Although the rumor that Spirit Airlines has recently acquired Frontier Airlines is false (Frontier was actually bought by an independent, private equity firm headed by a previous executive of Spirit), there's no doubt that Frontier's new owners are planning to follow Spirit's controversial policies, which is to hit the passenger with every conceivable extra charge and fee. At Denver International Airport, in the few minutes before you board a Frontier flight, you are suddenly asked by the gate attendant to "size" your carry-on suitcase before going on to the plane. Baggage that is only an inch wider than the permitted maximum, is therefore the cause of an extra and heavy fee. Flying Frontier will obviously become the obstacle course for which Spirit is famous (or infamous). And whether or not the price you are paying for your flight is lower than you could have paid on a competing airline, is a disputed question. Like Spirit, Frontier will now charge every conceivable extra fee.
The recent refusal of the Cuban government to issue visas for passengers on a "People to People" tour program to Havana, is an obviously temporary hassle that will soon be resolved. Cuba receives too much income from these overpriced tours to give up the windfall. The $4,000 and $5,000 price that many Americans now pay for nine nights in the forbidden isle is a scandal, which only serves to highlight the counter-productive effect of our general travel embargo against Cuba. Rather than serving to weaken the current Cuban regime, it only angers the Cuban people and achieves nothing.
It isn't only the hotel industry that is now supporting legal efforts to put a stop to the apartment-renting services of Airbnb.com, the same efforts are apparently backed by well-meaning Americans concerned about the economic effect of this highly-successful company. Because some owners of apartments are able to earn more from making them available to transient tourists rather than to permanent residents, it is claimed that more and more apartments are being removed from the normal residential inventory of the cities in which they are found, and rented instead to temporary visitors for a few days at a time. In considering the pros and cons, it should be kept in mind that Airbnb was originally intended to place tourists in a spare room of an apartment whose owners remain in residence; in that manner, the Airbnb program removes no apartments from the housing stock of its city. And most laws prohibiting the rental of entire apartments by Airbnb contain a "loophole" that permits the rental of spare rooms in an apartment continually used by its permanent occupants. It may be that the several lawsuits that have now been instituted against Airbnb may serve the beneficial purpose of returning Airbnb to its original program. But should would-be users of Airbnb be concerned about the safety of occupying a room in an apartment already occupied in the main by someone else? Bear in mind that Airbnb publishes reports by previous tenants about those permanent occupants. And recall as well that would-be users of Airbnb can ask for references from persons who have earlier used such a spare room. Many such successful rentals, as well as reports from people I know who have successfully stayed in an Airbnb dwelling, confirm that the experience is usually a pleasant one.
If you have ever wondered why Priceline.com has now become one of the largest companies in travel, you have only to consider the benefits that my daughter recently received from using Priceline. Looking for a hotel room for her recent visit to Denver, she saw that the lowest price she could secure for a room in a first class hotel was $169 a night. So she turned to Priceline, bidding $105 for a single room in a four star hotel. When that bid failed, she then re-bid a price of $100 for a three-and-a-half star hotel--and got it! Lo and behold, the hotel turned out to be a thoroughly first-class (and actually quite sumptuous) place. And she reveled in a comfortable Denver stay that cost her the remarkably low figure of $100 a night.
Photo credit: Frontier Airlines