Some restaurants in Europe—especially in Italy–routinely charge a couple of euros for your table setting that includes silverware, plates, tablecloths, and glasses. And I’ve noticed a charge for bread creeping onto American menus. Is the custom creeping across the Atlantic?
In Italy, a charge of three or four dollars per person is called pane’ e coperto, or “bread and cover.” The occasional restaurant in England and France will do the same, but from my experience, Italy is the leader in this regard.
But at a restaurant in LA and another in Minneapolis recently, I noticed a charge for bread. Now, folks who don’t want bread might very well applaud this. After all, why should they subsidize the cost of your bread if they don’t want bread?
Interestingly, this is the same argument airlines use when defending baggage fees. If you don’t check any luggage, why should your ticket price be the same as someone who does? Why should you subsidize the cost of baggage handlers if you’re just using a carry-on bag?
I can argue both sides of the issue. But don’t be surprised if some restaurants begin copying the Italians.
Yesterday I described the car service that links to your credit card and smartphone to provide you with a sedan on short notice in 25 countries and 67 cities. It’s called Uber, and what you pay depends on how many cars are available at any moment.
That means a ride during non-prime time can cost just a bit more than a local taxi. But if demand is high, the price can be eight to ten times as much, which you’re told before you commit. Uber says the higher the price goes, the more likely more drivers will hit the streets.
Talk about supply and demand!
One customer wrote no line that he is black and he finds Uber a godsend because cabbies in NYC often refuse to pick him up even if he’s in a suit and tie. Others said even though their smartphone showed the driver about to arrive, sometimes a driver abandoned the call for inexplicable reasons.
And what works in Atlanta, with its not-so-efficient transportation system, might be less valuable in Manhattan with it subway and army of cabs.
But Uber and a rival service, Lyft—spelled L-Y-F-T, are worth a look.
People around the world consider the car service called Uber one of the greatest inventions of our time. But Uber can be an outrageously expensive way of getting from here to there.
How much you pay depends on how many people are requesting rides at any given moment. So prime time requests can build the check considerably as comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s wife discovered in December of 2012 in New York. She had Uber take her kids from a bar mitzvah to a sleepover and was startled when her credit card showed a charge of $415. So startled she posted a rant and copy of her receipt on Instagram.
But the night she hired that car was in mid-December in New York when freezing weather and a busy social season conspired to create a big demand for rides.
And Uber tells you if your fare BEFORE your finalize your request on your smartphone. And you must acknowledge that before a car is sent. More on Uber—which seems to be a classic example of supply and demand setting price—tomorrow.
I read a surprising story recently in Conde Nast Traveler’s daily, online travel bulletin. An airline passenger who forgot his government-issued ID managed to pass through security after a TSA agent checked his Facebook page.
It turns out the TSA has long had a policy that allows travelers to pass through security using “other means” of substantiating identity, including the use of any publicly available database.
That database I’ve linked to in the previous sentence includes an acknowledgment that the TSA is authorized to use other sources to verify someone’s identity. And apparently the TSA feels social media platforms are requiring enough proof of a real identity that even Facebook can attest to a person’s legitimacy.
I don’t happen to agree with that—last I knew, it was fairly easy to set up a Facebook account using a fake name or photo. But it’s also true that if you are locked out of your Facebook account, you’ll be asked for official proof of your identity. And obviously the TSA puts some credence in a Facebook profile.
Don’t count on getting through security like this, but it can be a last-ditch option.
Members of British Airway’s frequent flyer club don’t earn miles, they earn Avios points, and they’re based not merely on how many miles you fly b ut also on the price of your ticket. Even if you never intend to visit London, they might well be worth collecting.
“But,” you say, “I never fly British Airways.”
No matter. You can open an account and accumulate Avios points by flying partner airlines including American Airlines. Or by renting cars and having your points credited to your BA account. Or by getting a BA Visa credit card from Chase.
You might think the best use of Avios points is flights to the UK. Not so, because high landing fees charged by London’s airports mean you have to pay hundreds of dollars in fees even on award tickets. Instead, use those Avios points for short-haul flights such as 25,000 points that will get you a free, round-trip ticket on American or Alaska airlines between the West Coast and Hawaii. In fact, any trip in the US less than 850 miles each way only requires 9,000 Avios points.
Use them for in-country flights in Europe on Air Berlin or Aer Lingus, South America on LAN , South Africa on BA, and Australia on Qantas.