As we dragged our luggage across Los Angeles International Airport’s cavernous customs processing hall, my 15-year-old son asked, “Are we in the right place?” We’d just discovered what it’s like to fly now. Customs at LAX is typically overfilled with arrivals. This time, there were banners welcoming us to the United States, but no people. Only a maze of retractable belt barriers greeted us.
My kids and I had been asking the same question all day.
It had been a long day. We’d already crossed nine time zones and spent 12 hours flying from Nice, France, to California. And we still had a long way to go.
Read more “After the lockdown: This is what it’s like to fly now”
America’s ready for a little time off after a long lockdown. But with the economy taking a beating, no one wants to pay for it. So is there a way to take a free vacation?
Yes — almost.
“I long to get out and begin traveling again,” says Linda Malys Yore, a travel blogger from Tampa, Fla. “During quarantine, I carefully monitored my money, resisting the urge to make nonessential purchases online. Travel is my big picture — and I am zeroing in on that goal.”
Read more “Yes, you can take a free vacation after the pandemic (almost)”
So how do you plan a vacation after a pandemic? That’s a question keeping tour operators like Phyllis Stoller up at night.
She’s considering limiting group sizes, avoiding buffets, and bringing an endless supply of masks and hand sanitizers on her trips. Stoller, who is president of The Women’s Travel Group, says the changes will be expensive but worth it.
Read more “This is how to plan a vacation after the pandemic”
Maybe travelers need a government bailout.
Since the pandemic started, we’ve seen the travel industry line up at the trough for government handouts. A $500 billion loan fund for hotels, $50 billion for airlines, $25 billion for travel agents.
Yeah, that’s billion with a “B.”
And what did America’s taxpayers get for it? Not much.
Travel companies didn’t have to promise to fix their abusive policies. Airlines may continue charging outrageous fees and squeezing us into small seats. Tour operators are allowed to force us into ridiculous contracts when we book a vacation. And hotels can keep on charging “gotcha” resort fees.
The latest insult is Frontier Airlines’ attempt to cash in on our collective desire to maintain social distancing. The airline tried to sell — yes, sell — the empty middle seat for an extra $39. It quickly backed off after receiving intense public criticism.
Many other travel companies just turned around and retroactively changed their refund policies to allow them to keep even more of your money.
“I’m really fuming,” says John Kovacs, a retired consultant and frequent traveler based in Denver. “They get a bailout and continue to force us into hamster-size seats.”
Read more “Do travelers need a government bailout?”
Today is jour 46 of the France lockdown. Forty-six days of confinement.
I detoured to Nice on my way to Italy in March, hoping to avoid the worst of it. But a few days later, covid-19 slammed France with unexpected ferocity, and the entire country turned into a red zone.
Today my rented apartment in the Jean Médecin district is a cage. French police and military patrol the streets. My three teenage kids and I are only allowed out of the house for an hour a day.
Curfew starts at 8 p.m.
Read more “France lockdown: A report from a beautiful prison”