Internet Travel With Context
March 28 to April 4, 2019
Read all about it! Is a celebratory British Airways advertisement one of the reasons why Britain is having a terrible Brexit? A novelist thinks so. Sinatra's old Cal Neva Resort has a new owner and is getting a massive makeover. Honolulu's rail fail. A misplaced coffee carafe at a California resort yields a $6.5 million jury verdict. Sleeper trains return. And more.

Is a British Airways Ad What's Wrong With Brexit?

The United Kingdom won't leave the European Union on March 29 as originally planned. When and how it finally departs--or if it leaves at all--seems as confusing as, well, understanding the linguistic and geographic differences between England, Britain, Great Britain and the United Kingdom. But at least one commentator knows who's at fault: British Airways. Writing in The New York Times, British novelist Sam Byers excoriated a BA commercial (above) celebrating the carrier's 100th anniversary as "suffused with the toxicity of Brexit." The ad, which shows average Brits and celebrities getting to and settled on BA Flight 100, is "a hymn to the solipsistic backwater we've become," he claims.

Created by the United Kingdom division of the Ogilvy ad agency, the commercial is called "Made in Britain" and stars Oscar winners Olivia Colman and Gary Oldman, well-known British athletes and other celebrities you may or may not recognize on this side of the pond. Agree with Byers or not, it's clear that British Airways never envisioned the spot to be quite so polarizing. BA, in fact, thought it was decidedly non-political. "We've let the politicians deal with the politics," explained Hamish McVey, head of brands and marketing at British Airways. "We're steering clear of that." And a British advertising trade publication last month called the spot "a love letter to Britain." Byers is having none of it, however. Referencing Colman's lines about Britain's love of "rather a lot of tea," the novelist insists "cups of tea will neither turn back time nor show us ... the future we've failed to imagine." All Brexit-weary Brits do, he writes, is pay "our favorite celebrities to chant to us, over and over again, our tattered mantra of virtue." Bet you didn't think any of this stuff was going on while you were waiting to see if your upgrade cleared ...

American Diary: Hammocks and Escalators

      CHARLOTTE: An American Airlines hub, Charlotte Airport is fairly comfortable and even has rocking chairs in public areas. But that wasn't enough for one flyer who deployed his hammock in a departure area. No word if he purchased the gear in the hammock district.
      DETROIT: A 71-year-old man tumbled down an escalator at Detroit/Metro and died because he was fumbling with luggage. Some critics say the airport needs warning signs reminding travelers that no luggage is permitted on escalators.
      HONOLULU: An elevated rail system designed to help drivers from distant areas of Oahu reduce their downtown commute time has been bogged down in a decade of delays, bad planning and traditional Hawaiian go-slow/hurry-up silliness. The budget, originally estimated at $5 billion, is now $9 billion and nothing's ready to open.
      LAKE TAHOE: The state-line-straddling Cal Neva Resort and its cabins are being torn down to make way for a renovated operation. The man behind the scenes remaking the resort and obliterating Cal Neva's Sinatra/Rat Pack history? Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, who already owns the entire Hawaiian island of Lanai and all of its hotels.
      MIAMI BEACH: Everything about Miami Beach is fake. "Even the grass," explains James Cubby, a longtime Miami nightlife reporter. From its turn-of-the-century heyday as a winter retreat for old-money families to its salacious jazz-age years, everything about the Art Deco district is like an elaborate stage set.
      SAN DIEGO: A federal jury awarded the family of a 9-month-old girl $6.5 million after she was badly burned by coffee at the Omni LaCosta Resort. The family, visiting from Michigan in 2016, claimed a waiter placed a carafe of hot coffee too close to the child. The jury even apportioned blame: 92.5 percent to the Omni LaCosta and 7.5 percent to the family nanny, who did not notice the carafe had been placed on the table.
      ST. LOUIS: The city that invented the deep-fried ravioli has created a new cultural firestorm: bread-sliced bagels. At least one local branch of Panera Bread, which was founded in the St. Louis area, will slice bagels vertically as if they were loaves of bread.

Tight Connections ... Quick Hits on the News

      On the twenty-first century Thought sleeper trains metaphorically breathed their last in the 20th century and were relegated to the stuff of musical comedy farce? The Wall Street Journal reports a new generation of sleepers are successfully luring upmarket travelers.
      Stop me if you've heard this ... Blade, an Uber-like ride-share system for helicopters, believes there is a mass market for chopper rides, including runs to and from airports.
      Happens all the time, right? Business travelers were not shocked to hear a British Airways flight that was supposed to fly from London's City Airport to Dusseldorf ended up in Edinburgh instead. But this seems like a perfect moment to remind you that airline contracts of carriage don't guarantee you get to the destination on your ticket.
      Coffee, tea or selling my assignment The United Airlines flight attendants union wants senior FAs to stop "parking" the plum assignments. Why? Some flight attendants are apparently selling their prime overseas assignments to fellow employees. "This behavior is prohibited" and could lead to firing or other discipline from United management, the union says.
      Didn't Psy warn us? I never knew what Gangnam Style was about, but I'm pretty sure he was warning us about South Korea's predilection for weird and creepy stuff. So the scandal surrounding illicit secret videos of unsuspecting hotel guests really shouldn't surprise you.