The worst American travel writer ever says who was naughty and nice during Covid.
Gary Leff on February 8, 2021.
Christopher Elliott has compiled a naughty and nice list for travel agents in case of a pandemic. He sees some acting “as if they think COVID-19 is a hoax.” This attitude seems odd given the billions of dollars in losses they have suffered. But he says airlines and hotel companies are making travel easier or more fun, encouraging travel, and that’s a bad thing. And the self-appointed consumer advocate is bluffing a company that tried to steal money from customers because it promises to immunize employees.
JetBlue’s new business class: moral horror in case of pandemic?
Elliott tops the “what they’re thinking about” list with JetBlue’s decision to introduce a new business class for their Airbus A321LRs, which will initially fly to London,
How can an airline market such a product at a time when the CDC is advising people against traveling? And when hundreds of thousands of Americans are becoming infected every day?
He finds it appalling that JetBlue is improving the travel experience instead of making flights less comfortable, so people will travel less during a pandemic. Although he gives the game away, his real problem is not with this seat, but with the idea of business class and JetBlue’s departure from the ideal of a one-seat cabin where everyone is equal when he says, “Forget for a moment that JetBlue arrived with a promise to treat all passengers with dignity and move away from the inherited air class system that many passengers considered unfair.
I’d say Elliott is aiming for “communism in the sky,” except that Cubana and North Korea’s Air Koryo also offer business class. Beyond that,
- JetBlue did not “just” introduce business class, they did that in 2014, now they are introducing a new seat for a new aircraft that will fly longer (and before that they sold more seats with extra legroom).
- Offering business class on transatlantic flights does not distinguish them from other airlines in the market, but it does distinguish them by their chastity.
- They are not offering this new product today. Instead, it is expected to be released in June, when it is reasonable to expect that there will be fewer than 10 infections per 100,000 people in the U.S. (and note that these are actual infections, not just confirmed positive cases).
- Elsewhere in the column, Elliott says it’s a good idea to plan post-vaccination travel (“we’re so close to getting the green light to travel again. Some of us have received a second dose, and we’re already making plans”), and JetBlue’s new flights to London won’t start for another four months. So, what is this all about?
Ultimately, it is up to governments to decide what travel restrictions to impose. The United Kingdom, where JetBlue will fly, imposed travel restrictions on Americans eight months ago. Key employees continue to travel. Elliott considers travel to include “long-haul flights, walks in a sports bar, and participation in a food and wine festival.” But he also ensures that energy flows into homes, medicine is delivered, and human ties are maintained – in accordance with government public health guidelines.
Elliott’s problem with JetBlue is not that they fly to London, or that they fly at all. It’s that they are introducing a new business class on a route where other airlines offer similar products. Any airline that agrees to offer more than one product to its passengers is suspect, and it only sets JetBlue apart because the announcement of their new product was the most recent.
Amtrak is entitled to honor an employee’s sick leave.
Amtrak trains do not change the air in the cabins to the same degree as planes, nor do they have the same degree of filtration as airplanes. Yet they are the heroes of the coronavirus in Elliott’s story, which allows employees to be vaccinated, and when they do, they….. It does not say that employees who get sick can take sick days from the airlines, nor does it say, for example, that American Airlines would work with the employees to change their work schedules to allow them to take advantage of vaccination opportunities.
There is strength in numbers because the orders are good.
Christopher Elliott is believed to be a consumer advocate, and United Airlines was one of the first “bad actors” to refuse to compensate customers for cancelled flights. They even redefined the meaning of the term “canceled flight” as a case where one completely abandoned the route in an attempt to circumvent the law.
Instead of condemning United’s behavior during Covid-19 here, Elliott applauds them for saying the airline will require its employees to get vaccinated.
- There is no claim that vaccination reduces transmission. I think most known vaccines against covid-19 reduce it, although there is no data yet on the amount.
- By the time so many vaccines are available that everyone can get them to meet this requirement, transmission will probably have been reduced to the point where the mandate is no longer needed. (We shall see).
Elliott does not address any of these nuances-just “because vaccines are good, mandates are good,” which is consistent with his general ideology. Except that his selective sorting of facts according to his biases immediately falls on his stout list because United, like JetBlue, installed its new business class on planes during the pandemic. Would he approve of JetBlue’s new seats if everyone in them had to show proof of vaccination?
Christopher Elliott has been writing columns that twist the facts for years. His writing has not improved over the years.
He constantly comes up with weak arguments, tries to use air travel as a vehicle for his claims about social inequality (even if the details are wrong, especially since loyalty programs give customers access to bonuses usually reserved for the rich), and for years has been advising readers to reject loyalty programs without correcting his mistakes or updating his facts.
So don’t listen to him when he tells you that JetBlue is bad, United is good and Amtrak is ideal. There may be defensive arguments for those positions, but Christopher Elliott doesn’t seem to have any.
(HT: Jonathan W. )
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