Monthly Archives: January 2023
The headlining weather story over the next few days will be the ongoing ice storm affecting portions of the southern Plains and Mid-South that is forecast to continue into at least early Thursday. In the wake of an arctic cold frontal passage, warm and moist air overrunning cold air at the surface draped over the region will produce freezing rain and sleet that could lead to significant impacts. Furthermore, multiple rounds of wintry precipitation are forecast, with brief lulls followed by bursts of sleet and freezing rain that could drastically deteriorate road conditions. Widespread total ice accretion of greater than 0.25″ is likely from West Texas to western Tennessee, with localized areas receiving as much as 0.75″. In addition to potentially hazardous travel conditions, this amount of ice will likely lead to tree damage and scattered power outages across the hardest-hit regions. Sleet accumulations around a half inch or locally higher are also possible from West Texas to Arkansas, which can also lead to treacherous travel or add to the already slippery conditions. As a result, Ice Storm Warnings, Winter Storm Warnings, and Winter Weather Advisories have been issued. Travelers are advised to check road conditions and airline schedules before venturing out and drive with extreme caution. At publication time, over 1,000 flights have been canceled.
The winter storm is forecast to bring icy weather conditions to parts of Western Texas, Southeastern Oklahoma, Southern Arkansas, and West Tennessee. Upward of a quarter-inch to half-inch of ice accumulation is expected along the I-20 corridor in West Texas, stretching eastwards towards I-35 and eventually encompassing the aforementioned additional regions. The storm system has been intensifying since its first signs at the beginning of January, with meteorologists predicting an increase in precipitation by late February.
The NWS has also projected snowfall with this storm system and warns that some areas may experience accumulations of up to 6 inches or more. Sleet is also a possibility for some areas where temperatures will be hovering near freezing levels during storm activity, making travel conditions very dangerous if not avoided altogether. The NWS advises people to limit or avoid outdoor activities if possible during this period, as low wind chills can occur even when air temperatures remain mild.
The NWS forecasts that the storm should pass quickly through the aforementioned regions before departing. However, the aftermath of this event may take time to recede as temperatures drop below freezing at night, leading to frozen surfaces that can cause slick driving conditions over several days following the storm’s departure. It is important for everyone residing in affected areas or traveling through them during this period of time to stay updated on changing weather conditions so they can make informed decisions depending on their circumstances.
Think Bermuda’s electronic travel authorization form is a pain? By later this year, you’ll probably also need one to enter the UK. And travel advisors, of course, will have one more thing to track.
It’s all part of the UK’s plan to digitalize its borders by 2025. Sometime this quarter, the country will require all visitors—including Americans—to apply for an ETA, provide personal data and ante up an as-yet-undetermined fee, likely between £5 and £20.
Travelers will need to complete the online application form with contact information, biometric data and travel plans. After being checked against various databases, they should receive their ETA within 48 to 72 hours.
While they still will have to go through immigration upon arrival, the process should be much quicker with everyone vetted in advance.
The European Union is introducing its own version of an electronic authorization form, known as ETIAS, later this year. The US and Canada already have similar programs in place.
Posted In: Mike's Monday Cup of Mo-Joe
According to me, February can be a funny month. Not “ha-ha” funny, but perhaps a better inference might be peculiar, or interesting, or often-times even mildly depressing.
Based on my 73 Februarys to date, I can say this will some degree of accuracy. I gently approach this infamous month from two angles.Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Editorial Musings
Salespeople have gotten a bad rap over the years. Who enjoys the car buying experience or negotiating with the cable salesperson? But there are times when dealing with a salesperson is a grand experience. Have you ever shopped at Nordstrom or a quality jeweler? A good salesperson can be a godsend when you are in over your head, like I am when buying jewelry. Or perhaps when someone is over their head in (dare I say) arranging their next vacation? So what will differentiate you between the bad car salesperson and the one at Nordstrom’s? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Publishers Corner
Slump? I ain’t in no slump… I just ain’t hitting. ~ Yogi Berra
I hope nobody told you the travel business was easy.
I’m just back from a travel conference in the great city of Dallas. The travel professionals in attendance seemed upbeat about business prospects, affirming the general sentiment that pent-up demand for travel is taking hold of the general public. One agent, however, indicated things had not been going her way lately and everyone else’s enthusiasm was just making her feel worse. Her business was down and she didn’t know why.
We have all experienced a slump in our business activity. Suddenly things grow quiet… too quiet. The reasons for a slump can be purely individual and unpredictable, but down-turns in business can be reversed if you take appropriate measures. Immediate action is the key. The worst thing you can do is “wait and see”- a slump is psychologically tough to handle, but giving into depression is self-defeating and prolongs the misery. Read the rest of this entry »
British regional airline Flybe on Saturday ceased operations and canceled all flights.
“Flybe has now ceased trading and all flights from and to the UK operated by Flybe have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled,” its website says, in a post dated January 28. ”If you are due to fly with Flybe today or in the future, please DO NOT TRAVEL TO THE AIRPORT unless you have arranged an alternative flight with another airline. Please note that Flybe is unfortunately not able to arrange alternative flights for passengers.”
Passengers booked through a third party should “contact the relevant airline or booking/travel agent to confirm if there is any impact to your travel plans as the intermediary may be able to support you with alternative arrangements and provide further advice regarding any claim you may need to make.”
The High Court has appointed David Pike and Mike Pink as Joint Administrators of Flybe Limited.
Flybe operated flights on 21 routes from Belfast City, Birmingham and Heathrow to airports across the UK and to Amsterdam and Geneva.
Posted In: The Rosen Report
Barbara Khan has sold a lot of Silversea cruises, and a lot of transatlantic cruises, in her career—but she had never sailed either. So when she was offered the chance to sail a repositioning cruise on Silver Moon, 14 days from Lisbon to Barbados at no charge, she jumped at the chance.
Angie Schwartz, on the other hand, has sailed across the Atlantic many times. The idea of spending two weeks at sea never grows old for her. She and her husband, a former Navy submariner, “love crossings, and we love sea time,” she says. So she, too, signed up.Read the rest of this entry »
The final few days of January will feature numerous chances for snowfall across the northern half of the country and mountainous West, with potentially heavy snow leading to travel impacts as bitter cold temperatures surge into more the Nation by the end of the weekend. An initial system traversing the Upper Midwest and Upper Great Lakes this morning will be responsible for light to moderate snowfall and gusty winds throughout the region into tonight. An arctic front will push into the Northern Plains today, moving further into souther states over the weekend.
Winter Weather Advisories and Blizzard Warnings have been issued through midday across the Red River Valley of the North due to additional snow and blowing snow. To the west, a strong arctic cold front pushing south into the northern Rockies will allow for conditions favorable for periods of heavy snow across much of the northern High Plains and central/northern Rockies through this weekend. Snow could be heavy at times and drastically reduce visibility, making travel potentially treacherous. A wave of low pressure forming along the aforementioned frontal boundary is expected to swing eastward tonight into the central Plains and eventually into the Midwest on Saturday.
A swath of moderate to locally heavy snow is forecast to the north of this low, stretching from the Black Hills to southern Michigan. The heaviest snow associated with this system is anticipated to occur from the North Dakota-Nebraska border to the northern half of Iowa, where over six inches of snow is possible along a narrow corridor.
An arctic airmass lurks over much of central and western Canada this morning and will dive southward behind the sinking cold front this weekend. Temperatures 20 to 40 degrees below average are forecast to spread into the northern Rockies and northern/central Plains by Sunday, with highs only reaching into the single digits and lows dropping into the minus teens. Gusty winds will make it feel even colder and could lead to dangerous conditions for individuals spending an extended amount of time outdoors.
Elsewhere, as this same frontal boundary approaches the Deep South on Sunday and stretches northeastward into the Lower Great Lakes, numerous showers and thunderstorms are expected. The cold front is forecast to act as a focus for moisture as a warm and muggy airmass surges back northward out of the Gulf of Mexico, which may lead to thunderstorms capable of containing intense rainfall rates. A Slight Risk (level 2/4) of Excessive Rainfall has been issued from the Upper Texas Coast to the South Carolina Lowcountry, where there exists the best chances for several inches of rain that could lead to scattered flash floods.
Posted In: Deck Plans
One of my best river cruises ever was one of my longest river cruises ever. In 2016, I spent 15 glorious days cruising from Amsterdam to Budapest on AmaWaterways’ AmaSonata. After transiting the Rhine, the Main, the Main-Danube Canal and the Danube, I was left with one thought: Could I stay on and do the cruise in the opposite direction?
Of course, the answer was yes – from me – but a hard no from AmaWaterways. In fact, AmaSonata was not headed back to Amsterdam but would instead operate a series of Danube cruises. Sigh.Read the rest of this entry »
Copa Airline’s pilots plan to go on strike against the Panama airline on February 2.
Panamanian Commercial Aviators Union (UNPAC) said on Friday that its 1,200 pilots will walk off the job at 7:30 a.m. local time, after failing to reach a “fair and sustainable agreement” in contracts talks that have been going on since October.
According to a report in Reuters, the pilots are asking for higher wages, contributions to their health insurance plan and a better retirement plan, break and overnight accommodations, onboard food, and working conditions for pregnant pilots.
A series of incidents involving taxi and Uber drivers in the Cancun area of Mexico has the US Embassy issuing a warning and some travel advisors advising clients to leave plenty of time to get to the airport.
The Embassy this week cautioned that “in the wake of recent incidents involving taxi and Uber drivers in Quintana Roo, U.S. citizens are reminded of guidance provided on Travel.State.gov, specifically about the use of application-based transportation services in Mexico.” (Security Alert – Quintana Roo (01/23/2023) – U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico (usembassy.gov)
The guidance notes that “application-based car services such as Uber and Cabify are available in many Mexican cities, and generally offer another safe alternative to taxis…disputes between these services and local taxi unions have occasionally turned violent, resulting in injuries to U.S. citizens in some instances.”
On Monday, taxi drivers blocked Kukulcán Boulevard, a main road in the hotel district, over the more lax requirements for Uber drivers, forcing some passengers to get out and walk to the airport.
The U.K. also issued a warning, noting that “since December 2022, licensed taxi drivers have been blocking roads and targeting Uber taxis in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, in a series of protests against Uber. Tourists have been affected, including being pulled from Uber taxis and experiencing lengthy delays as a result of roadblocks, sometimes leading to missed flights. Protests can occur without notice. Please listen to local announcements and follow the advice of your hotel on how best to avoid any protests.”
The U.S. Embassy suggests the following safeguards:
- Remember that all destinations have some level of risk. Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico.
- Review your personal security plans.
- Be aware of your surroundings and maintain a low profile.
- Monitor local media for updates.
- Call 911 in Mexico for immediate assistance.
In Cancun, meanwhile, travel advisors on the ground shrugged off concerns—but suggested private transportation.
Christy Love Couples of Let’s Go on Vacay LLC says she wouldn’t take an Uber in Mexico and advises her clients to do the same. “That’s where the hot point is,” she says. “Prescheduled private transportation with a reputable company is always the way to go.”
Laura Poffenberger, the owner of TravelLuxuryVacations, was there last week and had no issues, she says. When one concerned client contacted her, she replied:
“I am here now and had no issues with my transportation, and I have clients that have arrived and departed today with no issues. It was a one-day event that lasted a few hours.
“You have private transportation with a company that I have been using for many years. Having a reputable transportation company is essential when traveling in a foreign country.”
A new joint venture between Delta Air Lines and the LATAM Group of Brazil will benefit customers heading to South America and Antarctica and connect the two American continents to 300 international destinations.
The two airlines have been code-sharing since 2020 in a program that now includes 20 routes in North and South America.
The joint venture promises “more and better benefits to LATAM and Delta customers, such as faster connections, and the joint accrual of miles in frequent flyer programs.”
It also allows for the sharing of elite frequent flyer benefits and airport terminals in hubs like New York, São Paulo, Brazil, and Santiago, Chile.
Passengers also will be able to use the 53 Delta Sky Club lounges in the lounges in the United States and five LATAM Lounges in South America.
“Delta’s partnership with LATAM will help grow the market between North and South America and provide significant and much-needed benefits for customers, and we applaud the DOT for this final approval,” said Delta’s chief executive officer Ed Bastian. “Now, we’ll get to work with LATAM to transform the travel experience for our collective customers and create new opportunities for our employees.”
Delta also this week was named the best US airline overall in an annual Wall Street Journal poll, topping five of the seven categories, including on-time arrivals, completion factor, preventing extreme delays and involuntary bumping, and lowest complaints U.S. Department of Transportation.
The ancient ruins of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail have closed once again, this time indefinitely, as protests against President Dina Boluarte continue in Peru.
Tourism Minister Luis Fernando Helguero said at a news conference that 417 visitors, more than 300 of them foreigners, are unable to get out of the site.
Train service to Machu Picchu has been closed since Thursday due to damage to the tracks, and the airport in Cusco was briefly closed when protesters tried to storm it earlier this week.
Tourists who have tickets for Machu Picchu can obtain a full refund, the Culture Ministry said.
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose in not-so-gay Paris, which has been hit by labor issues and strikes—and now a fire at the busy Gare de l’Est train station.
Train service came to a halt yesterday after two fires at a signal point damaged 600 cables during the morning rush hour. The fire began at 8:30 am in a suburb of Paris. Officials originally hoped to quickly restore service but soon canceled all trains for the remainder of the day, and cautioned service might still be disrupted on Wednesday.
The fire was set deliberately, rail operator SNCF said; France’s transport minister Clément Beaune described the arson as a “malicious act.”
Regional TER trains and long-distance TGV trains to Nancy, Colmar and Reims, and to Germany were affected. France and Germany just a few days ago announced a plan to deploy a high-speed train route between Paris and Berlin, and at night train service, in 2024.
Posted In: Crossings
File this under “it’s hard to launch a new model.”
Seabourn’s new expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, is headed to drydock to fix its stabilizers, leaving five canceled cruises in its wake.
The unscheduled drydock will last from April 7 to April 30, 2023, said a letter sent to booked guests and travel advisors. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Outposts
Athens is a metropolis of the old world and new, an ancient city that has offered lasting world knowledge and architecture to civilization. This already marks it as a sought-after destination, but the crisp flavors of fresh olive oil and the white coasts of nearby Cyclades Islands mark it as a top-tier destination. History is evident all around this ancient land full of nature, beaches, and cultural landmarks to visit.Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Publishers Corner
Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily express our character produce our effectiveness or ineffectiveness. ~ Stephen R. Covey
As Stephen Covey indicates, habits are powerful forces, perhaps even more so than we suspect. Good habits we often perceive as difficult to form and bad habits impossible to break. Ironically, the reverse also appears to be true. Good habits seem as flimsy as the first excuse to disrupt a routine and bad habits arise before we notice their presence. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Mike's Monday Cup of Mo-Joe
Let me set the stage for today’s message. Imagine it is a warm sunny day in southern Florida and you are about to play your first round of golf while on vacation. You left the cold January winds from up north yesterday, and you have been looking forward to this day for months. Got it? Here we go.Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Editorial Musings
I belong to a local networking group, and we meet monthly on Zoom, but there is a sub-group that really clicked, and we meet every other week for beers. Our beer meetings tend to get deeper into the weeds than the typical “Hi. I’m John, and I can help with your travel needs.” We all operate public-facing businesses, meaning you can walk in and buy a product or a service. Last week, we discussed best practices for running our businesses, and I took notes. And as I looked at them, I realized that my travel business is not that different than the jewelry shop, the hardware store, or the grocery. Check it out (in no particular order)! Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: The Rosen Report
From small towns and big cities, headed down the Mississippi or up the Mekong, would-be travelers are lining up to book trips this month. Travel advisors who are new to the industry are thrilled with their choice of career—but even many seasoned experts are calling this their best year ever.
It’s not your usual Wave Season for sure.
I booked my family vacation on Norwegian Joy this week with the help of my friend Gary Smith—and I have to admit, I know he did me a favor by letting me usurp his time to book seven balconies when he is swamped with work.Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Deck Plans
Our Readers Prefer Long River Cruisers: Time To Do Away With The Weeklong River Cruise? Go Long Or Stay Home?
In last week’s post, we talked about the trend toward longer river cruises, longer than seven days, that is. Nearly all of the major river cruise companies now offer long cruises, with some itineraries approaching two months in duration. Two months? That wouldn’t bother our reader Linda at all.Read the rest of this entry »