Internet Travel With Context
April 5-April 11, 2020
Read all about it! As the world convulses with the waves of Coronavirus, the toll on the travel industry is revealed. Remaining flights are essentially empty, airports are shutting terminals and business travelers have no where to go--and aren't in a rush to get there. Here's how we're covering it. The latest items are at the top. Read up from the bottom for context.

Coronavirus Update for April 11, 2020

Airlines are furious after hearing from Treasury Secretary Mnuchin yesterday that grant money from the CARES Act will come with strings. Now the carriers know how flyers feel when airlines refuse to refund on cancelled flights. Thus endeth today's lesson on karma. Here are the other developments:
        Is this the bottom? The TSA yesterday screened almost 109,000 passengers at U.S. airports, the second consecutive day of slight increases. Today, of course, might be a record low given the fact that it is Saturday and also a historically low travel day. But we may have learned the bottom, bare-minimum travel number is around 100,000 passengers a day. Stay tuned.
        Italy extended its nationwide lockdown until May 3. It was due to end April 13.
        Los Angeles County extended its stay-at-home order through May 15. That covers about 10 million residents.
        Nationwide load factor fell to 11 percent on April 5, according to the airline trade group, which has a name so aggressively stupid and misleading that I do not mention it. It said the load factor last year on April 5 was 80 percent.

Coronavirus Update for April 10, 2020

From the good news/bad news/worse news department: The experts have lowered their estimates of how many may die in the United States. (It's 60,000 now.) But there are indications that the virus may stay with you even after you're "cured," raising the possibility of a second and third wave of infections, much like the 1918 flu pandemic. And, worse, we aren't testing nearly enough people to know anything about anything. Here are today's other developments:
        Thursday bump The TSA screened 104,000 passengers on Thursday, a slight upswing from Tuesday and Wednesday's numbers. That indicates established traffic patterns--Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays are busier than Tuesdays and Wednesdays--are holding albeit at levels down 90+ percent from last year.
        American Airlines will resume JFK-LAX flights next week, a route it interrupted briefly after around 80 years of continuous service.
        Hotel closures are rising. About 12 percent of the nation's 5.5 million hotel guestrooms are closed, according to STR, the lodging analysts. Details here.
        Cargo abides. Eurocontrol says all-cargo flight volume in Europe is at 90 percent of last year's level. Passenger flights are down 92 percent (full-service airlines) and 98 percent (low-cost carriers).

Coronavirus Update for April 9, 2020

"Only" 80,000 may die from the Coronavirus, which the president once claimed was a political hoax ginned up by his opponents, which his economic advisor promised was locked down and which his new press secretary insisted Trump would never allow here. That grinding sound you hear is the wheels on the goalposts. Here are today's other developments:
        Ghost hotels Nationwide hotel occupancy fell to 21.6 percent for the March 29-April 5 period, according to the STR research firm. It's even lower in places like Honolulu (7 percent) and New York City (18 percent). Nationwide revPAR--a measure of how much revenue a hotel is taking in per available guestroom--has fallen to $16.50.
        The abnormal normal. The TSA said it screened about 95,000 passengers yesterday, the second consecutive day below 100,000.
        Virgin Australia has cancelled everything except one daily Sydney-Melbourne roundtrip.
        Lufthansa is losing a million euros an hour, chief executive officer Carsten Spohr claims.
        The Brown Palace in Denver is the latest big-name hotel to close its doors. It is tentatively projecting a reopening date of June 1.
        Air New Zealand has 19 scheduled flights tomorrow and has 908 passengers. Chief revenue officer Cam Wallace says that'll translate to about 500 flyers after no-shows.
        Portuguese hotels have laid off 85 percent of their workers in April, according to the industry's trade group.
        Broadway stays dark. The Broadway League, which represents the 41 theaters that comprise New York's "Broadway," says they will all remain dark through at least June 7. Theaters closed March 12.

Coronavirus Update for April 8, 2020

It is a red-letter day in the travel corner of the Coronavirus pandemic. The TSA said it screened 97,130 passengers yesterday, the first time that the flyer count fell below the 100,000 mark. (It also represents a 95 percent decline over a similar day last year.) And the airport in Wuhan, where the virus originated, reopened for passenger traffic. Quite a metaphoric sea change. Here are today's other developments:
        A prediction from Austria. Austrian Airlines executives say they do not expect airline traffic to return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2023.
        United Airlines continues to contract. For at least the next three weeks it will operate just 13 daily flights from Los Angeles and 50 daily flights from San Francisco.
        Alaska Airlines yesterday extended elite-status benefits for Mileage Plan by a year. Separately, the airline will serve a dozen cities on its route map from its Seattle-Tacoma hub only as "tag" flights. That's industry jargon for serving a city as a one-stop, same-plane destination rather than offering nonstop flights.
        JetBlue Airways continues to contract. The carrier announced today that it will consolidate all New England service at Boston/Logan, operating 28 daily flights and suspending Providence, Rhode Island, service. In New York, there will be a combined 30 daily flights from New York/Kennedy and Newark, dropping service to LaGuardia, Stewart/Newburgh and White Plains (HPN). In Los Angeles, there'll be five departures from LAX and Long Beach, suspending flights to Ontario and Burbank. From San Francisco, there'll be two daily flights from SFO and none from San Jose. From Washington, there'll be five daily flights from National (DCA) and no service to Baltimore-Washington. These changes will be in effect between April 15 and June 10.
        Delta Air Lines promises to leave an empty middle seat in coach, Comfort+ and premium economy. This will be in effect between April 13 and May 31. Details here.

Coronavirus Update for April 7, 2020

We're getting close to a remarkable moment: The TSA screened just 108,000 flyers yesterday, a 95 percent year-on-year decline. Here are today's other developments:
        The TSA adjusts. Passengers--those who are still flying--can now wear face coverings at airport security checkpoints. You may be required to "adjust" the covering to confirm identity, the agency says.
        Air Canada has extended elite status for Altitude members. A nice twist: Elite travelers who actually earn status by flying in 2020 can gift it to someone else. Details are here.
        Delta Air Lines makes still more schedule cuts. About 60 percent of flights at its largest hub, Atlanta/Hartsfield, are gone. New York/Kennedy, its international hub, is down 80 percent. It's off 90 percent at New York/LaGuardia.
        South Carolina finally issues a stay-at-home order. It goes into effect at 5pm.
        United Airlines, which tried to saddle flyers with involuntary flight changes as long as 25 hours without refunds, has gradually backed off. That's especially true after the DOT "reminded" airlines that refunds are not optional. United's latest guidance to agents cuts maximum change-without-refund time to six hours on international flights. That's tantamount to refund anyway since United is running so few overseas flights.
        Fort Myers Airport, officially known as Southwest Florida International (RSW), had a fire last Friday. More than 3,500 rental cars were destroyed, which is probably a boom for the rental firms given the state of travel. Details are here.

Coronavirus Update for April 6, 2020

The Vice President said yesterday he saw "glimmers of progress" in the fight against the Coronavirus. Most everyone else thinks they see an oncoming train. Here are today's other developments:
        JetBlue Airways continues to slash operation at its New York home. For the week of April 12, it will operate just 198 flights at JFK, LaGuardia, Newark and Stewart/Newburgh. That's down from 357 this week and 1,052 before the pandemic.
        Changi Airport in Singapore will close Terminal 2 on May 1. The airport says it eventually may shutter Terminal 4 as well. At the moment, Singapore won't even permit transfer passengers through the airport.
        Familiar patterns in the chaos. The TSA says it screened 122,000 passengers on Sunday, an uptick from Saturday. Even in the chaos, there is a familiar pattern. Friday's traffic (129,000) was busier than Thursday (124,000). Saturday's traffic (118,000) fell followed by Sunday's increase. That indicates something like the normal flow of travel albeit around 90 percent below normal levels.
        RavnAir, a major commuter carrier in Alaska, has grounded all 72 of its aircraft, cancelled all service and declared bankruptcy. That will isolate many communities accessible only by air. The airline's future is unknown.
        American Airlines is slashing service again, this time in New York Metro. Starting tomorrow, it will operate only eight flights from LaGuardia, three flights from Kennedy and two flights at Newark. A notable casualty: JFK-LAX transcon service. An American spokesperson said nine flights from JFK and LGA on Sunday each operated with one passenger. The busiest flight of the day has just 27 passengers aboard a Boeing 737-800 with 172 seats.
        United matches. Just hours after Delta Air Lines extended elite status and other perks for its best customers, United Airlines did the same for its flyers.

Coronavirus Update for April 5, 2020

Last week he was the "wartime president." Yesterday he fancied himself the "greatest backup." So he's gone from FDR to Earl Morrall in the blink of an eye. Here are today's other developments:
        Delta extends. Delta Air Lines can claim to be the first major U.S. carrier to extend frequent flyer and airport club benefits. Details here.
        United Airlines is cutting its Newark hub to just 15 daily flights. The reduction, from 139 daily, begins today. Before the pandemic, United operated more than 400 daily flights from EWR.
        Air New Zealand says it carried just 165 passengers on Thursday (April 2). That's fewer than two travelers per segment based on its current daily schedule of 89 flights.
        One-day bump ... The TSA screened 118,000 flyers yesterday, so Friday's traffic bump was an anomaly--or the normal busy Friday/quiet Saturday split. You know, if anything was "normal" now.
        A three-hour tour ... A South African couple are marooned, the only guests at a luxury resort on one of the Maldives islands. They can't afford it. The New York Times has the details.

Coronavirus Update for March 29-April 4, 2020

Read all about it! Domestic travel is down more than 90 percent from last year. More states impose stay-at-home orders. The death toll in Italy and Spain continues to skyrocket. And doctors and nurses are scrambling for supplies to help Coronavirus patients--and protect themselves. Here's how we're covering it. Click here for the day-to-day details.

Coronavirus Update for March 21-28, 2020

The new "new normal"? International transit airports barring transit passengers. U.S. states demanding arrivals from other U.S. states quarantine themselves on arrival. U.S. passenger volume dropping by 90 percent in a matter of days. Here's how we're covering it. Click here for the day-to-day details.

Coronavirus Update for March 15-21, 2020

Read all about it! The world is closing--and we watch in personal and transportation isolation. Countries are closing borders, airlines are all but shut and hotels are putting the keys in the door. Here's how we're covering it. Click here for the day-to-day details.

Coronavirus Update for March 8-14, 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. Click here for the day-to-day details.

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. Here's how it's happening. 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.