Nobody Asked Me, But ...
The Coronavirus Edition
THURSDAY, JULY 30, 2020 -- Nobody asked me, but ...

IATA, the global airline trade group, now says traffic won't return to 2019 levels until 2024. So there's that.

I said in early May that it would be a miracle if U.S. airline travel reached 20 percent of 2019 levels by Memorial Day and 40 percent by Labor Day. And then we'd begin the work of trying to figure out what travel would look like when 60 percent of travelers disappeared. But after a rush around the Fourth of July, Tuesday and Wednesday this week flying was only around 22 percent of 2019 volume. So there's that.

Nobody asked me, but ...

This is all much worse than it seems. Check out the "U.S. Travel Restrictions" section on our overhauled Coronavirus Special Report page. There are now domestic travel rules. Forget about us being a global pariah. We can't even travel freely within America anymore.

The New York Tri-State Area has upped the quarantine rules to cover 34 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Hey, I'm a New Yorker. We went through hell and nearly 35,000 of us died. I don't want to risk our progress because some nutbags in Florida or somewhere are too lazy or too stupid to mask up and keep a decent social distance. But this is America. We should be doing this together, not putting up internal barriers.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Since New York is now relatively clean, I was able to get my first haircut of 2020. (Yeah, I know, I'm bald, but the fringe ...) What horrified me were the stories from my barber--okay, she's my wife's hairdresser--who can't get fast testing even though New York demands she test regularly to keep her business open. We are almost eight months into this and we still can't get tested.

And I'll repeat what I said last week: No testing, no travel. A bunch of travel types wrote to the White House this week demanding action on testing. But I'll say again what I also said last week: If the travel industry wants to survive, it needs to act on its own. Airlines should offer testing. Travel destinations should offer on-arrival fast and cheap testing. If they wait for the federal government to act--a federal government headed by a guy who takes testing numbers as an assault on his manhood--none of us are ever leaving our homes again.

Nobody asked me, but ...

One of 2020's exquisite ironies: Hotel building continues apace because you can't plug the pipeline. According to one lodging consultancy, there are nearly 5,600 hotels being built in the United States accounting for more than 685,000 new guestrooms.

If this sounds crazy, you don't know the half of it. More than 50 percent of the rooms at the nation's open hotels are empty and the all-important revPAR (revenue per available room) is down nearly 55 percent from last year. And, oh, yeah, that doesn't even count the thousands and thousands of hotels that haven't reopened yet--and may never reopen.

Nobody asked me, but ...

These "nobody" columns usually throw in some jokes and snark about now. Um, sorry, I got nothing ...

On the other hand, it never pays to piss off Neil Young, the literal living legend. Without permission, Donald Trump continues to use Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" during his rallies and appearances. Young has responded both by deploying a Trump move--he's threatening to sue--and by writing a new song. "Looking for a Leader 2020." It's pretty straight up anti-Trump--and since Young has been off the road, his voice is strong and rested and sounds better than it has in years.

Nobody asked me, but ...

All airlines have now reported their second-quarter "earnings" and completed their analyst calls. The overwhelming message you get is that the C-suiters are literally making crap up in hopes of sounding managerial. Not one has admitted--even to themselves probably--the glaringly obvious: Their airlines are no longer viable long-term operations.

The most delusional take: Southwest Airlines. About 27 percent of the airline's employees are taking a buyout and that led the carrier's executives to pompously reaffirm its no-layoff policy. But guess what? Just as Southwest has retreated from its "full schedule by end of the year" promise, it will lay off people, too.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Looking for a good credit card for these goofy times? The Capital One Venture Card seems to fill the bill. It's cheap ($95 annual fee) and has a big acquisition bonus (50,000 points after $3,000 in spend in three months). You can move points to some airlines or hotels or use them to pay your card balance or for Amazon.com purchases. You earn quintuple miles at Uber Eats and the card even reimburses your Global Entry/Precheck fee.

Meanwhile, British Airways is offering double Avios points if you register by August 31 and travel by December 31. That's a hard pass.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Chateau Marmont, the hotel hangout of the stars, says it is converting to members-only status. Chateau Marmont is out of my league, but I can't wait for my opportunity to become a member of the Comfort Inn Palookaville.

JetBlue Airways has spilled the beans on the industry lie that blocking middle seats is too expensive. The airline has kept middle seats and some others empty and freely admits the "cost of our policy is relatively small." Why? Only about 10 percent of the carrier's flights even have enough passengers to need the blocked seats.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Big-deal, big-city residential buildings in recent years have offered common-area perks like podcast studios. Now I'm waiting for a building to offer an "on-premises" Zoom studio.

Pro tip: Do your Zooms and other video meetings in a clothes closet. Seriously. The fabric deadens outside noise and makes your voice sound crisper and clearer. Just don't let them see your Huckapoo shirts and jackets with the padded shoulders.

Nobody asked me, but ...

I will miss the Republican and Democratic conventions, especially the state-by-state voting for the candidates. I've forgotten where America's day begins ...

Okay, okay, I finally thought of a joke: Louie Gohmert.