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Posts tagged News

According to U.S. Representative Walden’s website, the House has unanimously approved the Treating Small Airports with Fairness Act. The act name is kind of cheesy but essentially it would bring back TSA screening to small airports that lost service at the beginning of 2013 and has a commitment from an airline for service.

The TSA Fairness Act would require the TSA to restore screening services to any airport that lost service after January 1, 2013 and that has a guarantee from a commercial airline to resume service within one year. There are currently at least six airports nationwide that have commercial airlines seeking to resume flights after undergoing a temporary gap in service, but are being denied TSA security screening and personnel. Instead, the agency directed the airports to allow passengers to fly unscreened to their next destination, and undergo screening there.

Klamath Falls is one of the closest airports to Crater Lake so this change will make it easier for tourists to make it to that lovely attraction, not to mention the rest of southern Oregon. If the act passes in the Senate the airline that has already been tapped to operate the Portland-Klamath Falls service would be PenAir, who has already started a number of routes out of Portland and is partners with Alaska Airlines.

There is no date for when the Senate would vote on the legislation, but I will definitely be on the look out for its passing.

I am probably not the customer Starbucks wants using their rewards program. When I am in a city where there are not a lot of local coffee options, Starbucks is my backup. The blonde roast is drinkable and if it is not being brewed they are happy to make a pour-over of it. All of this to say, a lot of my recent work travel has not been close to local coffee shops, but Starbucks were readily available.

The recently announced changes to Starbuck’s rewards program are not going over well.

Under the new plan, the “stars” that are stockpiled to earn free drinks and other rewards are awarded at a rate of two stars for every $1 spent. Currently, customers earn one star per visit. But it will take 300 stars to get to the company’s Gold status, up from 30 stars, and it will take 125 stars for a reward, instead of 12.

Stars will now be earned based on spend instead of number of transactions, meaning people who buy the expensive Frappuccinos will earn more stars than someone like me who orders a grande coffee. I am sure this is specifically targeted at a customer like me who earns 12 stars by ordering coffees and then redeems (or has someone else redeem) an expensive drink. Or worse, the person who orders a coffee and a pastry but in separate transactions to earn two stars and then redeems for something expensive.

Are the Starbucks changes aggressive? Yes, but just like in the airline mileage earning and redemption world you have to remember: Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered. Starbucks could have probably made some rules changes that simply limited the number of transactions per day to something reasonable (2 per day maybe?) but they decided to go fully revenue based. The revenue based rewards are quickly becoming commonplace across tons of different industries as a way to “reward” someone for their spend rather than their loyalty. The thing to remember is that spending more to earn a reward usually is not beneficial to you mathematically. Well, unless you’re buying the office coffee on a corporate card; Then you’re making out like a bandit.

In the end, this probably will not change my habits when it comes to Starbucks. If there is no local option when I travel, I will visit Starbucks. And that’s probably exactly what Starbucks wants. Spending habits stay the same but the number of rewards will decrease.

I apologize for my many posts on the TSA and the current security issues at airports but the situation has deteriorated so quickly that it is hard to keep up.

Over the past couple of days a couple of bloggers and news reporters have been served subpoenas because they published TSA Security Directive SD-1544-09-06. Both Steven Frischling and Chris Elliott were served subpoenas by the DHS to learn the identity of the source who had provided the TSA directive. Mr. Frischling believes that the TSA is taking security seriously and that is why they want the name of the source. I agree with him, but the methods that the DHS and TSA have used seem extreme. Most of the directive is just procedural stuff and would have come out as people flew, so why all the fuss?

The TSA wants to make sure they close as many holes in their organization as possible to insure functional security. If people are leaking things that will eventually become public what is to keep them from leaking confidential information? In that regard I understand the need to know the identity of the leak. However, coming down full force on these reporters is not the way I would go about it.

Hopefully the hassles from the TSA will stop and this administration will realize that making “Top Secret” documents public is not as much of a priority as having safety cover the different methods of travel. Mr. President, fire the TSA.

I dropped the ball last week and did not post any links, mostly because I had been out of town and did not bookmark anything. This week’s links will try to make up for it.

  • Four Fannie Mae Execs to Get Big Bonuses – There seems to be some disconnect between the media and this story. AIG execs get bonuses and they are essentially burned at the stake, but a government backed agency gives out bonuses and the story is a blurb. People should be more up in arms about this than the AIG debacle.
  • Colleges Duck Tough Cuts, Keep Hiking Pay and Tuition – An interesting and, in my opinion, necessary opinion piece in USA Today about the cost of college tuition continuing to rise all while schools give out raises. We’re taking something that we claim should be the “right of everyone” and turning it into a corporation. There is little reason to cut spending when the money flows in, except for the fact that federal money is dwindling.
  • The Pioneer Woman Cooks! – I was browsing some food blogs during lunch (the best time to do it, to avoid the hunger it causes) and came across The Pioneer Woman. Her writing is interesting and she makes Texas favorites look easy.
  • Why to Startup in a Bad Economy – This was posted in the latter half of last year but I think it is just as relevant today as it was then.
  • Facebook Fallout: Is it time for Zuckerberg to go? – I’ll admit that I am not as big of a user of Facebook as I was in college. My interest peaked and now I only occasionally look up old friends and see what they are doing. After multiple redesigns and the usability taking a nosedive, I just lost the desire to visit the site. Maybe it is time for Mark Zuckerberg to go.

Leave a comment with your thoughts!