Posts tagged with "Alaska Airlines"

Giraffe illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Rendezvous In The Zoo!

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Kicks Off Annual Virtual Fundraising Gala—Rendezvous In The Zoo (R·I·T·Z)—with Silent Auction to Save Wildlife

Festivities start at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 5.

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is engaging wildlife allies everywhere to help save species during the annual virtual Rendezvous In The Zoo (R·I·T·Z)—Bringing the World to You. This premier online gala takes place Saturday, June 5 at 7 p.m., and aims to raise funds for rare and endangered wildlife at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, along with fueling the nonprofit organization’s crucial wildlife conservation work worldwide – continuing its stated commitment to build a world where all life thrives.

“Last year, tens of thousands of wildlife allies from more than 21 countries on six continents, and across 35 states, helped us make history at our first-ever virtual R·I·T·Z,” said Paul A. Baribault, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “In a year of changes and challenges, we were able to come together, raise funds and share the extraordinary ways our members, donors and guests are helping us save wildlife around the world. They are counting on us, and we will never give up.”

This year’s gala is a few days away, but the public is encouraged to get a head start by taking part in the R·I·T·Z online silent auction. Anyone can visit the auction pages to bid on one-of-a-kind and exclusive items that cannot be found anywhere else. Among other incredible items is Nature, a limited-edition work of art by international artist Romero Britto. This inspirational piece was developed to commemorate and celebrate the organization’s transformation into San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and its effort to amplify the importance and urgency of its mission to save wildlife worldwide. Jewelry and accessories, such as a Princess Diana-inspired purse; and amazing vacations, including a New Orleans Getaway, are also highlights. Virtual R·I·T·Z participants can also join in this year’s Love for Wildlife Competition. The competition highlights four of the conservation programs San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance allies make possible, and how they are saving wildlife—including polar bears, jaguars, platypuses and burrowing owls—in the organization’s eight regional conservation “hubs” that represent its highest-priority work with communities and partners around the world.

Anyone with a computer or a smartphone can participate in this year’s gala, from the comfort of home, simply by visiting the R·I·T·Z Facebook page. Guests to the virtual R·I·T·Z will enjoy special guest appearances, amazing live musical performances, handcrafted cocktail-making demonstrations, multiple wildlife visits from San Diego Zoo Rady Ambassadors, fascinating stories about wildlife and updates on the organization’s worldwide conservation efforts—plus, many more fun surprises. Attendees who register in advance will receive exclusive insider details and be entered in a sweepstakes to win air travel for two, to an Alaska Airlines destination of their choice, provided by Alaska Airlines, Official Airline Sponsor of the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Virtual Rendezvous In The Zoo (R·I·T·Z)—Bringing the World to You begins at 7 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Saturday, June 5. The online silent auction starts Friday, May 28 and closes at 8 p.m. PDT on Sunday, June 6. For more information on R·I·T·Z, and how to make a donation, visit San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Those wishing to help via traditional mail can send a donation of any amount to San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, c/o R·I·T·Z, P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112.

About San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is a nonprofit international conservation leader, committed to inspiring a passion for nature and creating a world where all life thrives. The Alliance empowers people from around the globe to support their mission to conserve wildlife through innovation and partnerships. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance supports cutting-edge conservation and brings the stories of their work back to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park—giving millions of guests, in person and virtually, the opportunity to experience conservation in action. The work of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance extends from San Diego to strategic and regional conservation “hubs” across the globe, where their strengths—via their “Conservation Toolbox,” including the renowned Wildlife Biodiversity Bank—are able to effectively align with hundreds of regional partners to improve outcomes for wildlife in more coordinated efforts. By leveraging these tools in wildlife care and conservation science, and through collaboration with hundreds of partners, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has reintroduced more than 44 endangered species to native habitats. Each year, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s work reaches over 1 billion people in 150 countries via news media, social media, their websites, educational resources and the San Diego Zoo Kids channel, which is in children’s hospitals in 13 countries. Success is made possible by the support of members, donors and guests to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, who are Wildlife Allies committed to ensuring All Life Thrives. 

Passport illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Airlines Urged to Issue Refunds

Consumer Reports & PIRG Urge Airlines to Provide Full Refunds for Flights Canceled During Pandemic as Voucher Expiration Dates Approach

Groups Call for Airlines to Extend Voucher Expiration Dates Through At Least End Of 2022

With the one-year anniversary of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown approaching, Consumer Reports and U.S. PIRG sent a letter to ten domestic airlines today calling on them to provide full refunds to consumers whose flights were canceled or affected by the pandemic.  At the very least, the consumer groups are urging airlines to extend the expiration dates for vouchers they issued for canceled flights to the end of 2022 or longer.

“Millions of Americans who booked flights in good faith in 2020 were prevented from flying because of government lockdowns and safety concerns brought on by a once-in-a-century global pandemic,” said William J. McGee, Aviation Adviser to Consumer Reports.  “The airline industry has received very generous support from taxpayers while stiff-arming its customers and treating their hard-earned dollars as interest-free loans.  It’s time to provide consumers with the long-overdue refunds they rightfully deserve.”

The consumer groups’ letter notes that complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation about airline refunds have jumped dramatically over the past year.  In 2019, consumers submitted a total of 1,574 complaints about refunds to the DOT.  Last year, that number increased 57-fold to 89,518 refund complaints.

Consumer Reports has been contacted by numerous customers frustrated that they couldn’t get a refund during lockdowns and who are concerned that they might not be able to travel before vouchers expire. An analysis by TripAction, a travel management company for businesses, found that 55 percent of vouchers for unused tickets will expire in 2021, and 45 percent will expire in 2022.

Many passengers were prevented from flying because of government restrictions, public health notices, or serious medical conditions that made flying during the pandemic unsafe. Far too many of the trips they booked will never happen, due to the cancellation (not postponement) of conferences, conventions, weddings, graduations, and family reunions.

While passengers on flights canceled by airlines are entitled to a full refund under federal law, a congressional analysis found that some carriers offered vouchers as the default option, requiring passengers to take extra steps to get a cash refund. Many airlines waited until the last minute to cancel scheduled flights, prompting concerned passengers to cancel their tickets and forfeit their legal right to a refund.

“It’s insulting and unfair that airlines haven’t offered refunds to all customers affected by the pandemic,” said Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog Director for U.S. PIRG. “Consumers certainly couldn’t have foreseen a once-in-a-lifetime global crisis. Our research has shown that travelers whose plans got canceled have to wade through refund policies likely written by a team of lawyers. They’re faced with figuring out the difference between a flight credit or a trip credit or a travel voucher and similar offers the airlines make to avoid giving people easy-to-understand cash in their pocket.”

A Consumer Reports review of airline voucher policies found nine different policies among ten different airlines.  Many of these policies are hard to find on airline websites, and the airlines’ descriptions of their policies can be quite confusing and at times contradictory, based on conflicting rules for various dates of booking, travel, and cancellation. The consumer groups’ letter was sent to the CEOs of the following scheduled airlines: Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines.

Emotional Support Animal Airline Laws Changing January 11th

In 2020, the Department of Transportation made a new determination that only service dogs would continue to be protected under the American’s with Disabilities Act, thus categorizing emotional support animals as pets.

So far, only Southwest Airlines have stated that they will continue to accept ESA’s at no charge. Both Alaska and American Airlines have stated that they will no longer accept emotional support animals on flights. However, several airlines accept pets for a fee. Those who have already booked flights this year with their ESA should look into each airline policy, as some will still be accepting ESA’s from existing reservations.

“Basically what it comes down to is the animal’s training. They are saying an individual with PTSD who has a trained dog can have the animal with them during air travel, but if the individual has PTSD and doesn’t have the luxury of being gifted a service dog, or can’t afford the costs of obtaining a service dog which can run upwards of $50,000, then their PTSD doesn’t qualify/isn’t valid,” said licensed mental health professional Prairie Conlon. Prairie Conlon, LPC, NPC  and Clinical Director of CertaPet was disheartened about the news.

“That’s textbook discrimination on several levels. I’m honestly astonished that they pushed this through. There are so many other options, such as tightening restrictions and requiring basic training, that could have solved the issue,” continued Conlon.

“So many news sources keep referring to the peacock incident of 2018 and of course they are saying good riddance, as am I. But what they fail to realize is that that incident did cause a lot of change and those types of animals haven’t seen ESA status for air travel since then. Stop referring to the peacock. It’s not a valid argument anymore. Nobody is fighting for the peacock to be an ESA.” 

CertaPet, an emotional support letter service, released this statement:

“We at Certapet think this is a great disservice to those facing mental health challenges that get emotional support from their animal.  We understand that there have been incidents that have discredited emotional support animals and the service they provide, but those situations could be prevented by increased regulation.  We think emotional support peacocks are ridiculous too.  Providing clear guidelines for certification and vetting companies in the industry would have been simple steps to solve this challenge for all stakeholders. Certapet is a trusted telehealth platform that has been providing real mental health services for many years. These imposter companies exploiting individuals with mental health issues should be penalized.

Eliminating emotional support animals altogether is a quick, cheap fix that disregards those who really need and use the treatment appropriately. The DOT has chosen the easy and harmful path over the correct one. We hope to have continued discussions with airlines as they make choices on their own company policies and encourage them to make the right decisions. Mental health is a serious issue and removing access to a researched and proven treatment is a disgrace.”

ABOUT PRAIRIE CONLON

Prairie is a licensed mental health professional and is considered the world’s leading expert on Emotional Support Animals. She is the Clinical Director of Therapeutic and consults for CertaPet, one of the largest telehealth companies in the nation. Prairie has a Master’s Degree in professional counseling and a Postgraduate Degree in Military Behavioral health counseling. She is certified as an equine-assisted psychotherapist. Prairie is a certified Accelerated Resolution Therapist and helps train future trauma therapist in this modality. She consults for several nonprofits for veterans and first responder trauma, including The Lone Survivor Foundation and Horses that Heal. She is the founder, developer and lead researcher of emotional support animal Assisted Therapy (ESAAT) which is a set of techniques utilized to decrease anxiety, panic attacks, depressive symptoms, and sleep difficulties with the use of an Emotional Support Animal.

ABOUT CERTAPET

We are the #1 Emotional Support Letter Service, and we make sure your letter is 100% compliant with state and federal regulations.

Kona Coffee Fest

360 Magazine’s Culture Editor, Tom Wilmer shares highlights of the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival on the Big Island of Hawaii November 1st through November 10th.

Celebrating its 49th year, the ten-day affair is Hawaii’s oldest food festival. Of course the legendary Kona coffee is the anchor, but music, art, crafts, dance and farm tours are integral aspects of the event.

The festival is an affair that locals savor and look forward to all year, with months of behind-the-scenes advance planning. A popular event with the locals, chefs, and consumers alike is the KTA Super Store’s Kona Coffee Recipe Contest.

There are festivals around the world that are crafted primarily for the tourist, but this is one of those special events that’s propelled by passionate islanders–and visitors are instantly welcomed in to the fold and quickly feel the Aloha of being a member of the island family.

The festival kicks-off November 1st with a sunset Lantern Parade strolling down Alii Drive in the heart of historic Kailua Village.

A sampler of other cool events include a coffee and arts stroll though Holualoa Town, cultural activities and demonstrations with local artists at the Donkey Mill Art Center, and the Miss Kona Coffee Scholarship Competition at the Aloha Theater—and those are just samplers from one day in the festival line up.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FESTIVAL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Did you know there are more than 600 Kona Coffee estate-producers within the Kona District—and if it ain’t grown in Kona District-it ain’t Kona Coffee.

Coffee has been a part of Hawaii’s agricultural fabric for more than 200 years. It was the immigrants, many who were looking for an alternative to working in the sugarcane fields, who propelled the coffee industry on the Big Island and throughout the State of Hawaii.

Symbolic of Hawaii’s multi-cultural roots, the pioneering coffee workers and planters’ roots read like a page from the United Nations—China, Portugal, Korea, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Japan, Hawaiians and Europeans—and today fifth and sixth generation coffee farmers continue the tradition.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST INTERVIEW AT THE LIVING HISTORY COFFEE FARM

The Festival honors the historic cultural roots with living-history farm tours, coffee picking and other hands-on farm experiences, a Kona Coffee 101 Seminar, and the Kona Historical Society’s Annual Farm Fest.

Greenwell Farms is hosting a “seed to cup” tour that includes a close-up look at the harvesting, process, and of course tasting Greenwell’s 100% award-winning Kona Coffee.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN to CHAI at GREENWELL FARMS’ KCBX/NPR ONE Podcast

For the coffee purest, be sure to mark your calendar to experience the Kona Coffee Cupping Competition. A panel of judges from around the world will conduct side-by-side blind tastings of more than 50 entries.

Grand Finale—a Taste of Kona at the Sheraton

An evening of culinary delights featuring local Island Chefs and a fabulous silent auction. Music and dancing under the stars with award-winning Kahulanui- a nine piece Hawaiian Swing Band from the Big Island of Hawaii.

Certified cupping judges who have spent three days scoring Kona’s top farms in the prestigious Kona Coffee Cupping Competition will be on-hand to discuss results. Tickets are $50 general and $80 VIP (includes table seating) and can be purchased online at eventbrite.com and search The Grand Finale… A Taste of Kona! Come meet the winners from the Kona Coffee cupping contest and the Kona Coffee recipe contest at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

Click here to listen to KCBX/NPR ONE Podcast interview with Festival Board President Valerie Corcoran.

As Airline Satisfaction Climbs to Record Highs, Line Blurs Between Low-Cost and Traditional Carriers, J.D. Power Finds

Alaska Airlines Ranks Highest among Traditional Carriers for 12th Consecutive Year; JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines Tie for Highest Rank among Low-Cost Carriers

Is this the golden age of air travel? According to the J.D. Power 2019 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, SM a combination of newer planes, better ticket value and improved customer touchpoints have driven overall satisfaction with airlines to its highest point in history, up 11 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from last year’s record-setting performance. The surge is driven by significant improvements among traditional carriers, while satisfaction slowed with low-cost carriers.

“Airlines continue to deliver on the operational side of air travel,” said Michael Taylor, Travel Intelligence Lead at J.D. Power. “New technology investments have dramatically improved the reservation and check-in process. Fleets are newer and travelers generally feel that they are getting great value for their money. These improvements have been most profound in the traditional carrier segment, where customer satisfaction has climbed considerably.

“While low-cost carriers have historically had the highest levels of customer satisfaction in our study, due to a strong sense of value for money among customers, that line is starting to blur as traditional carriers improve their services and operations,” Taylor added. “The one area where both traditional and low-cost carriers can still improve, however, is in in-flight services. It continues to be the lowest-ranked factor in the study, as many airlines still struggle with in-flight entertainment, connectivity, in-seat power, and food service.”

Following are some of the key findings of the 2019 study:

  • Record-high customer satisfaction: Overall satisfaction with airlines increases 11 points to 773, continuing an eight-year trend of satisfaction improvement.
  • Improvement is driven by traditional carriers: This year’s significant gains in customer satisfaction are driven by the traditional carriers, whose segment satisfaction score improves 22 points from 2018. The low-cost segment—while still having higher overall satisfaction than the traditional carrier segment—declines 6 points from 2018, thus driving a segment convergence in satisfaction.
  • Tech investments in reservation and check-in systems pay off: The reservation and check-in experiences are the most satisfying portions of the airline experience, driven by investments in digital check-in technologies, self-service kiosks and a concerted effort among airlines to improve the efficiency of the pre-flight process.
  • In-flight service remains a stumbling block: In-flight services, such as seatback entertainment, food service, and Wi-Fi continue to be the lowest-ranked part of the air traveler experience. Specific in-flight amenities that have the greatest positive effect on customer satisfaction are fresh food, seatback games and seatback live television.

Study Rankings

Among traditional carriers, Alaska Airlines ranks highest for the 12th consecutive year, with a score of 801. Delta Air Lines (788) ranks second and American Airlines (764) ranks third.

Among low-cost carriers, JetBlue Airways (817) and Southwest Airlines (817) rank highest in a tie. For Southwest, this is the third consecutive year at the top of the J.D. Power ranking.

Among Canada-based airlines, Air Canada (729) saw its customer satisfaction score declined 5 points from 2018. WestJet (758) saw its score increase 11 points but remains below the low-cost carrier average.

The North America Airline Satisfaction Study, now in its 15th year, measures passenger satisfaction with airline carriers in North America based on performance in seven factors (in order of importance): cost and fees; in-flight services; aircraft; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; check-in; and reservation. The study measures passenger satisfaction among both business and leisure travelers and is based on responses from 5,966 passengers who flew on a major North American airline between March 2018 and March 2019. The study was fielded from April 2018 through March 2019.

For more information about the North America Airline Satisfaction Study, visit http://www.jdpower.com/business/resource/jd-power-north-america-airline-satisfaction-study.

Join the conversation on social media using #AirlineStudy and follow J.D. Power on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services, and data and analytics. These capabilities enable J.D. Power to help its clients drive customer satisfaction, growth, and profitability. Established in 1968, J.D. Power has offices serving North America, South America, Asia Pacific, and Europe.