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Australia opens in 2 days and the flights are surprisingly empty

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UPDATE 5 Nov '21 : I've been checking every one of Qantas' flights departing LAX since the reopening and every one of them has had 30+ empty seats... Make of that what you will.   As I mentioned before : The second half of the reopening – allowing foreign tourists to enter Australia – will be greatly affected by these new flights' ability to draw down the number of "stranded" Australians abroad. The Prime Minister felt they needed to get these folks home before allowing foreigners to compete for seats on these flights. Given that, you'd think that the soon-to-resume Qantas flights from Los Angeles to Sydney would be packed to the gills. But no . Here's the first post-reopening flight's seat map: Now, keep in mind that those seats are currently going for $1200 each – literally 10x cheaper than they were going for before the reopening. The 5 flights following this one are similarly cheap, and similarly empty ( see seatmaps below ), even though i

Some hopeful signs from Qantas

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As I've mentioned before , Australia is planning on reopening its borders for Australian citizens/permanent residents to come and go. Even though we're really excited to be reunited with our Timbo, we've been very cautious about believing much of what we hear from the authorities down under. Even this very reopening announcement from the NSW Premier required a contradiction from the Prime Minister. I got an email from Qantas today that gives me some concrete reasons to believe that at least the first part of the border opening will happen – service from Sydney to London and Los Angeles will begin within a week. (Our boy Tim has a ticket the US in December, so we can spend the holidays together).  The second half of the reopening – allowing foreign tourists to enter Australia – will be greatly affected by these new flights' ability to draw down the number of "stranded" Australians abroad. The Prime Minister felt they needed to get these folks home before allowi

No, Australia isn’t open for tourists yet

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As i’ve mentioned before , our family has been separated by the Australian border closure. yesterday’s “big” announcement was, like so many other Australian government communications, intentionally vague about just exactly who would be allowed in.   The particulars aren’t interesting but, long story short, Americans (and other tourists) will NOT be permitted to enter in November. Only Australian residents and citizens who are abroad can, and they won’t have to do the arduous hotel quarantine that’s been the rule since march of 2020. The change to a no-quarantine return is newsworthy because Australia has indirectly locked 50,000 of its own citizens out of returning home by forcing airlines to cap the number of passengers per flight to match the number of slots available in their hotel quarantine program. In practice this means there are only 40-ish people per flight, and, unless you paid $13,000 for business class, you aren’t getting home. This change should allow them to clear that ba

JSX expands to the East Coast

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I've been out of the travel news loop for a while but I just noticed today that JSX is launching New York – Miami service on the 18th of November.  JSX offers a private-like service from a few select airports in the West, but this is their first service on the East Coast. Unfortunately, they're flying out of HPN/Westchester County rather than from the NYC-area private terminal in Teterboro, New Jersey (the latter being vastly closer, especially so in heavy traffic). While official info about their Westchester terminal hasn't been announced, I'm guessing they'll try to fly out of a civil aviation hangar there rather than out of the normal terminal. If you have to schlep all the way up there AND still go through the normal TSA and airport experience, I doubt many people would do it. Fares start at $749 each way. More info on flyingmag .    

This email from Delta surprised me...

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UPDATE : I got my fish! It was a big piece, too! == Headed to the Pacific Northwest for my dad's memorial (he passed back in April) and I get this unexpected email from Delta asking me to "select my meal": Yes, I'm traveling up front, but this is something I'd suspect from Singapore airlines or ANA. When I clicked through to the choices, I was surprised to see that there were 5 choices rather than the usual "Chicken, Beef, or Veg" that you find onboard. Who knows if I'll actually get my choice (gotta be honest, this seems well outside their core competency...), but if I do, I'll get to figure out what "beecher’s clothbound cheddar dashi" is. I just checked and this flight appears to be a 757 with DeltaOne (aka lie-flat seats), maybe that explains the nicer food.

560 days later, Australia announces border reopening

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18 months ago the future looked very different. Our boy had just gone back to Sydney to finish his second year of college. We had tickets to go visit him in April of 2020. He was planning on doing his final schoolyear in New York at an exchange program with Pace and living with us.  We all know what happened next, but I don't think any of us foresaw Australia completely closing its borders for almost 2 years. While the wealthy, famous, and politically-connected were allowed to come and go as they pleased, everyone else had to petition the border force for permission, and very few exceptions were granted. Re-reading my post from March , it's hard to conjure my mindset from 18+ months ago. The intervening time feels like both an eternity and a blink of an eye all at once. But here we are today, long cut off from someone we love so much, booking the plane ticket that will bring his sparkling joy back into our home. We can't pick up where we left off, we just have to go somepl

Some tips for renting a car with Turo

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Given how the pandemic affected the major rental car companies and American travel patterns, it's been a rough year for people trying to rent a car. Some tourists in Hawaii got so desperate they were renting U-Hauls to drive around the island! In our case, we've not seen a single available date in all of 2021 at our favorite car rental place (the one in Albany that's inside the train station). Eleven years ago, I did a long-term consulting gig for a tiny company called Turo . They were aiming to be the AirBnB of cars and given that they're about to have their IPO, I'd say they've succeeded. Despite their huge growth and the current pain surrounding traditional car rentals, I'm surprised more people aren't familiar with them. The true genius of Turo wasn't the idea or the technology, it was the insurance. They were the first ones to figure out a way to cover the driver (ie, the renter) for accidents without passing on any liability to the car owner (