Airlines set their schedules and the government measures the on-time performance of every flight—some 500,000 a month. But it gets more complicated—why, for example, do two different airlines flying the same routes at the same time post different flying times?
Now there’s a way find which airline will likely deliver you to your destination fastest. And which airports has the least delays.
Delta says it takes two hours and 22 minutes to fly from Atlanta to Houston. United takes 20 minutes longer. I know that because a web site called FiveThirtyEight crunches a year’s worth of stats on each airline’s performance to arrive an average flight that might bear little relation to the airline’s own, posted flying time.
FiveThirtyEight is the site helmed by Matt Silver, the statistician who made his reputation analyzing sports and political races. He’s broadened his scope, using use stats to determine flight times and average airport delays.
For example, the numbers show that departing from LAX adds five minutes to your flight time on average, while departing from San Francisco adds five minutes. Just visit this link, enter your departure and arrival cities, and you’ll find the airline that delivers the best results.
This worried Kylie Jenner greatly.
“Why,” wrote Ms. Jenner, “did I see 75 planes spraying white stuff into the sky. Who pays for this, and why is it happening? Is something being exterminated here? Is that something me? Does this have anything to do with honeybees dying off so fast? Why are some days normal with no spraying? Who’s responsible? What effect will this have on our health and our children’s health? Who the [bleep] thought this was a good idea? Am I the only one who sees this?”
What a lot of questions!
But, no, Ms. Jenner, you’re not alone—for years, conspiracy lovers have suggested the government is trying to poison us with that white stuff. But that’s a combination of water vapor in aircraft engine exhaust and low temperatures at high altitudes that creates those ice crystals. The Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the FAA, and NOAH have all issued documents explaining the contrails.
Here’s a link to the EPA’s explanation.
He’s known as “Dr. Beach,” and every year Dr. Stephen Leatherman issues his list of the ten top beaches in America. He has the credentials–after all, he’s a professor and director of the Laboratory of Coastal Research at Florida International University.
But I bet you haven’t heard of this year’s number one beach.
You should know that the good professor visits all the beaches he reviews. He judges a beach on a list of criteria such as the color of the water, the fineness of the sand, water temperature, the size of the waves—not too big, not too small, please—and he evaluates the infrastructure at the beach. Are there showers and bathroom facilities? Is the beach generally too crowded? Is the surrounding scenery appealing?
As you might imagine, Florida and Hawaii make frequent appearances on the Top 10 list, and this year, two beaches from those states hold the top two slots. In second place is Florida’s Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs. First place is on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, and even though it’s five miles long, Waimanalo Bay Beach Park (pictured) is fairly unknown to most tourists.
There’s a link to all the winners and past years’ winners here.
Many of us know the stereotypes about the French: They are lazy, they are rude, you’ll get bad service in restaurants but—on the other hand—all French restaurants serve fresh and good food and the French never get fat.
Travel writer Everett Potter begs to differ.
First of all, Potter told me during a recent radio interview, he doesn’t think the French are rude and unfriendly. They’re just a bit more formal than most Americans. It’s expected in France, for example, that upon entering a shop, you greet the proprietor, which isn’t necessarily the case in the States. The French don’t do fast dinners, and Americans who want to rush through a meal might find their waiter a bit miffed.
But sadly the cuisine in every French restaurant isn’t right from the farm; there’s bad cooking in France.
And let’s bust the biggest myth—the French do get fat. A recent, three-year-survey found that nearly half of French men and women were overweight or obese.
The French ambassador to the US thinks the French tend to stereotype Americans wrongly, too. Earlier this month Gerard Araud said many French think Americans are dying in the street for lack of a social safety net, for example. Travel helps destroy stereotypes. Don’t hesitate to visit France, and I think you’ll find Mr. Potter is correct.
Not many folks have 26 million frequent flyer miles. But that’s what one of the main players in the FIFA world soccer scandal, American Chuck Blazer (photo), garnered by putting at least $26 million in purchases on his personal American Express card. That, of course, was before he pleaded guilty to racketeering and money laundering and began cooperating with the FBI.
So what would you do with that many miles?
Well, what could Chuck have done?
Many Amex cards earn their cardholders one “Membership Rewards” point for every dollar spent. Those points can be converted into frequent flyer miles or points for rooms at hotel chains. They can also be used for a variety of purchases from restaurants to department stores.
Brian Kelly of ThePointsGuy.com and I figured out what Chuck could have garnered if he’d cashed in all those points. Chuck could have received 208, round-trip, first-class tickets between the US and Europe. Or more than a million gift cards each worth $25 at Chili’s Grill & Bar. Or 104,000 gift cards worth $250 each for the Capital Grille.
Somewhere at Amex, there must be a portrait of Chuck on an office wall with the label “Customer of the Decade.”