The company is called RelayRides, and it puts you as a renter together with the private owner of a car willing to let you use it. Tomorrow I’ll talk about how this works for a car owner, but today let’s examine RelayRides from the renter’s point of view.
I’ve twice flown into San Francisco’s airport, taken a shuttle bus to the nearby Hyatt, and picked up someone else’s car. Once it was a Toyota Prius with 100,000 miles on it that I drove for five days for $20 a day, all in. Another time I rented a 10-year-old Mercedes in great condition for $40 a day.
The cars may not be as new and shiny as your average rental car, but the price is a lot less than I would have paid a conventional rental car company.
RelayRides.com lists private cars for rent in 2,000 cities and 260 airports. I think it’s as disruptive to the rental car business as Uber is to taxis and Airbnb is to hotels. If saving money while renting a car is a priority to you, check out RelayRides and rent someone else’s car. Which, when you think about it, is what you do from Mr. Hertz or Mr. Avis, anyway.
Recently I reported on the incredible growth of Chinese tourists who are going abroad, especially to Japan and the US. It seems one cruise line company thinks it’s time to introduce the Chinese to the midnight buffet.
Carnival Cruise Lines is making a big pitch for Chinese business. It’s adding a fourth ship to its Asian fleet—four years ago it only had one there—and it’s building more. In China.
(That’s the Costa Serena pictured that’s sailing from China this year.)
Carnival is making sure there’s plenty of room for tai chi classes, and I was just kidding about the midnight buffet. Apparently the Chinese don’t do buffets. Or spa treatments.
But they do like intimate gambling parlors and shorter cruises—four days on average, says Carnival.
The cruise line says it’s already captured 55 to 60 per cent of the Chinese cruise market that it expects will rival America’s in numbers in 10 years. And here’s a surprising demographic: While the typical age of Western passengers is between 40 and 70 years old, it’s the Millennials who are all aboard in the East. The newly wealthy 25 to 45 year olds buy the cruises and often take their parents and extended family along.
I predict in ten years they’ll come to appreciate that midnight buffet!
You may be following the news surrounding the replacement of the Portland’s airport carpet in Oregon (pictured). Its iconic design, a bird’s-eye view of the layout of the airport’s runway, has been beloved for years; its Facebook page has nearly 13,000 fans, and you can buy all manner of apparel with its design.
But what about the rest of the world. Don’t worry—George Pendle has that, um, covered.
George Pendle is a DC-based journalist who writes on science and culture for such serious publications as the Financial Times and The Economist. But 13 years ago, during a long delay at Newark’s airport, he found himself staring at the carpet. And he decided airport carpets might be the largest display of art in the world and that an airport’s carpet often reflected the community in which it was located.
So he started a website called Carpets for Airports, a very unusual but strangely fascinating site featuring postage-stamp size photos of airport carpets around the world including a critique of said carpets.
You can join his small army of what he calls “carpeteers” by sending in your contributions. This, my friends, is the glory of the Internet. Check it out at CarpetsForAirports.com.
JetBlue decided to start charging passengers to check bags. Many airlines in the past six months have increased the number of frequent flyer miles or points you have to spend to get an award ticket. And Delta, in a strange move just a few weeks ago, took its award chart down from its web site. Now you type in where you want to fly and when, and the site tells you how many miles you need to cash in. Not exactly a great example of transparency.
Then there’s that airline fuel charge that every airline added to the cost of tickets when the price of jet fuel was high. But that price plummeted the same time you saw your gas prices fall at the pump. I know some airlines got stuck with high prices for a while because they’d hedged fuel prices way ahead of time and guessed very, very wrong.
But few airlines have lowered prices despite fuel savings. As long as planes fly full, don’t hold your breath awaiting a drop in fares.
When you pass through an airport you can be forgiven if you think security is tight. But the biggest hole in airport security unfortunately involves personnel who can get the closest to the plane you’ll be flying.
In December, a former Delta Air Lines employee and a current one were arrested for masterminding a gun-running scheme that involved sneaking weapons, some of them loaded, aboard flights from Atlanta to New York. The weapons were carried in the cabin of the plane.
That’s just one story involving airport or (in this case) airline employees who can circumvent security screenings in some cases by simply showing their airport IDs.
Unfortunately, we’re talking about 950,000 men and women. That’s how many employees of airlines, airports, and vendors have access to around 18,000 access points at the country’s 450 airports.
Miami and Orlando airports screen all employees, but most airports don’t. And a TSA study says it’ll take nearly $2 billion just to do random security screenings of employees. The TSA’s total, annual budget right now is only $7.3 billion a year.
This may take congressional action, which is an oxymoron, I think. Until something goes very wrong, our airports have an obvious Achilles’ heel.