The Aftermath

The Aftermath

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EclSo…was it worth it?

The Total Eclipse of the Sun was a slam dunk winner for communities in the path of totality (even those where it rained). But, for the nation’s economy?

According to Vanity Fair’s HIVE: there are about 87 million U.S. workers, making an average hourly wage of $23.86. If they all took about 20 minutes to scout out a spot to see the eclipse and then watch the whole thing unfold, it would cost an employer $7.95 per person, or, when multiplied by 87 million, about $694 million in lost productivity.

Of course, hanging out on Facebook costs the economy an estimated $1.75 billion a day in lost productivity.

All in all, Total Eclipses are a pretty good bargain.

More please.

 

 

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August 23, 2017 at 05:02AM

News: Satguru Travel signs on as partner for World Travel Awards Africa Gala Ceremony

News: Satguru Travel signs on as partner for World Travel Awards Africa Gala Ceremony

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World Travel Awards has announced Satguru Travel as a supporting sponsor for this year’s Africa Gala Ceremony.

Graham Cooke, World Travel Awards founder and president, embraced the news in the run up to the glittering event – which will take place at the five-star Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre in Rwanda’s thriving capital, Kigali, on October 10th, 2017.

He said: “We look forward to Satguru Travel helping us to tell WTA’s story all over the world, particularly in their home market in Africa where they are such an established and recognised presence.”

Founded in Rwanda in 1989, Satguru Travel – the first travel service provider in Ivory Coast Togo, Burundi and Niger – now has branches in more than 60 countries worldwide.

Nilesh Thakkar, chief commercial officer, Satguru Travel & Tourism, said: “With a network extending to 82 branches in 61 countries, all over Africa, Asia, America, South America, Europe, UK and Middle East, we work with a mission to provide total travel management.

“We are committed to promoting local African Tourism to the world, being present in 98 per cent of the African geography for last 27 years.

“It is a privilege to be associated with World Travel Awards and we look forward to a lasting partnership with this platform.”

World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.

Today, the World Travel Awards brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.

Each year World Travel Awards covers the globe with a series of regional gala ceremonies staged to recognise and celebrate individual and collective success within each key geographical region.

World Travel Awards Gala Ceremonies are widely regarded as the best networking opportunities in the travel industry, attended by government and industry leaders, luminaries and international print and broadcast media.

For more information about World Travel Awards, please visit the official website, while there is more on Satguru Travel here.

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August 23, 2017 at 04:45AM

U.S. National Parks Spotlight Their 101st Anniversary With Marketing Campaign

U.S. National Parks Spotlight Their 101st Anniversary With Marketing Campaign

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National Parks Foundation  / Associated Press

Actor Jordan Fisher, who starred in ‘Hamilton: An American Musical,’ is an ambassador to the U.S. National Parks for a marketing campaign. Here, he’s at Channel Islands National Park in California. National Parks Foundation / Associated Press

Skift Take: It’s a cute campaign theme to tie the 101st anniversary of the U.S. National Parks system to a theme of an introductory Parks 101. The earnestness is appropriate for the parks and the target audience.

— Sean O’Neill

How do you top a centennial? The National Park Service marks its 101st birthday Friday amid a “Parks 101” campaign enlisting celebrities as ambassadors for the park system’s hidden gems.

Parks 101 ambassadors have included cast members from the cable show “Queen Sugar” touring Chalmette Battlefield in Louisiana, and Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site and other spots in Washington, D.C. Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Keri Hilson visits the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Georgia later this month.

The campaign kicked off in April with Jordan Fisher, who’s in the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” touring Alexander Hamilton’s New York City home.

“Being a National Park Service ambassador is an honor,” said Fisher, who’s also known for TV roles in “Grease: Live,” ”Liv and Maddie” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” He raved about his visit to Hamilton Grange: “It’s beautiful. You can literally walk the halls of what Alexander Hamilton built … as a sanctuary for his family.”

Highlighting Local Treasures

The National Park Service hosted a record 331 million recreation visits in 2016. But half of those were in just 26 of the system’s superstar destinations like the Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, Yosemite and Yellowstone.

This year’s effort highlights lesser known treasures that even locals might not know about. Fisher recently filmed a 360 video for Parks 101 at California’s Channel Islands National Park. Though Fisher calls Los Angeles home, he hadn’t heard about the islands before.

“My eyes were opened to an incredible experience,” Fisher said in a phone interview. “You can see for miles. We hiked. There’s tons to do. You can kayak around the island, go into coves and caves or have a diving experience.” Fisher even saw whales and dolphins on the boat from Santa Barbara to the islands.

Something for Everyone

Parks 101 activities and digital content will offer introductions to topics like kayaking 101, battlefields 101 and shipwrecks 101. But the campaign also seeks to show the breadth of programming offered at national parks — everything from art to yoga.

Do you hate bugs and mud? That’s OK, too, because another message of Parks 101 is that visiting national parks doesn’t need to involve hiking, camping or road trips. In fact many of the 417 national park sites have nothing to do with the great outdoors, for example, a house dedicated to the history of America’s first ladies in Canton, Ohio, and a nuclear missile site in South Dakota.

And nature isn’t the only way to find peace and quiet in the park system: “You can enjoy solitude walking through a historic home,” said Alanna Sobel, spokeswoman for the National Park Foundation, which raises money to fund critical projects like the restoration of trails and historic structures.

Parks 101 also emphasizes how easy it is to reach many park sites. Hamilton Grange is just 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan by subway, Fisher said. The home of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish engineer who helped win the American Revolution, is walking distance from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. The Pullman National Monument, which tells the story of a town built for Pullman railroad car company workers, is about 15 miles from downtown Chicago.

Visitor Numbers

Visitation is already trending upward at lesser-known park sites. While attendance overall in the national park system was up 7 percent in 2016 over 2015, it was up 10 percent at destinations that traditionally see fewer visitors, according to NPS spokeswoman Beth Stern.

And the centennial was just one reason for last year’s record visitation. Relatively good weather, low gas prices and robust international tourism helped, too. Park numbers for 2017 will likely get a bump from eclipse watchers.

The centennial also spurred donations, more than doubling National Park Foundation contributions from $73.5 million in 2015 to over $150 million in 2016.

 

This article was written by Beth J. Harpaz from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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August 23, 2017 at 02:35AM

Avianca Hopes a Stronger Partnership With United Will Help It Dominate Latin America

Avianca Hopes a Stronger Partnership With United Will Help It Dominate Latin America

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Alan Wilson  / Flickr

An Avianca Airlines Boeing 787 arrives in Madrid. The airline is hoping its proposed commericial partnership with United Airlines will help it compete better in Latin America. Alan Wilson / Flickr

Skift Take: Avianca’s strongest competitor, Latam Airlines, hasn’t had the easiest time since 2012, when two proud national carriers – Argentina’s LAN and Brazil’s TAM — closed their merger. But Latam is finally making money, and it’s likely Latin America’s leading carrier. Avianca has some work to do to keep pace.

— Brian Sumers

Latin America’s airline industry is moving toward having just two dominant players serving the region and the world. Avianca Holdings SA says it can be one of these, boosted by its alliance with United Continental Holdings Inc. and a merger with a Brazilian airline.

The carrier hopes to reach a commercial agreement this year with United, with the ultimate aim that passengers will be able to travel “seamlessly” between the two distinct airlines, Chief Executive Officer Hernan Rincon said Tuesday in an interview in New York. Meanwhile, due diligence regarding a potential merger with Avianca Brasil, a separate carrier run by Chairman German Efromovich’s brother, is about 75 percent complete, he said.

“We believe only two will survive with operations everywhere in Latin America, and connecting it with the world, and we’re building the company to be one of them,” Rincon said, adding that Latam Airlines Group SA would probably be the other big player. “The benefits of the alliance are so strong for United and for Avianca that it is unlikely that we’re going to let anything get in the way.”

The stock had rallied above $10 earlier this year amid takeover speculation, and is back down to $7.30 in New York trading. An investment in the Colombian airline by United isn’t being discussed, Rincon said.

Avianca faces a hearing next month in a suit brought by its second-largest shareholder. Kingsland Holdings, which sued the airline, the Efromovich brothers and Chicago-based United in New York state court, saying they secretly negotiated an $800 million loan and strategic partnership. They allege German Efromovich, Avianca’s controlling shareholder, chose the deal for his own benefit and discarded offers from two other major international airlines that gave the Colombian airline a higher value.

As for Avianca Brasil, Rincon said four independent bodies, including an auditor and a bank, were looking at that potential tie up. Rincon said he couldn’t say right now how much the Brazilian airline is worth, but would probably have the answer in a few weeks.

The path to joining rival Latam at the top of the region’s airline heap is clear to Rincon. From the airline’s prior experience, it saw that an alliance would get the company 90 percent of the benefits with 20 of the costs compared to a full merger.

“The outlook for the rest of the year is very strong, we’re running our business and we’ll continue to do that, and in the very unlikely scenario that we don’t come to an agreement with United, we’ll go back to the drawing board and say who’s next, what can we do? We have many other options.”

–With assistance from Helder Marinho and George Ferguson

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Jose Enrique Arrioja and Christine Jenkins from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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August 23, 2017 at 01:45AM

TUI Spurns Air Berlin’s Cry for Help After Airline Files for Insolvency

TUI Spurns Air Berlin’s Cry for Help After Airline Files for Insolvency

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Bloomberg

Fritz Joussen, chief executive officer of TUI AG, was photographed on Aug. 21, 2017. He wants to save the jobs of 700 workers caught up in the Air Berlin insolvency. Bloomberg

Skift Take: TUI’s German arm is wise not to bid for Air Berlin’s assets. It would be a distraction beyond the tour operator’s core competency and objectives.

— Sean O’Neill

TUI AG wants to safeguard the jobs of 700 of its employees who work on planes leased to ailing Air Berlin Plc and isn’t interested in rescuing the insolvent carrier.

Europe’s biggest holiday company, which disclosed last week that it would engage in talks following the insolvency filing, doesn’t plan to pick up assets and is neutral on what Deutsche Lufthansa AG might acquire in a breakup of the business, Chief Executive Officer Fritz Joussen said in an interview.

“I have 700 people who are at risk,” the CEO said Monday in London. “That is the reason why I’m there. I am not interested in Air Berlin and I’m not interested in Lufthansa. I am involved because 10 years ago we sold a portfolio of city routes to Air Berlin including the airplanes and including people.”

Air Berlin filed for insolvency Aug. 15 after main shareholder Etihad Airways PJSC of Abu Dhabi withdrew financial support for the company, which has racked up more than 2.7 billion euros ($3.2 billion) of losses in a little over six years and has net debt of 1.2 billion euros.

Joussen said “a cleaning up” of the German airline market is potentially positive given chronic overcapacity that’s led to rock-bottom fares. For example, Air Berlin priced a flight from Dusseldorf to Majorca at 19 euros, so low that “the taxi when you get there is more expensive than the flight,” he said, adding that he is unconcerned that Lufthansa might be left in a stronger position.

Shares of TUI rose as much as 0.8 percent and were trading 0.6 percent higher at 1,335 pence as of 9:48 a.m. in London, where the Hanover-based company has its main listing. The stock has gained 15 percent this year, valuing the business at 7.84 billion pounds ($10 billion). Air Berlin has declined 33 percent and is worth 47 million euros.

The best outcome for TUI would be to salvage jobs tied to its 10-year, 2009 deal in which it provides 14 Boeing Co. 737 aircraft and crews to Air Berlin on so called wet-lease terms, Joussen said.

“If somebody gives us business or wants to carve out business and hand back people in order not to lay them off, then we would be available,” Joussen said. “We are involved in a negotiation, we have our interest, but our interests are targeted to find a home for 700 people.”

TUI owns only three of the planes involved in the lease deal, the executive said, with the other 11 owned by banks. “If they are handed back, it is 14 crews plus three airliners,” he said.

Quick Solution

The wet-lease operations were folded into Air Berlin’s Austrian Niki operation in January to create a bigger tourist-focused airline. Following the failure of an Etihad plan for joint ownership, TUI pondered becoming a majority shareholder of the wider business, Joussen revealed. The company later decided that carving out the operation would be too complex. “I think now that time doesn’t allow for anything else but a more short-term decision,” he said.

The German government’s loan that will allow Air Berlin, which has 8,600 staff, to keep flying for the next three months is reasonable, Joussen said, as long as it’s intended to allow the insolvency to proceed in an orderly fashion.

“I don’t think there will be a long-term subsidy,” the executive said. “For the time being, it is the right thing. It’s important that we do things in a way that’s tolerable for people.”

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said Thursday at a staff meeting that he’s ready to welcome large numbers of Air Berlin employees to build up his airline’s lower-cost Eurowings unit, though on revised contracts. Germany’s biggest airline is interested in operating about half of Air Berlin’s 140-plane fleet, none of which the insolvent carrier owns.

Air Berlin says it has granted data-room access to more than 10 interested parties after announcing in April that it needed a partner to survive. Assets will most likely go to several bidders, with the process concluding in September. EasyJet Plc has expressed an interest in parts of the business, including German short-haul flights, people familiar with the talks have said.

Joussen said TUI’s own scrutiny of Air Berlin was taxing. “People who come now and look into the books I admire if they understand everything, because we’ve looked into the books for a year and it’s complicated,” he said.

Air Berlin CEO Thomas Winkelmann says Hans Rudolf Woehrl’s Intro-Verwaltungs GmbH has presented no substantial bid for the carrier and that the approach appears to be a “PR gag,” Handelsblatt reported, citing an interview.

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

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August 22, 2017 at 11:31PM

Alaska Elites Now Get Free Seat Upgrades on Virgin America

Alaska Elites Now Get Free Seat Upgrades on Virgin America

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Alaska Airlines’ merger with Virgin America closed late last year, and since then, the carriers have been working to integrate, including extending benefits to elite members of both Alaska Mileage Plan and Virgin America’s Elevate program. There’s still much to be done, but so far we’ve seen priority check-in, boarding and two free checked bags for Alaska elites flying Virgin, and an offer of 10,000 points to existing loyalty program members.

The next phase of the elite integration, scheduled for “summer 2017,” gives Alaska elites access to preferred economy seats and Main Cabin Select upgrades, along with an advance purchase window for first-class upgrades. And just on time, TPG reader and Alaska Airlines elite member Rob wrote in with a discovery this week:

Today I booked a flight online using my Chase Sapphire Reserve points while having an Alaska rep on the line. After booking, she was able to manually move me to a preferred seat for free. She said that’s already been in effect for a few weeks now. It’s a manual process through them for now, but they were told on August 24 it’ll be live for people to do themselves online.

VirginAmericaMainCabinSelect_HIRES
Alaska Main Cabin Select.

I confirmed with Alaska Airlines that elites can now select preferred economy seats and are eligible for Main Cabin Select upgrades — for now you’ll need to call in to Alaska to be assigned these premium seats, but online selection will be live on Thursday, August 24. Meanwhile, Alaska plans to inform elites of the change next Wednesday, August 30.

There’s no word yet on when the “advance purchase window” for paid first-class upgrades will be available to Alaska elites, but hopefully that’s on the way as well.

Have you managed to score a premium Virgin seat as an Alaska elite?

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August 22, 2017 at 11:05PM

Alaska Airlines Will Finally Add Speedy Wi-Fi on All of Its Big Jets

Alaska Airlines Will Finally Add Speedy Wi-Fi on All of Its Big Jets

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Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines will have fast in-flight Wi-Fi by 2020. It is adding Gogo’s 2KU system across its Airbus and Boeing fleet. Alaska Airlines

Skift Take: We know it takes a long time to retrofit airplanes. And we know airlines hate to remove planes from service. But we wish Alaska could work faster to add speedy Wi-Fi. Three years is a long time to wait.

— Brian Sumers

Fast Wi-Fi is finally coming to all Alaska Airlines and Virgin America planes, though passengers will have to wait almost three years before they’ll be guaranteed they can stream content from services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go at 30,000 feet.

Alaska said Tuesday it will install Gogo’s 2KU satellite-based service on its Airbus and Boeing aircraft, with installations set to begin early next year. The airline said its Boeing 737s —they’re operated by the Alaska side of the company — will start getting it first, with about 40-50 aircraft outfitted by the end of 2018.

It promised satellite Wi-Fi will be on all of its large jets, including Virgin America’s A319s, A320s and A321s, by “early” 2020. Smaller regional jets operated by Horizon Air and SkyWest will retain an older-generation Gogo product that does not allow video streaming.

The decision is a blow to Gogo’s main U.S. competitor, ViaSat, which in 2015 won a contract to provide fast satellite-based Wi-Fi on 10 new Virgin America aircraft. Alaska said Tuesday it will eventually drop ViaSat, even though it is already available on some Virgin America jets. JetBlue Airways, United Airlines and American Airlines remain major ViaSat customers. A ViaSat spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Slow to React

Before acquiring tech-focused Virgin America, Alaska was slower to focus on Wi-Fi than many of its competitors, with the airline until now content to stick with Gogo’s ATG and ATG4 service, both of which have limited bandwidth.

The older platforms rely on ground-based cell towers, and they do not work on Alaska’s flights to Hawaii, nor on some routes to rural Alaska. Many carriers, including American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, are well into projects to remove Gogo’s older systems and replace them with satellite Wi-Fi, both from Gogo and ViaSat.

In a statement Tuesday, Alaska Chief Commericial Officer Andrew Harrison said the airline wanted to be methodical with its choice.

“We conducted an extensive review to find a satellite Wi-Fi solution that will allow us to give our guests full coverage across our route map, including in the state of Alaska and on flights to Hawaii,” he said.

better experience at cheaper price

For passengers, the experience will be far better than today on most Alaska and Virgin America jets. Gogo has said its 2KU service delivers up to 70 megabits per second to the aircraft, about seven times more than the company’s ATG4 service, available on most Virgin America and Alaska planes.

The new 2KU Wi-Fi is also roughly 20 times faster than Gogo’s original ATG service, which Alaska still has on a “handful of planes,” Gogo spokesman Steve Nolan said in an email.

In addition to faster speeds, Gogo’s 2KU has other advantages over ATG. Customers may use it from gate to gate, rather than only when the plane is above 10,000 feet. And it’s often priced at cheaper rates than the older system because Gogo has more bandwidth to sell. With the cell tower-based platform, Gogo often raised prices so it can ration bandwidth. It’s too early to know exact pricing for Alaska’s 2KU Wi-Fi, but the airline said “guests can expect that prices will be lower than they are today.”

Also on Tuesday, Alaska announced it had made two passenger experience-related changes at Virgin America. It said customers may now use chat apps, such as iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, for free. It also said in-flight entertainment on Virgin America in-seat screens is now free. Since early this year, Alaska has offered free messaging and entertainment on its planes.

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August 22, 2017 at 09:09PM

Martha’s Vineyard Has a Nourishing Magic for Black Americans

Martha’s Vineyard Has a Nourishing Magic for Black Americans

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The fact is, strivers are responsible for making Oak Bluffs a destination: Formerly enslaved people, or their descendants, bought property around Baptist Temple Park in the early 20th century, drawn by the religious services held there. Teachers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, artists, musicians and entrepreneurs all arrived and flourished for decades afterward.

Photo

Dorothy West’s cottage on Myrtle Avenue in Oak Bluffs.

Credit
Elizabeth Cecil for The New York Times

This summer was my seventh on the island, and I was itching for a proper tour of the African-American Oak Bluffs.

I met Abigail McGrath, the founder of Renaissance House writer’s retreat, and the daughter of the poet Helene Johnson. Ms. McGrath invited me to hop in her truck, and we circled the Highlands area of Oak Bluffs, where almost every facade has a quarter board listing the household name. We cruised past the Oval, the grassy park where Dorothy West, Ms. McGrath’s aunt, set her 1995 novel, “The Wedding.” It’s across from the Bunny Cottage, once home to Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the congressman from Harlem, and his first wife, Isabel.

Photo

“There’s something called Vineyard magic,” said Martha Mae Jones, an artist who has been coming to the island for more than 35 years. “You’ll always meet someone from across the country that is connected to you.”

Credit
Elizabeth Cecil for The New York Times

We reached a large round stone marked “Shearer,” announcing the inn founded by Henrietta and Charles Shearer, who had attended the school now called Hampton University and then moved to Boston, where Charles was the headwaiter at the Parker House Hotel.

The cottage was their summer home starting in 1903; accommodations were added in 1912, along with a dining room, where Parker House rolls were present at all meals. In the 1963 edition of Ebony magazine’s vacation guide, the Shearer Cottage listing speaks of its fine foods.

Photo

Dr. Harris’s pink-trimmed cottage in Oak Bluffs.

Credit
Elizabeth Cecil for The New York Times

Inside the inn, the brightest minds congregated for breakfast at small tables covered over with pancakes, bacon, sausage, fish cakes, hominy. Or they might have made reservations for dinner, said Lee Jackson Van Allen, the current owner and innkeeper, and a great-granddaughter of Henrietta and Charles. The dining room closed in the 1970s, but in its day you’d rub elbows there with African-American luminaries: the singer and composer Harry T. Burleigh, the entrepreneur and philanthropist Madam C. J. Walker, the actors and singers Paul Robeson and Ethel Waters.

“My great-grandparents were born in Virginia, and the food was very much Southern: macaroni and cheese, peach cobbler and candied sweet potatoes,” Ms. Van Allen said. “Everything was always very fresh — they went to the market every day.”

Daylight was fading. To fully experience the Vineyard vibe, a barbecue or clambake invitation is needed. Sometimes, frying scup (better known as porgy) and lingering for hours at home happens, too.

But Dr. Harris was hosting a porch party: a throwback Vineyard “five to seven,” a post-sunbathing social that marks the beginning of dusk. Some say the two-hour function died out decades ago, but her dainty white linen napkins, stacked alongside antique dishes filled with local cheeses, said otherwise.

I met Martha Mae Jones, an artist who has been coming to the island for more than 35 years. “There’s something called Vineyard magic,” she said. “You’ll always meet someone from across the country that is connected to you.” Crisp bubbly wine flowed; new bonds were forged.

After a week of up-island farm stand-hopping and West Tisbury farmers’ market-shopping, I felt like a bona fide seasonal dweller. My gray shingled rental house had an outdoor drop-leaf table, and I arranged platters of herb-rubbed grilled tuna and Southern succotash. It was the inaugural visit for my Brooklyn and Atlanta friends. They arrived and asked, “What makes the place so special?” The recipe is a secret.

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August 22, 2017 at 08:12PM

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Redeem KrisFlyer Miles for Award Flights

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Redeem KrisFlyer Miles for Award Flights

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KrisFlyer is Singapore Airlines’ frequent-flyer program familiar to many travelers interested in booking premium-cabin travel. Ever heard of Singapore Suites? The space cannot be booked with any other partner’s miles, so it’s important to know exactly how to make a redemption using KrisFlyer Miles.

Singapore Airlines belongs to the Star Alliance, and KrisFlyer Miles can be used to book flights on many partner airlines: ADRIA Airways, Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Asiana, Austrian Airlines, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Airways, Juneyao Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Portugal, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines and United Airlines.

Award space on flights operated by Singapore and SilkAir can be booked online, but all partner space must be booked over the phone only. You can search for availability using other Star Alliance airlines’ websites, such as United or Aeroplan. For award charts, refer here.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Earning Flights with Singapore Airlines

Let’s go back to the Singapore Airlines Suites Class. The product is so popular among luxury travel enthusiasts, it’s almost impossible to find Saver space on any of the routes with Suites that depart the U.S., even a year out, unless you get on a waiting list, which might or might not clear.

I personally wouldn’t try to get on a waiting list unless I knew 100 percent it would clear because Singapore doesn’t fly to my home airport and I would have to make further travel arrangements to connect to a flight. And even if you find Saver space, you have to have the points in your account ready to book because transfers from partner programs can take a few days. If you’re a gambler, I’d say go for it, but that’s not my style.

So, how do you fly in Suites Class without having to get on a waiting list? The first option is to book a Standard award, which unfortunately requires too many miles – in most cases, double the miles required for a Saver award. The second option is to be flexible with your routes.

Singapore operates an Airbus A380 between Sydney and Singapore, and that route tends to have more Saver Suites space available. Below is a step-by-step guide to booking it.

You have to be logged in to your KrisFlyer account to perform a search. In the search fields, enter your From and To airports, check whether a flight is one-way or round-trip, select a date, class of service and the number of passengers. Make sure you check “Redeem Flights.” Then click “Search.”

You will be presented with a list of available options. Make sure Suites Saver is showing in the corner. Singapore operates a Boeing 777 on this route as well, which has First Class, but not Suites. Don’t get me wrong, First Class on a Singapore Airlines-operated flight is still a dream, but if you want to fly in Suites Class, you have to go with the A380 plane. Once you have enough miles in your account, click “Next,” and you’ll be able to enter passenger information, payment and complete the transaction.

Related: This Singapore Suites Experience Had Me Wishing for a Longer Flight

Need more KrisFlyer Miles? Just like Flying Blue, KrisFlyer partners with all major transferable point programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Starwood Preferred Guest. Points transfer 1-to-1, but can take a few days to transfer, as mentioned earlier. It can be stressful to wait and hope the award is still there once the transfer is complete, but unfortunately there isn’t a way around it.

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August 22, 2017 at 07:10PM

Delta Air Lines Will Take Some Customer Service Calls via Video Chat

Delta Air Lines Will Take Some Customer Service Calls via Video Chat

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Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines has installed video call kiosks at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Customers will use them to interact with customer service workers. Delta Air Lines

Skift Take: Yes, Americans do make video calls in their everyday lives. But they make them using machines they own. Do airline passengers want to resolve issues by using one of five kiosks in an airport terminal? Perhaps some do, but we’re betting many will find the phone just as useful. This seems like it would have a been a novel announcement in 2009.

— Brian Sumers

Delta Air Lines will handle some customer service calls via video chat under a pilot program announced Tuesday.

It’s happening at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which is quickly becoming the carrier’s laboratory for new ideas. This spring and summer, Delta has been testing technology that allows some travelers to enter the airline’s SkyClub and board flights using their fingerprints, rather than paper or mobile boarding passes. Soon, the ailrine said some passengers in Washington also will be able to check bags using fingerprints.

Delta’s video call pilot is small, and, while the airline said it will be the first U.S. carrier accepting video calls, the idea is not novel. Other travel-related companies, including Hertz, introduced video calls several years ago. Many banks were also among the first to embrace video chat.

And while Delta said it wants to implement a technology passengers are already using — usually platforms such as Skype or FaceTime — the airline’s program will not allow customers use their own iPads or mobile phones. Instead, it is installing five kiosks with “interactive digital screens,” and customers can reach support staff by picking up a receiver. One is at a lower height to accommodate disabled passengers.

The idea is similar to one many airlines starting using years ago, when they installed special phones at airports that dial directly to a carrier’s reservations center. During busy times, airlines often do not have enough employees at airports to help all customers in a timely manner. By installing phones and video chat kiosks, airlines can alleviate some of the pressure on airport employees, especially during periods of poor weather.

In this case, Delta said customers should be able to do everything they can on the phone, including changing a flight and “sharing feedback.” Since it’s a test, Delta said it will review feedback to learn whether it creates a “better engagement opportunity for the customer.”

Delta also accepts customer service inquiries on Facebook and Twitter, as well as email.

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August 22, 2017 at 06:34PM