In this week’s TravelSkills on SFGATE newsletter…
This week started out on a hopeful note for both the travel biz and travelers. According to the TSA, more than 800,000 fliers passed through airport security on Sunday. That’s the first time the TSA’s daily tally has topped 800,000 since mid-March when all things travel-related really started to plunge as stay-at-home orders rolled out. Still, we have a long way to go until we get back to the 2.5 million-or-so travelers passing through airport security we saw this time last year.
In a sign of just how bad things have become for hotels, a guest at an upscale Seattle hotel reports that when he checked into his room, he was surprised to find a plea for donations to help the hotel weather the COVID-19 storm. Read: Upscale hotel asks paying guests for COVID-19 financial help
In airline news: Alaska Air launched a very good BOGO sale worth a look – but you must book by midnight tonight (Monday)! United Airlines has restarted service from San Francisco International to Tahiti, the U.K. and Mexico; British Airways expects to come back to San Jose this fall; revived SFO routes are coming from Lufthansa, Swiss and Fiji Airways; Hawaii’s Sept. 1 date for reopening the islands to visitors now seems uncertain. Plus much more in our weekly roundup. Read: Routes: Alaska Sale, New Tahiti, London flights plus Hawaii uncertainty, no-mask-no-fly rules + more
Back in April, we wrote about how United Airlines agreed to extend the elite status of its MileagePlus members during a period of sharply reduced travel, and now it is doing the same for its most esteemed customers: those in its Global Services program. In order to offer those members “some certainty during these uncertain times,” United said, it is extending its Global Services status through Jan. 31, 2022. Read: United gives more perks to Global Services members
Mask up, with the right type of mask, or get outta here! Two airlines that dominate Bay Area airports will enforce stricter face mask policies beginning Friday as carriers adopt a zero-tolerance approach for fliers who refuse to wear (a specific type of) facial coverings. Read: Airlines tougher on masks with new zero-tolerance policies
Although airline travel has shrunk to a fraction of its former volume, new research indicates that Americans still want to get away on vacation this summer – just not as far away as they did before. Read: Vacationers are still traveling – just not as far
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What is Elon Musk’s Boring Company building in the desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas? It might be a tunnel for ultra-high-speed travel between the two cities. A Tesla-focused blog revealed photos of the Boring Company’s San Bernardino County facility in the desert near Adelanto, Calif., including a tunneling machine and large storage tents. What’s going on? We also have an update on Richard Branson’s hyperloop trains at various locations in the U.S. and around the world. Read: Elon Musk’s mysterious desert tunnel: A superfast LA-Vegas link?
Southwest Airlines has scaled back its aircraft-cleaning procedures between flights to prevent reduced staffing and busier operations from keeping aircraft on the ground longer than scheduled. The airline has shifted its sanitation focus to high-touch areas like lavatories and tray tables. But the new policy means armrests and seat belts will not be wiped down between each flight. Read: Southwest Airlines will disinfect tray tables between flights, but not armrests
Peering out from terminal windows last year, the runways at San Francisco International Airport looked like a tropical rainforest of brightly colored birds from all over the world. Then COVID-19 hit, and that far-flung flock shrank dramatically. Which birds are still flying at SFO, and which ones are we still waiting for? Read: Which international airlines are still flying to SFO?