If you fly regularly to the same destination, would you pay a flat, monthly fee for the right to hop on board anytime? That’s the premise behind a new, short hop airline that wants to serve business destinations with its six-to-eight-passenger prop jets.
Surf Air began flying last month between the San Carlos airport in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area and LA’s Burbank airport as well as Santa Barbara.
To fly Surf Air, you pay a $500 fee to become a “member,” and then about $1600 a month. That entitles you to as many flights as you’d like. And if you book two weeks ahead, you may bring a guest at no charge.
The plan is to operate out of small airports with free parking at private terminals. There are no flight attendants on board, though a concierge will offer personal service on the ground. The company says Surf Air makes sense by saving time and money for anyone who has to make five or more flights a month. That would work out to about $300 per trip, though taking a companion now and then cuts that per-flight cost considerably.
It’ll be interesting to see if the business model works and can spread to other city pairs.
For 11 years now, a luxury cruise ship called The World (pictured) has been sailing around the world. It’s really a floating condominium because its passengers own apartments on board—165 residences that range in price from 700,000 to $10 million.
But now two more ships are planning to bring that lifestyle to a larger audience.
The World roams the world’s seas, allowing its residents to see the exotic destinations without having to pack and unpack a suitcase.
Coming in three years is the Utopia, a 200-unit residential ship with homes costing between four and $30 million. But don’t worry—there will be smaller units for nannies and tutors. Space is being pre-sold now from a showroom on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
For a more modest budget—and more modest itinerary—you might want to consider the The Marquette that will cruise America’s rivers. This vessel will have up to 180 living units with prices starting at $305,000 and topping out at $1.9 million. I’m not sure how many inland waterways will be able to handle The Marquette, but if you’ve ever had a Huck Finn fantasy, The Marquette just might be your ship.
Express kidnapping is becoming popular in some countries in Central and South America. Its perpetrators target locals as well as travelers. Express kidnapping is a shorter version of the more traditional kidnap-and-ransom game.
You hail the wrong cab in a foreign city or are grabbed off the street and held hostage while you’re forced to give up your ATM card and to reveal your PIN. Then your kidnappers drive around town using your card to empty your bank account. Sometimes victims are beaten and dumped road side, sometimes they’re held a couple of days.
Express kidnapping is popular in Bogota, Colombia, and in Ecuador’s capital of Quito, the number of express kidnappings rose 60 per cent last year compared to 2011. It’s also a popular crime in Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela and Brazil. Economic problems and organized crime are blamed for the trend.
You can best avoid becoming a victim by only taking licensed cabs arranged by hotels or by appointment. Obviously avoid dicey neighborhoods, especially at night.
And one more tip: Don’t ever leave a drink unattended at a bar lest someone slip a knock-out drug into it.
You see it everywhere in restaurants now—diners using smart phones to photograph their food for posting on blogs and social media sites. While some restaurateurs used to be irritated by that, now many realize the boom it can be for business.
Post a picture of a dish on Instagram while dining at a New York Upper East Side restaurant called 83-and-a-half, for example, and you’ll receive a complimentary hazelnut-and-espresso ice pop that’s not on the menu. And other restaurants are willing to offer a little something extra, especially if they find a customer has an unusually high number of Twitter or Instagram followers.
Here’s proper etiquette. Obviously take your picture when your plate is presented, when it’s looking its best. Try to avoid the use of flash—work with natural light if at all possible. Maybe take in more than just the plate—include a wine glass or silverware. And by all means do not include any diners you don’t know in your photograph—you never know who might be there with someone they don’t want the world to know about.
Think I’m putting too much emphasis on the photo? Several Whole Foods stores in Boston have a professional photographer, Brian Samuels, teaching courses in how to create a professional-looking food shot. He, by the way, has 9,000 Twitter followers and 1, 692 Instagram followers.
But news about marketing partnerships are handled quite differently depending on whether that news is good or bad for consumers.
In December, Delta Airlines bought 49% of Virgin Atlantic from Singapore Airlines. And a few weeks ago Delta announced that passengers could earn and redeem Delta miles on Virgin Atlantic and vice versa. Delta announced the good news in emails to its frequent flyers.
But the news that Delta was ending its partnership with Hawaiian Airlines got no such play by the airline. If you signed on to Delta’s web site to look at its reward charts, you’d find in small type the news that as of September 15th, passengers on Hawaiian Airlines would no longer be able to accrue Delta miles. And the last day to claim an award ticket on either airline using miles from the other ends the last day of July, though you can book award travel up to a year out.
This is important news to passengers who have been collecting Delta miles to fly Hawaiian or Hawaiian flyers collecting miles to use on Delta. And wo might not stumble across that information if they’re not looking for it.
I wish we were told as much about programs ending as much as we are about new options