United Plans to Squeeze 21 More Economy Seats Into Its Boeing 757-300s

United Plans to Squeeze 21 More Economy Seats Into Its Boeing 757-300s

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As first and business class products get better across airlines, the Great Squeeze continues in economy. While Delta’s CEO has pledged never to drop economy pitch below 31 inches, American Airlines’ CEO wouldn’t even commit to not going below 30 inches. Now, United’s actions show they have no limit either.

While still maintaining 24 first class seats, United plans to add 21 more economy seats to its 757-300s. That’ll increase the economy cabin seating from 186 to 210 seats. The obvious question is: Where is all of the space needed for these seats going to come from?

Currently, United’s 757-300s have:

  • 24 first class seats with 38 inches of pitch
  • 57 Economy Plus seats with 35 inches of pitch
  • 132 economy seats with 31 inches of pitch

Without eliminating bathrooms, there’s not much space to work with. We can assume that the economy coat rack (currently across from row 41) and front economy galley space (next to row 7) are going to be eliminated. Those spaces will allow six seats to be added.

The next easiest victim is Economy Plus. Of the 57 Economy Plus seats on United’s 757-300, 24 are bulkheads and exit row seats. Leaving those as-is and slashing four inches from all of the non-exit, non-bulkheads gives another 132 inches of space. But that’s only a few more seats.

Even dropping non-bulkhead, non-exit row economy seats to 30 inches of pitch throughout still doesn’t give United enough space with an economy cabin redesign alone. So, it’s clear that something more drastic will have to be done to United’s 757-300s — whether that’s dropping below 30 inches of pitch in some rows, cutting bathrooms (while adding passengers), cutting first class galley space and/or squeezing first class pitch.

Until United releases its new 757-300 seating plans, we won’t know for sure where this space will come from. However, just like AA flyers want to avoid the 737 MAX, it looks like United flyers will want to steer clear of the retrofit 757-300s.

H/T: View From The Wing

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December 30, 2017 at 08:35PM

Hotel Review: Earth Room at the SO Sofitel Bangkok

Hotel Review: Earth Room at the SO Sofitel Bangkok

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For my 10th trip to Bangkok, I decided to try out something a little different. Having stayed mainly at Starwood properties like the Royal Orchid Sheraton, the W Bangkok and the Aloft Bangkok, I wanted to check out a different property.

I had been hearing a lot about the SO Sofitel Bangkok, an AccorHotels property that was designed by Christian Lacroix and had rooms themed around four of the five the traditional Asian elements — earth, water, metal and wood. I was intrigued and thought it would be the perfect place to spend a few nights during my visit to the Thai capital.

In This Post

Booking

I found a rate on Hotels.com for 5,760 THB ($176) per night for a SO Cozy room. This room rate allowed me a choice of the wood, metal or earth themes, complimentary minibar access (snacks and nonalcoholic beverages) and free breakfast. I paid using my Chase Sapphire Reserve card so I could get 3x Ultimate Rewards points on my stay thanks to the card’s bonus on travel and dining expenses.

The SO Sofitel will become a member of the AccorHotels loyalty program, which includes brands like Raffles, Pullman, Swissotel and Fairmont, starting in 2018. In any case, because I booked my rate on Hotels.com to snag my low rate, I didn’t earn any points. But now that I know I’ll be staying at the SO Sofitel in the future, I’ll definitely book directly through the hotel to ensure I earn points for my next stay.

Location

The SO Sofitel was on the corner of busy Sathorn Road, right next to Lumpini Park and the Lumpini transit stop. Although the location wasn’t great for those who plan to get around the city by car (the traffic was insane in this area), it was ideal for those who planned to walk, take the underground train or catch motorcycle taxis, which zip through traffic.

I loved being able to walk to the Sala Daeng neighborhood for street food and stroll through the park to get to other areas of the city. The hotel was right in the middle of all the madness that is Bangkok, but its park-side location provided quiet relief from the city’s hectic pace.

Check-in

I arrived at the hotel jet-lagged and exhausted after a long Uber ride in rush-hour traffic from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). But I couldn’t have had a more pleasant welcome, immediately greeted by friendly staff and scents of chocolate and coffee as I entered the lobby (the Chocolab store and KOF coffeeshop were on the ground floor).

I was escorted up to the ninth-floor lobby, which was artfully decorated with velvet chairs and sofas, intricate but modern chandeliers and tasteful holiday decorations. Light streamed in through the large windows, which offered glorious views of Lumpini Park and the Bangkok skyline.

I sat on one of the velvet couches and waited a moment. The staff came to check me in, allowing me to relax and enjoy a bamboo-and-lemongrass welcome drink as they showed me photos of the room themes on an iPad.

I selected earth, attracted to the bold blue colors and soft, circular lines. Although check-in time was technically 2:00pm, they prepared my room almost immediately, and I was able to access it by the time I finished my drink.

I headed to the second elevator bank, as there were two sets of elevators. The first one was for shared spaces like the pool, restaurant and spa, and the second, which required keycards to use, for room access.

Room

After stepping out of the elevators on the 21st floor, I was immediately attracted to the bright blue walls.

The blue didn’t stop at the hallways: Room 2113 was painted bright blue. When I walked in, there was a large mirror and four spacious closets to my right, which housed the safe, ironing board, iron, slippers and plenty of storage and hanging space. To the left was the open-concept bathroom, which was eye-catching and made me smile — the black-and-white checkered floor, rounded corners and giant freestanding tub were beyond stylish and fun.

I wanted to dive into the tub that moment, but restrained myself, as a staff member was explaining the room to me.

The rainfall shower and toilet both had separate, closed areas, which made those sections more private. As the hotel was striving to be as eco-friendly as possible, all the amenities came in pump bottles and smelled delightfully of lemongrass. The sink had an enormous mirror and all sorts of extras like toothpaste, combs and shaving cream, set away in his-and-her drawers.

An island with a coffeemaker, cups and mugs, electric kettle and mini-fridge was set between the bathroom and closets. The minibar came with several bottles of water, sparkling water, juices and snacks, which were all complimentary.

A huge, rounded set of sliding doors separated the bathroom, closets and kitchen from the bedroom.

The blue walls had prehistoric-style drawings (the staff told me the earth-themed rooms were inspired by caves), but with a modern touch. There weren’t any sharp corners or angles in the room, either. The bed was large and extremely comfortable, and I slept like a baby both nights I was there.

There were two bedside tables, each with an outlet (one side had two outlets) where you could plug in a US- or European-style plug.

A large, comfortable armchair and small table were beside the floor-to-ceiling windows, offering bright views of the Bangkok skyline, though my room wasn’t facing the park.

There was also a desk with fun extras like a ruler and Scotch tape — you never know when you might want to scrapbook, after all!

The flat-screen TV came with a keyboard with which I could find out the Wi-Fi code, listen to music, watch TV and more.

I loved that there were curtains that went along with the room theme, but what I loved even more was the large blackout shade that allowed me to sleep in darkness at any hour of the day or night. As I was suffering from jet lag, this made my rest infinitely better.

The lighting in the room was bright, with several ceiling lights, cool mirror lights, lamps and bedside reading lights. The only drawback was that I couldn’t seem to find a master switch, and had to run around turning everything off at night one by one.

The walls were far from soundproof. When I came back to the room at about 9:00pm on the first night, I noticed that a ninth-floor meeting room was hosting a large event, but didn’t think much of it until I returned to my room and could still hear the music blasting, clear as day, in my room. I figured it was still pretty early, though I was destroyed from jet lag and wanted to go to bed immediately. I called down to the front desk to ask what time the party was expected to end, and they immediately offered to move me quieter, upgraded room with a park view on the other side of the hotel. I accepted.

Room 2408 was exactly the same except for two things: an absolutely stunning park view and an Illy machine (score).

The staff couldn’t have been more helpful or kind when I inquired about the noise, and throughout my stay the staff continued to be just as helpful.

The room was really amazing, because I found it to be not only practical, with things like extra outlets, a coffeemaker and blackout shades, but also special, thanks to its unique design concept. It was relaxing to be surrounded by blue, and the giant bathtub was a luxury I wished I had at home.

Food and Beverage

You could order food and snacks at the pool. The menu, which came printed on a pillow, listed a variety of Thai and Western food.

I ordered green curry, and, though it wasn’t amazing, it hit the spot after a long, hard morning of relaxation.

Breakfast was included in my room rate, and the Red Oven restaurant, which was on the seventh floor, was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The breakfast buffet was excellent, with all sorts of Asian and Western options like noodles and rice, an egg station, plenty of pastries and hot foods and fresh fruit. Everything I ate was delicious.

Several different fruit smoothies were available to order, and there was even an ice-cream bar with 10 flavors. The space was fun too, with high ceilings and, of course, those epic views of Bangkok and beyond.

Amenities

The SO Sofitel is known for its epic pool parties, and although I wasn’t there for one of them, I was able to hang out at the infinity pool for a while, and it was impressive. Its location on the 10th floor overlooked the park, and it almost seemed as if the pool were melting into the trees, with Bangkok’s glimmering skyline in the background.

Large sofas, tables and lounge chairs were available, some actually inside the water. The only negative was that loungers and the pool, blocked by the nearby buildings, got almost no sun.

The hotel, however, created a solution: a solarium on the other side of the hotel, which was  sunny most of the day. With about 15 loungers on a grassy area, neither the views nor the ambience were as nice as being poolside, but at least an option was provided for sun seekers.

The gym overlooked the pool and was equipped with weights and cardio equipment.

There was also a hair salon, locker rooms, steam room and sauna.

The hotel also put on a tour where you could check out each of the different rooms. The tour was for guests only and had to be reserved at the front desk. Mine started at 5:00pm and went for about 45 minutes. First, we started by seeing a water-themed room, which was covered in gray and black.

The metal-themed rooms were white and very angular, especially compared to my rounded room.

The wood rooms reminded me a little of a Park Hyatt property, beige and discreet. Of course, actual wood was present, especially in the bathrooms.

With the hotel tour, I also got to check out the spa. Each of the treatment rooms was named for different rivers in Thailand, and there were real trees in the spa, which contributed toward a serene and earthy ambience.

The tour also took me up to the pool at night, all lit up in green, and the rooftop bar at sunset, which was gorgeous.

Bangkok is a city full of rooftop bars, and this one was right up there with the best of them, with a DJ, extreme views and a stylish vibe. It had two different levels, one for cocktails and dining and the other for drinks and dancing.

To the Point

I’ve found my hotel in Bangkok, and I may never stay elsewhere! The SO Sofitel was chic but wasn’t so trendy that it was no longer comfortable or practical. There was a room style for everyone, and this was a loyalty program I plan to explore more in the future.

Throughout my stay, I noticed couples, families and groups of friends. I was traveling alone and also felt comfortable. Despite the small hiccup with the room noise, the staff handled it with ease, and I will definitely be returning.

Images courtesy of the author.

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December 30, 2017 at 08:12PM

Deal Alert: US Cities to Bangkok From $551 Round-Trip

Deal Alert: US Cities to Bangkok From $551 Round-Trip

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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 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 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 Orbitz or Expedia’s courtesy cancellation if you’re unable to get the time away from work or family.

If Southeast Asia has been on your travel bucket list, there’s a very nice sale today on flights to the capital of Thailand on Star Alliance partners United and ANA. Right now you’ll find great deals on itineraries from all over the US — including New York/Newark (EWR), Washington DC (IAD), Chicago (ORD), San Jose (SJC), San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX) to Bangkok (BKK) for as low as $551 round-trip.

Depending on your origin city, these flights are mostly available from September through October, but you may find dates in April and May as well. You don’t need any tricks to see these airfares, so use Google Flights to find the dates you want, then book on Orbitz, Expedia or directly with the airline itself. Bangkok is a great hub, as you can often find cheap flights from there to Phuket, Koh Samui and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Most of these itineraries have one reasonable connection in Tokyo, Japan (NRT/HND), and since these are international trips on full-service carriers, there’s a complimentary meal served during the flight and no first checked bag fees.

Airlines: United Airlines, ANA
Routes: EWR/IAD/ORD/SJC/SFO/LAX to BKK
Cost: $551+ round-trip in economy
Dates: September through November (with a few scattered dates in April-May)
Booking Link: Orbitz or Expedia
Pay With: The Platinum Card from American Express (5x on airfare), Chase Sapphire ReservePremier Rewards Gold Card from American ExpressCiti 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 Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) for $551 round-trip via Orbitz:

San Francisco (SFO) to Bangkok (BKK) for $571 round-trip via Orbitz:

Washington DC (IAD) to Bangkok (BKK) for $571 round-trip via Orbitz:

San Jose (SJC) to Bangkok (BKK) for $571 round-trip via Orbitz:

New York/Newark (EWR) to Bangkok (BKK) for $591 round-trip via Orbitz:

Chicago (ORD) to Bangkok (BKK) for $630 round-trip via Orbitz:

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 ReserveAmerican Express Premier Rewards Gold or Citi Prestige (3x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.

H/T: Scott’s Cheap Flights

Featured image by PhotoBylov/Getty Images.

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December 30, 2017 at 06:35PM

The Astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell Looks Back on Her Cosmic Legacy

The Astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell Looks Back on Her Cosmic Legacy

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Jocelyn Bell Burnell arrived at the University of Cambridge in the
mid-nineteen-sixties, just as construction was beginning on a new kind
of radio telescope. For two years, as she worked on her doctorate in
astronomy, she helped string wires between wooden poles planted in a
field, until four and a half acres were woven in copper filament and
cable. “I came of a family that did a lot of sailing, so it wasn’t
totally alien,” Bell Burnell told me recently. “I was used to posts and
masts and pulleys.”

By July, 1967, the telescope was ready. It resembled a giant metal net.
Within a few weeks, its antennae had caught something unusual. Bell
Burnell—who analyzed the roughly seven hundred feet of paper generated
each week as galactic radio waves were recorded in inked peaks—noticed a
faint signal arriving from one slice of sky. Then it disappeared. In
November, she saw it again. By adjusting the speed of the recording
device, she determined that the signal came in every 1.34 seconds, a
regular beat against the background static of the cosmos. Bell Burnell
puzzled with her adviser, Antony Hewish, about whether it was of this
world—an Earthly radio station, perhaps—or of another. They gave it the
fanciful nickname of L.G.M.-1, for “little green men.”

Just before Christmas, on a morning so cold that Bell Burnell had to
breathe on the recording equipment to warm it to working temperature,
she found a second signal in another part of the sky. This one arrived
every 1.25 seconds. Soon after the holidays, she spotted two more. Each
of the four rhythmic waves originated in a different sector of the
universe, effectively ruling out actual L.G.M. as the source. The first
signal became, instead, CP 1919—“CP” for “Cambridge pulsar,” and “1919”
for the star’s celestial location in hours and minutes. A new era of
cosmology opened.

Pulsars are closely related to black holes. Both are born when a massive
star runs out of fuel: its outer layers explode in a supernova, and its
core collapses. The star’s original mass determines what happens next.
If the core was more massive than about three of Earth’s suns, it turns
into a black hole; if not, the pressure and density of the collapse,
which fuse electrons and protons into neutrons, produce a neutron star.
Pulsars, a subset of these dead stars, spin at immense speeds and have
powerful magnetic fields that accelerate nearby electrons, lashing them
into beams of electromagnetic radiation. Because the stars rotate, those
beams—which can be radio waves, gamma- or X-rays, or visible
light—appear, to a distant observer, to flash on and off. Pulsars are
often called cosmic lighthouses.

The existence of both neutron stars and black holes was predicted in the
nineteen-thirties, and the discovery of pulsars—identified as a type of
neutron star soon after CP 1919 was reported—suggested that black holes
must be out there, too. The first confirmed black hole was reported a
few years later. Pulsars “meant that a lot of this kind of crazy theory
that had been kicking around since Einstein dropped the general theory
of relativity on us, that maybe it was real,” Stephen Eikenberry, a
professor of astronomy at the University of Florida, told me. “Think of
it this way: People were asking us to believe in fairies and elves. But
then, when you meet an elf, fairies seem like not such a crazy idea.”

Because of their enormous density and precise, clock-like rotation,
pulsars provided a new way to probe space and theory. “These fifty years
have been amazingly exciting, with a lot of totally unexpected new
discoveries in connection with pulsars rolling in,” Bell Burnell,
currently a visiting professor in physics at the University of Oxford,
said. Even the first pulsar’s disappearance, between August and
November, 1967, supplied useful information. Interference from
interstellar material, it turned out, made the radio waves seem to
twinkle on and off. “At the time this was happening, we didn’t know that
there was stuff between the stars, let alone that it was turbulent,”
Bell Burnell said. “That is one of the things that has come out of the
discovery of pulsars—more knowledge about the space between the stars.”
Close observation of a pulsar and the space around it led to the first
confirmed
exoplanets—planets
orbiting other suns, of interest in the search for extraterrestrial
life. Pulsars also helped catalyze the hunt for gravitational
waves
,
wrinkles in the substance of space-time. The most recent detection, this
fall, recorded the disruption caused by merging neutron stars.

Observations under way around the world promise more insights courtesy
of pulsars. “They turned out to be much more extreme objects than we had
imagined could exist,” Bell Burnell said. “Because they are extreme,
they tell us a lot about the extremes of physics, the extremes of
nature.” Their extreme mass, for instance, offers scientists a way to
better understand Einstein’s general theory of
relativity
.
The stronger the gravitational force, the more clear the effects of
relativity, Eikenberry said. He is one of many astronomers who hope for
the discovery of a pulsar orbiting a black hole, since the tick of the
pulsar’s clock could perhaps be seen slowing in thrall of a black hole’s
mass. Pulsars could also reveal information about the feasibility of an
interstellar navigation system; their regular signals could serve as
landmarks by which to triangulate a spacecraft’s position. Yet, for all
they illuminate, pulsars themselves remain shadowy. The detailed physics
of their emissions is still not well understood. “We are using those
flashes of light to tell us all kinds of very cool things,” Eikenberry
said. “But we don’t know how those flashes of light actually happen, how
pulsars shine.”

Bell Burnell did not study pulsars after her doctoral work. She
performed other astrophysical research, advocated for women in science,
and led institutions including, recently, the Royal Society of
Edinburgh. Marriage and motherhood led to a peripatetic, part-time
academic life and, consequently, an eclectic curriculum vitae, she said.
In 1974, Hewish, Bell Burnell’s former adviser, was awarded the Nobel
Prize in Physics for a discovery that the committee described as “of
paramount importance to physics and astrophysics.” Hewish had a
co-recipient, but it wasn’t Bell
Burnell
—a
fact that many observers have attributed to her gender. Bell Burnell has
repeatedly noted that Nobels do not generally go to graduate students,
and that the committee did not know that she was a woman. But many
familiar with the story, and with pulsars’ far-ranging legacy, see
injustice. “It is just such a clear example of the difference for women
and anyone who is not on the top,” Matthew Stanley, a historian of
science at New York University, said. “The whole subaltern community
suffers in not getting credit for the work that they have done.”

Bell Burnell’s observations during those chilly winter days and nights,
signals captured by wires looped across hoary fields, eventually found
their way back to the universe that had sent them. In the seventies,
NASA launched four space probes to explore the outer solar system. Each
was outfitted with a map, which used fourteen pulsars to identify our
sun’s relative position in the galaxy—the hope being that an alien
might one day encounter the
probes
and find its way to Earth. “It was the first time we were actually
thinking that something that could be made by humans could leave the
solar system,” Keith Gendreau, of NASA’s Neutron Star Interior
Composition Explorer mission, said. “This kind of crystallized the
excitement of the time, of real exploration, of going out there.” Of the
possibility of L.G.M. Though neutron stars rotate more slowly as they
senesce, the maps ought to be decipherable to intelligent life well into
the future. “It would be a little bit of a math problem, but totally
solvable,” Gendreau said.

The steady beats of the first four pulsars have become part of a vast
percussive array. More than two thousand others—superfast “millisecond”
pulsars, slow pulsars, solitary pulsars, pulsars living in pairs—have
now been found. As Bell Burnell wrote just a few years after her
discovery, “these incredible stars continue to puzzle, and occasionally
to surprise.”

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December 30, 2017 at 06:10PM

JetBlue Heading Toward Worst Year of On-Time Performance Since 2007 Fiasco

JetBlue Heading Toward Worst Year of On-Time Performance Since 2007 Fiasco

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JetBlue

JetBlue livery makes a show of it on May 26, 2016. JetBlue’s on-time performance is worsening in 2017. JetBlue

Skift Take: JetBlue doesn’t fly the clear-blue skies of Hawaii but hunkers down in the snowy Northeast U.S., and that has impacted its on-time performance. Still, the drop-off in efficiency shows the airline needs to make improvements.

— Dennis Schaal

JetBlue Airways Corp. has little to show for its efforts to improve on-time performance.

This year through October, the airline’s on-time arrival rate of 70 percent trails the industry average of 79 percent, according to the U.S. Transportation Department. That puts the carrier on track for its worst showing since 2007.

Flight delays threaten two of JetBlue’s most important initiatives. Tardiness adds costs, undermining a corporate push to trim $300 million in expenses by 2020. Chronically late flights also weaken the airline’s efforts to woo more of the most-lucrative passengers, including those for its premium Mint offering.

“Even the first-class suites arrive late when the airplane is late,” said Bob Mann, president of aviation consulting firm R.W. Mann & Co. “I think some high-value customers have figured out that Delta is doing a better job.” Delta Air Lines Inc. is typically near the top of the pack.

Delays cost U.S. carriers $62.55 a minute on average in direct operating expenses last year, according to the trade group Airlines for America. Multiplied by JetBlue’s 4.95 million minutes of delays for the first 10 months of this year, the latest period for which information is available, that works out to $310 million.

JetBlue said it’s more vulnerable to delays than its competitors because about 70 percent of its flights stop at airports in the Northeast, which are especially prone to congestion and bad weather. More than 35 percent of its flights are at its base, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Less Padding

The carrier, which responded to questions by email, cited repair and renovation work that temporarily shut major runways at Kennedy and Boston’s Logan International Airport this year. JetBlue also said that it puts less extra time, or “padding,” in its schedule than rivals do, giving its flights less wiggle room to arrive when promised.

But the company’s on-time rate is on track for a third straight annual decline at its other “focus cities’’ of Long Beach, California; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida. JetBlue’s Flight 667 between Orlando and Ponce, Puerto Rico, is under review by the Transportation Department after five straight months of chronic delays, defined as flights delayed more than 30 minutes more than 50 percent of the time.

And the carrier was responsible for 8 percent of its delayed flights, according to the Transportation Department. That’s about the same as delays caused by problems like congestion and weather, and compares with an average of 5.1 percent for the dozen U.S. airlines tracked.

Boarding Procedures

JetBlue adjusted its boarding process early in 2017 as part of a multiyear effort to reduce delays. It also plans to increase the time between flights on the ground next year, hoping to avoid one plane’s problems from spilling over to another aircraft. And the carrier is working on initiatives to save time between flights, like getting cleaners on planes before all passengers exit.

The airline may get some help from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is studying measures to improve operations in the Northeast. The carrier also is a proponent of legislation that would shift air-traffic control to a nonprofit corporation, a move that proponents say would increase efficiency. The fate of that legislation is far from clear, however.

JetBlue Chief Executive Officer Robin Hayes told investors and analysts earlier this year that operating on time is “the most cost-effective way of running” an airline.

That’s likely to mean a sharper focus on improving schedule performance, said Savanthi Syth, an analyst at Raymond James Financial Inc.

“They’ve made this target of keeping costs under control,” she said. “A very important part of that is going to be operations.”

–With assistance from Alan Levin and Michael Sasso

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by 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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December 30, 2017 at 06:01PM

8 Incredible Tokyo Airbnbs for Every Style and Budget

8 Incredible Tokyo Airbnbs for Every Style and Budget

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Japan is among the most popular travel hotspots in the world. According to Airbnb, one in every three travelers visiting Asia in 2016 had Japan as a destination, with Tokyo being the most-booked city. As the most-populous city in Japan, Tokyo is renowned for its unbeatable cuisine, historical sights and notable sakura (cherry blossom) season. Explore the city’s vibrant history through its museums and temples and indulge in the unique local attractions from the comfort of one of these incredible Airbnb stays.

Value Deals (less than $150 per night) 

1. Charming Loft in Ikebukuro

This Ikebukuro apartment attracts both leisure and business travelers with its modern style and ideal location. Situated in a bustling epicenter for its variety of entertainment, shopping and dining opportunities, this apartment is well designed and equipped. Boasting one-bedroom and three beds, this listing fits up to four guests. The best part of this stay is that you’ll be within easy reach of everything you will need to experience the city fully. Rates from $73 per night with no minimum stay required. 

2. Minimalist Retreat in Sumida

Travelers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, this Sumida home makes a great option. Steps away from two major stations: Asakusa station and Kuramae station, travelers can easily venture through one of the city’s up-and-coming-neighborhoods. Yet with large windows and fully equipped kitchen and workspace, this listing makes an ideal place for those who wants to unwind for a few days. This place is excellent for leisure travelers and for staycationers. Rates from $82 per night. 

 

3. Modern Studio Apartment in Ebisu

For travelers looking for a more tranquil getaway in Tokyo, this studio condo is the perfect stay. Located in the Ebisu district, this stay gives you a taste of Tokyo’s most upscale neighborhood.  This central neighborhood is filled with open-air cafes, art spaces, and avante-garde restaurants for leisure and business guests to indulge in. When you’re not wining and dining, stay in and make use of the many amenities like the fully equipped kitchen, open living and cleaning/washing equipment.  Rates from $83 per night with no minimum stay required. 

Mid-Tier ($150-$250 per night) 

4. Luxurious Shinjuku Parkside Apartment

Situated in Shinjuku, this studio apartment is surrounded by Tokyo’s popular attractions — like Waterium Museum, and Shinjuku National Garden (famous for  breathtaking views of cherry blossoms.) Deemed the largest neighborhood in Tokyo, travelers can indulge in the convenience of being in the midst of one of Japan’s trendiest neighborhoods. Ideal for business or leisure, this listing is near the Marunouchi Tokyo Metro. Rates from $193 per night. 

5. Luxury Apartment in Ginza 

Imagine rolling out of bed and waking up to a bathtub view of the approaching trainsSituated in the Ginza , this sky view apartment is tastefully equipped with state-of-the-art furniture, a wooden bath and balcony.The window that opens onto a small balcony provides great soundproofing and almost completely mutes the sound from the passing trains. This loft is a perfect place is ideal for adventurous leisure and solo travelers. Rates from $222 per night. 

6. Luxury High-rise in Minato

Step into this luxury high rise takes the classic business retreat one step further by offering a fully-stock kitchen, hot tub and two balconies that overlooks the city. Nestled in Minato District, an area known as the corporate headquarters of Japan, this one-bedroom apartment is a great launchpad for business travelers. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and revel in the stunning views of Roppongi Hills. Rates from $228 per night. 

 

High Roller ($250+ per night) 

7. Spacious Duplex in Shibuya

Appropriately dubbed the “youth capital of Tokyo,” group/family travelers will enjoy planning day trips from the comfort of this centrally located home. Packed with an excellent selection of coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants, this spacious duplex located in Shibuya is the perfect base for venturing through Tokyo’s trendiest neighborhood. This listing ensures privacy and convenience for up to five guests with two bedrooms, an open living room and fully equipped kitchen. Rates from $205 per night. 

The Showstopper

8.  Stunning home in Minato District 

This Minato District retreat is described as one of Tokyo’s best-kept secrets. The stylish five-story abode overflows with all the amenities necessary for a luxury stay; think: personal chef, maid service, surround-sound entertainment system and roof balcony with bbq area. The space itself is tastefully decorated  by leading Japanese designer/architect Baqueratta, giving it a one-of-a-kind Japanese style. With four bedrooms, this home accommodates 10 guests comfortably. When travelers are ready to explore, you’ll find the best of Tokyo within minutes of this home — from key tourist attractions such as Tokyo Tower to the Korean embassy. Rates from $914 a night.

Maximize Your Purchase

There are plenty of ways to maximize your stay with points and miles. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, sign up through TPG to get $40 off your first booking — and the gravy train doesn’t stop there. Book through the Delta portal and earn 1 SkyMile for every dollar spent on your stay, and make sure to charge the purchase to a travel rewards card to rack up extra points. Using a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred will get you 2x points on all travel purchases while the Chase Sapphire Reserve will get you 3x points on an Airbnb stay. When you combine the two, you’re effectively double-dipping with your points earning. (Format: Paragraph, Italics)

Prices are accurate as of publication date but are subject to change. All inline photos courtesy of Airbnb; featured image by TommL / Getty Images

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December 30, 2017 at 05:13PM

2017: Our Year in Poems

2017: Our Year in Poems

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Nearly a hundred poems appear in The New Yorker each year. In 2017,
these included selections by Paul Muldoon, whose decade-long tenure as
the magazine’s poetry editor ended in November, and by Kevin Young, who
has succeeded him. We published work by the National Book Award winner
Frank Bidart, the current U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, and such
greats as Chana Bloch and John Ashbery, who both died this year. We
welcomed several newcomers to our pages, as well, among them Hafizah
Geter, Paul Tran, and Tiana Clark. Below is a glimpse at our year in
poetry; you can also access these poems in full, along with many others,
at the complete poetry
archive
. Happy reading!

Mourning What We Thought We
Were
,”
by Frank Bidart (January 23rd)

We were born into an amazing experiment.

At least we thought we were. We knew there was no
escaping human nature: my grandmother

taught me that: my own pitiless nature
taught me that: but we exist inside an order, I

thought, of which history
is the mere shadow—

The
Infinite
,”
by Charles Simic (February 6th)

The infinite yawns and keeps yawning.
Is it sleepy?
Does it miss Pythagoras?
The sails on Columbus’s three ships?
Does the sound of the surf remind it of itself?
Does it ever sit over a glass of wine
        and philosophize?

The
Break-In
,”
by Hafizah Geter (March 6th)

There are times when every spectator is hungry,
times a thief takes nothing, leaves you a fool
in your inventory.
How one trespass could make all others
suddenly visible. My mother counted
her jewelry and called
overseas. My father counted women
afraid one of us would go
missing. When I close my eyes
I hear my mother saying, “A’aha, this new country,”
my cousins exclaiming “Auntie!”
between the clicking line and their tongues.

Seen,”
by Michele Glazer (March 27th)

Nature that wants to fill in

the gap the Falls

falls in and the eye falls

At
Sea
,”
by Rebecca Morgan Frank (April 17th)

Every three seconds, to recall captivity,
the mind slipping in on itself and its past,
and knowing it. She sounds like a politician:
I cannot recall. I am afraid I do not remember.

The Soul’s
Soundtrack
,”
by Yusef Komunyakaa (May 15th)

An echo of Sam Cooke hangs
in bruised air, & for a minute
the silence of fate reigns over
day & night, a tilt of the earth
body & soul caught in a sway
going back to reed & goatskin,
back to trade winds locked
inside an “Amazing Grace”
that will never again sound
the same after Charleston . . .

Time, in
Whales
,”
by Emily Jungmin Yoon (May 15th)

Our legs of yellow skin next to one another,
calves spread, I think of beached whales, the arcs of their bellies,
clean and gleaming. A whale would lie in the shapeof something cold, the body sipping on itself
like a drain. Gravity sucks a whole whale onto sand.
You study Korean, whispering, Murorŭda, murorŭda,
meaning, literally, Water rises, but really meaning to improve or
to rise in sap, in springtime trees. Come spring, it will be your birthday.

What Use Is Knowing Anything If No One Is
Around
,”
by Kaveh Akbar (June 5th & 12th)

. . . I was delivered

from dying like a gift card sent in lieu of a pound
of flesh. My escape was mundane, voidable. Now
I feed faith to faith, suffer human noise, complain
about this or that heartache. The spirit lives in between

the parts of a name. It is vulnerable only to silence
and forgetting. I am vulnerable to hammers, fire,
and any number of poisons . . .

Dying for
Dummies
,”
by Chana Bloch (July 3rd)

To the oldest I’m a novice.

“These seventy-five-year-olds,
they think they know everything,”
says Cousin Leo. He’s ninety.

Who thinks, Leo? Who knows?

Project,”
by Rae Armantrout (August 28th)

Your clock’s been turned to zero,
though there is no zero on a clock.
Your skin is petal soft no matter
how old the starter kit was—
but you will get tired or bored.
That’s when the clock starts up.

Disorder and
Light
,”
by John Ashbery (September 18th)

. . . Comes in and ankles around like
he owned the place (which he did, in a sense).
Fast action on their part drew her on.
This wasn’t morning. It was more like

a week from now. I’ll be on your side, searching
for what we both know is there: our crumbling infrastructure.

John Whirlwind’s Doublebeat Songs,
1956
,”
by Ray Young Bear (September 25th)

It is now almost daylight,
I said to the firefly.
For the last time
illuminate yourself.
For the last time.

Chrome,”
by Paul Tran (September 25th)

American soldiers peeling his house apart, straw by straw.

His uncles wearing nothing but nametags around their necks, lying

in a ditch of saw-toothed rocks. Flies spewing from a missing eye.

We grab doughnuts at a panaderia in North Park. A stereo beneath

La Virgen croons “Como La Flor” while I probe a glazed exit wound:

wedding ring he never gave my mother. Too poor for love, too ruined

for ritual. I dance with him. My feet atop his feet, shadow in his shadow.

White
Gays
,”
by Jameson Fitzpatrick (October 2nd)

Privilege is a man
taking up two seats on the train.
Now four, putting his feet up.

It is also my not having
to describe his leather loafers for you
to fill in the white space of his body
straight and able

and also my body’s proximity
to his, socially and physically,
on this train he is taking from
the Hamptons and I am taking
from the Pines.

Nashville,”
by Tiana Clark (October 9th)

. . . Who said it? A hyphen—crackles and bites,
burns the body to a spray of white wisps, like when the hot comb,

with its metal teeth, cut close to petroleum jelly edging the scalp—
sizzling. Southern Babel, smoking the hive of epithets hung fat
above bustling crowds like black-and-white lynching photographs,
mute faces, red finger pointing up at my dead, some smiling,

some with hats and ties—all business, as one needlelike lady
is looking at the camera, as if looking through the camera, at me,
in the way I am looking at my lover now—halcyon and constant.

Indigo,”
by Ellen Bass (October 16th)

I want him to have been my child’s father.
I want to have married a man who wanted
to be in a body, who wanted to live in it so much
that he marked it up like a book, underlining,
highlighting, writing in the margins, I was here.
Not like my dead ex-husband, who was always
fighting against the flesh, who sat for hours
on his zafu chanting om and then went out
and broke his hand punching the car.

Declaration,”
by Tracy K. Smith (November 6th)

He has

sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people.
 

Repentance,”
by Natasha Trethewey (November 20th)

Perhaps   to exchange    loyalty     for betrayal

Vermeer erased  the dog      and made   of the man

a mirror     framed    by the open door               Pentimento

the word       for a painter’s change     of heart    revision

on canvas     means the same    as remorse     after sin

Were she to rise        a mirror     behind her     the woman

might see    herself     as I did     turning    to rise

from my table   then back as if    into    Vermeer’s scene

The
West
,” by
Eileen Myles (November 27th)

It’s as simple as being
a sculpture, having
a life. This is not the book
of instruction I had intended
but this is
when the emptiness noticed
its own beginning like
that church I saw when
I was young
that was simply melting
This is for those who
would not name
that building . . .

Autumn,”
by Louise Glück (December 11th)

The part of life
devoted to contemplation
was at odds with the part
committed to action.

*

Fall was approaching.
But I remember
it was always approaching
once school ended.

*

Life, my sister said,
is like a torch passed now
from the body to the mind.
Sadly, she went on, the mind
is not there to receive it.

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December 30, 2017 at 04:10PM

9 of the Most Instagrammable Places in San Francisco

9 of the Most Instagrammable Places in San Francisco

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While there are many beautiful places to consider for your next vacation, San Francisco never fails to satisfy. The city is an eclectic mix of our past, present and future, where historical Victorian homes and the Counterculture movement of the ’60s collide with booming skyscrapers and the technology of tomorrow (we’re looking at you, Twitter, Yelp, Airbnb, Lyft and Uber).

Whether you aspire to walk up steep rolling hills to visit the Painted Ladies or a more laid back beach day by Golden Gate before the fog rolls in, there’s surely something for just about everyone. Here are our picks for the most Instagrammable places in San Francisco.

1. Lyon Street Steps

In the midst of the Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights neighborhoods are the Lyon Street Steps, a destination for those who enjoy outdoor workouts and breathtaking views of The Palace of Fine Arts. Disney fans can find solace in the Princess Diaries house located at the base of the steps, but those craving more adventure should trek up the stairs to find the home of Senator Dianne Feinstein or the city’s famous heart art installations.

2. Clarion Alley

In the heart of the Mission District lies Clarion Alley, where local artists spend their days creating beautiful murals that reflect the diverse community of the neighborhood. And not surprisingly, it’s also a great place to take a quick photo for the ‘gram. Its murals reflect San Francisco’s socially connected and innovative flair, and since they periodically change, you’ll rarely return to the same backdrop. Not to mention that minutes away are some incredibly delicious taco shops and trendy stores.

3. Battery Spencer

Before the Battery Spencer was a destination for travelers, it was a military outpost from 1897 to 1942. It now holds one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge, producing postcard-like images with the entirety of the landmark in the foreground and the city peaking right behind it. Located just south of the city of Sausalito, visitors can also take a leisurely hike through the Marin Headlands to reach the famed spot.

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4. The Painted Ladies

This vibrant group of Victorian houses contrasts the cityscape backdrop, which is probably why it’s one of the most photographed locations in San Francisco. The Painted Ladies reside next to Alamo Square Park, where tourists and locals can stop at Salt and Straw for some ice cream and enjoy the sun (when the city isn’t foggy). Coincidentally, the best time to get the perfect photo is while the sun sets, producing an orange-ish glow over the houses and the city behind it.

5. Lombard Street

Locals will tell you that Lombard Street is not actually the most crooked street in San Francisco, because it isn’t — that title actually belongs to the neighboring Vermont Street. But, it is one of the best locations to admire, with eight hairpin turns all lined by Russian Hill’s rich architecture and foliage. This in turn creates one of the most scenic streets to stroll along, where visitors can take a photo at the bottom of Lombard Street’s contours, or at the top with a view of the bay. After, you can head to North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Chinatown, all of which are within walking distance.

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6. Ferry Building

The Ferry Building is one of the most known landmarks in San Francisco, located in the heart of the Embarcadero. Standing tall and proud at the end of Market Street, it is actually a functioning terminal for ferries that cross the San Francisco Bay and also serves as a marketplace for local vendors to showcase their products. Just outside the building is a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge. When the temperatures start to cool and day turns to night, visitors will have the chance to view The Bay Lights, a light sculpture on the bridge that was designed for the 75th anniversary of its opening.

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7. Sutro Baths

Built in 1896, the Sutro Baths was once one of the largest swimming establishments in the world where the entrance fee was a whopping $.05. Today, you will find a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean and a collection of salt water pools and a time-worn framework of what used to be. The Sutro Baths are at the end of Land’s End, where you can take an easy hike of the coastline and  finish it off with dinner at the Cliff House, with picturesque sights of the Marin Headlands and Seal Rocks in tow.

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8. Palace of Fine Arts

Among the most popular sites to visit is the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District. Originally built to preserve and present works of art for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, it was recently renovated in 2009 and in addition to hosting art exhibitions, is now great for weddings — and your Instagram feed. The Palace is surrounded by a small artificial lagoon and a central rotunda situated by the water. Located under the rotunda’s domes are murals by Robert Reid that depict the four “golds” of California: poppies, citrus fruits, metallic gold and wheat.

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9. San Francisco City Hall

The original City Hall took almost 30 years to build, and after San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake, it took only seconds for it to be destroyed. The City Hall that stands today helped spark a “re-birth” of the city, and stands over a foot taller than the United States Capitol Building. The exterior of the building itself is San Francisco’s masterpiece, but inside are more breathtaking details. City Hall’s marble staircase is a prime location for a quick picture, and if you look up into the dome of the building, you’ll find prestigious paintings that are modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Another excuse for visiting San Francisco’s City Hall? Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were married here. What better way to visit San Francisco than to step where these two once declared their love?

 Featured photo of The Painted Ladies of San Francisco, California by Shutterstock

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December 30, 2017 at 03:16PM

The N.B.A. General Manager Who’s a Food Blogger on the Side

The N.B.A. General Manager Who’s a Food Blogger on the Side

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In 2008, Rich Cho, then an assistant general manager for the N.B.A.’s
Oklahoma City Thunder, was scanning the menu of a Burmese restaurant in
Los Angeles when he turned to a stranger next to him. Cho was born in
Yangon, Myanmar; his parents immigrated to the United States in the
mid-sixties, when he was young. “Do you know any


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December 30, 2017 at 02:09PM

IAG to Buy Austria’s Niki Air for $24 Million

IAG to Buy Austria’s Niki Air for $24 Million

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Niki Air

IAG plans to buy Niki Air, which had declared bankruptcy. Niki Air

Skift Take: All the pieces of bankrupt Air Berlin are now falling into place. The result may be diminished competition as the big airlines gather up the Air Berlin remnants.

— Dennis Schaal

International Airlines Group, the parent of British Airways and Iberia, says it’s acquiring much of bankrupt Air Berlin’s Niki division.

German news agency dpa reported that IAG said Friday it will pay 20 million euros ($24 million) for Austria-based Niki and inject another 16.5 million euros into the company. It will found a new Austria-based subsidiary of budget airline Vueling, taking on up to 15 Airbus A320 jets.

Germany’s Lufthansa withdrew a bid for Niki earlier this month as it sought European Union approval to acquire large parts of Air Berlin. That forced Niki, which continued flying after Air Berlin ended operations in October, to file for bankruptcy and ground its fleet.

Lufthansa then secured EU approval to take over some Air Berlin operations, while easyJet is acquiring another part.

Copyright (2017) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

This article was 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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December 30, 2017 at 02:00PM