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  • Leica M-mount full-frame lenses now available in cine form (842 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 16:11:00 -0400Leica M-mount full-frame lenses now available in cine formLeica News & Rumors




    The Leica M-mount full-frame lenses are now available in cine form (priced from $1,300.00 to $15,900.00):

    Capture the iconic M-Mount Leica look in cinema form with the Leitz Cine Wetzlar M 0.8 series of full-frame primes. This eight-lens range encompasses f/1.4 21, 24, 28, 35, 50, and f/2.0 75 primes, an f/2.0 90mm, and an f/0.95 50mm Noctilux lens.


    Previous coverage of the Leica M cinema lenses can be found here.

    The post Leica M-mount full-frame lenses now available in cine form appeared first on Leica Rumors.

  • Disneyland?s Affordable Neighbor: A Review of Fairfield Inn by Marriott Anaheim Resort (5598 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 16:00:00 -0400Disneyland?s Affordable Neighbor: A Review of Fairfield Inn by Marriott Anaheim ResortThe Points Guy

    Want to be just a seven-minute walk from Disneyland? Have affordable food options literally in your parking lot and spend just 35,000 Marriott points per night (or potentially less than $150) instead of $500 or more at a Disneyland hotel?

    Me too. That’s why on a recent trip for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland in California, I spent the first night of my trip at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott Anaheim Resort by shelling out just 25% of what I would have at the Disneyland hotels.

    Booking

    I booked my night at the Fairfield Anaheim using cash directly with Marriott, because the paid rate was about $150 per night all in and the alternative would have been spending 35,000 Marriott points, which I valued more than that cents-per-point rate. Another good option when cash rates are on the higher side would be to use a 35,000-point Marriott award provided annually with both the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express® Card.

    When weighing $500 or more for a Disneyland hotel room versus an award night provided each year with a credit card, the winner is probably pretty clear for most trips.

    Location

    The Fairfield Inn Anaheim Resort is a hotel you stay at because of its proximity to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It’s right on South Harbor Boulevard, so you can walk through the parking lot and along a sidewalk right up to the crosswalk to Disneyland. In the process, you’ll pass a Panera and a McDonald’s in case your crew wants some more-affordable-than-Disney quick bites.

    When it comes to choosing a hotel near Disneyland, you can’t get much closer unless you’re staying at one of the three official Disneyland hotels, where you’d probably pay three or four times the cash rates of the Fairfield.

    Room

    After looking at the photos on the hotel’s website, I paid a few extra dollars to secure the premium rooms with the Disney theming. You can’t book these rooms directly with points, though it seems that Marriott elites may get upgraded to these rooms when available. The other noticeable difference between premium rooms and the standard rooms is the wallpaper. (Yes, I paid extra for different wallpaper. I know, I’m a little ashamed, too.)

    This premium king room had a blue sofa, some small tables, a king bed, work desk and an oversized smart TV that could stream shows from your Netflix account.

    The rooms at the Fairfield Inn all had direct access to the outdoors, which I normally don’t love, but it was almost charming in Anaheim. Other than that, the room was perfect for a short stay near Disneyland.

    The bed was very comfortable (or I was just really tired), the shower did the job and there were power outlets right next next to the bed. Basically, everything I needed to recharge for another fun day in Anaheim was right at my fingertips.

    It was clear that the room was refreshed in recent years and a little colorful wallpaper really goes a long way in making the hotel feel a little special. While a Fairfield is never going to be luxurious, I’ve stayed at moderate resort hotels at Disney World in Florida that didn’t feel as fresh as the Fairfield Inn Anaheim.

    Amenities

    At this hotel were a pretty basic rectangular pool and small whirlpool in what was essentially the hotel’s parking lot. If you want a more extensive hotel complex with a small waterpark, a larger pool and slides, then stay next door at the Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Theme Park Entrance. However, expect to pay more in cash or points in exchange for that swanky pool setup.

    Back at the Fairfield, I could head to the third floor for a Pizza Hut Express, Seattle’s Best Coffee or arcade room. But I could also have the nearby Panera deliver to my room.

    Since this hotel is a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel, it had a small gift shop with Disney items and the ability to buy theme-park tickets within the hotel. You could also rent strollers and scooters to use at the parks from within the hotel.

    One thing you won’t find at the Fairfield Inn Anaheim Resort is free breakfast. It doesn’t matter if you have Marriott Platinum elite status. Platinum elites get 500 bonus points, 10% off at the Pizza Hut Express and late or early check-in and checkout, but that’s about it. I did my eating at some of the best restaurants at Disneyland and within Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, so can’t speak to the hotel’s food options firsthand.

    Overall Impressions

    I went into my stay at the Fairfield Inn Anaheim without many expectations but left pleasantly surprised. The stay wasn’t over-the-top amazing by any stretch, but the rooms were cute, and it offered fair value for the price charged. Unlike at Disney World, where staying off the property means truly sacrificing convenience and valuable perks, you can still be just a short stroll from the parks at Disneyland when you conserve cash and stay at a hotel like the Fairfield. Thanks to the way that Disneyland manages their version of FastPass, staying off-property doesn’t hurt you with ride wait times, either.

    If this is your once-in-a-lifetime big family trip to Disneyland, I’d recommend the Disneyland Hotel or Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa (if your budget permits), but for a short weekend at the parks, the Fairfield should do just fine.

    All photos by the author.

  • Genius accuses Google of copying its lyrics data (1816 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 15:54:00 -0400Genius accuses Google of copying its lyrics dataEngadget RSS Feed

    Have you found yourself using Google's lyrics results more than visiting individual lyrics sites? You're not alone -- and Genius thinks underhanded tactics are involved. The company has accused Google of not only hurting its traffic with its lyrics cards, but of sometimes grabbing Genius' lyrics verbatim. The evidence is in the apostrophes, Genius said. It purposefully alternated between straight and curved apostrophes as a form of watermarking (they typically spell out "red handed" in Morse code), and there were reportedly over 100 instances where Google's lyrics included those exact apostrophes.

    Google denied anything sinister in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. The company takes copyright "very seriously" and held its sourcing partners "accountable" for honoring the terms to its agreements -- it doesn't create the panels themselves. A key source for song info, LyricFind, told the WSJ that its staff "do not source" lyrics from Genius. Neither Google nor LyricFind has directly addressed the apparent match with some of Genius' lyrics.

    There haven't been formal actions yet, but Genius has alleged that Google was both violating antitrust law and its terms of service. It said it alerted Google to the reported misuse as soon as 2017. Genius might not have much success if it pursues a case directly, since it doesn't own the lyrics -- it's just allowed to display them.

    Whether or not Genius' complaint has merit, it's coming at a bad time for Google. The internet pioneer is still grappling with the European Union's successful antitrust cases, and there are murmurs of the US Justice Department readying an antitrust investigation. This could compound the situation by suggesting possible anti-competitive behavior in another area.

    Source: Wall Street Journal

  • Weekly Nikon news flash #527 (774 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 15:44:00 -0400Weekly Nikon news flash #527Nikon Rumors


    ? Skylum Luminar 3.1.1 released.


    ? The Tokina Opera 50mm f/1.4 FF lens for Nikon F-mount is now $150 off at Adorama and B&H.


    ? Sigma issued product advisories for the SIGMA 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports and the SIGMA 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | Sports lenses.


    ? Comparing mirrorless systems based on Fujifilm?s concept of ?Value Angle?.


    ? Nikon establishes "Nikon BioImaging Lab" in Boston to support drug discovery research.

    ? Nikon F100: the best 35mm film camera for beginners.

    ? Nikon Z: slow motion video.

    ? Nikon Z6 video shot by Robin Layton.

    The post Weekly Nikon news flash #527 appeared first on Nikon Rumors.

  • Google's Login Chief: Apple's Sign-In Button Is Better Than Using Passwords (1762 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 15:34:00 -0400Google's Login Chief: Apple's Sign-In Button Is Better Than Using PasswordsSlashdot

    After Apple announced a single sign-on tool last week, The Verge interviewed Google product management director Mark Risher. Though Google offers its own single sign-on tool, The Verge found him "surprisingly sunny about having a new button to compete with. While the login buttons are relatively simple, they're much more resistant to common attacks like phishing, making them much stronger than the average password -- provided you trust the network offering them." RISHER: I honestly do think this technology will be better for the internet and will make people much, much safer. Even if they're clicking our competitor's button when they're logging into sites, that's still way better than typing in a bespoke username and password, or more commonly, a recycled username and password... Usually with passwords they recommend the capital letters and symbols and all of that, which the majority of the planet believes is the best thing that they should do to improve their security. But it actually has no bearing on phishing, no bearing on password breaches, no bearing on password reuse. We think that it's much more important to reduce the total number of passwords out there... People often push back against the federated model, saying we're putting all our eggs into one basket. It sort of rolls off the tongue, but I think it's the wrong metaphor. A better metaphor might be a bank. There are two ways to store your hundred dollars: you could spread it around the house, putting one dollar in each drawer, and some under your mattress and all of that. Or you could put it in a bank, which is one basket, but it's a basket that is protected by 12-inch thick steel doors. That seems like the better option!

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Would You Pay $950 to Attend a Pool Party at Hearst Castle? (2621 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 15:30:00 -0400Would You Pay $950 to Attend a Pool Party at Hearst Castle?The Points Guy

    Beverly Hills may be known for outlandish celebrity homes, but in San Simeon on the Central Coast, a Jazz Age mansion to rival that of the Great Gatsby is opening up its two pools for select dates this summer ? for anyone willing to pay $950 and become a member of the Foundation at Hearst Castle, that is.

    Hearst Castle was commissioned by publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst ? whose empire, though diminished, still publishes Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country, among other titles ? and took more than 20 years to complete. Hearst’s father, George, had made a fortune in the California Gold Rush and bought the failing San Francisco Examiner to further his political career. William Randolph grew the business into a superpower and dominated publishing for the first half of the 20th century.

    He hired architect Julia Morris to build the palatial 165-room abode in 1919 and filled it with priceless art and artifacts from Europe and beyond. According to the Los Angeles Times, the two pools are among the most photographed parts of the mansion, which is now run by the California State Parks system.

    The 104-foot-long Neptune Pool ? famous for its colonnades and Italian relief sculptures ? will be open from 6:30pm to 8:30pm on July 6; on Aug. 3 and 14; and again on Sept. 21 for up to 40 guests. Last October, the pool was reopened after a $10 million renovation that required it to be drained and have cracks repaired. The massive pool is more than three feet deep at the shallow end, 10 feet deep in the deep end and holds 345,000 gallons of water.

    The indoor Roman Pool will be open for just 20 guests during the same hours on July 20 and Oct. 19. The mosaic tiles surrounding the pool were inspired by a 5th-century mausoleum in Ravenna, in northern Italy, and the pool is flanked by statues of Greek and Roman gods, goddesses and heroes.

    Pool parties will include “a fabulous selection of fancy foods, as well as the Central Coast’s finest wines and craft beers.” Members of the Foundation at Hearst Castle ? a nonprofit dedicated to the estate’s preservation ? can attend for $950 per person (Hearst Castle’s director of development confirmed to The Points Guy that the pool parties are for members only). Not a member? Memberships start at $500, which includes three tour tickets and a $50 store credit.

    Then again, for just $25 you can take a tour of Hearst Castle ? pool time not included.

    Featured photo courtesy of the Foundation at Hearst Castle.

  • Flying Forward, Facing Backward: How Does Seat Configuration Affect Passengers? (4590 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 15:00:00 -0400Flying Forward, Facing Backward: How Does Seat Configuration Affect Passengers?The Points Guy

    While the concept of flight has evolved to become a very normal element of everyday life for some, for many it?s still an extraordinary activity. The unique thing about an airline jet is the way in which it becomes a temporary home to multiple nationalities, many possessing different beliefs, with different stories to tell, experiences in life and each with their own reasons for being on board a flight connecting A to B. It?s easy to assume that in our connected world, ?everybody flies? ? but it?s simply not the case.

    Each airline is often catering to a specific market, business model or passenger demographic. But, it’s not out of the ordinary for a Chilean passenger to board a domestic flight in Kazakhstan, and nor would it be odd for an Icelandic passport holder to be a commuter each day on the Melbourne to Sydney flight.

    Knowing this, airlines have to continuously keep in mind that they?re serving citizens of the globe, not just their home market. There are several decisions both operators and manufacturers make to cater for all, such as how you will not find a ?Row 13? on Lufthansa, easyJet and others, so as to not unease superstitious travelers.

    One of those concepts comes in the form of rear-facing seats, which challenges a large demographic. You?ll find rear-facing seats in premium cabins on a variety of major airlines today, including British Airways, which first introduced rear-facing Club World seats over a decade ago, Qatar Airways’ Qsuite, United’s first lie-flat seat and more.

    When British Airways introduced its ying-yang Club World seats featuring several rear-facing seats, the airline claimed that passengers would have a new ability to socialize ?facing your travel companion?. The airline wasn?t certain on how it would be received, but as with so many other areas of aviation, passengers were fast to adapt, and it?s quickly become the norm.

    In terms of any safety implications, several studies have confirmed that, during an emergency landing, a backwards-facing seat provides more support for the head, neck and back. In the unlikely event of a hard impact, the passenger?s center of gravity would be higher and the seat would be taking more of the strain.

    However, while there are clearly several positives to flying forward, facing backward, it?s not for everyone. In fact, the very concept is somewhat alienating for a significant number of passengers.

    Many passengers in Asia believe flying facing backward is unnatural and against the force of nature. It links with the beliefs of feng shui laws, which claim to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment. In a large part of Asia (and also in several other parts of the world) hotels, properties, homes and workplaces are designed to ensure the natural flow of energy.

    Facing rearward ? even when flying ? is perceived as a position that is inherently bad for energy flow. It is contrary to good feng shui, which could lead to a decline in work productivity, problems with general happiness and even health ailments.

    Are airlines being affected by such beliefs? In January 2019, Seoul, South Korea became the latest Qatar Airways route to feature its Boeing 777-300ER Qsuite product. All seats that are flush against the window, as well as the center-double suites are rear-facing.

    Shortly after the launch, multiple passengers found themselves in a rear-facing Qsuite and insisted they must be moved to a forward-facing suite. One passenger told me on board a flight from Seoul to Doha that flying backward ?is not what we do, it?s just wrong.? At the airline’s check-in counter in Seoul, large diagrams clearly highlight ?BACKWARD FACING? with red exclamation mark annotations.

    Fast forward to today, and the Qsuite-equipped Boeing 777-300ER no longer operates to the South Korean capital. Instead, the previous generation, all-forward-facing cabin does the job.

    While some avoid facing rearward on a plane for energy flow reasons, others believe it brings on motion sickness. Having flown facing rearward more than 200 times, it?s fair to point out that you are most aware of the direction you are facing during taxi, takeoff and during deceleration upon touchdown. Once you’re up in the air, though, I find it difficult to notice ? and henceforth, nausea sufferers should still feel comfortable facing against the direction of travel.

    Have you flown facing rearward? How does it affect you?

    Featured photo by Dan Ross/The Points Guy.

  • How to Double Your World Elite Mastercard Lyft Credit (2035 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 15:00:00 -0400How to Double Your World Elite Mastercard Lyft CreditMillion Mile Secrets

    INSIDER SECRET: World Elite Mastercards are getting cell phone insurance starting July 1, 2019, so be sure to compare it to the other best credit cards for paying cell phone bills.

    Recently, there was a slew of new discounts and benefits added to your World Elite Mastercard. This included discounts with Postmates, Boxed, Fandango and Lyft. You can read this post for more details on the changes.

    I’ve been taking advantage of the Lyft benefit, which is a $10 credit you earn after taking five qualifying Lyft rides. You can earn one credit per month and it expires 30 days after you earn it. For me, it won’t be hard to save an extra $120 a year with this perk, but you can double the benefit you get from a single World Elite Mastercard.

    World Elite Mastercard Benefits

    The terms state:

    Limit one credit per month per Lyft account.

    So you can use one card and link it to multiple Lyft accounts. I confirmed this by linking my wife’s AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercardto both my Lyft account and her Lyft account. We both earned the $10 credit in the same month.

    But you can’t earn the $10 credit from multiple World Elite Mastercards. So if you have three World Elite Mastercards, you’ll still only be able to earn at most $10 in Lyft credits per Lyft account each month.

    You can enroll your World Elite Mastercard for the Lyft benefit by going to this site and clicking the “Enroll Now” button from your mobile device.

    A few World Elite Mastercards are:

    For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

    Featured image by @RLTheis/Shutterstock.

  • EU says Russia conducted 'sustained' election interference campaign (1647 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 14:42:00 -0400EU says Russia conducted 'sustained' election interference campaignEngadget RSS Feed

    The European Union already suspected that Russia was trying to disrupt its parliamentary elections through hacks and other online interference, and now it's directly pointing a finger at the country. EU officials have published a report accusing Russia of orchestrating a "continued and sustained" misinformation campaign during the late May election similar to ones the country tried in the US, France and other countries. It used fake stories to "promote extreme views," stoke political tensions and, sometimes, discourage voter turnout.

    There was a change in strategy this time around, the EU added. Instead of launching large efforts online, the Russians and the political figures linked to them preferred "smaller-scale," more regional influence campaigns that would be harder to catch.

    The report writers credit Facebook, Google, Twitter and others with doing a better job of cracking down on misinformation that could have made Russia's meddling more effective. However, the EU also said that "more needs to be done" on the part of internet giant, including greater transparency for ad hosts and more cooperation with fact checkers. The Union planned to study the effectiveness of an existing Code of Practice and propose further efforts, possibly including regulations, if the current rules weren't deemed adequate.

    Russia has historically denied interfering in foreign elections despite evidence to the contrary. It's not always effective, according to past reports, but the EU findings suggest that the country isn't about to give up any time soon.

    Via: Washington Post

    Source: European Commission (PDF)

  • Michigan Town Approves Fiber Internet Despite Intense Lobbying (1149 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 14:34:00 -0400Michigan Town Approves Fiber Internet Despite Intense LobbyingSlashdot

    Long-time Slashdot reader Proudrooster writes: Fiber Internet is coming to Traverse City, Michigan in the hopes of attracting high tech startups and helping the city become a high-tech hub. Even in the face of intense lobbying by [commercial high-speed internet provider] Charter, The Mackinaw Center for Public Policy, and a barrage of pop up ads opposing it, the project is moving ahead into phase one. It was more than apparent that Charter did everything it could to try and sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt to try and kill this project as other incumbent providers have done across the USA. [Citation needed -- though Traverse City officials did report high-powered anonymous lobbying.] Kudos to the board of Traverse City Light and Power and the residents of Traverse City for being brave and making this investment in their community. Even though the decision is not finalized, the network may be an open network, allowing customers to purchase from a variety of providers. This project will undoubtedly be watched nationwide and possibly serve as a new model for other community fiber builds.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Why Some Airlines Give Their Aircraft Names (9121 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 14:30:00 -0400Why Some Airlines Give Their Aircraft NamesThe Points Guy

    One time I was walking through the concourse when I passed a Lufthansa jet parked at the gate. There on the nose was a single word. ?Worms,? it said.

    What in the world?, I thought. Worms? Worms? Then it dawned on me. Ah, that?s right, Lufthansa names most of its jets after German cities. Worms is the historic, nearly 2,000-year-old town in the Upper Rhineland where, in 1521, Martin Luther was declared a heretic.

    All airliners wear registrations ? numbers or letters that also indicate a plane?s nation of origin ? on the rear fuselage, but some also carry names. If a plane has been christened in honor of a place, person, or thing, look for titles on the forward fuselage. It’s an old-school practice, and one that I?m quite fond of. It makes flying a touch less impersonal and a touch more dignified. Any airline that bothers to name its planes, I feel, is one that takes its mission to heart.

     

    Nobody did this with more panache than Pan Am, where each aircraft sported a distinctive Clipper designation, a carryover from the airline?s grandiose earlier years when its flying boats pioneered routes across the oceans. There were nautical references (Sea Serpent, Mermaid, Gem of the Ocean), including a particular fascination with waves (Crest of the Wave, Dashing Wave, Wild Wave). There were nods to Greek and Roman mythology (Jupiter, Mercury, Argonaut) and the inevitable heaping of faux-inspirational piffle (Empress of the Skies, Glory of the Skies, Freedom). A few of them made you wonder if Juan Trippe and his boys weren?t tippling too much Scotch in the boardrooms over on Park Avenue: Water Witch? Neptune?s Car? Young Brander? Turns out those were taken from old sailing vessels.

    When the wreckage of Pan Am 103 fell onto Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, the only part of the plane to remain somewhat intact was the very front ? a decapitated portion of the forward fuselage including the cockpit and first class cabin. It was crushed when it landed, on its side, but still it looked like a piece of an airplane, which is more than you can say for the rest of the jet. It was widely photographed and became a news icon in the days and weeks that followed. There it was, on the front of every newspaper and magazine, and it is easily found on the Internet today. The photo shows detritus and debris everywhere, wires and shredded metal, all surrounding this impossibly still-dignified chunk of a Boeing 747. There?s the blue stripe, the paint barely scratched. And there, just above the oval cabin windows in frilly blue lettering, you can still read clearly the words Clipper Maid of the Seas.

    Most airlines don’t bother with this sort of thing anymore, but a few, like Lufthansa, still do.

    KLM names its jets after cities, national parks, waterfalls, famous inventors and explorers. KLM?s fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-11s is now retired, but each was named after a famous woman. There was the Marie Curie, the Florence Nightingale, the Audrey Hepburn, and several others. In years past, KLM’s 747s all were named after rivers. In 1977, the Rhine collided with Pan Am’s Clipper Victor on the Spanish island of Tenerife, in history’s deadliest air disaster.

     

    At Alitalia you?ll find a grab bag of islands (like an Airbus A319 named Isola di Capri), writers (Italo Calvino, another A319), artists (Tiepolo, an Airbus A330), and more. Turkish Airlines names its spotless Boeings and Airbuses after Turkish cities or landmarks. You can ride aboard the Göreme or the Istanbul ? or the Karadeniz, named after the Turkish term for the Black Sea. Hawaiian Airlines does seabirds and constellations. For a while, Air Namibia was flying a 747 named Welwitschia, homage to a strange desert succulent that grows in the Namibian wilds and can live for centuries.

    Aer Lingus goes with Irish saints, no surprise there, with the names both in English and Gaelic. In 1979, I was at Boston?s Logan Airport when Pope John Paul II stepped off the St. Patrick, one of Aer Lingus?s old 747-100s, touching off his historic first visit to the USA. The St. Patrick was one of only two 747s that Aer Lingus operated, and was a regular visitor at BOS for many years. (Its demise, as with so many jetliners, was one of ignominy at its saddest. An internet search tells us: ?Plane scrapped in 2002 in Tijuana, Mexico.?)

    In Soviet times, Aeroflot didn?t bother with this practice. It was by far the world?s largest airline at the time, and coming up with over a thousand names was maybe too much to expect? Nowadays, though, the Russian airline pays tribute to Russian composers, philosophers, authors, and even sports figures ? in Cyrillic alphabet on the left side of the nose and Latin script on the right. If you?re wondering who Lev Yashin is, immortalized on the side of an A330, he was a famous Russian soccer star. The last of Aeroflot?s Cold War-era Illyushin jets was named Igor Moiseyev, a giant of Soviet ballet.

     

    Indeed, what I love best about the tradition of plane-naming is the way it blends aviation and culture. This crossover has a way of reminding you that the real beauty of air travel is more than just technological. It?s about connection ? the linking of distant places. The airplane is an ambassador, and it?s always a touch more special, and more dignified, when it carries with it some physical manifestation of the nation and people it represents. The logo, the flag ? or something as simple as a name.

    When I was a kid, a poster of a Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) 747 cockpit hung on the wall in my bedroom. There was a placard on the instrument panel that said, Knut Viking. These same words would have appeared on the plane?s nose. To this day, every SAS aircraft carries a ?Viking? designation.

    Naming SAS Aircraft

    How do we name our Viking aircrafts?

    Posted by SAS – Scandinavian Airlines on Tuesday, April 9, 2019

    I rode aboard a pair of South African Airways 747s some years ago. Outbound it was the Durban, and the Bloemfontein on my return, both cities in South Africa. If unsure, I needed only to check the wooden plaque near the upper deck stairs, emblazoned with a crest and scroll. I thought the plaque added an elegant, ocean-liner sort of touch.

    When I flew cargo jets for DHL, one of my colleagues was killed in a small-plane crash. The airline named one of its DC-8s after him.

    I miss the Austrian carrier Lauda Air, now part of Austrian Airlines. More eccentric than most, the airline remembered artists and musicians: there was the Gustav Klimt, the Miles Davis, the Freddie Mercury, and even a 737 named Frank Zappa. At Virgin Atlantic, which styles itself a bit more provocatively, you might have a seat on the Tubular Belle, the Barbarella, or maybe the Varga Girl.

    For whatever reason, the tradition seems a lot more popular overseas than in the United States. You might spot one or two planes decaled in commemoration of some person or event (Delta has 757s named after Mariano Rivera, the Hall of Fame baseball star of the New York Yankees, and Joseph E. Lowery, a hero of the Civil Rights movement), but by and large the US majors have shied away.

    One unfortunate exception is jetBlue, which took a clever idea ? riffs on the color blue ? and turned it into an insufferable, overindulgent routine that makes your eyes roll. I don?t advocate hurling tomatoes at Airbuses, but here are some deserving targets. I can live with Idlewild Blue (Idlewild is the old name for Kennedy Airport, jetBlue’s home base), and even Betty Blue. But That?s What I Like About Blue, or Fancy Meeting Blue Here, or Bippity Boppity Blue are too much to take. What was I saying about dignity?

    Some years back, United christened several jets in honor of its highest-mileage frequent flyers. Imagine not getting an upgrade on the very plane with your name on its nose.

    And, while it wasn?t a commercial transport (and before somebody brings it up), we should probably mention the Spirit of St. Louis. Or, even more historically significant, we shan?t forget the Enola Gay.

    Most famous of all, however, was L’Esprit de Moncton / Spirit of Moncton, the 19-seat Metroliner turboprop captained by a swashbuckling young fool in an ill-fitting uniform ? the author of this story. Plane and pilot are seen in the historic photo below, taken on the apron in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1993.

     

    Patrick Smith is an airline pilot and the host of www.askthepilot.com. He lives near Boston. His book, COCKPIT CONFIDENTIAL, is a New York Times bestseller. www.askthepilot.com/cockpitconfidential/

    Featured image by Alberto Riva/TPG

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    Speedbirds, Shamrocks and Clippers: All About Airline Call Signs [The Points Guy]
  • What Overtourism Will Look Like in 7 Cities in the Next Decade (3784 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 14:00:00 -0400What Overtourism Will Look Like in 7 Cities in the Next DecadeThe Points Guy

    Overtourism is hardly a new concept to travel, and when people think of crowded, touristy cities, destinations such as Venice and Amsterdam may come to mind. But these are just the studies struggling with throngs of visitors today. A new study conducted by the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) and Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) analyzed 50 cities across the globe, and pointed out seven destinations where rapidly increasing tourism could cause serious issues in the next decade.

    The study divided cities into categories based on how prepared the city is for tourism growth. It measured cities based on factors such as labor, infrastructure, stability, environment, sustainable tourism growth, tourism management and more. The study compared those factors to the visitor growth forecast between 2017 and 2027. When a city has a poor score for tourism factors and a high score in projected tourism growth, the city is at risk for overtourism. Basically, these cities have a higher tourism growth rate than the current resources can handle.

    Seven cities in particular were identified as having growing tourism momentum, increased pressures and inadequate resources for accommodating the boom: Bangkok, Thailand; Cape Town in South Africa; Delhi, India; Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City; Istanbul, Turkey; Jakarta, Indonesia (which is also projected to be the world’s most populous city by 2030); and Mexico City.

    So, if you’re interested in traveling to any of these cities, it might be better to go now ? or at least, well before 2030.

    While the threat of overtourism seems to be impacting, well, pretty much every sought-after destination on Earth, the study also found many cities that are successfully handling increased tourism. Cities such as Berlin, Dublin, Madrid, London, Miami and New York City (notably, mostly Western European capitals) are “mature performers” which, according to the WTTC, means they are some of the cities ? along with so-called “balanced dynamics” destinations ? that are, “in the most favorable and ready position to manage the current levels of growth.”

    Financial hub cities including Beijing, Chicago, Hong Kong and Tokyo have less leisure travel, so visitor growth doesn’t add as much strain.

    For travelers who simply prefer less popular destinations (read: thinner crowds), cities including Bogotá, Colombia; Lima, Peru; Cairo; Egypt and Moscow; Russia have slower tourism growth and lower visitor concentration.

    This WTTC study comes on the heels of a Responsible Travel report that found 98 destinations in 63 countries struggling with overtourism. While some are not at all surprising, like the Great Wall of China and the Statue of Liberty, there are other places like Tallinn Old Town in Estonia and Darjeeling, in India, that are also scrambling to manage the onslaught of visitors. And these aren’t even mainstream attractions.

    Destinations have had to get really creative to manage increased and sometimes untenable tourism. Amsterdam, for example, removed their famous photo-opp sign in December, and both Venice and Rome have been implementing strict regulations and laws aimed at controlling tourists. And then there’s the Faroe Islands, an entire nation that had to close its doors to tourists for a few days for “maintenance.”

    Though overtourism continues to be an issue, tourism and travel is still essential to the international economy. The WTTC reported that the industry contributes 10.4% to global GDP. The problem, according to the WTTC, is not tourism itself, but adequately preparing destinations to manage the industry in a thoughtful and sustainable way.

    Feature photo by Lisheng Chang via Unsplash.

  • America Planted Malware In Russia's Power Grid, Says NYT (1673 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 13:34:00 -0400America Planted Malware In Russia's Power Grid, Says NYTSlashdot

    "The U.S. military's Cyber Command has gotten more aggressive than ever against Russia in the past year, placing 'potentially crippling malware' in systems that control the country's electrical grid," according to CNET, citing a report in the New York Times: Made possible by little-noticed legal authority granted last summer by Congress, Cyber Command's strategy shift from a defensive to offensive posture is meant in part as a warning shot, but it's also designed to enable paralysing cyberattacks in the event of a conflict, The New York Times said Saturday, quoting unnamed officials... [T]he recent moves appear to have taken place under a military authorization bill Congress passed in 2018 that gives the go-ahead for "clandestine military activity" in cyberspace to "deter, safeguard or defend against attacks or malicious cyberactivities against the United States...." The Times said Cyber Command is concerned Russia could trigger selective power outages in key states during the 2020 election and that it needs a way to discourage such attacks. But the agency and the U.S. have to consider their moves carefully in this international game of cyberchess. "The question now is whether placing the equivalent of land mines in a foreign power network is the right way to deter Russia," the Times report says. "While it parallels Cold War nuclear strategy, it also enshrines power grids as a legitimate target...." In related news, Bloomberg reported Friday that a Russia-linked hacking group that shut down an oil and gas facility in Saudi Arabia in 2017 has been probing utilities in the U.S. since late last year.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Juul faces House investigation over teen e-cigarette use (1853 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 13:33:00 -0400Juul faces House investigation over teen e-cigarette useEngadget RSS Feed

    Juul is facing even more heat over concerns that it's contributing to teen vaping. The House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy has opened an investigation into the "youth e-cigarette epidemic" that could determine if Juul had marketed its e-cigarettes to kids. Committee Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi has asked the company to hand over any documents from 2013 onward that touch on related parts of its advertising and social media strategies, including the impact of ads on children and its awareness of under-18 social network followers.

    The request also covers less explicitly youth-oriented figures, such as Juul-related data on clinical trials to quit smoking. Moreover, the committee wants to know about the reasoning behind the pens' nicotine levels, Juul's early market research and the agreements employees signed after Altria bought the company.

    Juul has until June 21st to honor the request. It's already dealing with a Senate investigation that began in April.

    The company told Gizmodo in a statement that it "welcome[d] the opportunity" to comply with the request, claiming that it conducted "aggressive, industry leading" efforts to reduce underage use. It currently has a track-and-trace program to identify retailers who sell e-cigs to underage customers, and it has previously pulled fruit flavors and closed some of its social network accounts.

    Those remarks aren't likely to assuage the House, though. Agencies like the Center for Disease Control have pinned a surge of teen tobacco use on the rise of vaping, and Juul is one of the largest players in the vape industry. If the firm is going to convince either side of Congress that it's above-board, it'll have to show evidence that it didn't court or knowingly tolerate underage use.

    Via: Gizmodo

    Source: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi

  • Alaska Air, Air Italy Announce Interline Agreement (3518 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 13:30:00 -0400Alaska Air, Air Italy Announce Interline AgreementThe Points Guy

    Alaska Airlines and Air Italy passengers will soon have access to new destinations through an interline agreement between the two airlines as announced on Friday. The agreement means Air Italy will add 10 new destinations throughout North America for its passengers.

    The interline agreement will allow passengers booking with Air Italy to travel to the following destinations:

    • Anchorage
    • Honolulu
    • Las Vegas
    • Seattle
    • Portland
    • Palm Springs
    • San Diego
    • Newark
    • San Jose (CA)
    • Guadalajara

    Cities of origin served by Air Italy that are included in the interline agreement include:

    • Milan
    • Rome
    • Naples
    • Palermo
    • Catania
    • Lamezia Terme
    • Cagliari
    • Olbia

    When an Air Italy passenger books a trip to one of the new destinations, the passenger’s itinerary will look somewhat like the following:

    • Flight #1 ? Operated by Air Italy: From a European city to US city served by Air Italy and Alaska Air.
    • Flight #2 ? Operated by Alaska Air: From US city to the passenger’s final destination, or to a connection city in the US.
    • Flight #3 (if needed) ? Operated by Alaska Air: From a connecting city to the passenger’s final destination.

    Though Air Italy has confirmed the interline agreement and shared details of the partnership, Alaska Airlines has not officially confirmed on its end.

    Questions Raised About Partnership

    An interline agreement is a very basic partnership between airlines. For example, even American Airlines and Delta ? airlines that compete both domestically and internationally ? operate interline agreements. However, Alaska Airlines’ and Air Italy’s interline agreement has raised questions about a future partnership between the two airlines.

    Alaska Airlines is not a member of a major airline alliance. Instead, Alaska Airlines partners with dozens of airlines globally to offer its passengers and members of Alaska Air’s MileagePlan additional options. These partnerships are what has made Alaska Air’s MileagePlan such a valuable and lucrative frequent flyer program.

    Recently, Alaska Airlines added El Al to its list of partners. Alaska Airlines and El Al frequent flyers can earn miles for travel on both airlines with the option to redeem miles for travel on either airline coming soon.

    Related: Alaska Air, El Al Announce Partnership

    With Alaska Airlines’ track record of partnerships with numerous airlines, the airline’s latest interline agreement with Air Italy has raised questions as to whether or not the two airlines might expand their partnership in the future. An expanded partnership between the two airlines might allow members of the two airlines’ frequent flyer programs to earn and redeem miles for travel on either airline.

    For now, however, the interline agreement is the only confirmed partnership between the two airlines. Additionally, while Air Italy’s official press release makes it sound as if the interline agreement has already gone into effect, interline travel is not yet bookable on either airline’s website or through online travel agencies (OTAs).

    For the latest travel news, deals, and points and miles tips please subscribe to The Points Guy daily email newsletter.

    Featured image on an Air Italy Airbus A330 at New York-JFK by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy

  • Guatemala votes for new president amid tensions over violence, migration (253 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 13:21:00 -0400Guatemala votes for new president amid tensions over violence, migrationReuters: World News

    Guatemalans on Sunday began voting for a new president, who will face the challenge of curbing drug gang violence that has convulsed the country and helped spur illegal immigration to the United States, fueling tensions with President Donald Trump.

  • Travel Waivers: Do Airlines Get More Stingy in the Summer? (7360 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 13:00:00 -0400Travel Waivers: Do Airlines Get More Stingy in the Summer?The Points Guy

    It’s become a staple of winter air travel: the weather waiver.

    When extreme winter storms threaten to wreak havoc, causing mass flight cancellations throughout the country, airlines routinely waive change fees so that passengers can alter their flight plans without penalty.

    But the need for waivers doesn’t go away once the snow melts. Powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes and extreme heat waves cause flyers to seek travel waivers in warm-weather months, as well.

    On May 29, 2019, a series of storms throughout the US led to hundreds of flight cancellations and delays. Yet, US-based air carriers announced only two weather waivers that day: one for American Airlines passengers traveling through Dallas Fort Worth Airport (DFW) and the other for Southwest passengers going through Denver Airport (DIA).

    With hurricane season underway, and the potential for more extreme summer weather to come, The Points Guy (TPG) asked: Are airlines more reluctant to grant travel waivers during the summer than they are in the winter?

    Why Airlines Issue Waivers

    “Airlines only issue waivers when they’ve determined that there is a high probability that the flight will ultimately be canceled,” Michelle Couch-Friedman, executive director of the consumer group Elliott Advocacy, told TPG in an email. Weather is often the culprit behind waivers, but it’s far from the only one. Airlines have also announced waivers when confronted with possible labor strikes, State Department travel advisories, or natural disasters.

    “When airlines issue a waiver for a flight, passengers usually will get an alert telling them what travel dates are affected by the waiver, how long it’s in effect, and which fees the airline is waiving,” Couch-Friedman explained. “Sometimes it’s just the change fee, sometimes it’s the change fee plus the difference in your old and new fares,” she added.

    Waivers don’t just benefit customers. Airlines benefit from them, too. “[Waivers] are pretty much put in place to help the airlines mitigate possible large-scale cancellations based on a large event,” aviation expert Kyle Bailey told TPG in an email. The more people who change their flight plans before, say, a major blizzard rolls into town in two days, the fewer people the airlines will have to scramble to reaccommodate after the calamity forces hundreds of flight cancellations.

    “It?s better for the airline when passengers rebook or reschedule their flight,” Bailey said.

    Cold-Weather Waivers VS. Warm-Weather Waivers

    TPG looked at weather-related waivers issued by the big three legacy carriers ? United, American and Delta ? going back several months. We found that in the five-month period between May and September of 2018, which we used to define as “warm-weather months,” those carriers announced a total of 53 weather waivers for travel in the continental United States, Canada and Mexico.

    In contrast, the five-month period between November 2018 and March of this year, our “cold-weather months,” yielded 108 weather waivers throughout the region ? more than double the number announced in the warm-weather months.

    That hot/cold disparity isn’t too surprising. A polar vortex that slams half the East Coast and most of the Midwest during the winter is going to cause far more trouble with US air travel than a thunderstorm that rolls through Dallas. Unlike summer storms, big winter storms are often predicted days in advance, giving airlines more time to limit travel disruptions by issuing waivers.

    Airlines may have another reason for issuing fewer weather waivers in the spring and summer: they simply can’t mess with their super-busy warm-weather travel season. “Waivers only work when airlines have some excess capacity on which to reaccommodate customers who may choose to change their travel plans,” aviation industry expert Bob Mann told TPG in an email. “In winter, that slack may exist. In summer, not so much. And with the unanticipated capacity reductions due to the [Boeing 737] MAX grounding, fuhgeddaboudit.”

    Still, Bailey believes that airlines are on the same level when it comes to waivers. “The travel waivers are pretty straightforward,” he said. “I don?t believe the airlines are playing games with the issuance of them,” he added.

    Waiver Tips

    Bailey and Couch-Friedman offered the following tips to navigate the world of waivers:

    Don’t make your own forecast; give the airlines time to act.

    Passengers tend to get in trouble with waivers when they start playing weather forecaster Al Roker. “We often get complaints from passengers who have canceled their flights ahead of a waiver based on their own predictions of a cancellation due to bad weather,” said Couch-Friedman. “This really isn’t a good idea. If you cancel your flight before the airline has issued a waiver or canceled the flight, you’ll be on the hook for the cancellation/change fee.” She suggests waiting for up to an hour before your flight to see what the airlines do before taking any action yourself.

    Be nice.

    Suppose a bad weather forecast has you so worried about your scheduled flight, you say, “To heck with the change fees!” ? and change your flight ? only to have the airline announce a waiver right after you made the change and incurred the fees. Hope is not lost ? you may still be able to get your fee waived. “A short, polite request to the airline can often do the trick and get the waiver applied post-cancellation,” Couch-Friedman said.

    Being nice can also help if the airline hasn’t issued a waiver, but you’re still wary about flying in predicted bad weather. “Individual waivers are possible,” Couch-Friedman explained. “Even if an airline doesn’t issue a general waiver, a concise, friendly request to waive change fees when a terrible snowstorm or hurricane is predicated is often granted. The key is to ask politely.”

    Book with airlines directly.

    Requesting waivers from an airline can get tricky if you booked your original flight through a third-party website. “I opt for booking with the airlines directly,” Bailey said. “Third-party sites’ hands are tied when it comes to waiving fees. Airlines themselves are more flexible.” Bailey also suggested booking airline tickets with a major credit card for an added layer of protection in case of a fee dispute. “American Express, Chase, etc. are very competitive and customer-service focused,” he said. “For those who don?t have the privilege of booking with a credit card, they might want to purchase travel disruption insurance in extreme cases.”

    The Bottom Line

    Airlines appear to issue fewer weather waivers in the summer than in the winter. But waivers help airlines and passengers mitigate the travel headaches caused by bad weather, no matter the season. Take advantage of them, but do so smartly. And politely.

    For the latest travel news, deals and points and miles tips please subscribe to The Points Guy daily email newsletter.

  • Why 'Ambient Computing' Is Just A Marketing Buzzword -- For Now (2690 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 12:34:00 -0400Why 'Ambient Computing' Is Just A Marketing Buzzword -- For NowSlashdot

    An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld columnist Mike Elgan: Ambient computing is real. It's the next megatrend in computing.... To interact in an "ambient computing" context means to not care and not even necessarily know where exactly the devices are that you're interacting with. When IoT devices and sensors are all around us, and artificial intelligence can understand human contexts for what's happening and act accordingly and in our interests, then ambient computing will have arrived... As with many technology revolutions, including augmented reality and AI, the buzzword ambient will precede the actual technology by many years. In fact, the marketing buzzword is suddenly here in full force. The actual technologies? Not so much. Instead, we're on the brink of a revolution in what you might call "semi-ambient computing...." Rumors are circulating that Google's next smartphones, the Pixel 4 line, may come with Soli built in. I told you in January about Google's Project Soli, which may be called the "Aware" sensor or feature in the Pixel 4 -- again, according to unconfirmed rumors. Soli or Aware capability means the Pixel 4 may accept in-the-air hand gestures, such as "skip" and "silence" during music playback. The new Google "wave" is a hand gesture. The ability to wave away music with a hand gesture brings the smartphone into the semi-ambient computing era. It basically adds natural hand gestures to natural-language processing.... Google also briefly talked last year about a healthcare assistant called Dr. Liz., which was described by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt as an ambient computing virtual assistant for doctors. We'll see if Google ever ships a Dr. Liz product... Yes, ambient computing is real, and the Next Big Thing, showing up first in business, enterprises and healthcare. But for now, the term ambient computing will be misapplied. It's a buzzword that will be stapled to every semi-ambient computing product and service that comes out over the next few years. The article predicts we'll eventually see ambient computing arriving in cars, grocery stores, smart glasses -- and notes a Microsoft job listing for its "Ambient Computing & Robotics team" describing "the era where computer vision, AI-based cognition, and autonomous electro-mechanicals pervade the workplace." Computerworldd adds that Microsoft "was mocked for its 'Clippy' assistant, which the company released in 1996 as a way to provide friendly help for people using Microsoft Office. In the future, Microsoft may release what will essentially be a Clippy that works, because it will understand human context through AI."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • How to Read an Aircraft Seat Map (6395 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 12:30:00 -0400How to Read an Aircraft Seat MapThe Points Guy

    If you’ve checked in online for a flight or selected your seat in advance, you may have been presented with a visual seat map ? either allowing you to choose which available seat you would like or showing you where on the plane you will be sitting.

    Some seat maps are very easy to read because all seats are either the same or very similar. While others are much more complicated because there is a huge difference between the different seats in the cabin.

    Some Basics

    You may already know this, but before we get into the complex seat maps, here are some basics:

    • Seat maps are always forward facing, so the top of the map is the front of the plane or cabin and the bottom is the rear of the plane or cabin.
    • Seat maps are not usually to scale ? a huge aisle or galley area on a map is unlikely to be how the plane is actually configured. Airlines use every inch of available space to maximize revenue.
    • Each seat is usually represented by a single square ? three square together (i.e. in economy) usually means three seats next to each other.
    • Gaps running vertically through the entire seat map usually represent an aisle.
    • Even if the seat map only shows the seats as squares facing forward, the seat could be facing forward, angled toward the aisle or window or even facing backward.

    • Gaps between rows horizontally will usually represent either an exit row or bulkhead (cabin wall at the front of a cabin).
    • A shaded ‘flap’ on either side of the seat map indicate where the wings are. You may not have a great view out the window if you sit over the wing ? unless you like watching the wing.
    • A knife and fork symbol means a galley area where crew store and prepare food and drinks, and the bathroom (male and female) symbol means lavatories. Many passengers avoid selecting seats near a bathroom because of the potential noise and smells, and on busy flights, passengers tend to congregate near bathrooms while they wait.

    • A symbol of a stroller means this is a child-friendly row. Families with babies are usually seated here. If you want a quiet flight, you should avoid these rows.
    • A gap between the seat and the wall and shown in rows 51-53 in the seat map below means that the shape of the aircraft curves narrower at the rear, so it’s not wide enough to fit three seats in that space. These seats can be great for traveling with someone else, though there may be a gap between the window seat and the window, which could mean extra storage space but difficulty sleeping for leaning against the window because of the gap.
    • Seat maps will have a legend showing what different colors and symbols on seats mean. Available seats will be one color, with those already selected by other passengers or otherwise unavailable to select in advance a different color. If there is an X on the seat you want to select, this may mean it cannot be reserved in advance and if there is a $ sign on the seat, it means you will need to pay extra to select this seat.

    Premium Cabins

    Different economy and premium economy seats within the same cabin are usually all quite similar, regardless of airline. They will usually be in some sort of 3-3, 2-4-2, 3-3-3 or 3-4-3 layout. By all means, look for exit rows as explained above, but otherwise, most seats will be the same.

    In business and first class cabins, there can be a huge difference in both cabin layouts and best seats between different airlines. This is because there is a bigger difference in business and first class products between airlines than in economy and premium economy seats.

    For a four-across ‘straight’ 1-2-1 seat map where the middle seats all look the same between rows, it means all seats will have direct aisle access. They will either face directly forward and may angle slightly toward the window or aisle in a herringbone layout.

    You may wish to avoid either the front or back few rows if they are close to a galley or bathroom ? a seat or seats midway back should be a nice balance.

    Another popular layout in business class is a staggered 1-2-1 layout. Rather than each seat directly behind the seat in front of it (like the seat map above), this layout will have your feet in lie-flat mode next to the person in front of you, rather than behind.

    This means each ‘window’ seat will be a choice between a seat right next to the window or a seat near the window, but next to the aisle. The ‘true’ window seats right next to the window (the A and K seats in the map above) tend to be more private. For the center seats, you will see that the rows alternate between rows with two seats very close together and rows with seats far apart. These are often known as ‘honeymoon’ seats and ‘divorce’ seats. If you are traveling with a loved one, you may wish to select the pair very close together, while if you are traveling with a colleague or someone you don’t want to be super close to, select the divorce seats to provide more space between you.

    Some airlines have a staggered 1-2-1 business class cabin that does space all center seats the same. For a cabin like the one below, there’s no center pairs that are closer or farther away ? and therefore not really better or worse.

    You may also see a large forward/front business class cabin followed by a galley or bathrooms and then a smaller cabin at the rear. The rear business class cabins tend to be smaller and, therefore, quieter and more exclusive feeling. The downside of this can be that meals take longer to serve if crew start serving from the front, so your meal choice may have run out by the time crew get to the rear cabin.

    Some airlines will have seat maps detailed enough to show which way the seats actually face. For example, here is a 2-2-2 business class cabin with pairs of seats facing in slightly different directions.

    First class cabins on the one airline tend to have seats that are very similar in a very small cabin, so unless you are traveling with someone else or especially want a window seat, it’s not as important to select the perfect seat in advance.

    In addition to checking the seat map on an airline’s website, it’s useful to check out resources like SeatGuru, which allow you scroll through an airline’s fleet for the best and worst seats.

    Featured image courtesy of British Airways.

  • Is the Delta Platinum Amex Annual Fee Worth It? YES, If You Like the Terrific Welcome Bonus and Opportunity for Delta Elite Status (12222 characters)

    Sun, 16 Jun 2019 12:30:00 -0400Is the Delta Platinum Amex Annual Fee Worth It? YES, If You Like the Terrific Welcome Bonus and Opportunity for Delta Elite StatusMillion Mile Secrets

    INSIDER SECRET: This card’s awesome welcome bonus isn?t the only thing that makes this card so valuable. It’s an MVP if you fly Delta even semi-regularly. 

    If Delta is your preferred airline, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is a great way to help you climb the ranks of Delta?s elite status. Plus, it?ll help you save money and fly more comfortably with the airline. The Platinum Delta Amex card has an array of benefits, but also comes with a $195 annual fee (See Rates & Fees), posing the question: is the Delta Platinum Amex card annual fee worth it? 

    In short, if you love to travel, get a great return on your money and are looking to give Delta a shot, this card is a no-brainer.

    Through July 2, 2019, the card has an increased welcome bonus of 75,000 Delta miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) (the good stuff that?ll count toward elite status with Delta) after meeting minimum spending requirements. On top of that, if you make a Delta purchase in the first three months of holding the card, you?ll earn a $100 statement credit. The welcome offer alone more than covers the cost of the annual fee – and that?s just the beginning.

    The Platinum Delta Amex card also has a slew of valuable perks. For example, the card will get you closer to elite status when you hit a certain spend within the calendar year, and you?ll have the ability to add a friend on a trip for just the cost of taxes and fees. And every time you fly domestically, your first checked bag will be free.

    While the initial return is enticing, this card continues to prove its long-term value.

    Is the Delta Platinum Amex Annual Fee Worth It? The Benefits Can Add up Fast

    Apply here: Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

    Read our review of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

    When it comes to the numbers, the Platinum Delta Amex easily pays for itself. The limited-time welcome bonus offer is 75,000 Delta miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, and ends on July 2, 2019. Plus, you’ll get a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase within the same time frame.

    Delta doesn’t have an award chart, but this bonus can typically cover the cost of around three round-trip domestic coach flights.

    A modest round-trip fare can ring in at $300, so three round-trip itineraries covered would mean a return of over $900. You can even get more value from Delta miles when you redeem them for otherwise pricey flights on partners like Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic.

    At very least, the welcome bonus is worth $750 in Delta flights when you book using Delta Pay With Miles. Amex Delta card holders can redeem their miles this way at a rate of 1 cent each with no blackout dates.

    There?s lots more to delve into with this card that will allow you to consistently make the most of your travel experience.

    1. Embark on the Journey Toward Elite Status

    If you decide to apply for the Platinum Delta Amex card, chances are you opt to fly Delta more often than not. Waived baggage fees, bonus miles for Delta spending and a big welcome offer will probably hold your loyalty with Delta, but we?ll revisit that in a moment.

    Because of that, you?ll continue to rack up Delta miles, inching you closer and closer to Delta elite status. However, this card helps to further boost the speed at which you?ll become an elite flyer. Here?s how it works.

    If you spend $25,000+ in eligible purchases within a calendar year, you?ll earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs).

    This bonus, alongside the initial welcome bonus that includes 5,000 MQMs, will get flyers on their way to earning status. For reference, you need 25,000 MQMs or 30 Medallion® Qualification Segments (MQSs) to reach Silver elite status. (With this card, the Medallion® Qualification Dollar requirement of $3,000 MQD is waived when you spend $25,000 or more on your card in a calendar year.)

    That already gets you to 15,000 MQMs, which is just 10,000 MQMs short of Silver Delta status.

    However, if you?re able to spend at least $50,000 on the card within the calendar year, you?ll be awarded with an additional 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs. That means you?ll rake in a total of 20,000 bonus miles and 20,000 MQM toward your status, in addition to miles you’ll earn from spending.

    Again, those added miles stack with the 75,000 Delta miles and 5,000 MQMs cardholders can earn with the welcome bonus. That adds up to 145,000 Delta miles and 25,000 MQMs all to your name. By then, you?ll have Silver elite status for the rest of 2019, all the way through January 2021. Not a bad reward for spending on a credit card! 

    2. Bring Your Best Travel Bud With You on a Trip

    One of the most attractive perks of the Platinum Delta Amex card is the companion certificate. Every year upon card renewal, cardholders have the opportunity to bring a buddy with them on a domestic trip. The companion certificate covers everything except taxes and fees for a friend to fly with card holders round-trip in coach.

    So, if you?re planning a trip with your bestie or a surprise getaway with your spouse, this added perk can save lots of money – not to mention, it?ll totally make someone else?s day!

    3. Take Advantage of a Sweet Welcome Offer

    It?s difficult to ignore the limited-time bonus this card is offering. When you meet the minimum spending requirements, you?ll earn 75,000 Delta miles and 5,000 MQMs. That?s worth at least three round-trip domestic coach tickets and a hefty boost toward elite status. And there are so many other great ways to use your Delta miles.

    Plus, if you make a Delta purchase within the first three months of holding the card, you?ll get a $100 statement credit. That’s all just for spending on things you’re likely going to purchase anyway.

    If you compare the cost of the annual fee with the value of the welcome bonus, immediately $100 of the $195 cost would be taken away by the statement credit. As for the remaining $95, it’d be returned over and over when you redeem the 75,000 Delta miles you’ll earn. 

    4. Earn, Save and Get Comfy Every Time You Fly Delta

    While this card doesn?t have the best return on spending, the bonus categories are still worth noting. You’ll earn: 

    • 2 Delta miles per dollar spent on Delta, including flights booked on Delta.com, Sky Club membership or passes, Delta Vacations packages, upgrades, or in-flight purchases
    • 1 Delta mile per dollar spent on everything else

    And if you check a bag when you fly, there?s a potential for insane savings with waived baggage fees when you book with the Platinum Delta Amex card. You can save up to $60 per round-trip Delta flight domestically. Just with this perk alone, you can nearly make back the cost of the annual fee before your fourth round-trip checking a bag. Don’t forget, you can share this perk with up to eight people traveling with you on the same reservation. 

    Another great perk of holding this card is a reduced fee to Delta Sky Club airport lounges when flying Delta the same day. Card holders and up to two guests can access the lounge for $29 per person. For reference, a single visit pass usually costs $59. 

    Then, once you get on board, you?ll be able to get 20% off inflight purchases of food, alcoholic beverages and audio headsets. That’s after getting Group 1 priority boarding so you can get settled in faster and snag an overhead bin for your things. 

    What About Other Delta Credit Cards?

    The most comparable credit cards to the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card are the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, which has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year (See Rates & Fees), and the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, which comes with a $450 annual fee (See Rates & Fees). The Gold Delta SkyMiles card is a step below the Platinum, and the Delta Reserve card is a step above.

    The welcome bonus for the Delta Reserve card is similar to the Platinum, offering 75,000 Delta miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening through July 2, 2019. But it doesn?t offer the $100 credit following a Delta purchase within the first three months like the Platinum card.

    Also through July 2, 2019, the Gold Delta card offers 60,000 Delta miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also offers a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase within the first three months.

    The Gold card does NOT include the annual companion certificate, nor the mileage boost that the other two cards have, so you lose the opportunity to gain MQMs and bonus miles with annual spending.

    On the other hand, the Delta Reserve card includes most everything else the Platinum card does … and then some. With the Delta Reserve card, travelers will get complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta the same day, instead of just getting a discount.

    Plus, the mileage boost is bigger with this card. When cardholders spend $30,000 within the calendar year, they?ll earn 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles. Like the Platinum card, there is also an opportunity to double the earnings when the spend is doubled. When cardholders spend a total of $60,000 within the calendar year, an additional 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 bonus miles will be applied.

    Depending on how much you?re willing to put down on a card like this and how much you spend in a year, you may be more inclined to consider one of the other two personal Delta cards compared here.

    Bottom Line

    The $195 annual fee to have the Amex Platinum Delta SkyMiles card is minimal when compared to everything you get beyond. If you?re already a committed Delta flyer, it’s an obvious choice. 

    It has a welcome bonus of 75,000 Delta miles and 5,000 MQMs after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account. You?ll get also a $100 statement credit for making a Delta purchase within the same time frame. This offer ends July 2, 2019.

    You can get about six one-way flights covered just with the bonus miles, and you?ll be on your way to traveling with elite status when you account for all the MQMs at play. The potential for a $100 statement credit plus the companion certificate add up quick. If you take advantage of the useful benefits of this card, you’ll realize an outsized return for your money. 

    You can apply for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express here.

    To learn more about Delta and its rewards program, check out our related guides:

    To learn more about Delta miles, check out these guides:

    To find out about more opportunities to earn the most rewards for credit card spending, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

    For rates and fees of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

    For the rates and fees of the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

    For the rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

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