THIS WEEK'S JOHNNY JET 7/15/2002
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As I was saying.... My Dad picked me up at JFK and we drove an hour to Connecticut. Instead of driving right to his condo we went to my brother's house for some late afternoon fun. My brother lives on the water, and between he and his neighbor, Billy, I think they have every possible water toy available. When I saw everyone out on the boats and playing in the water, I quickly took off my airplane clothe and slipped on my bathing suit. My Dad and I jumped in a dinghy and rowed as quickly as we could to get where all of the action was. I felt like a little kid because when I saw they had one of those cool trampoline rafts I couldn't wait to jump on it. It was a little disappointing because I couldn't get a whole lot of lift but I guess it wasn't made for someone 200 pounds. Regardless, it was a gorgeous day and we spent hours just hanging out with everyone and getting some exercise in at the same time.
The best way to describe the weather is the 3 H's; Hot, Humid, and Hazy! You know... a typical Southern New England summer . Literally, it was 95 everyday I was there and if you didn't have AC, you didn't sleep well. It was so hot out that we spent everyday on the water and in it ! I can't remember the last time the Long Island Sound felt so warm. I would have guessed the water temperature to be 83 degrees, but the local newspaper said it was 78. Still, I haven't felt water that warm since Cabo, it really was like a bath. I also cooled off by having a scoop of my favorite ice cream , chocolate with peanut butter cookie dough, from Brendan's 101 every afternoon.
On Sunday, my good buddy, Joe Lewis from L.A., came out to visit and you can bet when Joe Lewis comes into town there's going to be nothing butt trouble . We took him out to Cockenoe Island on Frank's boat and tied up to a few other buddies we know. It was practically repeat from the day before, all we did was spend the whole day lounging and playing in the sun. For entertainment, we had the trampoline, the inner tube , and my Dad!
Since my Dad has been accident prone the last few years, we made him put on a life preserver . We also played a few pranks on him like cutting the line loose to the trampoline raft and pretending to let him sail out into the sunset alone. He was a good sport and was definitely everyone's favorite person of the day. He told more jokes and stories about his courtroom tactics then I can remember. He had everyone in .stitches
you asked my Dad what his highlight was, he might answer finding
at the end of the day when the tide went down.
He was so
that Frank and I decided to take him clamming the
next day. He was pretty funny! While walking
to the boat, he was singing," A clamming we will
go! A clamming we will go..."
He found all kinds of clams , including this Razor Clam . He kept talking about how he was going to make the best clam spaghetti but when we got back to shore I pointed this sign out to him. It turned out that the sign was just for the harbor and not where we unearthed them. Big Frank rushed home and did something he hasn't done in a while: Cook!
We not only clammed, we fished too. There were so many baby blues and snappers out that we caught one on almost every cast, from the boat and from the shore . My Dad was so excited he couldn't even wait until we skinned them! Note: We didn't kill any fish, we actually let them go after the pictures were taken. On the other hand the mollusks that my Dad caught weren't so lucky!
Other highlights included hanging out with my sister, Georgette, and my brother-in law, Cam. The big news from them is that they both just quit their jobs and are now driving a Good Humor truck cross country. I'm only kidding, they just jumped in the truck for the picture while we were having dinner at their house.
It was a great week in Southern Connecticut hanging out with my family and I'm looking forward to my next trip back there.
LOVE your newsletter! Saves me SO MUCH time each week as I stay on top of airline issues. Cheers! Devin Marks
Your site and your newsletter are the best - I signed up two more subscribers from our office for it just today! Thanks for keeping it real. ~ L. A. Vess
One has to wonder whether there still exists a “service ethic” or a “spirit to serve”. Carrying the title of “road warrior’ certainly is not the most glamorous way to earn a living although it does afford one the opportunity to “see the world” and experience what the service industry has to offer. Earlier this week I experienced something that is unheard-of in today’s day and age and is very much against the norm. It is unfortunate that I write from the perspective of one that is extremely passionate about the hospitality industry and has served the public for the past 10+ years. I wish I could say that this experience was the norm of the service industry, but the interaction I had with one service employee was quite abnormal. The gentleman’s name was Richard. This individual had more enthusiasm than the youths half his age. He was quick to share that he had been serving the public for over 30 years. As a traveler for the past 2+ years, 5 days a week, a welcome smile makes a world of difference at the end of a long week. Richard’s passion to take care of the general public was evidenced by literally running to grab an extra chair for one of his “VIPs” or take that one extra minute to cater to one’s simplest needs. Richard considers anyone walking into his section one of his own, “VIPs”. Richard can’t be found in a five star restaurant or hotel but carries an admirable level of passion as a server at the Cleveland airport (PS Bar), concourse “A” I might add. On many occasions I have difficulty remembering what hotel room I have stayed in due to a different hotel I have to stay in each evening. Yet, Richard’s name and location stick in my mind. I inquired as to why he keeps coming back day after day, year after year (for 33 years) and it is met with the most simplest response, “I love people”. This may appear as an overplayed catch phrase used by many in the business, yet Richard exhibited a level of sincerity that no one would ever question. A couple other folks in the restaurant seemed startled by Richard’s ambition. Once they were able to truly appreciate the experience, all had to comment about the exemplary service ethic this gentleman had. It isn’t often that anyone would take the time to recognize one individual that has an influence on the world, however Richard’s story is certainly worth noting. If you ever have an opportunity to pass through Cleveland airport, I suggest you take a couple of minutes to experience Richard’s passion to service. A funny place, next to gate A6, to experience some of the best service in the country, yet some of the best I have ever experienced. This comes from an executive of one of the largest hotel companies in the world. Richard summed the trials and tribulations of the world in a few brief words on my way out, “don’t worry and be happy and by the way, I hope to see you again next time you are in Cleveland.” Take a moment, it is worth it!! ~ Adam T
Do you allow the public to ride on the blimps? If so, where can I get more info, or how to purchase tickets?
Thanks for the question. We have a whole section on blimps. It's under Adventure/Outside
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Bankruptcy, Liquidation Imperil Frequent Flyer Miles
What's a Worried Mileage Miser to Do?
August 27 - With US Airways in bankruptcy and United poised to follow, millions of consumers are sweating the fate of billions of unused frequent flyer miles.
United's Mileage Plus program has 41 million members, whose accumulated miles were redeemable for 11.1 million free tickets at the start of 2002. And US Airways' Dividend Miles program's 22 million members had 6.8 million awards due them.
The question on the minds of many jittery frequent flyer program members: What should I do about my miles?
Use 'Em or (Maybe) Lose 'Em
Unlike most checking accounts, which are protected by the FDIC, or purchased air tickets, which are often honored on a space-available basis by a failed airline's competitors, there is no built-in protection for frequent flyer miles or award tickets. So if the airline which operates your frequent flyer program ceases operations, your miles and unused award tickets are at risk, and possibly -- but not necessarily -- doomed to oblivion.
There's only one sure way to protect the full value of your miles: use them now, while the airline which hosts your program is still flying.
But for many, that's simply not a viable option.
Redeem for Merchandise
If award travel is impractical, an alternative option is to cash in miles from selected airline programs (including US Airways, but not United) for discounts through MilePoint ( http://www.milepoint.com ). Typically, miles are worth two cents each when redeemed for a 10% discount at participating online retailers.
Take Out Mileage Insurance
Depending on how many you have, and your tolerance for risk and anxiety, frequent flyer miles can be insured.
AwardGuard ( http://www.privilegeflyer.com ) will insure the value of your miles -- up to $7,500 worth of award tickets -- in major loyalty programs, including those of United and US Airways. The cost: $119 for one year's coverage, or $214 for two.
Convert Miles into a Secure Currency
Another tactic for protecting endangered miles: convert them into points in a loyalty program which permits both miles-to-points and points-to-miles transfers.
Transferring miles with an uncertain future into points in a healthier program can increase security and expand options. Without the pressure of impending loss, the points can be redeemed for awards in the new program, converted into miles in another airline program, or converted back into miles in the original program when that airline's prospects improve.
There are two programs which allow such conversions. United participates in both, US Airways in neither.
Members of the Hilton HHonors program ( https://www.hiltonhhonors.com/ ) can use the HHonors Reward Exchange function to exchange 20,000 United Mileage Plus miles for 40,000 HHonors points. The HHonors points can then be redeemed for awards in Hilton's program. Or, reversing the process, 40,000 HHonors points can be exchanged for 7,000 airline miles.
Similarly, the Diners Club Rewards program ( http://www.citibank.com/dinersus/clubrewards/ ) allows members to convert as many as 50,000 United miles per year to an equal number of Club Rewards points. And Club Rewards points can be exchanged for United miles, with 2,000 points equaling 1,000 miles,
There's a steep price for the transfers. A roundtrip conversion from miles to HHonors points and back leaves you with only 17.5% of the original miles; and after a roundtrip using Diners points, 50% of the original miles remain.
Don't neglect the "do nothing" option. Neither bankruptcy nor outright liquidation necessarily entails the loss of your frequent flyer miles.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is not the end of the airline, or of your miles. By definition, Chapter 11 affords ailing companies temporary protection from creditors, allowing them to restructure debt, reorganize and emerge from bankruptcy. And in some cases, that's exactly what happens.
Continental filed for bankruptcy twice, in 1983 and again in 1991. Today, it is the country's fifth largest carrier and in relatively good shape. America West filed for Chapter 11 in 1991, but emerged in 1994. In both cases, no miles were forfeited.
Midway went into bankruptcy in August 2001, and last month ceased operations completely. But in conjunction with its planned return to service as a US Airways Express carrier, members of Midway's Frequent Traveler program were allowed to convert their credits to miles in the US Airways program.
And at US Airways, which is now operating under protection of Chapter 11, it's business as usual for Dividend Miles members. They continue earning and redeeming frequent flyer miles as always.
Even if an airline fails altogether and is forced to liquidate its assets, history suggests that a positive outcome for frequent flyer program members is possible.
The most recent example is TWA. In bankruptcy for the third time, with no hope of surviving as an independent company, TWA put itself up for sale. American purchased not only the bulk of TWA's routes and aircraft, but its Aviators frequent flyer program as well. Aviators members' miles were simply transferred into American's AAdvantage program.
When Eastern Air Lines tanked in 1991, Eastern miles were honored in Continental Airlines' program. And in that same year, when Pan Am succumbed, WorldPass members and their miles were folded into Delta's program.
Acquiring the frequent flyer miles of a failed airline is not corporate altruism. While frequent flyer miles are a liability, they are an asset as well, amounting to a powerful incentive for mileage-earners to continuing adding to their accounts by maintaining loyalty to the host airline.
What NOT to Do
The question comes up regularly in the best of times, and frequently when the airlines are on the ropes: Can't I just sell my miles?
Answer: You can; but you may not.
Run a Yahoo! search using keyword "frequent flyer miles" and you will find scores of companies offering to buy and sell frequent flyer miles. These companies, called coupon brokers, act as middlemen between sellers of frequent flyer miles (or, more accurately, sellers of award tickets) and those in search of airfare bargains.
As tempting as it might be to unload your miles for cash, the airlines' policies -- which all members have implicitly agreed to adhere to -- expressly prohibit the sale, barter or trading of frequent flyer awards. So sellers risk having their accounts permanently frozen if they're found out. And buyers, if caught, will have their tickets confiscated.
The Bottom Line
The above summarizes what frequent flyers can do. What they should do depends on their assessment of the odds of their airlines' long-term survival, and their tolerance for risk and its attendant anxiety. There's no consensus on the former, and the latter is highly personal.
If it were my mother asking, I'd suggest she sit tight and hope for the best. And if she had more than a couple of award tickets' worth of miles at risk, and was prone to worry, I'd buy her a year's worth of mileage insurance.
[The above is online at http://frequentflier.com/ff082702.htm .]
Bio - Tim Winship
Winship is editor and publisher of the FrequentFlier.com website ( http://frequentflier.com ) and a 20-year veteran of the travel industry. His biography is online at http://frequentflier.com/profile.htm .
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