walkitout: (Default)
Legacy / major airlines USED to have interline agreements and routinely reaccommodated each others passengers. Apparently, that's gone by the wayside along with everything else. The idea of going out of system to reaccommodate is now considered "creative". Really.

I'm currently trying to track down when this changed.


http://crankyflier.com/2015/09/14/deltas-reason-for-killing-its-interline-agreement-with-american-makes-no-sense/

http://crankyflier.com/2017/04/10/its-time-for-american-and-delta-to-reinstate-their-interline-agreement/


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlining
walkitout: (Default)
Here is the Globe coverage of the United report.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2017/04/27/united-report-dragged-passenger-many-things-went-wrong-that-day/fekKGAwW34fv8lrJEE9qNI/story.html

It's an interesting article. A couple of things stood out.

First, the flight WAS overbooked by one seat and that person was handled before boarding.

Second, the repositioning need occurred because of an earlier delayed flight to Louisville; this is definitely a cascade situation.

Third, the increased compensation for voluntarily giving up a seat is STILL in the form of "Free" travel. And that is a real problem. (This isn't just for United -- Delta's increased compensation is still in funny money.)

All "free" travel is handled in airline accounting as a debit against revenue _when that travel finally occurs_. As every (former) frequent flyer fan (that would not be me -- I've always treated them as fraud and a form of behavior distorting incentive, which is to say, don't do it) knows, points decrease in value over time as people figure out the current system and airlines modify it to reduce redemption of awards. But the current strategy of running all flights full all the time fundamentally makes all "free" travel increasingly impossible. Airlines are promising employees, in the form of passes as part of their compensation, and customers, in the form of compensation for denied boarding and so forth, future travel that they intend to do everything in their considerable power to NOT provide.

This is Bad Faith. This is an entire industry engaging in fraud. And people have mostly figured it out -- that's why so few people on that flight were willing to get out of their seats. That's why so many armchair commentators who thought someone should have given up their seat and uber'd down to Louisville (or rental car or whatever) have missed the point. Once you give up your seat on a plane, the compensation you are given for getting out of your seat, and the re-accommodation to another flight are basically fictional. You _might_ do okay. Some people do. But you probably won't. You will probably wind up flushing the cost of the ticket, abandoning the "compensation" and renting a car to get to your destination. Or buying a bus ticket. Or just not going.

The statutory mandate of $1350 is cash, not certificate travel. And you can still try to negotiate with the airline to get actual cash and in some situations you might even get it. But they really don't want to give you cash, and this isn't exactly a situation where you can get it in writing while sitting in your seat on the plane.

Finally, there is this:

"Chicago Department of Aviation officers, who the report noted, ‘‘historically [have] been effective in getting customers to voluntarily comply’’ then arrived on the scene."

If you are removing a reserved, confirmed passenger from a seat they are sitting in in order to put someone in that seat who isn't a reserved, confirmed passenger, I really believe you are already violating FAA regs. And this is as much as admitting they've deployed police officers to accomplish this goal successfully before this incident.

Deplorable.

And as long as "free" travel accounting collides with 100% paid for seats, this scandal -- this _particular_ scandal, is going to keep getting mentioned in the timeline/summary at the end of future articles on future scandals, as an example of everything that is wrong with travel today.

ETA:

The article is actually sort of horrifying:

"United employees will be given new authority to find creative solutions to get bumped passengers to their final destinations -- even if it means booking them on another airline or sending them to another airport."

"Even if"? I thought this was what legacy airlines _had_ to do -- they used to, 20-25 years ago. That was part of the argument for flying legacy vs. the then new discounters. The discounters didn't have the agreements in place to swap customers in the event of problems, so if something happened, you were stuck. But if you were on one of the majors, they'd put you on a competitors place leaving in the next hour, more often than not.

The legacies have fallen further than I thought.

ETAYA:

OMG Summary said they were going to reduce overbooking. I thought, well, it's a start. Nope, not really!

"Even though United officials say only a small percentage of passengers are involuntarily bumped from the airline’s flights, they said they will reduce overbooking on those flights where volunteers are less likely to come forward."

They are going to reduce overbooking on flights like this one, where they can't get volunteers.

Words fail. If you know you have flights where it is hard to impossible to get volunteers, you _have_ to not overbook. That's just insanity.
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Airlines often suffer from scandals, some worse than others. United, however, seems to have become a black hole for scandal, attracting more and more reports of odd and/or awful things which have happened there.

First, of course, was the leggings. A twitter controversy because passengers on the flight were horrified to see tweener girls turned away for violating dress code rules by wearing leggings. United initially claimed their contract of carriage allowed this (it does not), then said no, these were pass travelers and pass travelers get free travel but have to abide by a dress code. One assumes that in this case, the dress code is designed to avoid irritating the paying customers. But United seems unaware of the rationale for their own dress code -- they quite happily stuck to procedure even though it was pissing off paying customers. Little did we know this was foreshadowing, and this particular scandal would live on far past its ordinary expected lifetime, as the background to later and greater United scandals.

Scandal number two was the Really Epic One. It is the chewiest scandal of recent years, and ideally suited to small talk and other forms of idle conversation. Very few people are prepared to defend the United position, and all the rest of us are quite happy explaining to them why they are wrong. There is no threat to relationships, such as can happen when discussing sexual topics, religion, or our most recent election. We're not going to find out the other person disagrees with us and is prepared to terminate our relationship over that disagreement. So we can vent at will.

It helped the scandal live on, that it tied into so many other things of concern to many of us. Police officers who treat people too roughly. Service oriented businesses that are anything but service oriented. Our lingering sense that whenever we get on an airplane, Something Horrible Might Happen. And all the smaller injuries of airplane travel: fees, fees and more fees, lost luggage, too small seats, overfull planes, etc. But the piece de resistance is realizing how many rules and regulations United managed to violate by bumping paying customers to fly repositioned employees -- after the paying customers were already in their seats. We can all have confidence that taking the time and trouble to memorize the details of this scandal will pay off in future small talk opportunities, when various trials go to court and we hear further announcements of changes to policies at the airlines, changes of job title, etc.

Now that the extremely unfortunate injuries perpetrated on a customer of United Airlines by Chicago Aviation Police have attained a sort of self-reinforcing cycle of news, we also get to hear about every other odd and unfortunate thing that happens if it is connected to the scandal and/or United. So Delta got a little blip of news coverage for increasing the amount of money that its gate agents and their supervisors can offer to volunteers to be bumped. Other people who lost cherry seats have been able to share their stories and the possibility they might file suit.

And now, we have the death of a giant bunny, a bunny destined for glory in the future as the largest bunny of all time, whose opportunity to be that grand bunny was destroyed (as well as losing its life) by flying on United. Or possibly before flying on United or after landing.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/us/united-airlines-rabbit.html

Less respectable news outlets are having a lot of fun with the rabbit breeder's past.

That's a lot of fun.

Where is United going to go with this (not the bunny -- the bunny is a sidelight)?

Well, United has taken many tacks with these scandals. Munoz' career as CEO has been checkered, to say the least: he took over from a scandal ridden predecessor, had heart surgery, then came back anyway and focused on employee morale, receiving an award for his performance from PRWeek which caused them some chagrin when the major component of this scandal arc occurred.

http://www.prweek.com/article/1430341/united-airlines-needs-better

Munoz would not be the first person to engage in a turnaround who, forced to prioritize, was then bitten in the ass by the things which were not prioritized. A lot of people who are not necessarily interested in the details of how tough a job Munoz has on his hands have been a little surprised he was not summarily dismissed. Alas, I don't think it would be that easy to find someone willing to attempt to run United as CEO at this point in time. I know I wouldn't take it on. Would you?

Indeed, his employers have taken a different approach to disciplining Munoz. He apparently had a clause elevating him to chairman, and another clause saying he could resign as CEO if that didn't happen. Both of those have "voluntarily" been removed from his contract according to this piece at NYT:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/21/business/united-airlines-ceo.html

Not only are they not sacking him, he doesn't get to leave.

I, personally, would much rather see a thorough analysis of process at the legacy airlines and their junior partners such as United Express and Republic Airways, and a concerted effort to bring that process into compliance with relevant regulations. I would _also_ like to see the airline industry as a whole acknowledge its unfunded future liabilities (pass travel, whether space available, positive space, must ride, etc. -- these are all important, either as union contracted benefits or in order to reposition employees). Vouchers and other pass travel _used_ to be widely recognized as valuable; that value has been virtually eliminated now that airlines run all planes 100% full all the time, thus preventing the use of frequent flyer awards travel and other pass travel. If flights left 5% of the plane available for use by passes (including must rides which were at the core of the major scandal for United), we might not get back to the world where the middle seat was usually empty and you might luck out and get a whole middle row on a wide body and take a nap.

But we could at least stop feeling like the funniest joke in our repertoire right now when asked, "How was your flight?" is "I have all my teeth, see! (big smile) The bar is sure low, now, isn't it?!?"
walkitout: (Default)
Not too long ago, I read _Waiter Rant_, which was entertaining. The author has a number of things to say about tipping, but basically accepts the proposition that the owner of the restaurant cannot afford to pay service staff the amount of money service staff collects from the customers in tips.

I've always thought this was a suspect argument. Sure, the owner can't pay Saturday evening tip rates for all the hours the wait staff is at the restaurant, doing all the tasks that they do. But there's no obvious reason why servers could not be paid an amount over the course of a day/week/two weeks/arbitrarily selected pay period which was equivalent to what they would have made with their current "tipped minimum wage" + tip income, less tip outs to other staff, and, for that matter, raise other staff pay to be equivalent to what they were receiving in tip outs. It's all revenue in the door from the customers. This is not manna from heaven. And in fact there are very high end restaurants which have eliminated tipping, even in NYC, for long enough that we are now seeing articles reviewing the impact of that decision (as opposed to the earlier spate of articles which only looked at _that_ restaurants were making that decision).

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/dining/restaurants-no-tipping-service.html

This article notes that while it _is_ all money in the door from the customer, revenue on the bill is handled differently whether it is on the bill, or a tip -- and that can have an impact on how much is then available for distribution among staff. And a lot of the rationale for eliminating tipping is the front of the house/back of the house division that was described vividly in _Waiter Rant_, but which presumed undocumenteds running the kitchen forever and ever amen, a scenario which just isn't happening any more. If restaurants can't come up with ways to even out compensation to the kitchen, they are not able to retain employees -- this is a chronic problem with restaurants, and eliminating tipping and repricing is one strategy for getting around this without just raising prices across the board and leaving tipping in place.

Over at BI, Matthew DeBord has produced another deliberately provocative piece, this time about Uber's problems and how they would all/mostly/okay maybe some of them get better if Uber introduced a tipping feature.

http://www.businessinsider.com/uber-tipping-policy-biggest-problem-2017-4

Debord claims that he "assumed Uber was baking a 20% tip into every ride". Which is a little odd -- that would illegal, among other things, altho I can certainly understand that people who have been keeping up with Uber news might go, like that ever stopped Uber. Tipping drivers and tipping waiters share some things and do not share others. The commonality -- personal service -- is pretty unambiguous. The difference -- taxi drivers are, at least in theory, truly not employees but rather independent business owners of the medallions -- is murky. Most actual drivers are NOT medallion owners, and their actual location on the employee/contractor continuum is often ill-defined and not entirely in compliance with all applicable laws.

https://blog.dol.gov/2015/08/19/standing-up-for-taxi-drivers

I sure sympathize with servers who live in a state (like Massachusetts) where their employers can pay them a different, lower minimum wage. I wish every state went the way Washington did, raising the tipped minimum wage to parity with minimum wage (and they even left tipping intact).

That said, I finally took two Ubers in Seattle, roughly the same route (3 miles from a location on Cap Hill to a location in the downtown business distract). I tipped in cash ($5 on a roughly $16 ride) each time. First driver was a bit surprised, but we'd had a conversation about how this was my very first Uber ever. Second driver looked straight up shocked to have a $5 in his hand. Both were black car ride. I tip my car service (even with a baked in gratuity, I added cash) when I go to the airport, so I figured it wasn't unreasonable to do this. But honestly, if Uber has finally managed to change the expectations, turning that around now seems ridiculous. I'd much rather have the price on the ride go up and keep the no-tip culture, than push the price lower by reducing the amount to the driver and have the driver recover it by pressuring for cash tips.

DeBord argues that tipping is predictable at 20% -- he also says 20% is for "exceptional" service. And part of his argument is, everything requires a tip in NYC. But exporting that all over the country isn't necessarily where I think we should go with this. I'd far rather see us move in the direction of the restaurants experimenting with eliminating tipping to more fairly compensate back of the house. I'd rather see us move in the direction of paid employees vs. contractors. With transparency of benefits and, you know, compliance with labor law.

I know I'm asking a lot. I know it won't happen. But blithely saying that Uber should add a tipping feature is missing the Very Best Thing Ever about Uber. At the end of the ride, all you have to do is grab your stuff and get out of the car. I cannot tell you how obnoxious I have always found it to watch the meter, count out cash change (because of the non-existent credit card reader, or the reader that is conveniently for the driver "broken") while calculating a tip, and also collect all my stuff and get out of the car. I hate having all that happen at once, and I've left things in taxis. Uber really de-stressed the end of the ride. If they add a tipping feature, I hope they at least automate it to a customizable default so they don't lose the Just Get Out of the Car with My Stuff feature.
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http://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-united-low-priority-passenger-20170412-story.html

Roughly similar to Dao, in that United had boarded a paying customer -- in this case, full fare, first class!!! -- and then tried to remove the person from the flight to make way for someone else.

To be clear, there is _nothing_ in FAA regs to justify doing this. Under rule 25, United's Refusal to Transport clause, there is _nothing_ to justify booting someone from the plane. In this case, they stashed the _full fare first class customer_ in a middle seat in coach.

So if you, like me, were thinking, well, you could just buy your way out of this problem by only flying first? Nope.

""Instead, the service rep offered to refund Fearns the difference between his first-class ticket and an economy ticket — about a week later, as if that wasn’t the first thing they should do in a situation like this — and to give him a $500 credit for a future trip on the airline.

“Despite the negative experience, we hope to have your continued support,” the rep concluded. “Your business is especially important to us and we'll do our utmost to make your future contacts with United satisfactory in every respect.”"

Not only was there no compensation for failing to provide the paid for service -- he had to go _ask_ to get the refund, it wasn't offered, and it wasn't a complete refund, nor was there additional compensation. And the cabin crew threatened to cuff this guy for saying he wanted to stay in his boarded, paid for, full fare, first class seat.

I hope he sues. I at least want the discovery part of the trial to occur.

ETA: The article sparked additional stories to come out:

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-united-customer-emails-20170412-htmlstory.html

I find it striking that so many of these stories involve people basically dumping a United ticket and flying on another airlines, because between change fees and so forth, it didn't make any sense to continue to work with UAL. Makes you wonder how they ever wind up overbooked, if so many people don't even fly their tickets in the first place.
walkitout: (Default)
I've already posted about how I _think_ this should be solved in the long run. If you are going to bottom feed and monetize, go all the way. But that's not where I am going right now. Right now, I'm poking at the relevant law on getting on a plane and how the airline can then get you back off it before arriving at your destination.

We all know the rules about how they can _stop_ you from boarding. FAA regulations give airlines quite a lot of latitude. They basically say this:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/250.2a

"In the event of an oversold flight, every carrier shall ensure that the smallest practicable number of persons holding confirmed reserved space on that flight are denied boarding involuntarily."

Then there's all that stuff about compensation.

Nothing is really said about then telling a boarded passenger, oh, sorry, you have to get back off. At least, not on the part of FAA. And the FAA doesn't do a fabulous job of defining "oversold". It is supposed to mean there are more ticketed, confirmed passengers than safe places to put them. In practice, however, airlines will sometimes pre-emptively take passenger seats for "must rides", and say they have oversold what would not have been oversold if the "must rides" didn't exist. I'll come back to "must rides" in a minute.

In any event, in the scandalous event, all sides agree (altho the media has been a bit slow on the uptake) that this was _not_ an overbooked, oversold, over whatever flight. Also, they had already boarded all the ticketed, confirmed passengers when they then decided they had "must rides".

So that FAA rule above doesn't apply. What might apply is the part of the Contract of Carriage labeled "Refusal of Transport". That's where they can kick you off the plane for being barefoot or smelling bad or whatever. But there is nothing in United's Refusal of Transport that obviously applies to the situation, and the only "generic" clause relates to safety and no one is saying the victim here was being unsafe.

Thus: United violated their own Contract of Carriage. The small print used to _justify_ their heinous behavior actually _condemns_ their heinous behavior. Surprise! Reading the small print is rewarding. Who knew!?!

Another justification being tossed around online is that there is some sort of regulation from the DOT or the FAA or some other body that says "must rides" must ride. Basically, if the airline, in its scheduling wisdom, concludes they must put some employee bodies on a flight to move them to some other location to work a shift there, the airline gets to boot paying, confirmed customers to do so.

This is Not True. Airlines are exploiting the vagueness of the above mentioned FAA regulation about refusing boarding. But you can't bounce a ticketed, confirmed customer from his (her, their) seat(s) for a "must ride". And you _certainly_ can't then claim the guv-mint made you do it. That's an airline policy likely in violation of FAA regs (because they are NOT minimizing the impact ON THE PRESENT FLIGHT) when they do it and justify doing it because of the impact on later flight schedules. The FAA reg is pretty clear.

Here, let me repeat it:

"In the event of an oversold flight, every carrier shall ensure that the smallest practicable number of persons holding confirmed reserved space on that flight are denied boarding involuntarily."

FAA says you do not get to use the impact on a later flight as a reason to screw over ticketed, confirmed people on THIS FLIGHT. OPPOSITE OF TRUE. The FAA rule here is a clear instance of:

A LACK OF PLANNING ON THE AIRLINES PART DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN EMERGENCY FOR THE CUSTOMERS.

I know there is an entire genre of posts of people doing ridiculous shit and getting kicked off planes for it, complaining and then everyone points out what they did wrong and why they got kicked off. This particular set of events is proof that we should all be REAL CAREFUL before participating in defending the indefensible. Because this sucker is completely indefensible in a way that I haven't seen since, oh, I don't know. Enron? Probably? And lest you forget, Lay died after he was convicted but before sentencing (conviction vacated after he died) -- and Skilling is still in prison. Fastow also served time, but he's been out a few years. There isn't a lot in common between the two scandals -- other than the breathtaking scale and stinkiness of them.

ETA: Or VW. It has that same rolling quality of, but wait, there's more! Confusion throughout the industry and its heaviest users of what the rules really are is a terrible sign, especially when people then try to game those rules.

ETAYA:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/crisis-experts-to-united-this-too-shall-pass/2017/04/11/3550be86-1ec9-11e7-a0a7-8b2a45e3dc84_story.html

This is really entertaining.

"“This will be just a short kind of hit,” said Lakshman Krishnamurthi, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “Volkswagen had the diesel problem, and their sales are fine. Toyota had a problem years ago, and nothing really happened to their sales.”"

Really? That's not how I remembered it. VW stock took an immediate hit and still hasn't fully recovered. Their market share similarly. Suppliers who are known to be revenue dependent on VW took a hit to their stock prices as well. If by "fine" you mean knock double digit percentage off market cap, sales, what have you and STILL be working through the litigation and fine process, then, sure, VW is "Fine". They haven't recovered to where they were before that scandal, tho.

Toyota is a trickier thing to analyze, because the accelerator scandal went on for so damn long (their final fine in the US didn't happen until 2014, IIRC). Their sales took a multi-year hit and their profitability for at least a year was pretty much wiped out by that fine.

If VW and Toyota are examples of "short kind of hit", well, this could take a while and wind up costing United money in court, ticket sales, market penetration, ability to enter new markets, etc.

While VW worldwide sales have recovered to a new all time high, there are indictments, at least one guy was being held without bail because of concern he would flee to Germany and we wouldn't get him back -- and senior VW guys are being warned not to travel to the US. Is this _really_ a great definition of a "short kind of hit"?

ETA Still More: http://www.beloitdailynews.com/article/20170412/AP/304129712
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As I drove to and later from my Dutch lesson today, I was struck by the many, many, many mentions of the current United scandal (Doctor bumped from flight 3411 from ORD to SDF, IIRC; 1 of 4 passengers chosen for involuntary bumping when no one took the $800 plus hotel offered for voluntary bumping. They needed to bump to reposition crew) on the Hits Channel on Sirius. Now, I actually pay money to get Sirius (or Sirius XM or whatever it is called) -- the free months that came with the vehicle have long since expired, but I pay ongoing because it turns out it is really kind of nice as a discovery mechanism and there are no ads. The news covered on the Hits channel tends to be celebrity gossip and then there are descriptions of new in theater/new on streaming movies and that's really the extent of it. Unless the Morning crew gets ahold of something and can't let it go, which happened with the United scandal.

There seems to be widespread awareness that United didn't break any kind of rule or law or regulation by doing this. No one seems to give a shit -- this incident is so raw, and so ridiculous that virtually everyone has focused instead on, why didn't you offer more money to get people to volunteer. Etc. I looked up EU compensation rules for involuntary denied boarding -- they are actually lower than US compensation rules, as near as I can tell.

It occurred to me, that if you are going to be a bottom feeder airline -- and Munoz has made it Crystal Clear that United under his tenure is going to be a bottom feeder airline, and he is going to make it work by clearly communicating and pricing things correctly -- you should monetize the bump queue. The bump queue is already partially monetized: they bump people who paid less, who fly less with that airline first. They bump by fare class in the expected order. There are exemptions to avoid triggering an ADA lawsuit. Why not give people buying Basic Economy (United Continental's you only get under the seat in front of you, you don't get to pick your seat, you will be in a middle seat, etc. class) another $5 off, if they accept an extremely high ranking in the bump queue AND pre-emptively agree to a low bump price? Say, for $5/off the already low fare, you will be one of the first 5 people bumped and you agree to accept $400 to be bumped, hotel voucher if it's overnight before you get on another flight. You could take a cue (ahem) from the EU passenger rights, and make the bump amount commensurate with the distance of the flight.

And for $20 more, you could then sell, on a per ticket basis, to be later in the bump queue. If your fare class would normally make you 12 of 70 on a bump queue, maybe $20 would move you to 30 of 70. Etc. Again, anyone buying a slot (or sector) on the bump queue would be expected to accept a pre-negotiated bump cost. Heck, if you really wanted to take this thing to the limit, presumably you could give someone a half off an already cheap fare -- with the understanding that they're _really_ paying to get ahead of the standby fare class, and if they don't get on at all, they'll just have to wait until there's a seat with no bump compensation at all.

That is, monetizing the bump queue is a way to change perceptions around flying standby that might result in more consistently full seats at lower overall cost to the airline and thus higher profits.

ETA:

Here is some sample coverage at Bloomberg of the ongoing fallout, and whether it is likely to have an impact on United Continental's stock price and/or revenue:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-11/united-airlines-tumbles-as-social-media-storm-spreads-worldwide

Among other things, the article observes that JetBlue does not overbook -- which is one of the many reasons why JetBlue is who I fly if I possibly can, and who I buy tickets on for people I buy tickets for, if I possibly can. (I sincerely hope this never changes, because everyone else I can identify does overbook.)

Other articles observe that 15% of the flying public accounts for half the revenue; the other half the revenue comes from the masses of people who fly once a year (this is how all markets work, so not really a surprise). I gotta believe that people who have more money fly more. I'm surprised at how cavalier many articles are about the possible impact on revenue of United screwing up this badly. What if the people who internalize the Don't Fly United message are the 15%? That's kinda gonna hurt, right?
walkitout: (Default)
Recently, there was a bit of a tweet storm about a United Airline flight which was boarding. Some of the people who were trying to board were turned away, and others in the area reported that the reason given was failure to meet the dress code. There was a perhaps 10 year old girl wearing leggings. United responded to the tweets initially by referring to the carriage rules, leading some to infer that, hey, you, flip flop wearing peon, you could be next. The discussion evolved in the expected direction: the people who were turned away did eventually fly after they dressed differently and they had been "non-revs", people flying on a pass from a United employee, and thus subject to a different dress code.

This might be the dress code in question:

"Dress code

Pass riders’ overall appearance should be well-groomed, neat, clean and in good taste.
Attire should be respectful of fellow revenue passengers, employees and pass riders.
Pass riders may wear denim attire (such as jeans), shorts that are no more than three inches above the knee and athletic shoes when traveling in Coach or Business cabin.

The following attire is unacceptable in any cabin but is not limited to:

Any attire that reveals a midriff.
Attire that reveals any type of undergarments.
Attire that is designated as sleepwear, underwear, or swim attire.
Mini Skirts
Shorts that do not meet 3 inches above the knee when in a standing position.
Form-fitting lycra/spandex tops, pants and dresses.
Attire that has offensive and/or derogatory terminology or graphics.
Attire that is excessively dirty or has holes/tears.
Any attire that is provocative, inappropriately revealing, or see-through clothing.
Bare feet
Beach-type, rubber flip-flops

CUSTOMER SERVICE'S JUDGEMENT WILL PREVAIL IN ALL MATTERS PERTAINING TO THE DRESS CODE."

I pulled that from here: http://www.flyzed.info/UA

A variety of the participants online (twitter and elsewhere) guessed that the people turned away were non-revs before UA confirmed, and there was a bit of commentary on whether the dress code was enforced uniformly (specifically: did the man in the group's shorts violate the length rule, or is this just another one of those Policing Women's Bodies things, like what happened to Nicola Thorp when Portico told her she had to wear high heels, which had all kinds of fantastic repercussions for dress code legality in the UK).

People who were already familiar with pass riders/non-revs generally were accepting of the idea that it is okay for airlines to enforce some rules on non-revs, as this is a privilege or benefit and it comes with some strings and one has to play along. Some took this a bit farther, moving well down the path of "Kids/Unwashed Masses/Millenials These Days".

I would like to make some observations about dress codes.

If a dress code exists so someone who is offering something of value can make a monkey do a trick in order to gain the something of value, then the argument that, "hey, these are non-revs, these are the rules" would make sense. I am _reasonably certain_ this is not the actual reason for the dress code. Altho, I could be wrong.

If a dress code exists so as to avoid giving offense to the paying customers, then this particular dress code probably needs to be adjusted, since it seems to be freaking out and/or pissing off paying customers, and the only defenders (other than UA, the source of the policy) seem to be taking the, hey, I'll be your trained monkey if you give me free flights approach. Which, as I noted, is not much of a defense. I will give my readers a little hint about how business works. You generally want the _paying customers_ to be pleased with what you are doing, and you don't really care too much about the people who are attempting to use your service for free. I know, airlines are a little screwy on this -- even JetBlue has taken to running advertisements along the lines of, '"I'd prefer to pay for my flight," said no one ever.' Really, JetBlue? I mean, I love JetBlue, but thanks for calling me No One. I have said exactly that. I fucking loathe frequent flyer programs, the customer behavior they encourage, the accounting practices which have mutated as a result, and the corporate insanity that has grown up as a result of those frequent flyer programs. Airlines are often _very not clear_ on how important it is to treat the paying customer with some respect (FlyerTalk DYKWIA forums are full of tales of the unwashed masses in First who paid for their tickets being treated badly by members of various elite programs who think they should get their seat as an upgrade instead. The unwashed masses love posting about this when it happens, because It Is Hilarious, but if we didn't have frequent flyer programs, this would stop happening. Probably.).

Returning to the dress code issue: In my entirely anecdotally based and unscientific opinion, boomers tend to like to show a lot of leg, gen x'ers tended to show more skin in slices (ew, that sounds kinda gross -- slits, v's, midriff, etc.), and Millenials tend to cover up a lot but wear very body conforming clothing. There are a lot of boomers, but they are flying less. There are even more Millenials, and they are flying more. (Wondering why I'm not mentioning gen xers her? Hey, just following the trend, which is to pretend we don't exist.) The dress code UA offers up (if I actually have the right one) shows some clear evolution: they've already given up saying no to jeans, sneakers and shorts, which I'm prepared to guess happened when the boomers were a lot younger than they are today. I'm betting there will be some changes to reflect Millenial attire.

And now, as long as I'm here, and assuming no one else read this far, I, for one would much rather see a Grooming Code that specified things like, Please Brush Your Teeth and Do Not Wear Scented Products. Bad breath in a seat mate is icky, and I'm allergic to nearly every fragrance ever invented.

In airline related commentary -- but having nothing to do with UA or leggings -- I watched the recent NCIS:LA episode, 767. I wish it hadn't been called a 767. I mean, if they'd picked a different jet, then at least some of the things they did on that plane (the crew rest quarters, maybe) would have made sense. If they hadn't _specified_ a jet, equally fine. But no.

http://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=747355

Based on this, I think they must have actually been on a 777.

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=705576

Maybe the 767 in the title referred to something other than the aircraft?
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And yet, apparently trouble happened on a dry, sunny day in the Arizona springtime:

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/tempe-traffic/2017/03/25/self-driving-car-involved-tempe-accident/99612554/

I have used this link, because it has the best detail on the crash. Police say the fault was not on Uber's side; a left turner failed to yield and this led to the Uber Volvo SUV winding up on its side pointing the wrong way. R. suspects the rollover occurred as a result of an effort to evade the left turning vehicle. Reports concur there were "no serious injuries", which is good.

This BI coverage has the good picture.

http://www.businessinsider.com/self-driving-uber-gets-in-accident-in-tempe-arizona-2017-3

I tend to feel that vehicles that wind up on their side are badly designed vehicles, however, other people do not agree with me. This particular SUV has all kinds of features intended to make sure everyone steps out of the vehicle after a rollover in fine shape.

Luggage

Feb. 1st, 2017 10:14 pm
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On Tuesday, I was trying to come up with some low energy entertainment for my daughter, who was getting bored with the other things she had been doing (watching TV shows, playing iPad games). I said, hey, lets shop for luggage online! She was all over that. So off I went to eBags to shop for pink luggage.

Wow. So, we discovered the Barracuda bag:

https://barracuda.co/

Collapsible hardsided luggage that, like a nice handbag, comes with a storage bag. Unlike a nice handbag, it rolls, and the handle that comes out to drag it along has a fold out tray with cup holders. Other odds and ends like an electronic tracker, an included digital scale, etc. You can get it in pink. We did not. Altho I'm not saying we won't ever.

We also ran across the not-yet-for-sale Modo Bag:

http://modobag.com/

Basically, fits into the overhead big, has pop out handlebar and foot pegs, and a battery so you can not only sit on it and roll along, it is powered. Wacky! After the hoverboard and Samsung Note debacles, I wouldn't be in a hurry to be the first person to buy it. Also, it is expensive -- over a $1000.

We also discovered scooter bags for kids and adults.

http://www.olaf-scooter.com/
http://www.microkickboard.com/teen-adult-scooters/luggage-scooters

and many others.

We ordered A. a child size one, because she's the littlest of us and the one most likely to get frustrated with us moving too quickly through an airport. I'll let you know how that goes after our next trip.

Really, luggage innovation in wheels such as this:

https://g-ro.com/

seem downright passe in the brave new world that is 2017 in luggage innovation.

Got any you have seen and were amazed by? Or just went, wha? over? Please share!
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http://www.reuters.com/article/us-volkswagen-emissions-settlement-idUSKCN0ZD2S5

"A deal formally filed by the Justice Department on Tuesday will provide the largest-ever automotive buyback offer in the United States. The proposed consent decree confirmed that VW will set aside $10.033 billion to cover buybacks or potential fixes for diesel cars and sport utility vehicles that used illegal software to defeat government emissions tests."

This doesn't settle the criminal side of the matter.

There is also money for electric car charging infrastructure, upgrading buses and facilities at ports to reduce emissions. There's another deal with a bunch of states, DC and Puerto Rico with another chunk of change.

Markets responded positively to VW stock.

I can't say that any of this is particularly surprising. It's just another step in the process.
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I really set up a ridiculous day: start the day at WorldQuest, check out, go to Universal, go on rides for a few hours (mostly to do Forbidden Journey at the beginning of the day -- we'd done Gringott's at the beginning of the previous day. Neither ride is available through Ultimate Express), leave, drive to Animal Kingdom, eat lunch at Yak and Yeti Local Foods, go on the Safari, Expedition Everest using Fast Passes, check into Grand Floridian, meet R.'s mother, go to 'Ohana for dinner. A plan like this is begging to be Murphied, but apparently he was on vacation too and left us alone. I was a zombie by the end of it, but everything went smoothly.

The first day at Universal, someone wanted me to do a survey, which I attempted and then bailed out on because it was screen after screen of pick one of five Would You Use This Kind of Transportation From this location to that location (Very likely, somewhat likely, etc.). A half a dozen or more of these questions per screen, and I was also trying to keep track of my daughter, her souvenirs, etc. Did Not Work For Me. I handed it back.

But it did get me thinking. Orlando suffers from the Las Vegas problem that ultimately led to the monorail which parallels the Strip: people arrive at Mccarren, get a taxi to some location on the Strip, may be willing to walk to a neighboring location on the Strip if there is a tunnel but otherwise will take more taxis to go from location to location on the Strip, unless it is after dark and not crazy hot. The result is horrible traffic and worse air pollution, and city public transport is not really set up to accommodate tourist needs and preferences. The Universal survey which I did not complete did, indeed, ask about monorails.

I don't want a monorail. I've been on a fair number of monorails at this point, and honestly, I don't trust the fuckers for a host of reasons, but even if I did, Orlando development is just spread out too much for it to work well. I suppose someone could set up light rail (also a question on the survey), but I would be fine if Universal set up something like Disney's Magical Express (DME is a Disney branded, Mears run motor coach where you get yellow luggage tags. You stick 'em on your luggage when you check your bags at your home airport, DO NOT pick them up at MCO instead Mears gets them and hands them off to Disney bell services which puts them in your room. The reverse service is available at departure.), altho that would leave the problem of what to do when transitioning from Universal to Disney or vice versa.

Universal recently set up SuperStar Shuttle (who knew there were other shuttles not run by Mears in Orlando? But yes, Super Shuttle has an Orlando operation, and that's who Universal picked to run SuperStar), and semi-mandatory, FOR PAY operation that does not pick up your bags for you. Sort of makes you wonder whyever the fuck.

My main theory is that Universal makes a lot of money off their parking garages. For example, even if you stay on property and have a season pass, and thus don't have to pay at the theme park garage, they still get you for $15 a night to park your rental car at the hotel. And then there are plenty of people with season passes who are paying extra for preferred or Valet or whatever. If this theory is correct, it's hard to know what will happen with DME.

On the other hand, it could be an average capacity issue. Disney has been running up against parking limits (mostly due to Walt's hatred of garages persisting way past any sensible point -- I mean, seriously, this is Florida. You _want_ to be in a garage) for a long while now and has a built up internal transportation network that works better with more people using it (justifies running them at closer intervals which increases usage in a virtuous cycle). If this theory is correct, as Universal's parks continue to mature and capacity is more consistently used, they'll run up against comparable limits and see a benefit in reducing car usages so as to avoid the expense of building more parking garages.

I have no direct experience of Universal's transportation system. The place their buses drop off requires all the walking that a person parking the garage has to go through, so that's not much of a win. The boat docks are closer to the parks -- but are somewhat distant from many of the rooms in some of the hotels. But at least one of the hotels has a walking path at least as convenient as the BLT -> MK walking path. (We'll be staying there later in the year so hopefully I'll have something to say in a future trip report.)

In any event, as a customer of both the Universal and Disney system, and likely to continue to be so for the next (how old are my kids?) decade plus, it would be Pretty Freaking Awesome to be able to tag my luggage at home, drop it off at Logan, go to a park, check into a hotel and find my luggage already in the room, settle in. Spend a couple days, tag the bags for the other system, call bell service to pick them up, head on down to an air conditioned motor coach that would drop me off at my hotel in the other system (or, conceivably, a central location such as TTC at WDW or CityWalk at Universal), do a park in the other system, head over to my hotel to find my bags already in my room, settle in for a couple days, call bell service to pick up my bags to check them in for my return home, head on down to an air conditioned motor coach that will drop me off at MCO and go home.

Basically, DME at both systems with a connecting link.

I'm not gonna get it. I get that. I can explain in some detail why I'm not gonna get it. But I still want it.

ETA: Speaking of Las Vegas vs. Orlando and transporting the tourists as a problem:

https://skift.com/2015/07/01/las-vegas-is-struggling-to-deal-with-tourist-traffic-issues/
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As you probably already know, if you have any kind of nerds in your environment (and if you don't, why are you reading my blog? Are you lost?), the Tesla Model 3 got 300K pre-orders (we're talking a grand a pop to Get In Line to spend $35K+ in a couple years on an electric car) within a few days of its announcement/reveal/prototype introduction.

Inevitably, whenever someone has an astonishingly successful promotion, someone has to come around and piss on it, to Show Them They Are More Clever. The weird part is that The Verge gave this thing space.

Ignore the headline. Yeah, I know there's a bunch of space in the article devoted to that thesis, but it's a foolish thing to even HAVE a position on. Let's take a look at some of the elements of the argument.

http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/8/11393278/tesla-model-3-vs-apple-iphone-sales-compared

(1) Tesla has quality control issues. They do. This is true.
(2) Tesla has made small numbers of very expensive cars. The Model 3 will be larger numbers of less expensive cars. Oh, wait, that's not the argument. Here's the actual argument:

"Consumers in the mass market are far more reliant on their cars than luxury buyers (for whom a Model S or X might be a second or third car), and thus far more sensitive to quality problems."

The rest of the argument is that ICE makers are better at fixing quality control issues because they are used to making lots of cars. Here, I'm not making this up:

"Meanwhile, existing automakers are rushing a flood of electric vehicles to market, at mass-market and luxury price points, and it will be far easier for them to improve their design and performance than it will be for Tesla to make the profound improvements in manufacturing speed and quality it needs to be competitive in the mass market."

(3) A lot of those pre-orders will be canceled, and Tesla may ultimately not ever sell even 300K Model 3s. Because Leaf.

This is particularly odd. First, the Get In Line ticket cost on the leaf was $100, not $1000, so qualitatively different there. Second, the number of people who paid the $100 to Get In Line for the Leaf was quite small -- much, much smaller than the number of Leafs ultimately sold worldwide. So this argument makes very little sense.

(4) It's not actually an affordable car, and those people who pre-paid $1K are gonna need their money back or at least not be able to pay up any more.

Here are the issues I have with this argument.

First and foremost, the massive, longstanding popularity of the VW in various configurations is proof that there is a slice of the population that will pay too much money for something that is terribly unreliable, for a host of reasons: proving they are Smart (in both senses), environmentally aware, and, basically, Cooler Than You. True, this whole diesel scandal may have finally killed the brand -- won't know for sure for a few more years -- but the crowd that overpaid for VWs has a lot in common with the crowd that is paying a lot for Teslas. And unless they've hidden an ICE engine in the Tesla somewhere, I don't see this particular well of money running dry any time soon. The price point on the VW in many configurations is in the same range as the Model 3. The marketing looks solid to me.

The preorder argument is insane. The scale of the preorder is qualitatively different (cost of ticket and number of participants). But even if it weren't, if you look at the total presales on the Leaf versus sales so far on the Leaf, and modeled Model 3 sales on that comparison, well, Musk is gonna have pocket change around for all kinds of silly projects for decades to come.

Finally, some people _will_ get their preorder money back. Absolutely. But it's difficult for me to imagine that more won't be getting in line, as well.

I don't recognize Niedermeyer or any of his previous work (if I find I've blogged about him before, I'll edit this later). But I have to say I'm kind of surprised and disappointed with The Verge for publishing this. I don't mind the click-bait Apple/Tesla thing, or even all the wasted words on that topic. But the underlying argument -- ICE manufacturers are going to magically start kicking Tesla ass when Tesla reaches down into the "mass market" segment (really? $40K cars are now mass market? who knew?), because Tesla quality control is so terrible and ICE makers are (going to suddenly become) so much better at making high quality electric cars in quantity -- is bizarre in the extreme.

The future is going to include a lot of makers of electric cars, just like the present has quite a lot of makers of ICE cars. There's space for a Bolt and a Model 3, just like there's space for a 3 series and an Escalade. I don't know why people persist in predicting the demise of Tesla. I test drove a Tesla and it was a nice car. I might have bought a Model X, except it wasn't out yet when I bought my i3 -- but I might one day replace my i3 with a Model X, because the range is so much better. I don't know. But I've got decades of virulent hatred of GM getting in the way of me ever seriously thinking about buying a Bolt. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who feels this way.
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I have an evolving list of special interests that I pursue with intensity for a while, and then check in on once in a while thereafter. Transportation was a big one for a while -- I got real interested in rail networks, past present and future (and never happened). That's a classic on the spectrum, being interested in trains, altho more typically it manifests in an interest in the rolling stock. In typical I don't do anything right fashion, I got obsessed with the underlying graph and how it intersected with other human choices like where to live, and where to position jobs and so forth.

I was also really interested in payments systems for a while. I knew part of the path from gold to digital money, but wound up reading a whole bunch of stuff about the history of bills that was super fun for a while, then I got sort of obsessed with the chip transition, and now it, too, is back burnered.

Obvs, I love anything that involves disintermediation, disruption, and innovation changing our world and the economic dislocations that occur as a result.

So this bloomberg article is, from my perspective, one of the most perfect things I've ever read. It has all of that! (Okay, no trains, but it does have Transportation Network Companies -- different kind of network, still fascinating.)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-17/uber-plans-instant-pay-for-drivers-in-need

I'd never thought hard about how Uber and Lyft drivers got paid. Apparently, it is normally weekly, but Lyft has made it possible to be paid faster (minimum chunk size $50, $.50 fee each withdrawal) and now Uber is going to also, using Green Dot, a bank I only knew about because someone screwed up and used my gmail email to sign up for their Green Dot card. Very annoying, but an interesting solution for the underbanked. No minimum, no fee as long as you use it often enough, access via a debit card or cashout at ATM for free.

Hugely popular.

A couple observations. First, this turns card payments into something so closely resembling cash payments that its hard to see how cash payments (in the folding green stuff sense) are not WORSE than this -- theft and loss risk with folding green stuff is probably worse than the inaccessibility factor of card payments. Second, this has the potential to undercut cash advance services, which can only be viewed as a good thing. I'm sure there's a negative here somewhere; I'll update if I think of it later.
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http://www.zdnet.com/article/video-reveals-the-moment-googles-self-driving-car-slams-into-a-bus/

Low speed collision. The car saw the bus, and assumed the bus would yield. The bus did not yield. Google drew correct conclusion: Never Expect Buses or Trucks to Yield.

"Our cars will more deeply understand that buses and other large vehicles are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles, and we hope to handle situations like this more gracefully in the future."

This is one of the most interesting google car accidents so far, because it doesn't involve someone or something else hitting a google car. However, the headline "slams into" is very misleading. It was a _very_ low speed crash with no injuries, even tho the driver of the bus wasn't wearing his seatbelt (this, honestly, is why ordinary passenger vehicles must always yield to buses and trucks -- they are so big, that they just get very relaxed about things that could be quite bad for us. Physics!).
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Last December, Bloomberg was producing an article about how Maine purchasers of electric vehicles were bummed about the performance degradation in cold weather (hey, I agree -- it is a bummer).

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-03/electric-cars-can-t-take-the-cold

Now, there's a video and article out suggesting that plug-ins could be a big enough deal in the 2020s to cause the same kind of mismatch between oil supply and demand that the most recent oil crash was caused by (in the 2014-6 case, it was oversupply; in the plug in case, the idea would be a decrease in demand).

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2016-02-24/the-peak-oil-myth-and-the-rise-of-the-electric-car

http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-ev-oil-crisis/

This is an interesting thesis. While the video gently mocks the Peak Oil thesis of years gone by, what it fails to note is that the Peak thesis had embedded in it two components. The dominant theme was too great demand and a failure of supply to respond -- and then a failure of demand to down-adjust. In its typical presentation, it was a stupid idea. Of course we were going to down-adjust. When the price of gas spiked in 2007-9, everyone started driving the lowest gas mileage car in the household, buying old good gas mileage cars, etc. I traded in my first Honda Fit for a second Honda Fit -- and the trade in value I got on the first Fit was _greater_ than the amount I paid for it when I bought it. Fits were _that_ highly desired in the market (partly due to low availability).

The primary theme had a lot of people betting on how the world would down-adjust. But a secondary theme was the idea of peak demand accompanying peak oil -- things weren't going to get that out of whack, the world would not end as we drove our gas guzzling SUVs to our subprime mortgaged exurban palaces until some sort of zombie apocalypse happened. A lot of the adjustments anticipated by that crowd indeed came to pass: a generation of people who had a variety of options where to live decided to opt for places with shorter commutes and better access to public transportation. MPG numbers became very important on new car sales. Etc.

Since putting the panels on the roof (thank you, SolarCity, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the feds for various tax credits and financial engineering that made the whole process ludicrously easy and a no-op in terms of cost) and buying the i3 (hey, I was due for a midlife crisis car), I've been pondering what happens if a whole bunch of other people do something similar (probably more along the lines of a Leaf, than a Tesla, but still). The tax credits were due to run out, and they got renewed at least once. The utilities have a tough problem on their hands, trying to manage a completely different pattern of usage than they are accustomed to, which requires re-engineering the grid to manage diffuse inputs -- and re-engineering the fees they charge to better reflect the services provided (power management, not just power supply). And while batteries steadily improve, there is no question that the i3 is no car to be driving long distances on a well below freezing day.

The Bloomberg article is an interesting way to think about the effect of plug ins -- which don't have to be pure play electrics. The Bolt, for example, could be a true game changer.

If it is going to take years for the oversupply to work itself out, and demand is expected to weaken in the face of plug-ins (never mind the slow to seep out effects of changes in CAFE regulations), will the oversupply _ever_ work itself out?
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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-28/us-senator-wants-government-to-set-airline-seat-size-rules

On the one hand, the way you bring the price down on a product so that more people can afford it is you lightweight, reduce size, etc. So a world that requires all chocolate bars to weight at least a full ounce, and to have a minimum amount of cocoa solids, is a world where fewer people get to experience chocolate at all. On the other hand, Schumer has a valid point about sardines.

I don't fully understand the implications of seat pitch on health. So, for example, if you could convincingly show that being stuck in a short seat pitch seat for a cross country flight doubles your chance of dying or having severe health consequences from deep vein thrombosis, I think you could probably justify minimum seat pitch on longer flights. If, for example, short seat pitch seats were resulting in a greater amount of in flight crazy times (mental health triggers that end in the flight having to land unexpectedly early to debark the person who Just Couldn't Take It Any More) that were a threat to the safety of everyone on board that flight, that would be a solid argument for deeper seat pitch.

Another question I have: when people are trying to get seats with more leg room, are they consistently available? I haven't had a lot of trouble, when I planned ahead. If you _can_ get more leg room when you need it, the need for regulation would seem to be reduced. But if you cannot get more leg room when you need it (that is, if there are a lot of passengers willing to pony up for more leg room, but they can't buy it at any price), that's another solid reason to regulate more seat space -- or at least apply some pressure to airlines to provide more seats with greater leg room for those who need it.

ETA: My husband points out evac issues. Someone else has gone into this in considerably more detail than me!

http://elliott.org/advocate-this/government-thinks-shrinking-airline-seats-just-fine/

Read it -- it's really worth your time. Also, slightly terrifying.
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Usually, when a story about airline seating makes the rounds, it's a negative. But sometimes, it's a pipe dream -- or something that will actually exist, but only in markets I'm unlikely to ever experience (so, for example, the row of seats that makes up as a bed, that is/was only a reality on very long haul flights like to Australia, also known as cuddle class in a related configuration).

In today's pipe dream:

http://www.businessinsider.com/airbus-patent-bench-seat-revolutionize-airline-ticket-sales-2016-2

Instead of three seats in a row, a bench seat that could be three seats for median adults, two median adult seats and space for two small children in between, or two seats for substantially larger than median adults. Or, you know, people who just hate touching the person next to them, but don't want to pony up for business/first.

Kind of a cool idea. Doubt I'll ever see it in reality, and in any event, my kids are already bigger than the Very Small Child range anyway.
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I'm going to be taking my daughter to gymnastics in about a half hour, but I want to at least get a stub in -- expect updates.

I ordered my i3 about a year and a half ago, and got it a year and a few months ago. After I bought it, of course, oil plunged to incredibly low levels and the price of gas eventually dropped as well, while Cushing filled up to the point where people started actively worrying about whether that presented some risks or not (seismic, terrorist target, etc.) and we're now apparently at a point where there is more oil stockpiled than any time since 1930 and people are renting tankers and parking them off the coast in various places, waiting for oil prices to rise so they can sell it and make a bunch of money. Of course, this will probably work (eventually, for someone), but that process means that EVEN MORE oil will come onto the market, keeping markets depressed for some time to come.

There are a variety of political factors which have prevented supply capitulation, however, the pain has become great enough that a deal was apparently reached between a couple of the biggest producers: cap production at January levels (I know, right? How does this _help_? Only after demand grows enough to soak up the continuing overproduction), and quota it out in a way that allows Iran to increase sales now that they are finally allowed to sell, or otherwise they won't respect any agreement.

I had a question, tho. We're near the end of the Northern heating season. From now until summer driving season, consumption drops. What happens if summer driving season comes, and people drive ... and consumption still doesn't increase? Factors which could result in this include: better fuel efficiency, hybrids, electric cars. (Factors such as use of public or shared transportation do NOT contribute to net more miles driven and thus aren't contemplated here.) Can that happen? A few years ago, consensus was clear. There was no way that plug ins would be adopted at a rate that was going to influence ... anything, really, if you took the predictors seriously. Here is a sample prediction:

http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/64436/102399.pdf

ON THE OTHER HAND, a quick look at the initial curves (the later curves predict even lower and slower adoption of plug ins and similar) suggests that as of the end of 2015, we've blown out the prediction by between a factor of two and three.

How did that happen (I feel like there's a dirty, dirty Dan Savage joke here, but I will refrain)?

My husband says: Tesla. Tesla basically took over all luxury car sales (an exaggeration -- but less of one that you might think). Nobody saw that coming! (<-- Also not true!) (Digression here about the impact of the Apple Watch on Swiss Watches. Poor Swiss Watch makers!)

I say: the Leaf. Nissan's commitment to moving the Leaf was quite incredible and very effective. In the middle, which we would prefer not to talk about, is the Volt. It is a plug in. You can -- if your trips are short enough -- drive it electric really quite a lot, and its overall gas mileage is very, very respectable. It sold in job lots. Enough said.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to see commentary -- and this is how I started thinking about this -- comparing the total ICE cars sold in the US vs total plug in cars sold. The thinking goes, look how teeny tiny the electric number is! That's so small! It can't influence anything! But when I saw it, it jolted me right out of my complacent yeah, this is gonna take years mentality, because that number was easily twice what I expected it to be.

There are now enough i3s on the road around here that it is still fun, but not unexpected to pass an i3 driver and see her (there's at least one other woman!!!) waving at me as we pass each other. We don't know each other -- we are just doing what everyone does when they drive a somewhat unusual vehicle and are happy to see someone Just Like Them. And i3s are _way_ down the list in terms of sales.

Where are the curves exploring the implications of CAFE regulations and car sharing and ride sharing and living closer to ones destinations and electric cars and wtf, where are the curves exploring the dampening effect on increasing demand for fuel? The increasing demand that is desperately needed right now (to destroy our climate! End life as we know it! Wait, that's sarcasm. Sorry!) to siphon up all that oil parked out in tankers off the coast, and sitting in tanks in Oklahoma, looking like a disaster waiting to happen (my prediction: it won't be seismic and it won't be violent: it'll be a bunch of leaks. Because that's what petrochemicals do. They leak.).

ETA:

An interesting look at how many households could adopt BEVs or PHEVs or wtf; from 2011 or thereabouts.

http://www.caee.utexas.edu/prof/kockelman/public_html/TRB12PEVuse.pdf

2015 look at the state of electric vehicles in Hawaii:

http://evtc.fsec.ucf.edu/publications/documents/HNEI-05-15.pdf

Hawaii was expected to adopt electric vehicles at significant rates:

http://www.autoblog.com/2013/09/17/coastal-states-will-lead-plug-in-vehicle-adoption-through-2022/

"Hawaii will have the highest number of plug-ins as a percentage of overall vehicle sales.

I was a little skeptical of this. Sure, the weather is great (cold weather reduces range. A lot.). But Hawaiian electricity is legendarily expensive.
walkitout: (Default)
Over the last not-quite-a-year, Massachusetts has been contemplating additional regulation for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft. One of the things Massachusetts has accomplished during this time is to approve a new insurance produce offered by USAA and hopefully soon by other companies. Drivers for transportation network companies are covered by their own car insurance when they are in their car and the app is off and they have no fare. They are covered by Uber, Lyft, wtf, when they have a fare. But when the app is on and they are waiting for a fare, they are covered by neither. The USAA product covers this gap. States regulate insurance companies and their products. Approving this product is a bigger deal than it might sound like.

What Massachusetts has not yet accomplished is a more comprehensive overall scheme for regulating transportation network companies. Several proposals have been put forth, by the governor, various legislators, etc. Predictably, the governor's proposal has the fewest requirements, requirements that are present in all the other proposals. The other proposals have ... more requirements.

One of the additional proposed requirements is fingerprinting all drivers. The rationale is obvious: someone could phony up an identity and then drive for Uber or Lyft or whatever, never mind that pesky felony or sex offender status or whatever (it has happened). There is speculation that the TNCs are resisting a fingerprint requirement, on the theory that it moves them one step closer to being forced to recognize drivers as employees, which they do not want (and, to be fair, the drivers are pretty mixed on as well, with some being in favor and many being opposed -- and the fact that a lot of drivers drive for multiple services just adds additional confusion). A regulation to fingerprint would appear to save the TNCs this risk -- they aren't making employees do something. The law is.

But I asked myself, Self, I know you get a lot of your information about taxis from some pretty sketchy sources, but I don't think taxis have this requirement. Are all drivers in taxis _currently_ fingerprinted? Are all drivers in taxis _currently_ required to be fingerprinted? Never mind everywhere. Let's just stick with Massachusetts for now, since it is Mass police advocating for fingerprints.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/01/06/mass-police-chiefs-urge-fingerprinting-for-uber-drivers/Qtvp15kKODXOY588ADDubO/story.html

The argument in favor of fingerprinting is oh so reasonable. And yet.

"Within a month, he added, fingerprinting will begin in Boston for all current and prospective cab drivers."

So, basically, here we are in January 2016, and the taxi drivers are not yet being fingerprinted. At all.

Safety is a _great_ argument. I'm glad that we're gonna start fingerprinting. I'm totes okay with the fingerprinting. Really! (They have my prints. 2x: from when I carried concealed over a decade ago, and more recently to get TSA PreCheck. If they've got mine, dammit, they can def have someone whose car I'm maybe gonna get into, groggy with jet lag.)

All that said, it doesn't make me think nice things about people arguing AGAINST the safety of TNCs, when the taxis have never had to do this anyway. (I'm carefully refraining from pointing out the salient commonality between the police and taxi companies. I'm pretty sure you can work out what it is.)

ETA: The NAACP thinks maybe I shouldn't be so glad that fingerprinting is about to happen.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/01/07/uber-naacp-raise-concerns-with-fingerprinting-proposal/0V0EoB9kHZAQFIb53suFnL/story.html

I apologize for my racism. I had not contemplated this problem. Fingerprinting should ONLY be used in conjunction with policies that compensate for this issue.

"The NAACP and ACLU of Massachusetts say the proposal could bar minorities who have arrest records but no convictions from getting jobs in the rapidly growing industry. A federal database containing fingerprints of arrested individuals does not always contain information on whether or not the person was convicted.

Michael Curry, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, said communities of color are “more engaged by police officers,” which often leads to arrests that do not result in convictions. “We don’t want to create more barriers to jobs,” Curry said, adding that the unemployment rate has historically been higher in minority neighborhoods."

There is additional stuff in this article quoting the previous police commissioner, Davis.

"He said Uber is a boon for customers in minority neighborhoods, where cabs are not always available.

During his tenure as commissioner, Davis said, “a constant refrain from neighborhoods of color in Boston was that they couldn’t get cab service. ... Uber has solved that problem.”"

To be fair, Davis is now consulting for Uber.

It's a complicated world out there. I'm glad that a variety of regulatory schemes are being contemplated. I had previously thought that regulating the TNCs as livery (limo) companies would be a good solution, however, the more I've learned about how limited livery regulation is (and how easy it is to dodge by moving the garage from one town to another), the less I think that would be a good idea.

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