Weekend Reading: Assessing the 2018 Midterm Elections
Nearly two weeks after Election Day, a recount is continuing in the Florida Senate race, but most of the other outstanding races from the midterms have been resolved, and we have a much clearer picture of how the election turned out. On Friday evening, Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate in Georgia’s disputed race for governor, announced the end of her candidacy without conceding the race to the Republican Brian Kemp. Trailing Kemp by eighteen thousand votes, Abrams, who was bidding to become the first black woman elected as governor of any state, announced her decision at an event in the Kirkwood neighborhood of Atlanta. “As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede,” Abrams said. “But my assessment is that the law currently allows no further viable remedy.”
My colleague Charles Bethea, who was on the scene, noted that Abrams’s speech was “unapologetic” and “pointed in its criticism of Kemp,” who, as Georgia’s secretary of state, oversaw the election and the run-up to it. Repeating charges she had made earlier, Abrams asserted that “more than a million citizens found their names stripped from the rolls by the secretary of state, including a ninety-two-year-old civil-rights activist who had cast her ballot in the same neighborhood since 1968.” Abrams also announced her intention to create a political-action committee called Fair Fight Georgia, which will be filing a federal lawsuit against the state “for the gross mismanagement of this election,” Bethea reported.
In Florida, meanwhile, it seems unlikely that the manual recount of some votes in the Senate race, which is supposed to be completed this weekend, will change the outcome. After an initial machine recount, which finished on Thursday, the Republican Rick Scott was leading the Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson by 12,603 votes—a margin narrow enough to justify a manual recount, according to the state’s election laws. Nelson’s main hope was to pick up votes in Broward County, where the machine count indicated that large numbers of people voted in the governor’s race but not the Senate race—a phenomenon known as an “undercount.” But Broward officials completed the manual recount on Friday morning, and a report in Saturday’s Times said, “it appeared that while Mr. Nelson had picked up some votes, they were not enough to put him over the top.”
If Scott’s lead holds up, it will mean that the Republicans picked up four seats in the Senate (Florida, Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota), and the Democrats picked up two (Arizona and Nevada), which is a net gain of two for the G.O.P. Clearly, this was a positive outcome for the Republicans, even if a favorable electoral map aided them mightily. However, the G.O.P. did a lot worse in the House of Representatives than initial impressions suggested—indeed, it got a drubbing. According to the latest tally from the Times, the Democrats gained thirty-six seats, but this could well go up to thirty-eight or thirty-nine by the time all the counts and recounts are completed. To fall back on cliché, the blue wave materialized after all.
In Orange County, which thirty years ago was a bastion of suburban Republicanism, it was a tidal wave: all four of the G.O.P.-held districts appear to have gone Democratic. On Thursday, the Associated Press called the race in the Forty-fifth District for the Democrat Katie Porter, who narrowly defeated the two-term Republican incumbent, Mimi Walters. There has been no call yet in the Thirty-ninth District, where the Republican candidate, Young Kim, built up a considerable lead on Election Night, but, with most of the mail-in votes now having been counted as well, the Democrat Gil Cisneros holds a lead of more than three thousand votes. As the Los Angeles Times noted on Friday night, the G.O.P. is facing the alarming prospect that, “for the first time since the Great Depression, there will be no Republican in Congress representing Orange County.”
Coming on top of Democrats’ big gains in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, the results in Southern California reinforce the conclusion that I and many other commentators reached immediately after the election: Donald Trump has turned the suburbs, or large swaths of them, against the G.O.P. Although most of the post-election analysis has focussed on how this process played out on the coasts, it was important in the interior of the country, too. The Democrats made impressive gains in the Chicago suburbs and exurbs, for example. And, as I pointed out in a piece earlier this week, suburban voters, especially suburban women, played a key role in the impressive victory that the Democrat Kyrsten Sinema pulled off in the Arizona Senate race. Sinema won “by running an extremely disciplined campaign focussing on what we call the swing demographic—college-educated women in the suburbs,” Andy Barr, a political consultant who has represented numerous Democrats in Arizona elections, told me.
Another way of seeing what happened is to note that the Republican districts where Trump ran weakest in 2016, which tended to be suburban districts, were the areas where the Democrats did best this time. “Of the 47 districts where Trump took less than 51 percent of the vote, Democrats have (so far) won 32 of them,” the Cook Report’s Amy Walter noted. After running through some more numbers, Walter concluded that “the enduring antipathy to Trump cost the GOP the House.”
The only counter-argument I have seen made is that the losing Republican candidates were buried under a tide of Democratic money and the superior campaign infrastructure it paid for. A piece in the conservative Washington Examiner noted that Kim, who would be the first Korean-American woman to be elected to Congress if she somehow retakes her early lead, was outspent by five-to-one. “To blame the president is to remain in denial about the real causes of California Republicans’ staggering setbacks,” the piece argued. But absolving Trump of responsibility surely raises the question: Why was the Democratic Party able to raise so much money and recruit so many campaign volunteers? In Orange County and other places, the answer is surely that Trump’s presence in the White House produced a mass mobilization on the other side.
In the past week or so, there have been some interesting analyses of the voting patterns that this mobilization produced. One of them was carried out by the research firm Catalist, whose chief scientist, Yair Ghitza, presented its findings in a piece on Medium, and some of them were startling. In the eighteen-to-twenty-nine demographic, Democrats led the Republicans by a margin of forty-four percentage points. Among voters aged thirty to forty-four, the Democrats led by twenty-seven percentage points. The only reason that the Republicans were at all competitive was that these two groups comprised less than a third of the electorate on November 6th. More than two-thirds of the voters were forty-five or older, and the Republicans led (fairly narrowly) in this older demographic. But youth wasn’t the only factor favoring Democrats. “On the one hand, turnout reached record levels, with especially high turnout among young people, communities of color, and people with a college degree,” Glitza wrote. “On the other, there were big changes in candidate preferences, almost across the board. The biggest changes came from young voters, college-educated voters and women. It seems that among people who have historically been ‘in the middle’ or harder to predict, they both voted at higher rates and voted more for Democrats.”
The Democrats’ ability to pick up centrist voters bodes well for the Party in the 2020 Presidential election. Of course, there are a lot of politics to play out between now and then. If you want to hear my preliminary thoughts on how the results of the midterms might figure into the forward-looking strategies of Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, and into how Trump may act, you can listen to The New Yorker’s weekly political podcast, where I talked about these things with my colleague Eric Lach, who writes The Current column for NewYorker.com. I hope you will find it an informative discussion. Have a good weekend.
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November 17, 2018 at 08:21PM
FAO Schwarz Hopes Tourists Come Back When It Returns to New York City
Three years after it closed its beloved toy store on Fifth Avenue, FAO Schwarz is making a return to New York.
A new FAO opens Friday in Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center, about 10 blocks from its former home near Central Park.
For more than 150 years, FAO Schwarz was known in New York City for its classy and sometimes extravagantly expensive toys. The fantasyland store it opened on Fifth Avenue in 1986 was a tourist attraction, replete with its own theme song, doormen who looked like palace guards and a musical clock tower. Financial problems at the parent company and rising rents closed that store in 2015, but FAO is now pulling back from the worst financial precipice since it was founded in 1862.
In recent weeks at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, workers drilled, hammered and sawed 24 hours a day to get the new store ready. Employees filled shelves with hundreds of plush animals that have long defined the brand — bears, bunnies, elephants, chicks and more.
The big entrance clock tower has returned. And on the second level of the 20,000-square-foot space is a giant piano keyboard mat like the one on which Tom Hanks danced to “Heart and Soul” in the 1988 film “Big.”
The 20-foot-long instrument with 60 keys is reflected on the ceiling for people in the plaza below to see. Replicas for sale cost $128.
There is also a toy grocery store where children can shop among artificial produce, complete with small carts, a checkout counter and kitchen supplies.
For $75, another interactive station allows kids to adopt baby dolls, while a “nurse” gives lessons on how to care for them. Live magic shows will be staged nearby, next to a spot for assembling custom remote-control cars. A 27-foot-tall rocket ship teems with stuffed bear astronauts.
“We are about experiences. That’s what’s different from other toy stores,” said David Niggli, FAO’s chief merchandising officer.
In a global marketing push, pop-up FAO shops are also opening for the holidays in England, Spain and Australia. A March rollout is planned for a permanent store at a mall in Beijing in addition to smaller retail locations in airports and elsewhere across the U.S. and Canada.
FAO Schwarz has gone through multiple corporate takeovers in recent years as retailers struggled to adapt to online sales. It was purchased in 2002 by Right Start Inc., which filed for bankruptcy twice.
Toys “R” Us was the next owner. It sold the FAO name to the California-based ThreeSixty Brands in 2016 before recently declaring bankruptcy itself.
FAO was founded in 1862 by German immigrant Frederick August Otto Schwarz, specializing in high-end toys, some imported from Europe. By the 20th century, in stores across the country, fancy items included a $1,500 jeweled Etch-A-Sketch and a Barbie-themed, hot pink foosball table for $25,000.
There are a few extravagant items to be had in the new store but plenty of modestly priced items, too.
“We have beautiful artisan pieces here, like rocking horses, but we also have items that are $10,” Niggli said. “There’s always going to be some of those over-the-top items. I think that’s part of what you come to FAO to see. It’s part of the magic.”
The most luxurious item on sale could be a child-size, drivable Mercedes Benz encrusted with 44,000 Swarovski crystals. Base price: $25,000.
“That’s the core of FAO. It’s the classics plus the ‘Oh, wow’ things you’ve never seen before,”Niggli said.
Copyright (2018) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Photo Credit: In this Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 photo, an employee plays the FAO Premium Piano Dance Mat during a media preview of the new FAO Schwarz store at Rockefeller Center in New York. Three years after it closed its beloved, fantasy land of a toy store on Fifth Avenue, FAO Schwarz makes its return to New York City. The new version will be smaller, but will have familiar attractions including a musical clock tower and the giant piano keyboard mat on which Tom Hanks danced in the film “Big.” Mary Altaffer / Associated Press
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November 17, 2018 at 08:02PM
The Worst Part About Thanksgiving Travel Isn’t Actually the Airport
It turns out, the worst part about Thanksgiving isn’t the airport — or arguing with extended family members over a carved turkey.
Travelers know to brace themselves for crowds, delays and queues around Thanksgiving. More than 54 million Americans are expected to travel this year between Nov. 21 and Nov. 25, according to AAA, and the TSA is anticipating a 7% increase in passenger volume (about 25 million travelers).
But according to Cars.com, it’s the simple act of driving to the airport that could be the worst part of Thanksgiving this year.
Drive times vary, of course, depending on your departure airport and date of travel. For instance, getting to LaGuardia in New York City will always take you more time than navigating to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. But INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, is predicting that travel times in the most congested cities could be four times longer than normal this Thanksgiving period.
If you’re flying out of one of these notoriously congested cities, be prepared for outright agonizing airport drive times this year — and avoid at all costs traveling during peak traffic. According to the study, each drive time is estimated from the city’s downtown neighborhood. Read up, plan ahead and don’t by shy about hitting the road extra early this year. Because the only thing that could make Thanksgiving travel more stressful is missing your flight altogether.
10. Charlotte (CLT), North Carolina
Travel time: 21 minutes if traveling on Tuesday, Nov. 20 between 8pm and 10pm.
9. San Francisco (SFO), California
Travel time: 24 minutes if traveling on Monday, Nov. 19 between 5pm and 7pm.
8. Las Vegas (LAS), Nevada
Travel time: 27 minutes if traveling on Wednesday, Nov. 21 between 8am and 9am.
7. Dallas (DFW), Texas
Travel time: 30 minutes if traveling on Monday, Nov. 19 between 5pm and 7pm.
6. Atlanta (ATL), Georgia
Travel time: 34 minutes if traveling on Tuesday, Nov. 20 between 7pm and 9pm.
5. Seattle (SEA), Washington
Travel time: 41 minutes if traveling on Wednesday, Nov. 21 between 8pm and 10pm.
4. Denver (DIA) Colorado
Travel time: 55 minutes if traveling on Monday, Nov. 19 between 5:30pm and 7:30pm.
3. Los Angeles (LAX), California
Travel time: 58 minutes if traveling on Tuesday, Nov. 20 between 7pm and 9pm.
2. New York City (JFK), New York
Travel time: 1 hour and 19 minutes if traveling on Tuesday, Nov. 20 between 5:30pm and 7:30pm.
1. Chicago (ORD), Illinois
Travel time: 1 hour and 37 minutes if traveling on Wednesday, Nov. 21 between 1:30pm and 3:30pm.
In fact, even if you aren’t flying out of one of these cities, be sure to factor in extra time for your travels. Being early is always better than starting off your trip rushed and full of holiday road rage.
Feature image by NurPhoto / Getty Images Contributor.
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November 17, 2018 at 08:00PM
The Crucial Significance of Lucy McBath’s Win in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District
Three years ago, HBO aired a documentary called “3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets,” which examined the tortured aftermath of the death of Jordan Davis, a seventeen-year-old boy who was shot as he sat in an S.U.V. parked at a Florida gas station. At the start of the film, you see Lucy McBath, Davis’s mother, sitting at a table, depleted, telling how she came to name her son after the Biblical River Jordan. “I wanted to name him something that would symbolize the crossing over and a new beginning,” she says. Later, you see a more resolute McBath seated in a Senate hearing room with Sybrina Fulton—whose son Trayvon Martin was also shot to death at the age of seventeen—giving testimony about Stand Your Ground laws and their impact on her son’s death.
The two moments are as apt an encapsulation as you’ll find of the significance of McBath’s victory last week in the race for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, situated just north of Atlanta. McBath, a Democrat who ran on a platform of growing the economy, funding education, and addressing climate change, was inescapably wed in the public’s mind to the issue of gun reform. Her despair and her resolve are equal parts of her political identity. She narrowly defeated the Republican incumbent, Karen Handel, in a race that remained somewhat low-profile among the prognostications about which districts the Democrats might flip in the midterms. Last year, the Democrat Jon Ossoff gained national attention in his bid to win the seat, which opened after the Republican Tom Price left it for what turned out to be a short stint as the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Trump Administration. Ossoff lost to Handel in a runoff, by less than four percentage points, with 48.1 per cent of the vote. A measure of the skepticism about McBath’s chances could be seen in the fact that, before last Tuesday, the race was being referred to in some quarters as the “Ossoff race without Ossoff.”
McBath’s victory reflects several trends: the inroads that Democrats are making in Republican suburban districts that Trump’s tax cuts and border-fearmongering were supposed to secure, the record number of women elected to public office in the face of the mainline misogyny that is a feature of the Trump era, and the fading ability of gun-rights appeals to safeguard Republican districts. It is also worth noting that nine new African-American candidates were elected to Congress in the midterms—all of them Democrats, five of them women—and that, once all the outstanding races are called, will likely bring the ranks of the Congressional Black Caucus to a record fifty-six members. All but two of them are in the House, and the majority of those members won election in majority-minority districts. The nine incoming representatives, however, were all elected in largely white districts—a fact that may complicate the calculations of the caucus and the voting behavior of its members. McBath will be the first African-American to represent her district.
There are other, subtler dynamics at play in the Georgia Sixth results. The fight over Georgia’s gubernatorial race, between the Democrat Stacey Abrams and the Republican Brian Kemp, who, until last week, served as Georgia’s secretary of state, focussed on Kemp’s record of voter-roll purges and voter suppression. Many elections come down to turnout; in Georgia, the question was how many potential voters would be turned away. Kemp, however, was just following a playbook pioneered by Handel, who preceded him as secretary of state, serving from 2007 to 2010. Early in the 2008 Presidential campaign, when it was optimistically suggested that Barack Obama’s candidacy might put Georgia in play for the Democrats, Handel engineered a purge in which some four thousand eligible voters were flagged for removal for being “non-citizens.” (At the time, I was teaching at Spelman College, and this happened to one of my students. It took, in part, the intervention of a local CNN station to get her registered; a panel of federal judges overturned Handel’s order.) The gerrymandered redistricting in the Republican-controlled state legislature was also intended to thwart Democrats.
In a sense, the race in Georgia’s Sixth District was a small-scale version of the governor’s race. McBath’s results—she won 50.5 per cent of the vote—are particularly notable, given that black voters make up roughly a third of the electorate in the state but only thirteen per cent in the district. Ossoff ran in 2017 on a platform that was similar to McBath’s on issues such as climate change, the economy, and Medicaid. Ossoff also campaigned against subsidies that made it easier for foreign airlines to compete in the United States, recognizing that Delta Air Lines is headquartered in Atlanta, and that voters employed at the nearby Hartsfield-Jackson airport were affected by the issue. (McBath worked for Delta for thirty years.) The 2017 race became the most expensive House contest ever, costing some fifty-five million dollars. McBath’s campaign spent $1.2 million, but she improved on Ossoff’s margin by more than two points.
There are a number of ways to look at this outcome. The district, despite its history as a home of G.O.P. stalwarts—it was Newt Gingrich’s seat for twenty years—was trending toward the Democrats. In 2000, George W. Bush beat Al Gore by thirty-six points there. In 2012, Mitt Romney’s margin of victory was twenty-three points. In 2016, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by just a single point. It is sixteen months further into the Trump era than when Ossoff ran, and it is entirely possible that the President has worn out the grace period that moderate voters were inclined to give him last year. But, crucially, McBath represents a movement. Her son was shot by a white man named Michael Dunn, following a dispute over playing loud music, on November 23, 2012. Trayvon Martin had been shot nine months earlier, as he walked, unarmed, through a gated community where he was staying. Both deaths occurred in Florida and became central to the debate over the so-called Stand Your Ground gun laws in that state. George Zimmerman was acquitted in Martin’s death; Dunn, in a second trial, was sentenced to life without parole. The film “3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets” follows McBath and her ex-husband, Ron Davis, as they pursued justice for their son over two trials. (They requested that the prosecutors not seek the death penalty.)
When I interviewed them after a screening of the film, at the Schomburg Center, in Harlem, McBath emphasized the extent to which she had channelled her sorrow over her son’s death into action with the groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. McBath served as the national spokesperson for both organizations and testified on the dangers of Stand Your Ground laws before the Florida, Georgia, and Nevada state legislatures. In 2016, McBath, with Sybrina Fulton and seven other women who had lost children, most of them to gun violence, appeared in support of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, under the banner of the Mothers of the Movement. McBath’s campaign Web site carefully noted that she supports “2nd Amendment rights of Georgians,” but she also promised to “push for implementing background checks for all firearm purchases; raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21 years of age; working to defeat conceal carry reciprocity measures; and introducing legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and other criminals.”
McBath was elected nine months after seventeen people were shot to death at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, and a little more than a week after eleven people were killed in the Tree of Life synagogue, in Pittsburgh, and two were murdered in a Kentucky supermarket. She was also elected almost exactly six years after her own son died. The plague of gun violence and the intransigence of the gun lobby in the face of it have often seemed like an unbreakable stalemate. McBath’s election is a small, sure sign of hope.
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November 17, 2018 at 07:52PM
25-40% off Kimpton Properties: Book by Nov. 30, Stay by Mar. 31
From pet-friendly features to a nightly wine hour to complimentary bikes, IHG’s Kimpton brand tends to do things a bit differently. Even on this latest Cyber Monday + Giving Tuesday promotion, they’re doing things differently by donating $5 per night to their charitable partners (The Trevor Project and No Kid Hungry) — as well as giving you 25-40% off the best flexible rate at most Kimpton properties.
This promotion is valid for Kimpton stays at the 64 participating properties booked by Nov. 30. You must stay between Nov. 19, 2018 and Mar. 31, 2019. This promotion’s sale rate is a prepaid, non-refundable rate that’s only available to IHG Rewards Club members.
The discount ranges from 25% to 40% off the best flexible rate. For example, only two Miami properties — Kimpton Angler’s Hotel South Beach and Kimpton EPIC Hotel — are offering up to 40% off.
Five properties, Kimpton Everly Hotel in Los Angeles Hollywood, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore in Baltimore Inner Harbor, Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego in San Diego Downtown, Kimpton Solamar Hotel in San Diego Gaslight Quarter and Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel in Miami Oceanfront are offering up to 35% off.
13 properties, including Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, are offering up to 30% off. And, 44 properties are offering up to 25% off including Kimpton Ink48 Hotel, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver, Kimpton La Peer Hotel, Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel and Spa and Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam.
Remember: not all Kimpton properties are participating in this promotion, and some have particular dates or days of the week blacked out. You can see all 64 eligible Kimpton properties on IHG’s website. Keep in mind the Kimpton Cyber Monday Sale rate is non-refundable — but it can be a good value if you’re ready to commit. When it comes time to book, be sure to use the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card to earn 10 IHG points per dollar spent, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. Based on TPG’s latest valuations, either card will get you a 6% return on the stay.
H/T: Loyalty Lobby
Featured photo of Kimpton Ink48 Hotel in New York City.
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November 17, 2018 at 07:31PM
Deal Alert: Flights to New Zealand From $619 Round-Trip From Across the US
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 Orbitz or Expedia, which allows you to cancel flights without penalty by 11pm Eastern Time within one day of booking. However, if you’re using The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll need to book directly with the airline or through the Amex Travel portal to get 5x MR points. Remember: Fares may disappear quickly, so book right away and take advantage of Orbitz or Expedia’s courtesy cancellation if you’re unable to get the time away from work or family.
A couple of days ago, we shared an excellent deal to Australia in the low $600s. And now, there’s a deal just as great to Australia’s South Pacific neighbor New Zealand! While it’s already snowing here in parts of the US, it’s almost summer in New Zealand — making it a perfect time to visit.
Auckland is also one of the destinations eligible for 20,000 bonus miles if you book a flight+hotel package through AA Vacations. This can be an excellent way of working in a final year-end mileage run to a great destination. Just note that the T&C of this promotion requires the hotel stay to match the length of the trip.
To search, head to Google Flights and enter your origin and destination cities. Scroll through the calendar function to find dates and prices that work for you. Finally, click through to book directly with the airline or through an OTA like Priceline or Expedia.
Airlines: American Airlines
Routes: ORD/IAH/DCA/EWR/SFO/DEN to AKL
Cost: $619+ round-trip
Travel Dates: November – December 2018, February – March and May – June 2019
Pay With: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline), Citi Premier Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express® Gold Card, Citi Prestige (3x on airfare plus excellent trip delay insurance) or Chase Sapphire Preferred (2x on travel)
Here are a few examples of what you can book:
Chicago (ORD) to Auckland (AKL) for $619 round-trip on American Airlines:
Houston (IAH) to Auckland (AKL) for $619 round-trip on American Airlines:
Washington DC (DCA) to Auckland (AKL) for $619 round-trip on American Airlines:
Newark (EWR) to Auckland (AKL) for $621 round-trip on American Airlines:
San Francisco (SFO) to Auckland (AKL) for $619 round-trip on American Airlines:
Denver (DEN) to Auckland (AKL) for $619 round-trip on American Airlines:
Maximize Your Purchase
Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel), Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express® Gold Card, Citi Premier, 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.
H/T: The Flight Deal
Featured image by wnjay_wootthisak via Getty Images
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November 17, 2018 at 06:32PM
TripAdvisor Launches Redesign and 11 Other Digital Trends This Week
Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines digital trends.
For all of our weekend roundups, go here.
>>If travelers aren’t ready to book, feed them some inspiration and hope they’ll hang around until they are. That is essentially what TripAdvisor’s new travel feed is all about. Will the grand experiment work? We’ll have to wait and see how the feature evolves: TripAdvisor Launches Redesign to Hook the Non-Bookers
>>The conventional wisdom has been that the online travel market in Latin America will narrow down to a fight between Expedia-supported Despegar and global brands like Booking.com. But Almundo, thanks to backing from Iberostar, might put up a meaningful fight: Iberostar Ups Stake in Almundo for Online Travel Agency Push in Latin America
>>Sabre allegedly tried to kill smaller rival Farelogix years ago. But now there’s peace in the valley. Farelogix’s merchandising and direct connection technology will plug a gap in Sabre’s offering and could accelerate the travel tech giant’s growth: Sabre to Buy Farelogix for $360 Million to Help Airlines Sell Better
>>Would Airbnb and Uber, for example, be truly better off as public companies? It’s unclear because they both have access to tons of money already. But they would both certainly be better equipped to spin their own narratives: Airbnb and Other Unicorns Suffer by Staying Private, High-Profile Tech Investor Argues
>>Details are still sketchy but as of December, Lyft has officially committed to launching a broad consumer loyalty program: Lyft Will Launch a New Loyalty Program Ahead of Sharing Rivals
>>Travel startups are receiving remarkable investor interest this year, suggesting a bit of irrational exuberance. But in Sojern’s case, fundraising can be seen as recognition of a company that’s taken years to build consistent, profitable growth. Its tools could be scaled up to address a multibillion dollar market: Sojern Raises $120 Million to Fund Travel Tech Expansion
>>Eventbrite is still losing money as it grows, but now has strong revenue growth and plenty of cash to spend while getting back on track. The state of the booming global events business is a big help: Eventbrite Sees Revenue Soar in Earnings Debut
>>Lola was a good idea with solid execution that fell flat. By partnering with the biggest company in corporate travel, Lola will find out whether its service is actually a fit for businesses around the world. And if not, maybe the mobile-first future isn’t quite here yet: Will Lola’s New Partnership With AmEx Revive the Struggling Startup?
>>It will be interesting to see if Lola’s fortunes change as its partnership with American Express Global Business Travel ramps up. We’re quickly finding out how big a market there is for the variety of apps catering to business travelers from small- to medium-sized companies: What Lola’s Big Deal Means for Business Travel
>>A new tool coming from Capital One will make its travel credit cards more competitive with American Express and Chase. Only seasoned travel pros, however, may find it useful: Capital One Adds Frequent Flyer Mile Transfer Option to Its Credit Cards
>>Rail operator SNCF announced that it has led a $113 million investment in BlaBlaCar as a new investor. Perhaps carpooling could prove to be a path to building a major travel brand: Carpooling Startup BlaBlaCar Looks to Take Over Long-Distance Bus Service Ouibus
>>Tiqets tackled the hard problem of helping many museums that lacked tech savvy to adopt modern sales techniques. Now it’s seeing a payoff. In other news, events tech company Headbox and online travel agency Sastaticket raised money: Tiqets Raises $23 Million for Museum Ticketing: Travel Startup Funding This Week
Photo Credit: TripAdvisor launched a new content and social feed to convert browsers into buyers. TripAdvisor
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November 17, 2018 at 06:30PM
This Unusual Destination Is a Hot New Tourist Attraction for Harry Potter Fans
If you feel like you’ve visited every destination a Harry Potter fanatic should, we have a new one to add to your list — and it’s not in Orlando, Florida.
Harry Potter fans have decided to commemorate the life of one of the most loyal protectors and friends of Harry, house elf Dobby. Major spoiler alert here, but Dobby became forever indebted to Harry after Harry freed him from the abusive Malfoy house. Dobby became so faithful to Harry that he ultimately sacrificed his own life for Harry’s. So, it’s no surprise that Harry Potter fans have now honored Dobby with a gravesite.
Arguably the most powerful fanbase to ever exist, Potter fans have scouted out the film location of Dobby’s burial to recognize the free elf in real life. The waterside grave rests in Freshwater West of Pembrokeshire, Wales. There, fans can visit the stone that reads, “Here Lies Dobby, A Free Elf,” and pay their respects to one of the most cherished characters in the series.
If you’re thinking about honoring the elf, you may consider flying Aer Lingus or KLM, which both have reasonably priced routes into Cardiff Airport (CWL). Flights start at around $500 round-trip from major US cities, but keep in mind that the trip has the potential to make great use of Ultimate Rewards points, as they’re transferrable to both airlines. CWL is a two-hour drive from Freshwater West, but if you’re a dedicated fan, you’ll make the trek. After all, Dobby did save the wizard who stole our hearts.
Featured image of Pembrokeshire coast by Michael Roberts/Getty Images.
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November 17, 2018 at 06:01PM
ICYMI: American Airlines Executive Tweets About United First Class Experience
It’s not every day that an airline executive flies on a competing airline. Even rarer is when the public gets a glimpse of what an executive thinks of the competition. However, an American Airlines executive recently took to Twitter to share her experience flying United Airlines. While airline executives are seldom vocal on social media, this AA executive wasn’t shy in sharing her experience with her United Airlines flight.
Elise Eberwein, VP of People and Communications at American Airlines, shared her experience on a United Airlines flight from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC). Overall, Eberwein’s review was mixed.
Fun to fly the competition as a paying Cust (tho I hate giving them the rev). @united trip report. Thus far 1 hr late, no pre takeoff bev (flying 1st class) and no blankets. Super friendly Flt Attn in front.
— elise (@elisecom) November 9, 2018
Eberwein’s first criticism was regarding the timeliness of her flight. The flight to Salt Lake City, United UA521, ended up departing an hour and 10 minutes late, arriving less than 40 minutes behind schedule. While no flight, regardless of the airline, should be delayed, Eberwein’s own employer has also suffered from chronic delays. In fact, a reoccurring and common complaint with American Airlines flyers is the airline’s on-time efficiency.
Eberwein, who was seated in first class, also noted that she did not receive a pre-departure beverage, when she should have received the beverage per in-flight service protocol. Nevertheless, she noted the absence of this service in her Tweets. This is equally ironic as American Airlines is notorious for failing to deliver on the same aspect of first class service.
One thing Eberwain mentioned that seemed out of the ordinary for either airline was a missing first class blanket. While domestic first class blankets on both United and American are no more than a thin sheet, they are a staple of domestic first class. More so, they are rarely absent from the in-flight service.
Additional complaints included an unreliable in-flight entertainment platform. This aspect of Eberwein’s experience is almost just as ironic, as both United and American have decided to ditch seatback in-flight entertainment in favor of streaming entertainment. Both airlines believe that passengers will prefer to bring their own device, utilize onboard power outlets and have access to speedy Wi-Fi rather than use the airline’s seatback entertainment. Eberwein experienced the drawbacks of streaming entertainment first-hand on her flight to Salt Lake City. The streaming in-flight entertainment system was inoperable during her flight. Luckily for Eberwein, she had downloaded a few episodes of Homeland.
We had no screens today. And couldn’t get their app to download so couldn’t watch their movies. But that’s ok, I had Homeland season 6 downloaded.
— elise (@elisecom) November 10, 2018
One aspect of the United Airlines’s experience Eberwein seemed to enjoy was the service the crew provided throughout the flight. The AA executive sent multiple Tweets commending the crew for going above and beyond during the flight. Since American Airlines is suffering from what might be one of the worse employee morale crises in the history of the airline industry, there’s a good chance AA flyers won’t encounter that same amazing service Eberwein experienced on her United flight.
Was 521 ORD 2 SLC. Will give credit where due: Ur peeps did a fine job and the 2 lady aviators who flew us here.
— elise (@elisecom) November 9, 2018
Eberwein, despite receiving backlash and generating a slew of criticisms of her own employer, has not deleted the Tweets. Eberwein’s perspective is quite unique given her position at the world’s largest airline and one of United’s main competitors. However, in just a few Tweets, Eberwein was able to sum up the US airline industry quite well.
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November 17, 2018 at 05:44PM
This Family in Norway Is Looking for Someone to Work on Their Reindeer Farm
If you’re a fan of cold weather, reindeer and great adventures, we may have found the perfect job for you.
A Sámi reindeer herding family is looking for someone to help with childcare for five days a week during the busy season. In the job description, Marianna — the mother of the household, she says — works full-time as a dentist in Norway while her husband, Nils, takes care of the reindeer. The couple also has two daughters (and two herding dogs — yay!), a home outside of Tromsø, Norway and another property in a small village in northern Sweden. If hired, you would travel between the homes with the rest of the family.
But this gig is about more than childcare. The family recently began a tourism business centered around their reindeer, and said the hired help would be able to get involved with the new business as well. As for the actual reindeer work, you would be expected to help with some of the farm chores, such as caring for the animals, food preservation and general maintenance.
During the summer, the family stays in traditional Sámi tents, called lavvo. During the winter months, they bed down in primitive (read: no electric or water) herder cabins on the mountains. The person hired for this job will also have a bedroom in the Norwegian home and accommodations in the living room in the Swedish home.
If you’re interested in modern Sámi reindeer herding, this is a fantastic opportunity to get a firsthand look at the business and tradition. For the uninitiated, the Sámi people have been herding wild reindeer in Sweden, Norway and Finland for thousands of years, with each Sámi family tracking and caring for the same herd year after year. In fact, according to the Reindeer Herding Act of 1971, only the Sámi people are allowed to herd the animals as part of their livelihoods.
The Swedish village the family lives in only speaks Sámi, providing a very rare experience for someone with an interest in languages. On top of that, it’s located near a husky farm that offers dogsledding.
If this sounds like the job for you, you’ll find more information on the job and the family you would be living and working with at the WorkAway listing.
Feature image by Norman Tsui via Unsplash.
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November 17, 2018 at 05:15PM