In the 1980s, the then-head of American Airlines garnered a lot of publicity when he decided to cut costs by eliminating the single olive in every salad served in first class. Robert Crandall presumed no one would notice and that the measure would save the airline $40,000 a year.
But Mr. Crandall didn’t figure on all the publicity his modest, cost-cutting measure would receive.
Today’s olive-in-the-salad story involves limes. On your next flight, you might notice that there’s a slice of lime missing from your gin and tonic. Apparently the price of limes has been going up.
Growers in Mexico blame a reduced crop on unrest caused by drug cartels and flooding from heavy rains. In California, it’s the drought as well as a growing demand for limes for margaritas and tacos that’s reportedly driven prices of limes to a three-year high.
These days when you board a flight, you often have no idea what you’ll get. Certainly not a meal–unless you’re in the front of the plane or flying overseas. I hardly think the absence of limes is going to bother passengers. I’m so used to uneven offerings on planes that these days I almost always buy my snacks or food before boarding to carry on the plane.
A bit nervous about flying? Some estimates say one out of every four people are. Which makes even more curious the TSA’s controversial behavior screening program that tries to pick out of an airport crowd a terrorist whose jitters give him or her away.
Here’s the theory behind the TSA’s behavior screening program. TSA agents circulate among passengers before they pass through security. They’re looking for a few of 94 signs of stress, fear or deception. Who knew there were so many telltale signs of those three emotions?
The TSA isn’t about to reveal what those 94 signs are, but it seems to me that with 25% of passengers having some degree of a fear of flying, it might be easy to mistake that kind of nervousness for something more sinister.
The TSA hasn’t yet caught a bad guy using this system, and some members of Congress say this is a waste of money. The government’s chief auditor—the Government Accounting Office—said last year the program is a waste of money and that behavior detection is unproven.
The TSA just ended a trial program at Baltimore’s airport yesterday. I wonder if that agency will start to agree with its critics?
Earlier this month I spent five, great days in Northern California wine country attending the Sonoma International Film Festival. One film got a standing ovation. It was produced by a 22-year-old film school graduate, and it was both hilarious and touching. And it involved travel of an unusual sort.
If you’ve never heard of Burning Man, you need to know it’s an annual art event held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. An entire city is built for a single week of non-stop partying and sharing and building of unusual vehicles and lots, lots more. It’s dusty and raucous and, some say, life changing.
My son has attended Burning Man several times, but he’s never invited me. Not that I’m complaining. But then I saw “Taking My Parents to Burning Man,” and like everyone else in the audience that day in Sonoma, I was delighted.
Bryant “Spry Bry” Boesen of Vancouver invited his very straight parents to the event; they attended with some trepidation. Boesen filmed the entire week, and the result is an account of a journey on a couple of levels. He doesn’t have a distributor for “Taking My Parents to Burning Man” yet, but he’ll get one.
Do try to see it.
For years, cruise ships have offered nearly free cruises to presentable men who know how to dance. They’re often called “gentlemen hosts,” and their obligation is to dance with unaccompanied women aboard the ship each evening. Now women have been invited to join the club, at least at one cruise line.
Crystal Cruises is adding two women hosts to the four male hosts it usually has aboard its ships. A sailing of the Crystal Symphony from Lisbon to Miami will offer a “Ballroom at Sea” cruise departing Oct. 5th. That’ll be the first cruise with co-ed hosts.
The cruise line knows there are always more single women aboard then single men, but Crystal tested out the concept of having a woman or two available to dance or participate in on-board dancing lessons. And the cruise line found it worked.
Want to be a host? You might want to start by talking with a company called Compass Speakers. It seeks men between the ages of 40 and 68 who know how to dance and who are good “minglers,” as the company calls them.
For a nominal fee of $30 a day, you’ll receive accommodations and food, laundry privileges, and other benefits including permission to accept tips. You’ll undergo a battery of interviews. No one with two, left feed need apply, and no after-hours fraternizing with the guests is permitted.
For decades, travelers debated whether it was politically correct to visit the southeastern Asian country we used to call Burma but that today is called Myanmar. A military dictatorship ran the country and kept a Nobel Peace Prize winner under house arrest.
But over the last couple of years, the military has loosened its grip on things and freed Aung San Suu Kyi who subsequently won an election to a government post. Citizens can now access the Internet and the local press enjoys a bit more latitude.
Myanmar isn’t a poster child for democracy or freedom. But it’s being accepted by the world community, and visiting is no longer something most people debate. Myanmar says it doesn’t want mass tourism to overrun the country, and there seems to be no danger in that. Next-door-neighbor Thailand probably earns as much money from tourism in two weeks as Myanmar makes in a year.
And, yes, the government or friends of the government own or control many of the places tourists visit. If you go, I’d encouraged you to spend money on local small businesses and restaurants. I’d also suggest a guided tour by a company such as Audley that’s had a lot of experience taking travelers to Myanmar.