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To: Elroy who wrote (1442)10/1/2017 12:41:47 PM
From: Neeka
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Hi Elroy,

Ironically we just got back from a two week European cruise (and a week in the Hudson Valley), and that's why it's taken so long to reply. Interesting situation you have there, and changing or upgrading rooms is something I can relate to.

I booked with Princess approximately eight months in advance of our cruise and originally booked a "balcony room" which included 600 on-board credits............a special Princess was running at the time. After I booked and paid our $100.00 deposit I checked the Princess website on a regular basis. About a month after booking I found they'd changed the price of their mini-suites to the price I'd paid for the balcony room, so I called them and they gave us an upgrade to the mini-suite for the same price.

I kept checking the site and logging in, and noticed those 600 credits hadn't been awarded to my account, but I still hadn't paid the entire amount for the cruise yet, so thought those credits would apply after I did so. (like most lines, Princess wanted full payment 90 days in advance of sailing, and I don't know how or why in your case you only need pay in full 30 days in advance, but that's a great deal, and may be specific to Norwegian Cruise Lines?)

After I paid the full amount for the cruise in mid-June I still wasn't given our 600 on board credits so I called and found out those credits disappeared when I changed our booking from the balcony room to a mini-suite. (dummy me thinking they still applied)

Well I was pretty upset about that, so I called and told the agent I might not have changed that booking if I'd known I was going to lose my credits (the agent I had been working with failed to inform me I was losing those credits when I re-booked), and WOW!!!! she...........the new agent............(I didn't call my original agent because there was just something about her that didn't sit well with me) credited my bank acct $1,080.00 almost immediately for "the mistake."

The mini-suite was just great...........plenty of room and storage space, and a pleasure to "live" in for the two weeks we were on the ship. The ship (Regal Princess) is only 3 yrs old, so everything was very nice. It was incredible to see the crew constantly cleaning and tidying things up and we were very impressed with the entire experience.

I do need to mention that despite the incredible variety of food avail at the HUGE buffet, the food got a bit tiresome. The meals at the sit down, more formal tables were excellent.

I don't know how you managed to get the deal you got, but if you do find out how you did it, let us know. I might check with Norwegian about that policy and maybe take them next time we cruise as the Mediterranean is on our bucket list.

We did run into several people who were "Platinum" level cruisers with Princess. You get quite a few perks as you climb through the various levels and add miles to your acct.

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To: Neeka who wrote (1443)10/1/2017 9:17:32 PM
From: Elroy
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Hi Neeka,

I think the reason I was able to get the deal which allowed me to book but not pay until 30 days in advance is because I (by chance) booked through the Norwegian Hong Kong office. I've spoken with some US travel agents during this process, and they are all amazed about the arrangement. I still haven't paid (we have until October 17th to pay since the cruise is November 17th), but the price declines have stopped and the mini-suites are now "sold out", so I think I will pay this week.

A few years ago I booked a Princess cruise - again through the Princess Hong Kong office and they had an unbelievable deal as well. It was an 8 day cruise, and an interior cabin was $600 per person. So I called Hong Kong Princess, and they somehow had the same cruise for $500 per person, and you could choose interior OR balcony for the $500 price. Naturally we chose balcony, who wouldn't?

I've only been on 3 cruises - this one in November will be our 4th. But each time I've had good luck with the booking it has involved a Hong Kong office. Maybe that's why, I really don't know.

That's sort of amazing your agent credited you the onboard spending when they didn't need to unless they wanted to help you out. It's nice when these unexpected perks show up.

As for food, I live on a tropical island in the Philippines. It's really beautiful and all that, sunny, nice beaches, great weather, but the cuisine is nothing special. Very very average. So being on a cruise ship and having a white tablecloth and a selection of courses is a great treat for us. We're not used to anything like fine dining, the best restaurants on the island are the equivalent of the most average restaurants in any big US city, so the food is one of the things we really enjoy about cruises.

Our first cruise was on Cunard. If you like elegance and class I would recommend them. Guests dress up every night, even on "casual nights" everyone wears a suit. Formal night is a tuxedo. It was great fun, I think i prefer that to the normal cruise lines such as Norwegian and Princess, but these is less cruise selection since Cunard (I think) only has three ships. We wear beach sandals and t-shirts every day, so it's fun to dress up for a week and pretend you're a big shot.....

PS - If you are going to book a Norwegian cruise let me know and I'll try to put you in touch with the same agent that I used. I think the 30 day in advance rule was standard for them, and it has saved us about $1,000. Worth staying up late to call Hong Kong.....

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From: Sultan11/2/2017 12:21:14 PM
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From: TimF11/27/2017 11:14:42 AM
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Plane leasing company forced to start own airline because nobody wants its A380s
Oliver Smith

An Irish aircraft leasing company is creating its own airline because it can’t find anyone to borrow its A380 superjumbos.

Dublin-based Amedeo counts eight A380s among its fleet, and has a further 20 on order from Airbus, but such is the lack of interest in the world’s largest passenger plane that it has been unable to renew its leases, or find new customers, despite months of negotiations.

So it has come up with a novel solution: launching its own A380-only airline. According to Mark Lapidus, Amedeo’s chief executive, the new airline’s business model will see it offer seats to existing carriers, or to potential non-traditional arrivals such as Airbnb. Passengers would buy their ticket through another company, while Amedeo would operate the flight, using its own cabin crew but tailoring the service to suit the client.

“Joint ventures and codeshares are making passengers feel accustomed to buying tickets with one [airline] but flying with another,” Mr Lapidus told The Financial Times. He added that Amedeo would apply for an air operator’s licence next year.

The growing collection of low-cost airlines offering long-haul flights, such as Norwegian, WOW Air, Level and Air Asia X, would be obvious targets for Amedeo. Mr Lapidus said it was in early discussion with a number of possible customers, including non-aviation firms like Airbnb who are looking for a simple way to enter the market.

The 18 most important aircraft of all time

In January, Mr Lapidus said the A380 needed “disruptive” airlines to secure its future, citing Norwegian, and suggested that the model was a natural fit for budget airlines willing to squeeze in more economy class seats. While the A380 is certified to carry up to 868 people, most operators use a two- or three-class seating configuration which means it carries far fewer in practice. On some flights, Emirates, for example, carries 399 economy class passengers, 76 in business class and 14 in first class, for a total of just 489.

“When the A380 is properly configured with 600 to 700 seats it beats the economics in terms of unit costs of anything flying,” he said at the time.

In numbers | Who operates all the A380s?

Whether the proposal can save the A380 remains to be seen. The model hasn’t won a new customer in two years and at the Dubai Airshow earlier this month, Emirates, its biggest client, backtracked on an expected order for 38 of the superjumbos (it bought 40 Boeing 787-10s instead). Just days later Singapore Airlines grounded and stored one of its A380s after just 10 years of use.

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From: TimF1/3/2018 6:12:51 PM
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A Pilot and Flight Attendant Got Married on Delta’s Final 747 Flight
by Emily McNutt

Delta’s Boeing 747 farewell tour has been drawn out for what seems like an eternity. But on Wednesday, on its actual final flight to Pinal Airpark (MZJ) near Tucson, Arizona, those on board are witnessed a special occasion in addition to the already special last 747 flight — a couple said “I do” while on the flight.
According to social media reports from those on board, the couple that got hitched have a very special connection to the 747. The two — Gene P., a pilot, and Holly R., a flight attendant — met on board a Boeing 747 nine years ago on a military charter flight to Kuwait.

“Since then we’ve spent years flying this airplane together around the world,” Gene said. “In a lot of ways we really grew up on the 747, so it’s a fitting salute to say goodbye with this milestone. For us, it’s really a way of showing that as one life ends, another one begins.”

We’re also going to have a wedding on board today. The couple – a pilot and flight attendant – met in 2009 on a 747 flight. #atlmzj #dl9971

— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) January 3, 2018

The couple wed while in-flight on the aircraft’s trip to its forever home in the desert. The cabin was outfitted with traditional wedding decorations — rose petals down the aisle, white decor and bows wrapped around the seats.

And that’s a wrap on the @delta inflight wedding on the airline’s final 747 flight. The altar: Row 24

— Dawn Gilbertson (@DawnGilbertson) January 3, 2018

“I love this plane – it truly feels like home to me,” Holly said. “I feel very fortunate that the 747 was based in Detroit. I was able to fly with the same crews and we really became a family. It’s always been my favorite plane, and it’s absolutely a love of Gene’s – he loves it like he loves me. We’re so fortunate to able to give her a farewell with the memory of a lifetime. It was meant to be.”

For any AvGeek — especially for these two who have a very special connection to the aircraft — getting married on the Queen of the Skies surely means the most. The ceremony even featured a 747-themed wedding cake.

Airplane wedding calls for airplane wedding cake. 1:400 scale of course. #dl9971 #atlmzj

— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) January 3, 2018

Delta is the final US carrier to operate 747s — that is, until N674US lands in MZJ for the final time. Read more from TPG Managing Editor Alberta Riva’s experience on the last passenger Delta 747 flight, and from TPG Editor-at-Large Zach Honig’s experience on six things he’ll never forget from Delta’s 747 farewell flight to Boeing’s facility at Paine Field. And, if you still have your eyes set on checking out a 747 before they’re totally a thing of the past, several international carriers still fly the aircraft to North America.

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From: TimF1/19/2018 11:41:51 AM
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Your Amazon Order Might Lock You Out of Trusted Traveler Programs

You wouldn’t think online shopping could get you in trouble with customs, but if you accidentally order counterfeit merchandise on Amazon it just might. If you plan on doing a lot of traveling, you probably want to double check your orders from now on.

Last year, Harper Reed, an engineer at Paypal, ordered a suitcase on Amazon. It was a Rimowa, which is a high-end luggage brand that usually costs several hundred dollars. On Twitter (see below), Reed explained that he paid full price for the suitcase and that the listing looked like any other item being sold on Amazon—except it wasn’t. Reed never received the suitcase, was quickly refunded his payment of $700, and then went to Neiman Marcus to purchase it there instead. No explanation from Amazon was given and, while he was a bit perturbed, he carried on with his life.

Then, come November, Reed applied for renewal of his Global Entry status, a Trusted Traveler program for “pre-approved, low risk travelers” offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It speeds up the airport security process for approved travelers, saving you a lot of time and grief. But to Reed’s surprise, he was denied. Unbeknownst to him, customs had flagged him for importing some counterfeit goods. Guess what it was? That’s right, the Rimowa suitcase he never actually received. According to Hilary George-Parkin at Racked, a spokesperson for CBP confirmed that having past violation of customs laws or regulations on your record can make you ineligible for Trusted Traveler programs. Whether it’s intentional or accidental, you’re screwed. You can appeal the denial, but the process can take months, making every trip you take during that time a frustrating experience.

So what happened? It’s impossible to say for sure (CBP doesn’t release specifics), but U.S Customs probably intercepted the shipment of the counterfeit bag as soon as it arrived, then Rimowa was sent a seizure notice with the names of the importer and exporter who are breaking the law. Meanwhile, Reed was refunded for the bag and carried on none the wiser. From there, Rimowa likely had an opportunity to take some kind of action, but since going after the exporter is a costly pain in the butt (as is the middle-man, Amazon), they chose the easier target: Reed. He got flagged for importing counterfeits, and was thus denied Global Entry.

Counterfeits and scams from fraudulent third-party sellers is a growing issue on the Amazon marketplace, so it’s more important than ever for you to pay close attention to the items you’re buying—especially if they’re being shipped to you from overseas. Watch out for massive discounts, learn how to spot fake reviews, double check who you’re buying from, and don’t hesitate to reach out to Amazon customer service if something seems amiss. When in doubt, buy luxury and big brand name items directly from their stores and websites. Cases like Reed’s are rare (this may even be the first case like this), but it’s a stark reminder that buyers truly do need to beware.

Message 31442892

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From: TimF3/26/2018 11:36:19 AM
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Passengers Stranded After Drunk Pilot Removed from Cockpit Just Before Takeoff

... According to The Local Germany, the 40-year-old co-pilot was meant to be working on a Portugalia flight from Stuttgart to Lisbon on the evening of Friday, March 23, but he allegedly had way too much to drink before getting behind the controls of a plane. Police came to investigate the situation after another airport employee reported seeing the pilot “reeking of alcohol,” stumbling, and looking unsteady on his way to the flight.

Police reportedly entered the cockpit just before the plane was scheduled to take off, and they allegedly detained the pilot after finding him in an extremely intoxicated state. The co-pilot’s flying license was reportedly suspended immediately, and his bail was set at 10,000 euros, or $12,000.

The passengers were unable to fly to Lisbon that night after their flight was canceled, and the next available flight from Stuttgart to Lisbon was not until the next Monday. The passengers were put up in hotels for the weekend. TAP Air Portugal, Portugalia’s parent organization, apologized for the inconvenience to its passengers and said it would be looking into the incident, which definitely rivals some of the wildest airplane stories of 2017. ...

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From: TimF3/26/2018 6:48:22 PM
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It's Incredibly Easy to Tamper with Someone's Flight Plan, Anywhere on the Globe
Hackers can gain access to and manipulate flight information because of aging legacy systems.

It's easier than many people realize to modify someone else's flight booking, or cancel their flight altogether, because airlines rely on old, unsecured systems for processing customers' travel plans, researchers will explain at the Chaos Communication Congress hacking festival on Tuesday. The issues predominantly center around the lack of any meaningful authentication for customers requesting their flight information.

The issues highlight how a decades-old system is still in constant, heavy use, despite being susceptible to fairly simple attacks and with no clear means for a solution.

"Whenever you take a trip, you are in one or more of these systems," security researcher Karsten Nohl told Motherboard in a phone call ahead of his and co-researcher Nemanja Nikodijevic's talk.

Specifically, the pair have researched so-called Global Distribution Systems (GDS). These are essentially the back-end used by travel agents and airlines to handle the allocation of tickets.

When someone pays for a flight, the airline or travel agent probably gives them a six digit code. Punching this and their last name into different websites, such as that of the airline, allows flyers to then see their flight information, and in turn they can change their trip or otherwise rearrange their booking.

But one issue is that these codes are incredibly easy for a computer to quickly churn out, meaning a bot could simply cycle through various options until it lands on a legitimate code for a corresponding surname. Several of the GDSs don't use any sort of rate limiting system—only allowing a certain number of requests per minute or second—so the researchers were able to swiftly process millions of possible combinations automatically.

The codes don't contain ones or zeros to avoid confusion with I or O, Nohl says—they only use upper case letters and no special characters too. On top of that, in two out of the three larger GDSs, the numbers increase sequentially, Nohl explained. This means a hacker can predict when a particular set of numbers are more likely to be used at a certain time of day, or day of the week, in turn making it much more likely that they will successfully match a six digit code with the correct last name, and gain access to flight information.

The codes themselves can also be easily found on people's' luggage tags or potentially on a boarding pass, as others have previously found.

Armed with these techniques, a hacker might be able to track someone, finding out where they're flying to and from. Working with the German TV station ARD, the researchers were able to change the flight booking of a reporter, putting him on the same flight as, and in an adjacent seat to, a German politician.

"We were able to try a couple million for a given last name, and that was enough to find this German senator," Nohl told Motherboard.

There is also the potential for financially-driven fraud too. Hackers could add a frequent flyer account to expensive long haul flights, or perhaps cancel a trip, receive a coupon from the airline, and then use that to book another flight, Nohl claimed.

Nohl told Motherboard that specific companies have said they will employ measures such as rate limiting to curb just how easy it is to discover flyer's six digit codes. But that still leaves a wealth of interconnected systems that were never really designed with the internet in mind, and the threat that it would pose.

"Despite responsible disclosure, which we are doing right now, there doesn't seem to be a clear path to a really better system yet," Nohl said.

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From: TimF6/13/2018 10:03:51 PM
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Gatwick drone incident - 2 July

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From: TimF7/6/2018 1:13:44 PM
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The Economics of Airline Class

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