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More Than 13,000 American Airlines Crew Take Voluntary Leave, Early Retirement


As it weathers the new normal of less demand for travel and a reduction in flights due to the widespread growth of the coronavirus, American Airlines has started the attrition process with its pilots and flight attendants.

a man wearing a suit and tie: American Airlines pilots conversing at the gate

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that more than 13,000 pilots and flight attendants for American have accepted either early retirement or a voluntary leave this month or next.

According to the Morning News, American is offering voluntary leave to 4,800 pilots for April or May, while another 715 will be given early retirement with partial pay and full benefits. The figures include 1,500 pilots who were granted voluntary leave for April and were announced to employees last week.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants union said almost 8,000 members from American Airlines signed up for voluntary leave or early retirement out of 25,300 total. About 7,200 flight attendants signed up for three-, six- or 12-month leaves and about 760 will take early retirement. Both leave and retirement would start in May.

“These men and women have been with our airline through thick and thin and have led us through so many important moments in our airline’s and our industry’s history,” the company said in the letter about pilots taking early retirement. “The suddenness of their departure is a bit unsettling as this wasn’t what any of us had planned.”

American, like virtually every other airline, has drastically reduced flights through May. Depending on the continued growth of the virus, the reductions could last through spring and summer. The early retirements and voluntary leave should help the company reduce its workforce as needed.

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Travel

TUI holiday: Can I change the dates of my TUI holiday?

TUI holidays have been suspended for the next five weeks in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus around the world. Travel firms have been devastated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s decision to advise against all but essential travel. But can you change the dates of your TUI holiday?

TUI holidays, Marella Cruises and TUI River Cruises have been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak including:

  • TUI holidays where you are travelling on or before May 14, 2020.
  • Marella Cruises sailings travelling on or before May 31, 2020.
  • TUI River Cruises sailings travelling up until and including November 25, 2020.

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On Twitter, TUI wrote: “These are uncertain times for us all, and we don’t underestimate the impact on those of you with holidays booked.

“For that reason, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel all holidays up to and including 14th May.

“Our travel promise still stands, as it’s important for us to give you the holidays you deserve.

“This means you can amend all holidays up to 30th June for free, even if you’re due to travel between 17th April and 14th May.

“We continue to comply with the government’s social distancing rules, which means our customer service teams are working from home.

“We’re receiving an extraordinarily high volume of contact, so we’re still kindly asking that you don’t call or message us unless it’s absolutely urgent. We’ll be in touch with you to discuss your options.

“Thanks so much for your patience and understanding. We face unprecedented times, but we’re all in this together.

“Let’s continue to stay safe, be kind and keep dreaming.”

Can you get a refund if you have a holiday booked?

If your holiday is cancelled, unfortunately, it will not go ahead as planned.

But you can get a cash refund for the price of your holiday.

This refund should include your accommodation or just the flight if you only booked plane tickets through TUI holidays.

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Can you move the dates of your holiday?

If you have a holiday booked where you are travelling on or before May 14, you are able to move it to a later date for free.

If your booking is for a flight and a hotel stay, not as part of a package, the same will also apply.

Those due to travel in the next 48 hours are advised to contact TUI on 0203 451 2695, but the travel firm warns there will be a high volume.

A spokeswoman said: “We are constantly monitoring the situation and will start taking people on holiday again as soon as we are able to do so.”

What to do if you are travelling before June 30

Travellers with an existing booking before June 30, booked before March 17, 2020, can amend it for free for any holiday which is currently on sale.

If you opt to change your booking and the holiday you choose is cheaper than your original booking, you will be refunded the difference.

However, if it is more expensive, you are required to pay the difference in price.

You can make a change free of charge up until seven days before your original departure date, up to May 31, 2020.

You can find a helpful guide about how to change your booking here.

What if your holiday is booked for after June 30, 2020?

Holidays scheduled to go ahead after June 30, 2020 are due to proceed as originally planned.

This means normal terms and conditions for holiday cancellations will apply.

If travel advice and restrictions are in place closer to this time, it is possible TUI will issue further suspensions, but this will not be determined until closer to that time.

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Travel

Vicki Freed Royal Caribbean International

Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean International’s senior vice president of sales and trade support and service, has been reaching out to the travel advisor community in a variety of ways amid the Covid-19 pandemic, including calls, emails and her weekly “coffee talk” webcast. Senior editor Jamie Biesiada spoke with Freed about the importance of communication as the travel industry copes with the impact of the crisis.

Q: How have you been connecting with travel advisors?

A: I’m dropping them notes in the mail, I’ve been sending them emails. I’m just trying to connect with people so that when we get through this, they’ll remember that human connection.

A lot of them just need guidance: What should I be doing now? How should I be marketing? Should I be marketing? How do I keep my business alive? I think they view me as a resource, somebody who’s been in this business a long time. I’m a pretty calm, level-headed person, so I think people say, “You know, she won’t get emotional, she’ll be able to help guide us through these challenging times,” or at least be a sounding board.

I’ve been giving travel partners some messaging on how I would message during these times. I wouldn’t be doing a hard sell. I would just be reminding people to be healthy, stay healthy, and that we, too, shall get past this. And then, if you do decide that you’re going to need a break post-Covid-19, I’ll be here, whether it’s 2020, 2021 or beyond.

Q: How have you been using video in your outreach efforts?

A: The purpose of my coffee chats, it’s really [travel advisors’] hour. What’s on their mind? However, I do spend the first 12 minutes giving them an update on maybe [the cancellation program] Cruise With Confidence, or last week it was [agency assistance program] RCL Cares, or how to find your FCCs [future cruise credits]. An insight. And then I try to give them two little nuggets of something they can look forward to in their business. It’s really the rebuilding of their business. It’s something that they can take with them to gain some knowledge. I don’t want to keep rehashing where we’re at, because where we’re at isn’t going to change. We need to look forward.

We talked about hosting virtual cruise nights a couple weeks ago, and I got a lot of feedback on it. People said, “I tried it, it was excellent, Vicki.” And other people said, “I really want to try it, but I don’t get it; give me the step by step.” So I showed them the different platforms and what the costs were, and then I showed them the six steps to launching an “armchair traveler” program or a “stay vacation” program or “let’s dream about vacation” program.

Q: What tools are you giving advisors for connecting with clients? I’ve seen some nice Royal Caribbean photos used as video call backdrops.

A: Yes, and we showed them how to get that. We said, ‘Look, you could have Perfect Day  at CocoCay in the background, you can have a ship in the background, and it’ll make you look a little bit more professional. It’ll give people the color and the excitement.’

Q: Have you started looking at restructuring agreements with travel agencies or offering incentives at this point?

A: It’s a little too soon to start that big journey, but what we have done is we are protecting commissions on the final paid bookings if canceled, whether they’re electing to cancel on their own because it’s Cruise With Confidence or whether we cancel the sailing. So we are helping the travel partner by giving them their full commission. Even though this costs our company a lot of money and we didn’t generate any revenue because the sailings were canceled or the people canceled on us, we feel that, in the long haul, we need these travel partners to be successful, to be financially strong. So we’re doing our part.

Q: I’ve noticed you’re still sending your emails with Vicki’s Tips every day, messages of inspiration, business ideas and more.

A: I’m trying to just be in their inbox, make it relevant to the times we’re in right now.

So many travel partners are home-based. Some of them are very isolated. Some of them might be living alone. I just want to be somebody who they know is a resource to them and somebody that cares about them. Really, that’s my goal. I do care about these travel partners. My whole career has been about serving travel advisors.

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Travel

Creepy images of an abandoned U.S doctor's surgery

Taxidermy wolf rugs, 18th-century medical equipment – and real human bones: Haunting images taken inside a creepy abandoned doctor’s surgery in Northern Virginia

  • New York photographer Bryan Sansivero found the abandoned doctor’s surgery on a tree-lined driveway 
  • Inside he found bottles containing mystery liquids, eerie examination rooms and lots of peeling paint
  • The surgery was a separate extension to a residential mansion, explained Bryan, who’s from Long Island

It’s a set of photographs that’s likely to give you goosebumps.

These intriguing – yet decidedly creepy – pictures were taken inside a crumbling abandoned doctor’s surgery in Northern Virginia by urban explorer Bryan Sansivero.

As you peer at them through your fingers, you’ll spy taxidermy wolf rugs, bottles containing mystery liquids and medical books and equipment dating back to the 1800s.

Urban explorer Bryan Sansivero found an abandoned doctor’s surgery at the top of a long, tree-lined driveway

Next to a sink, there’s a heart model, some medical tools and a skeleton model. And on the shelf there’s a real human vertebrae

Inside a pink-tiled examination room. Bryan found these areas of the property particularly creepy

Plus a great deal of peeling paint and that time-honoured staple of horror films – a rocking chair.

The surgery was a separate extension to a residential mansion, explained Bryan, who’s from Long Island, New York.

The rooms in this part are still full of belongings – clothes, shoes and family photographs – but they’re a terrible mess.

Those with wild imaginations might surmise that poltergeists have ransacked them.

But Bryan told MailOnline Travel that they were ‘most likely looted or rearranged by people who stumbled upon the house previously’.

Eerie go: Every self-respecting house of horrors has a rocking chair

A taxidermy wolf rug lends the building an extra layer of goosebump-inducing menace

Another frozen-in-time examination room, complete with wheelchair and gas tank

Not for drinking: Empty bottles of mysterious liquids stand amid old, dusty books

Old, brown medicine bottles – two of which have a red cross drawn across the label. One of them is Merthiolate, which used to be used as a germ killer and preservative

The surgery was a separate extension to a residential mansion, explained Bryan

A hallway in a state of disrepair, with peeling blue wallpaper and crumbling door frames 

Either way, there’s something distinctly horror-movie-set about them.

Bryan said the atmosphere inside the surgery was ‘very eerie’, especially the family photographs and empty examination rooms.

He was also unnerved by the real human vertebrae he spotted on a shelf behind a model of a human skeleton.

Here nature is making a bid to give the interior an even wilder look

The building contains a smattering of modern technology, which is inevitably surrounded by signs of deterioration

Bryan thinks that the mess he found in some rooms might have been the work of others who’d explored the house

An old television, children’s photographs, a wonky lamp. They sound innocuous written down, but add to the chilling vibe in the abandoned building

Ransacked by a poltergeist? Maybe, but probably another room disturbed by looters or previous explorers

Another examination room – though in the hands of a horror film direction, an experiment chamber 

The building can definitely be classed as a fixer-upper

Bryan said: ‘I think photographing the unknown is really interesting. It’s fascinating to me.

‘I believe my photographs can be interpreted in many different ways.

‘When my photography makes the viewer uncomfortable, confused or just think, then I think I achieved my goal.’

To see more of Bryan’s work visit his Instagram page and website.   

Another room, another frankly terrifying taxidermy wolf rug – plus mysterious black-and-white pictures

Two children’s photographs in paper frames, a mirror and an old photograph in a wooden frame sit on a single bed

Bryan said: ‘I think photographing the unknown is really interesting. It’s fascinating to me’

‘When my photography makes the viewer uncomfortable, confused or just think, then I think I achieved my goal,’ said Bryan

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Travel

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Airbnb Launches Online Experiences

Airbnb has launched Online Experiences in an effort to help both hosts and guests connect, experience virtual travel and earn income during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Highlights of the new program include virtual activities for families, fun meetings for co-workers and exciting features for groups

Examples of the new Online Experiences include learning the secrets of magic, making coffee with a professional coffee taster and bartending with experts.

Airbnb has partnered with several local organizations to offer these new experiences free of charge, including SAGE—the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older people—National Council on Aging (NCOA), Associazione Nazionale Alpini and Amigos de los Mayores.

“Human connection is at the core of what we do. With so many people needing to stay indoors to protect their health, we want to provide an opportunity for our hosts to connect with our global community of guests in the only way possible right now, online,” said Catherine Powell, Head of Airbnb Experiences, in a statement.

“Millions of elders aren’t able to go outside and risk their health due to the current crisis, and need activities to help them stay connected to the world around them,” added SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “Through our partnership with Airbnb, SAGE is able to give older members of LGBT communities across the country an opportunity to not only meet other people but also learn a new hobby and travel to nearly anywhere around the world, all from the safety of their home. This is what partnership and connection is all about.”

Booking is open now for dozens of virtual Airbnb Experiences available at airbnb.com/online-experiences, with more to come in the next few months.

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Travel

Are virtual tours as good as the real thing?

While most of the tourism industry has ground to a halt in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, some companies have found a silver lining with virtual tours.

Sean Finelli, co-founder and chief executive of The Tour Guy, which has offices in the United Kingdom, launched the company’s first virtual tour about a week ago.

“We didn’t even advertise, and the day after we launched it, we had several bookings,” he said, adding that the inexpensive nature of the tours attracted customers. Most cost €15 (£13.14) for an hour-long tour, and there are 11 options currently, including the exploring the Colosseum, “visiting” the Vatican and Sistine Chapel in Rome, learning about the Catacombs in Paris, the Uffizi in Florence and the Louvre in Paris.

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Australian police seize black box in raid on virus-hit cruise ship


Australian police have raided the coronavirus-stricken Ruby Princess cruise ship and seized its black box, they said Thursday, as part of a criminal investigation after thousands of passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney and 15 later died of the illness.

a large ship in the water: Cruise liner Ruby Princess sits in the harbour in Port Kembla, south of Sydney, on April 6, 2020

Police wearing protective suits and masks boarded the vessel in Port Kembla, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Sydney, on Wednesday night, New South Wales Police said on Thursday.

“Police officers entered the Ruby Princess to gather evidence… ships have a black box very similar to international planes and that and other evidence has been seized,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told media. 

The Ruby Princess berthed on Monday after weeks stranded at sea to allow doctors to assess sick crew members and take the most serious cases ashore for medical treatment.

Police have launched a criminal investigation into operator Carnival Australia over the circumstances that led to thousands of passengers disembarking in mid-March despite some exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

Hundreds of passengers were later diagnosed with coronavirus and at least 15 have died, accounting for nearly a third of Australia’s death toll of 51. The country has recorded over 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Over a thousand crew members remain on the vessel and the majority wanted to stay onboard, Fuller said, adding: “They feel safe on the ship.”

The Ruby Princess could remain at port for up to 10 days to refuel and restock before leaving Australia, but authorities said crew would not be allowed off unless it was an emergency.

al/st/je


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How empty are airports? TSA screened fewer than 100,000 passengers Tuesday, a record low




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