Internet Travel With Context
March 7-March 14, 2020
Read all about it! Italy, Spain, France and Israel shut down. Other countries close their borders as the United States preps for what's to come. The Trump Administration botches the roll out of a ban on "all travel from Europe." U.S. carriers begin cutting service to the bone. Here's how it's happening. New items are at the top; read up from the bottom for full context.

Coronavirus Update for March 14, 2020

With huge chunks of the world in lockdown, all that's left to do is contaminate our screens and keyboards and rail at an invisible enemy. Here are today's developments:
        United Kingdom and Ireland have been added to the U.S. travel ban from European countries. Effective Sunday at midnight, U.S. citizens will be allowed entry to specified gateway airports--notably American's Charlotte and Philadelphia hubs are not on the list--and asked to self-quarantine. European citizens or foreign nationals who've been to Britain, Ireland and Schengen Area countries are banned.
        Spain is shutting down all commercial activity except for food markets and pharmacies.
        France and Israel are closing down restaurants, bars and other places of non-essential social activity.
        New Zealand says every person entering the country--including citizens--must self-quarantine for 14 days.
        Denmark has closed its borders to international visitors for one month. Russia has closed its land border to arrivals from Poland and Norway.
        Apple says it is closing all stores worldwide for two weeks. Ironically, the only exception: Apple stores in greater China.
        Canada is suspending Parliament until at least April 20.
        Cruise lines are shutting down. In addition to Viking and Princess, who made the move earlier in the week, four more lines have planned temporary shutdowns: Carnival, Norwegian, MSC and Royal Caribbean.

Coronavirus Update for March 13, 2020

On the day after the worst decline in Dow Jones history and the day after airlines tried to figure out the dumbest travel ban in history, America began to close and carriers begin to pull down their networks. Here are today's developments:
        Delta Air Lines says it will reduce flying by 40 percent for the next several months; eliminate all Europe flying except to London for 30 days; and park 300 aircraft. CEO Ed Bastian says Delta is getting more cancellations than bookings for the next 30 days of travel.
        La Compagnie, the all-business-class French carrier that flies Paris-Newark (and Nice-Newark seasonally), is suspending its two daily Paris flights between March 18 and April 12. Resumption of the Nice route has been pushed back to June 1 from late May.
        U.S. hotels are beginning see the effects of the pandemic and slowdown. According to data from STR, occupancy rate for the week ended March 7 dropped 7 points to 61.8 percent. Average daily rate dropped more than 4 percent to $126.01. Revenue per available room (revPAR), a key measure of hotel performance, plunged 11.6 percent to $77.82.
        American Airlines says it will reduce transatlantic capacity by 50 percent in April, reduce Latin American flying and begin or speed up the retirement of older aircraft such as the Boeing 757 and 767.
        The Masters, golf's most storied event, is being delayed. The Boston Marathon and London Marathon are also delayed.
        Disney now says it will close all its Orlando attractions, too, and halt its cruises.

Coronavirus Update for March 12, 2020

No airline or nation was told in advance about what President Trump erroneously called a ban on "all travel from Europe." Nor were they told about the real facts--a ban on foreigners who recently passed through Schengen countries. Everyone is now scrambling to figure out the details and an appropriate response. Meanwhile, America is closing. Here are today's developments:
        Delta Air Lines and Air France/KLM are adjusting their transatlantic flying--but cannot move on certain flights because they admit they have no idea what the U.S. government now permits. United Airlines will maintain its transatlantic schedule until March 19, then make rolling cuts. Finnair will cut all U.S. flights until April 12. Lufthansa and its subsidiaries--Brussels, Austrian and Swiss--are cutting to skeletal schedules that will maintain connectivity with their respective hubs, but little else.
        Hilton, Choice and InterContinental hotels have extended their nonrefundability waivers on new and most existing reservations.
        We're closed! as Miracle Max said in Princess Bride. Disneyland closes Saturday. March Madness is literally cancelled. The NHL and Major League Soccer joined the NBA in suspending the season. Major League Baseball has cancelled the rest of spring training and is delaying the season by at least two weeks. Broadway theaters will be dark until at least early April.
        Let's get small, as Steve Martin used to say. Many cities and states around the country are imposing limits on the size of public gatherings. Check the rules before you travel to a community.
        France is closing all schools from nursery level to universities.
        Italy trains are beginning to shut down. The state-owned railroad stopped its Thello trains between Italy and France and most Frecciarossa and Frecciargento routes are ending. Frecciarossa are the country's fastest trains and usually connect the largest cities. Frecciargento are the second-fastest trains.
        Norwegian is cancelling about 40 percent of its long-haul flights and 25 percent of its short-haul service until the end of May. Most of the cuts are on transatlantic flights to the United States. The only exception: flights to London/Gatwick.
        Delta Air Lines has now waived change fees for customers traveling to/from/through Europe through May 31.
        LATAM, the leading airline in South America, is cutting flights by 30 percent.
        Atlanta/Hartsfield officials say 46,000 travelers passed through security checkpoints Tuesday (March 10), down from 63,000 on the previous Tuesday. That's a 27 percent traffic decline in a week.
        Cruise lines have begun shutting down. Both Carnival and Viking have announced they will stop all movements for as much as 60 days.

Coronavirus Update for March 11, 2020

Financial markets resumed their downward spiral today and colleges began moving classes online and closing dormitories. In other words, the world and its money are beginning to self-quarantine. Here are today's developments:
        President Trump announced from the Oval Office at 9pm ET that "all travel from Europe" will be banned for 30 days starting at midnight Friday. But his proclamation says no such thing. It bans non-American citizens traveling from the Schengen Zone, a region of about two dozen European nations. The United Kingdom, which Trump specifically mentioned in his address, is one of many nations in Europe outsize the Schengen Zone. The proclamation is here.
        Delta Air Lines, says bookings have fallen 25-30 percent.
        Amtrak said bookings were down 50 percent in recent weeks and cancellations were up 300 percent.
        National Basketball Association officials have suspended the season until further notice. Meanwhile, the NCAA says the March Madness college basketball tournament will be played in empty arenas.
        Italy has tightened its nationwide lockdown. All shops, restaurants and bars must be closed 24/7. Only pharmacies and food shops will be permitted to open.
        Kuwait has cancelled all commercial flights to and from other Gulf states.
        It's a pandemic, says the World Health Organization, the global group that makes these kinds of calls.
        TSA officers at San Jose International Airport are testing positive for Coronavirus. At least three checkpoint screeners so far have been identified.
        Airport bosses are being diagnosed with Coronavirus. So far, that includes the director of Paris Airports and the executive director of the Port Authority, which operates Kennedy and LaGuardia in New York and Newark in New Jersey.
        Tokyo Olympics will cost perhaps US$25 billion to mount and would seriously damage the region's economy if cancelled.

Coronavirus Update for March 10, 2020

How bad is it getting? Delta Air Lines not only says demand has fallen sharply--worldwide bookings are down 25 percent--it also expects "ad hoc" cancellations. In other words, Delta will cancel specific flights when not enough folks book seats or show up at the departure gate. Here are today's developments:
        Europe airline movements yesterday were down 10 percent compared to March 9, 2019.
        Delta Air Lines will cut global service by at least 15 percent. Pacific capacity will be down 65 percent. Domestic capacity will be cut as much as 15 percent, transatlantic capacity will be down as much as 20 percent and Latin flights will be trimmed by 5 percent.
        American Airlines is cutting capacity throughout its network and some changes will last through October. Many seasonal routes expected to launch in coming weeks will not begin at all.
        Norwegian Air will cut its capacity by at least 15 percent between mid-March and mid-June.
        United Airlines and American Airlines have finally caved and are extending change-fee waivers to most tickets purchased before the latest round of gimmicky waivers were introduced.
        TAP Air Portugal will cut capacity by 7 percent in March, 11 percent in April and 19 percent in May.
        Morocco, which has few confirmed cases of Coronavirus, says it expects a shortfall of 100,000 visitors in March.

Coronavirus Update for March 9, 2020

Oil and financial markets collapsed today and that will only exacerbate the inevitable long-term decline of business travel. Here are today's other developments:
        Delta Air Lines has expanded its change fee waiver to "customers traveling both international and domestic through April 30 if the ticket was issued on or before March 9."
        QANTAS is reducing global capacity by about 25 percent. Among its North America cuts: Brisbane-San Francisco; Melbourne-San Francisco; and the launch of Brisbane-Chicago/O'Hare.
        Italy is now locked down, albeit in a very Italian way, until April 3. This is an extension of the weekend's lockdown of provinces in the north. People are being told to stay home except for grocery shopping. Even weddings and funerals are barred. And soccer games, which were being played in empty stadiums, are also banned. That last one might lead to the riots. (And there were riots today in Italian jails, including one in a Modena facility that killed six inmates.)
        Israel says all travelers entering the country, including returning citizens, must self-quarantine for 14 days.
        Ireland has cancelled all St. Patrick's Day activity.
        Korean Air says it has grounded about 100 of its 145 aircraft and its survival is at risk. Of course, the company has been in turmoil long before the Coronavirus not-yet-a-pandemic.
        Madrid has closed all schools and universities.
        Oil prices are plunging after Saudi Arabia and Russia could not agree over the weekend on a cut in production. Brent crude, which most closely tracks the price of jet fuel, sold as high as $67/barrel in December. It closed around $45 on Friday, but plunged as much as 20 percent in early-morning trading today. Analysts were discussing a once-impossible floor of $20 a barrel.
        Delta Air Lines is cutting more flights to Italy. Atlanta-Rome is suspended from March 11 until at least April 30. Seasonal Detroit-Rome flights are delayed until May 1. New York/Kennedy service to Milan/Malpensa, already suspended, will stay grounded until May 20. JFK-Venice flights stay grounded until May 21.
        Boston Marriott Long Wharf hotel has been identified as the source for an outbreak of the Coronavirus in Massachusetts. The Boston Globe has details.

Coronavirus Update for March 8, 2020

A Western democracy is attempting a widespread Coronavirus quarantine, effectively duplicating what China attempted in a society without democratic norms. We'll see how and if it works. Here are today's other developments:
        The State Department is now telling U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, not to travel by cruise ship. Its full statement is here.
        Best Western has extended the elite status of all Best Western Rewards members worldwide for an additional year.
        San Francisco has banned non-essential public gatherings at nine city venues. The order is here.
        Lufthansa is already lobbying the German government for a Coronavirus bailout. Bloomberg has the details.
        Alitalia has cancelled all flights at Milan's Malpensa Airport through April 3 in response to the Italian government decision to quarantine Lombardy and 13 other provinces. A reduced schedule will continue at Milan/Linate and Alitalia says travelers can connect to/from Linate through Rome. U.S. and most international airlines already had pulled the plug on Malpensa flights.
        Italy has taken the draconian step of trying to quarantine 14 provinces, including most of the Veneto, Lombardy, several parts of the Piedmont and areas around Rimini. That includes Milan, Italy's largest city and financial hub, and Venice. Virtually all public areas--shopping malls, museums, ski lifts, churches, theaters, schools--must close all or parts of the day. Restaurants and bars are only permitted to operate between 6am and 6pm. Trains and airlines can operate, but travelers must show a legitimate need for the travel.
        Lufthansa says it will ground all of its Airbus A380 superjumbos until May as part of its wide-ranging schedule reduction.
        Grand Princess, the cruise ship waiting off the Pacific Coast, will be allowed to dock tomorrow at the Port of Oakland. At least 21 passengers and crew have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus. Earlier this weekend, President Trump said he did not want the ship to dock because it would increase the number of Coronavirus cases in the United States "and it wasn't our fault."

Coronavirus Update for March 1-7, 2020

Read all about it! Italy emerges as the new Coronavirus hotspot so airlines begin making huge service cuts there. Meanwhile, Chinese airlines resume some flying. The chief rabbi of Israel says don't kiss the mezuzah. The travel industry starts tallying the financial damage. Click here for the day-to-day details.

Coronavirus Update for February 15-29, 2020

Read all about it! The Coronavirus spreads around the globe. Japan, South Korea and Italy are hit hard and airlines quickly drop their flights. Tourism disappears and companies begin telling employees to curtail business travel. The Tokyo Summer Olympics may be threatened. Airlines begin rolling out gimmicky fee waivers to nervous flyers. Click here for the day-to-day details.

Coronavirus Update for February 1-14, 2020

Read all about it! The spread of the Coronavirus is still mostly affecting mainland China, but Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are losing flights and visitors, too. As Chinese tourists stay home, however, the travel industry learns how much they mean to airline traffic, cruise ships and hotels. Click here for day-to-day details.

Coronavirus Update for January 23-31, 2020

Read all about it! As the Coronavirus worsens, airlines have reacted by slashing service to Hong Kong and mainland China. Retailers and food-service giants such as McDonald's are closing locations, too. And neighboring countries are closing their borders. Click here for the day-to-day details.