In this week’s TravelSkills on SFGATE newsletter…
After a lengthy delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, American Airlines opened its highly anticipated new Admirals Club in Harvey Milk Terminal 1 at San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday — with some modifications to keep passengers and airline staff safe. American gave SFGATE an exclusive first look inside the new lounge, a space many frequent SFO Admirals Club visitors have been eager to see. Read: Exclusive first look inside SFO’s new American Airlines Admirals Club
In airline news, Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines set plans to resume many Hawaii routes; new COVID-19 testing options are available from Hawaiian, Alaska, American and JetBlue; JetBlue founder’s new low-cost domestic airline eyes a spring start; United may return to JFK next year; route news from Delta, United, SAS; Customs preclearance coming to Brussels; San Francisco International starts CBP photo recognition program for arriving passengers; Mineta San Jose speeds Uber pick-ups; Berlin’s new airport finally opens nine years late; and Denver International debuts a reservations-only TSA screening line. Read: Routes: Hawaii route revivals, COVID-19 testing; UA to JFK? + Breeze, SFO, SJC, Berlin, Denver
Grounded fliers feeling nostalgic about walking through airports will find some solace in Walmart’s new store designs. The giant retail chain is getting inspiration from airports as it revamps the layout and signage of its stores to speed up shopping and better cater to smartphone-armed customers. Read: Why your local Walmart will soon look like an airport
U.S. airlines face a winter test of their finances and question marks over the reach of their domestic flight networks after failing, for now, to win fresh federal aid. U.S. airlines are collectively burning about $5 billion of cash a month as passenger traffic has stalled at around 30% of 2019 levels. After tapping capital markets, they say they have enough liquidity to last them at least 12 months at that rate. Read: U.S. airlines face grim winter, with or without a bailout
French authorities placed the Paris region on maximum virus alert on Monday, banning festive gatherings and requiring all bars to close but allowing restaurants to remain open, as numbers of infections increased rapidly. Paris police prefect Didier Lallement announced the new restrictions would apply at least for the next two weeks. Read: Paris on maximum virus alert, closing bars, not restaurants
Michelle Parker, a San Francisco-based flight attendant for a U.S. carrier, with a house, a spouse and three kids living in Sydney, Australia, really wants to go home, and stay home. But she can’t. That’s because of Australia’s stringent quarantine rules that are currently allowing a very measured number of citizens and permanent residents to trickle back into the country. Currently, that number is set at just 6,000 per week. Read: A long way home to Australia for stranded flight attendant
Following recent announcements from both United and Hawaiian Airlines that they will make COVID-19 testing available at San Francisco International for Hawaii-bound travelers for a hefty fee, Oakland International Airport (OAK) has come out with its own plans for passenger testing – which will be free. Read: Oakland airport will offer free COVID-19 tests for Hawaii-bound travelers
Amidst California’s wildfire season, we all could use some beauty in our lives. National Geographic Adventure magazine posted a video taken by photographer Greg Harlow on its Twitter account last week, showing the first rays of light and the spray from Yosemite Falls coalescing into a radiant rainbow mist. Wow! Read: Photographer captures rainbow mist at Yosemite Falls
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This past August was the hottest ever in Palm Springs, with high temperatures rising to 110 degrees or above on 24 days, and once even hitting an astonishing 120 degrees. That kind of heat would normally keep away all but the most intrepid desert rats, but not during a pandemic. Since June, after county and state leaders allowed hotels and home rentals to re-open, Palm Springs has enjoyed a relative surge of visitors — and that interest should extend into the cooler fall and winter months. Read: Why is Palm Springs so hot these days?
Chris McGinnis is SFGATE’s senior travel correspondent. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Get up-to-the-minute travel news via Chris’s social feeds: Twitter: @cjmcginnis | Facebook: @TravelSkills