath. And off you go.

This year, TPG is celebrating the confluence of travel and music with the release of The 2018 Points Guy Sound Tracks, focused on artists from global destinations where TPG hopes to make a difference with charitable works and content programming this year.

We’re launching our new initiative with a private party in New York on January 23, the week of the Grammy Awards. Global-music DJ Nickodemus will take guests on an immersive audiovisual journey to some of the places that will play a role in the TPG narrative this year: Iceland, India, Mexico City and Morocco.

Leading up to the launch, we at TPG will be diving into the music from these four destinations. We’ll also share Nickodemus’ custom playlists, which will highlight several of this year’s Grammy-nominated artists.

Today, we take look at the first stop along our musical adventure: Iceland.

“What happens when you get to artists and sounds so different as Bjork and Omar Souleyman? This is is a testament to Bjork’s open mindedness, and I followed it by Jónsi and Múm — who both really reflect that Icelandic sound and light (or lack of light) for me with their deep and moody sound.” — Nickodemus

You’re floating above an ice-capped lunar landscape at midnight, dancing with ribbons of green light as an elfin-faced chanteuse fills your soul with electric fire that’s burned inside this volcanic rock for over 1,000 years. That, believe it or not, may be the best way to describe it. And if you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the music of Iceland today, you’re in for a treat.

Back in the 20th century, the music of the land of ice and fire was a lot less, well, space-y, revolving around the country’s folk music and stringed instrumental sounds largely influenced by the country’s early Nordic settlers in the ninth century. Iceland is credited for popularizing the langspil and fiðla, both Renaissance-esque folk instruments consisting of two bass strings that can be played by hand or with bow — similar to a violin.

Though rarely used in popular Icelandic music today, early folk helped shape the avant-garde and otherworldly sounds of Reykjavik’s own Björk and Sigur Rós, dating back to the former’s musical beginnings in the 1970s. Thanks to their international influence, Iceland’s musical scene today largely consists of an art-pop, electronic and avant-rock sound.

Sometimes described as the queen of experimental pop, Björk has had an influence on the modern musical culture of Iceland that can’t be overstated. Her icy vocals and notoriously experimental art-pop sound are the perfect soundtrack to viewing the northern lights or taking in the massive glaciers and fjords of the Denmark Strait and Norwegian Sea.

The multifaceted musician was unquestionably the first Icelandic singer to cross over into the global mainstream. With 14 Grammy Award nominations, one Academy Award nomination and 51 Icelandic Music Award nominations (and 25 wins) to her name, it’s no wonder The New Yorker once called the former Sugarcube “the most famous Icelander since Leif Eriksson.”

Sigur Rós shares that sentiment, as the avant-rock trio’s ethereal and ambient sound have earned them high praise since their inception in the mid-1990s. The group, fronted by Jonsi Birgisson, became well-known for masterful crescendos and cinematic orchestration. Sigur Rós records the majority of their music in their native Icelandic. In a 2013 interview with Spin, Birgisson said it was more natural and part of what makes the band unique.

Iceland’s ever-growing music scene — today, think of Múm, Auður, Högni, Sólveig Matthildur, and on and on  — helped launch the country’s annual Iceland Airwaves Music Festival, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this November. The festival, founded and sponsored by Icelandair — the flag carrier of Iceland — and the city of Reykjavik, held its first festival in an airplane hangar at Reykjavik Airport (RKV) in 1999, but has since blossomed as the go-to musical festival in Iceland. The festival spans from Nov. 7 to 10 and brings together an array of pop, rock, electronic and indie acts. Last year, over 200 artists performed at the festival at various locations around Reykjavik, featuring an array of local artists and big-name acts, including Mumford and Sons, Fleet Foxes and Mura Masa.

So put on a warm coat and fuzzy slippers, download our playlist, and pop in one of our tracks. Let the experimental art-pop sounds of the land of ice and fire take you on a journey from the 19th century to the 21st, a tour of frosty lagoons, dramatic fjords, desolate moonscapes and mighty volcanoes, all painted in sound. It’s the next best thing to hopping on the next flight to Reykjavik.

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January 20, 2018 at 01:15AM

Deal Alert: Puerto Vallerta, San Jose del Cabo for $165+

Deal Alert: Puerto Vallerta, San Jose del Cabo for $165+

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Want to see the latest flight deals as soon as they’re published? Follow The Points Guy on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to text message alerts from our deals feed, @tpg_alerts.

Airfare deals are typically only available on limited dates. We recommend you use Google Flights to find dates to fly, then book through an online travel agency such as Expedia, which allows you to cancel flights without penalty by 11pm Eastern Time within one day of booking. However, if you’re using the American Express Platinum Card, you’ll need to book directly with the airline or through Amex Travel portal to get 5x MR points. Remember: Fares may disappear quickly, so book right away and take advantage of Expedia’s courtesy cancellation if you’re unable to get the time away from work or family.

Over all this winter snow? These deals will let you run away to sunny beaches in Western Mexico, even on a post-holiday budget. No special tricks needed for these fares; just use Google Flights to set the dates you want, then book on Expedia or directly with the airline itself.

Note that most of these carriers charge additional fees for checked baggage and larger carry-ons, so pack lightly or budget accordingly.

Airline: United, Delta, Interjet, Alaska, Volaris, Spirit
Routes: various US airports to PVR/SJD
Cost: $165+ round-trip in economy class
Dates: January to May 2018, September to November 2018
Booking Link: Expedia or with the airline directly
Pay With: The Platinum Card from American Express (5x on airfare), Chase Sapphire Reserve, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Citi Prestige (3x on airfare) or Chase Sapphire Preferred (2x on travel)

Here are a few examples of what you can book:

Los Angeles (LAX) to Puerto Vallarta (PVR) for $165 round-trip nonstop on Volaris:

Houston (IAH) to San Jose del Cabo (SJD) for $191 round-trip nonstop on United:

 

Maximize Your Purchase

Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases, such as the American Express Platinum Card (5x on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel), Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express Premier Rewards Gold or Citi Prestige (3x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.

If you’re able to score one of these tickets, please share the good news in the comments below.

Featured image by Holiday Inn

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January 19, 2018 at 11:57PM

Signing Up For Instant Amex Centurion Lounge Access

Signing Up For Instant Amex Centurion Lounge Access

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Following delay after delay during this week’s round of winter storms, my colleague Joel S. ended up getting stuck at New York’s LaGuardia (LGA) Airport. Sadly, he didn’t have lounge access, so he initially endured the main terminal area — before giving up and searching for a Plan B.

Fortunately, there’s an Amex Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia — after a decent dinner and a few speciality cocktails, it’s easy to forget that you’re stuck in an airport, let alone in the middle of a perpetual delay.

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Joel had one issue, though: He didn’t have a card that would get him in. Given that he planned to add The Platinum Card from American Express — and the fact that he was stuck at LGA indefinitely without lounge access — he decided to try his luck with a mobile application, hoping that one way or another he’d be able to get into the Centurion Lounge.

As it turns out, Joel was instantly approved, and was presented with the option to view his card number right away.

Joel took a screenshot of his new account number and headed to the lounge. The staff had apparently never seen an instant temporary card like the one Joel received, but they verified his account and let him in nonetheless.

It worked the next day as well — Joel’s flight ended up getting canceled, forcing an overnight stay near LGA, and when Joel returned to the lounge the next morning, he was already known to the morning crew, who had received a memo covering his virtual card visit the evening before. So it should be smooth sailing if you visit with a virtual card of your own — at the LaGuardia location, at the very least.

While you’re certainly not guaranteed an instant approval — or a temporary card even if you are approved on the spot — this is definitely an option to consider if you find yourself in need of access to a Centurion Lounge. Also note that I’ve successfully entered Centurion Lounges several times just by providing my social security number, and if your account is approved and active right away, an agent may be able to confirm your eligibility without the need to display a card at all.

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January 19, 2018 at 11:35PM

British Airways Could Buy Several More Superjumbo Jets from Airbus

British Airways Could Buy Several More Superjumbo Jets from Airbus

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Stuart Bailey  / British Airways

British Airways has 12 Airbus A380s in its fleet, including the one pictured. It may want to buy more from the manufacturer. Stuart Bailey / British Airways

Skift Take: Do you also have whiplash? Earlier this week, a senior Airbus executive said the manufacturer may have to kill the A380 program because of a lack of sales. But soon after, Airbus said it sold at least 20 to Emirates. Now comes word British Airways may want more. Perhaps the end is not near for the superjumbo.

— Brian Sumers

Airbus SE is in talks to sell new A380 superjumbo planes to British Airways this year after securing a program-saving deal from Persian Gulf operator Emirates, according to people familiar with the matter.

The U.K. carrier, which currently has 12 A380s in its fleet, had said in the past that it was looking for six to seven second-hand A380s. Now it’s considering taking a larger number of new ones, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

Airbus’s outgoing head of sales, John Leahy, said on Bloomberg Television Friday he was confident the European planemaker would secure one more A380 order this year. That customer is British Airways, the people said. Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, and BA parent IAG SA declined to comment.

British Airways is interested in the superjumbo because of the jet’s ability to maximize the number of passengers per flight at its London Heathrow hub, which is running close to capacity limits. The carrier’s main focus is on North Atlantic routes that are among the world’s busiest long-haul services, and it ranks as the No. 1 operator of Boeing Co.’s 747 jumbo, the second-biggest passenger plane after the A380.

BA is examining a deal for new planes after concluding that refurbishing used examples of the Airbus behemoth for its own needs would be too expensive, one of the people said. The carrier’s superjumbos are fitted out in a four-class configuration featuring 469 seats, according to its website.

Order Drought

IAG Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh has been mulling the business case for second-hand A380s for as least two years, with planes becoming available as the oldest ones come off lease from Singapore Airlines Ltd. after a decade of service. Walsh also ran the rule over six younger aircraft deemed surplus to requirements at Malaysia Airlines Bhd.

An order for new double-deckers from IAG would help vindicate Airbus’s efforts to save the A380, which Leahy said Monday might be scrapped after failing to attract a buyer for more than two years. That was before Dubai-based Emirates announced its deal for as many as 36 planes worth $16 billion.

While Airbus says that order will keep the A380 production line going for more than a decade, it’s still looking at slashing build rates to just six annually from 12 this year. Follow-on orders from carriers such as British Airways are therefore still vital in lifting the annual tally to a level where the manufacturer can break even on each plane.

–With assistance from Ania Nussbaum

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Benjamin Katz from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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January 19, 2018 at 11:32PM

The 747 Had a Great Run. But Farewell Doesn’t Mean the End.

The 747 Had a Great Run. But Farewell Doesn’t Mean the End.

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The 747 Had a Great Run. But Farewell Doesn’t Mean the End.

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

MARANA, Ariz. — There may be no airliner as recognizable as the Boeing 747, the world’s first jumbo jet, with its iconic hump of an upper deck. For aviation fans, the introduction of the “Queen of the Skies” was a triumph of engineering and grace: unprecedented size and speed with spiral-staircase international glamour.

But the airline business has changed, and the giant plane has become more expensive to operate. A couple of weeks ago, the final 747 flight by any commercial United States airline took to the sky.

Like so many others before it, the plane was heading to the Southwest to retire.

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

A passer-by at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport might have noticed something unusual as Boeing 747 No. 6314 pushed back from the gate for the last time. Onlookers in the terminal waved farewell as the plane, operated by Delta Air Lines, taxied out to the runway. Undeterred by the chilly weather, even members of the ground crew pulled out their phones to memorialize this flight in photos.

On board was a small group of passengers — mostly Delta employees.

Paul Gallaher was serving as first officer. Earlier in his career, as a pilot for Northwest Airlines, he had helped fly a fleet of brand-new Northwest 747s from Boeing to the airline’s home base in Minneapolis. Delta inherited those planes when the companies merged 10 years ago. Like No. 6314, he would retire when the flight touched down.

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

Back in the cabin, Gene Peterson, another Delta 747 captain, and Holly Rick, a flight attendant, had other plans. They had met when they were on a 747 charter flight crew in 2009. Now they prepared to walk down the aisle — not just to their seats, but to say “I do.” They did, somewhere over Memphis.

“I’m going to cry before today is over,” said Rebecca Johnson, one of the flight attendants on board. “It’s just part of aviation history. To be a part of it is kind of awe inspiring.”

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

Four hours after takeoff, the jumbo jet was circling above cotton fields in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, preparing to make its final approach to Pinal Airpark, where its next chapter would begin.

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

The 747 revolutionized the way people traveled when it began service in 1970. Mark Vanhoenacker, a pilot for British Airways and the author of “Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot,” wrote in The New York Times last year that the aircraft took advantage of economies of scale to make long-distance air travel affordable to the masses for the first time.

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

“This aircraft is a marvel for when it was built,” said Anthony Black, a Delta spokesman aboard the flight. But, he pointed out, a marvel of 1960s engineering is not necessarily suited to 2018 industry needs. Many airlines are moving to a business model that focuses on connecting more cities directly with smaller, more fuel-efficient planes, rather than funneling passengers through a few large hubs.

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

The desert climate makes county-owned Pinal Airpark, between Phoenix and Tucson, an ideal place to store airplanes long term, and about 120 aircraft are here right now, scattered across the desert floor. The dry air prevents major corrosion, so their parts can be used to help keep other planes flying. Airplanes can even be kept in flying condition, ready to go back into service on short notice.

Brandi Lange is an operations manager for Logistic Air, one of the companies that own or maintain former airliners at Pinal Airpark. “My main thing here is parts and part support,” she said. Her company’s inventory includes two former Northwest Airlines cargo 747s and a passenger 747 that used to fly for Trans World Airlines, a brand that disappeared after it merged with American Airlines in 2001.

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

That T.W.A. plane is one that Ms. Lange pays particular attention to. “I’m pretty sure it’s haunted,” she said. “I’ve gone in there before and there was a newspaper, and I’d move it and put it somewhere and the next thing I would know it would be right by the stairs. And I’d move it somewhere else and it would be right over here next to the stairs again.”

Though many of the plane’s valuable electrical components have been removed, whole seating sections are preserved — filled ashtrays (dating back to at least 2000, when the United States fully prohibited smoking on flights), old magazines, emergency oxygen masks and all — seemingly ready for passengers to board.

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

The air in the cabin is still permeated by the musty, familiar aroma that greets travelers at the door to any plane waiting at the end of a jetway.

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

Even if an airplane has outlived its useful flying life, its components and metal from the fuselage can almost always find another application. Sometimes that might mean going to Hollywood: The new Fox TV show “LA to Vegas,” a comedy about the airline industry, got many of its airplane seats and other set pieces from Pinal Airpark.

Jet Yard, another tenant at Pinal Airpark, focuses primarily on dismantling and scrapping planes that airlines no longer wish to fly.

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

The plane’s body can be melted down and reused in some other way. “Could be a pop can, could be a beer can, could be part of a car, could be part of another airplane,” or a mobile phone, said Pat Connell, the general manager of Jet Yard. “There’s an uncountable amount of uses for the metal.”

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

But going to the desert doesn’t always mean an airplane will be broken apart and turned to scrap.

“I would say close to half of the aircraft or more will get reintroduced into service at some point in time,” said David Querio, the president of Marana Aerospace Solutions and Ascent Aviation Services.

His company, which also sometimes dismantles aircraft, is performing heavy maintenance on about 25 airplanes, and is storing more than 100 others at Pinal Airpark, including the 747 fleet that Delta just retired. Although the airline has not announced specific plans for those aircraft, Mr. Querio has seen similar planes become workhorses in other parts of the world.

For air carriers in Africa, Asia and South America, buying a used aircraft is “a lot more affordable than buying new aircraft,” he said. Even though they are less fuel efficient than modern planes, their higher operating cost is offset by the low purchase price, making secondhand jumbo jets an ideal choice for airlines looking to expand.

CreditDustin Chambers for The New York Times

Pinal Airpark is sometimes called a graveyard or boneyard for planes. Jim Petty, the airpark’s manager, bristles at that description.

“It’s really not what we are,” he said. “It’s a maintenance and storage facility.”

He’s trying to change that perception with informal tours and a visitor-friendly attitude. He wants to spread the word that planes here, in one way or another, almost always have more to come.

After 747 No. 6314 landed, and after the passengers (including the two newlyweds) and crew had left, the inside of the giant plane was suddenly empty and utterly quiet, the unoccupied seats and aisles illuminated only by the sunlight filtering through the windows. Sitting in the desert, the Queen of the Skies still looked regal in this new realm.

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January 19, 2018 at 10:51PM

Airliners Have Become China’s Newest Means of Pressuring Taiwan

Airliners Have Become China’s Newest Means of Pressuring Taiwan

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The United States has also stepped in, saying it opposes such unilateral changes by China, according to Taiwanese media. In response to a question from Taiwan’s government-run Central News Agency, Brian Hook, a policy adviser to Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, said China should have consulted with Taiwan first.

Photo

“Recent unilateral actions by China — including M503 flight route & increased military exercises — are destabilizing & should be avoided,” President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted on Jan. 5.

Credit
Sam Yeh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Tensions between Taiwan and China force the United States to engage in a difficult geopolitical balancing act. While Washington has joined most of the rest of the world in keeping Taiwan at diplomatic arm’s length for fear of angering China, it also obligated by treaty to provide the means for the island to defend itself.

According to Taiwanese media reports, Taiwan has asked friendly nations to raise concerns about the new route with the International Civil Aviation Organization, the U.N. body that oversees international air routes. Taiwan cannot directly appeal to the organization because it is not a member of the United Nations. Taiwan also has no formal ties with the aviation body itself, which is headed by Fang Liu, a Chinese citizen who since 2016 has denied Taiwan observer status.

The establishment of the new air route comes as China has been stepping up efforts to isolate Taiwan, which broke away when the Communist Party took control of China in 1949. Earlier this month, Chinese authorities forced big multinational corporations that do business in China, including the Marriott hotel chain and Delta Air Lines, to remove Taiwan from lists of countries on their websites.

China began raising the pressure on Taiwan after Ms. Tsai’s election in 2016. The government of President Xi Jinping of China cut off official communications channels, citing her unwillingness to subscribe to the notion that Taiwan belongs to “one China.” Mr. Xi, who has pledged to restore China to international greatness, has issued stern warnings to Taiwan, saying China will never relinquish control of any part of its territory, even though the Communist government has never ruled Taiwan.

In a New Year’s statement last month, Zhang Zhijun, minister of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, put blame for the current tensions on the Tsai administration, accusing it of “indulging and conniving with ‘Taiwan independence’ forces pushing forward with ‘desinification’, ‘progressive Taiwan independence’ and all kinds of backwards policies.”

The failure to consult with Taiwan before establishing the air route is seen as a slap in the face aimed at Ms. Tsai. In 2015, when Taiwan was governed by the more China-friendly administration of Ms. Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, Beijing and Taipei negotiated an agreement for China to use a similar air route over the Taiwan Strait for Chinese airliners flying the opposite direction, from north to south.

In a statement on Wednesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the route was an internal affair of China. It also said that the safe use of the earlier, 2015 route proved that there was no safety risk in flights in the Taiwan Strait.

Photo

A tourist looks at China from Taiwan’s Kinmen island. The new air route has alarmed some because it increases China’s ability to launch a surprise attack on Kinmen, on Taiwan’s first line of defense.

Credit
Bryan Denton for The New York Times

The use of airliners also follows a Chinese strategy of relying on nonmilitary means to assert its sovereignty in other disputes in the region while avoiding a full-blown, armed confrontation.

China has dispatched coast guard vessels to challenge Japanese control of islands in the East China Sea that China also claims. In the South China Sea, China has used commercial fishing boats and ships from its fisheries management agency to demonstrate its presence in areas also claimed by Southeast Asian nations.

Taiwan also has a history of viewing Chinese airliners as a Trojan horse for military threats against the island. Up until the early 2000s, Taiwan resisted opening direct flights by commercial airliners between China and Taiwan partly out of fear that Chinese military aircraft could evade radar detection by sneaking in behind civilian jets.

Taiwanese officials and security experts said that they think China is growing bolder as its People’s Liberation Army has narrowed the military imbalance with the United States. China’s move “has caused a lot of concern and discussion on our side,” said a Taiwanese government official speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. He also praised the United States for speaking out against China’s move.

The new air route has alarmed some security experts because it increases China’s ability to launch a surprise attack on the Taiwanese island groups of Kinmen and Matsu, which are near the Chinese coast and thus on the front line of Taiwan’s defense, by allowing Chinese aircraft to get closer before they can be detected.

By making it easier for China to launch a first strike, the new air route risked further destabilizing an already tense region, said Ian Easton, a research fellow at the Project 2049 Institute, an Arlington, Va.-based think tank, who has done research on Chinese war plans for Taiwan.

“Given the close-in nature of the standoff, early warning time is vital for stability,” he said, “and it’s being further constricted.”

Continue reading the main story

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January 19, 2018 at 10:51PM

Actual Personalized Shopping Suggestions That Prove That the Internet Is Judging Us

Actual Personalized Shopping Suggestions That Prove That the Internet Is Judging Us

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Nomi Kane offers a humorous illustrated list of the types of personalized shopping suggestions she has received on the Internet.

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January 19, 2018 at 10:48PM

Delta Air Lines Seeks to Crack Down on Fake Service Animals

Delta Air Lines Seeks to Crack Down on Fake Service Animals

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Eric Risberg  / Associated Press

Delta Air Lines understands some travelers need service dogs, as pictured above. But it is also concerned some customers are faking health problems to bring their pets on board. Eric Risberg / Associated Press

Skift Take: Airlines know too many passengers travel with fake service animals to avoid paying fees. But some are wary about cracking down, in part because they’re nervous about mistakenly denying legitimate service animals. If an airline makes just one error, the story almost certainly will go viral.

— Brian Sumers

The day of the service duck and emotional support chicken on airlines may be drawing to a close.

Delta Air Lines Inc. said Friday it will more thoroughly vet passengers’ efforts to fly with all manner of unusual animals, which often board U.S. airlines under the guise of psychological or medical support.

“Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more,” the airline said Friday in a news release. “Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs.”

As of March 1, Delta customers traveling with a service or support animal must show proof of the animal’s health or vaccinations 48 hours before a flight. Besides the current letter signed by a doctor or licensed mental health worker—which can be easily obtained on the Internet—those with psychiatric service or emotional support animals must sign a form to attest that the animal can behave.

“These measures are intended to help ensure that those customers traveling with a trained service or support animal will no longer be at risk of untrained pets attacking their working animal,” Delta said.

Delta flies about 700 service animals per day—a 150 percent increase since 2015. The Atlanta-based company said reported “animal incidents” have increased 84 percent since 2016, including on-board problems with urine, feces and aggressive behavior. In June, an Alabama man was taken to an Atlanta hospital with facial wounds after a dog lunged at him on a California-bound Delta 737. A police report said the dog was issued to a U.S. Marine for support.

The airline considers the matter a safety risk, Delta spokeswoman Ashton Morrow said. “There is a lack of regulation, and what we’re trying to do is put some more arms around the process and ensure we’re keeping safety top of mind,” she said.

For several years, flight attendants have been calling attention to the probable abuse of rules allowing service dogs and emotional support animals in aircraft cabins. In many cases, the animals aren’t confined and may amble about the cabin, creating safety concerns.

The Association of Flight Attendants said it “adamantly supports” Delta’s policy change, President Sara Nelson said, as “it appears there is growing abuse of the system. We are hearing a public outcry to stop the abuse.”

The 1986 Air Carrier Access Act requires airlines to transport disabled passengers’ service and support animals, but the Department of Transportation allows carriers to require documentation from the animals’ owners. Even with the proper verification, airlines may refuse to fly the animal “if the service animal’s behavior in a public setting is inappropriate or disruptive to other passengers or carrier personnel,” the DOT wrote in a 2005 guide for airlines on compliance with the law.

It isn’t clear what has spurred the increase in animals in recent years. In some cases, airlines have banned certain breeds of dog from cargo holds due to the stress those animals experience in flight. There has also been a proliferation of online screening sites to allow passengers to “diagnose” anxiety or other disorders and offer a document designating their pet as a support creature.

Delta’s Morrow said the airline will be interested to see the service animal volume after the new policy is enacted.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Justin Bachman and Mary Schlangenstein from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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January 19, 2018 at 10:35PM