The good, the bad and the ugly of PFD airfare deals

Alaskans have grown up with the Permanent Fund dividend — and with the travel deals that accompany the annual payout.

This year is no different, other than the PFD checks are distributed a couple of weeks early.

The big bargains are coming from Alaska Airlines. But this year, for the first time, Delta is rolling out discounts from all three of its year-round Alaska gateways: Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Delta offers flights from Juneau only on Saturdays and Sundays through the winter.

Alaska Air, for its part, is offering sale prices from all of its jet ports, except Prudhoe Bay. In addition to offering bargains on flights to the Lower 48, Alaska is offering discounted fares for in-state travel. From Kotzebue to Anchorage is $126 one-way. From Fairbanks to Bethel is $164 one-way.

Delta is offering discounted fares to most, but not all, of its destinations in the Lower 48. From Rochester, New York, to Birmingham, Alabama to Duluth, Minnesota, Delta is offering a PFD fare.

Whether you’re flying on Delta or Alaska, you have to plan at least 21 days in advance. That’s really not an issue, though, since many of the destinations don’t have availability until early December.

Many travelers are ready for airfares to come down from the dizzying summertime prices. Checking on PFD fares from both carriers, there’s some good, some bad and some ugly features.


Alaska Airlines is resuming its nonstop flights to Hawaii from Anchorage. The nonstop to Honolulu starts on Nov. 18, but prices are high until Jan. 9, 2023 when tickets are available for as little as $177 one-way.

Alaska’s Anchorage-Maui nonstop resumes in mid-December. But the deals roll out as Alaska Air introduces daily service on Jan. 9. The tickets are priced low: $159 each way.

Alaska Air also is flying nonstop every day from Anchorage to Kona between Jan. 9 and Mar. 16. The PFD special is $159 each way.

Delta’s twice-weekly flights between Juneau and Seattle this winter are enough to keep a damper on prices. The airline is charging $79 each way between Juneau and Seattle. But Juneau travelers can fly all the way to New York for $165 each way. Or to Phoenix for $140 each way.

Delta’s single daily flight between Fairbanks and Seattle also keeps prices down all winter in the Golden Heart City. Many fares, such as Fairbanks-Seattle for $99 each way, are the same as Anchorage rates. That’s a win for Fairbanks travelers, who are accustomed to paying much more for air travel. Another “common-rated” destination is San Jose del Cabo at the tip of Baja California. Whether you leave from Anchorage or Fairbanks on Alaska Airlines, the prices start at just $199 each way. The return flights cost more: from $249 one-way.

Alaska Airlines is bringing extra firepower to its PFD sale this year. The airline is giving away a couple of Holland America cruises (including airfare), as well as two sets of Alaska Air tickets in a PFD Sweepstakes. No purchase is necessary.

Delta resumed its two-bags-free offer for Alaska residents. To qualify, you have to be a SkyMiles member at least 24 hours prior to check-in.

With both Delta and Alaska offering PFD fares, there are good deals to lots of towns that aren’t normally on sale. This includes Alaska’s PFD offers to all its destinations in Alaska (except Prudhoe Bay and seasonal service to Gustavus). For Delta, it includes destinations like Des Moines, Iowa, Fargo, N.D., Memphis, Tennessee, Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Charlotte, N.C.


When you’re searching for a good deal, be aware of the connection time. Airlines will display fares that have two stops, or include 8-hour layovers. For example, on Nov. 1, Delta offers a flight from Anchorage to L.A. for $158 one-way. Alaska offers the same fare, but there’s an eight-hour layover in Seattle.

All the prices quoted here are for “Saver” tickets of “Basic Economy” on Delta. That means you cannot change your ticket. Pre-assigned seats are very rare on Alaska Air and specifically not included with Delta. On Delta, you won’t earn SkyMiles credit with Basic flights. The upcharge to “Main Cabin” is between $30 and $60 each way.

Delta is not offering a PFD special to three of its most-popular hubs: Atlanta, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City. But Alaska is offering promo fares to those cities. Delta is offering a nice fare of $198 one-way between Anchorage and Detroit.


Blackouts. You cannot find a PFD fare at Thanksgiving, Christmas or Spring Break. Those flights typically are full of schoolkids, their parents and their teachers.

Alaska Air’s blackout dates are comprehensive: Nov. 17-28 (Thanksgiving), Dec. 15-Jan. 8, 2023 (Christmas) and March 10-21, 2023 (Spring Break).

Delta’s list of blackout dates is more complicated: Nov. 18-29, Dec. 16-18, 20-24 and Dec. 26-Jan. 3, 2023. Feb. 16-17, 20. March 3-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27 and March 30-April 3. April 6-10, 13-16, 21-23.

There are other important facts about the PFD sale. All tickets must be purchased by Sept. 29. All travel must be completed by May 17, 2023 for Alaska Air destinations. Some Delta destinations end earlier than that, though. For example, travel on Delta to Memphis is available for $198 one-way and travel must be completed by March 8, 2023.

Between Alaska and most destinations in the Lower 48, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Prices and restrictions change without notice. They’ve already changed since they were introduced earlier this week. They are likely to change again before the sale ends on Sept. 29.

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Not using your travel card rewards may not be such a bad thing

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet

I had to buy a T-shirt I didn’t want by midnight. My credit card carried a $50 credit at Saks Fifth Avenue every six months, so there I was, wading through designer clothing I didn’t want and sorting by price, “lowest to highest” in order to take advantage of my credit before it expired.

Welcome to the weird new world of “travel” card benefits.

The pandemic changed the travel industry in many ways. Airlines now offer more flexible tickets. Masks are mandatory for the indefinite future. And so-called travel cards shifted to offering benefits for homebodies, from food delivery perks credits to Saks credits.

Getting more benefits sounds like a good thing on the surface, but it creates a problem that I encountered while feverishly shopping for stuff I didn’t want or need. In short: travel card benefit fear of missing out.

How to evaluate unused travel card benefits

Do the math

The logic of getting a travel card (or any card that carries benefits) is simple. If the total value you get from the card exceeds the annual fee, then it’s worth having. For example, if a card offers $200 in travel credits per year and the annual fee is $100, then that card is probably worth getting if you usually spend at least $200 on travel annually.

Yet there’s a piece of this math problem that doesn’t break down to pure dollars and cents. It’s what we mean by “value.”

Read: No matter your age, here’s how to tell if your finances are on the right track

Don’t confuse dollars for value

Warren Buffett said in a 2008 letter to investors, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”

That is, just because something costs a certain amount doesn’t mean it’s worth that much.

Take the T-shirt I ordered from Saks. I paid about $50 for it, which is the price. But is that the value I received? This is where things take a turn toward the squishy and subjective. For me, the shirt probably carries far less value than $50 because I’m not somebody who cares much about fancy clothes. A T-shirt is pretty much a T-shirt as far as I’m concerned (and my 6-month-old vomits on my clothing daily, which significantly reduces its value).

That is, you only get value from this benefit if you use it a lot. But using it a lot might not align with your other priorities (like spending less on takeout).

Also see: Two years of COVID-19: How the pandemic changed the way we shop, work, invest and get medical care

Focus on your current spending

One of my travel cards carries a $300 annual credit for an Equinox gym membership and a $20 monthly credit for a few particular digital streaming services.

That’s great if you already have an Equinox membership or are subscribed to the eligible streaming services. But not so much if you aren’t. Equinox memberships run about $300 per month, so that $300 annual offset is a relatively modest discount.

And here’s the core of the card-benefit FOMO conundrum: It might feel like failing to use the Equinox credit leaves money on the table. After all, $300 sounds like a lot of money. But just the opposite is true — signing up for every service associated with your card and trying to get the most out of them might not only be a headache but financially unwise.

As a rule of thumb, you should get (or keep) the travel card that aligns with your current spending rather than aligning your spending to the benefits offered by a card.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t order a “free” T-shirt with a card benefit. But it does mean you shouldn’t become a frequent Saks shopper just because your card offers a $100 annual credit.

Also see: 10 credit card ‘perks’ that are mostly hype

The takeaway

Back in the Before Times, picking and using a travel credit card was a relatively straightforward proposition. Not so much in the COVID era. For one thing, many of these cards offer benefits that have nothing whatsoever to do with travel.

Don’t get swept up in benefit-maximization mania. Yes, it’s good to take advantage of as many of your card’s perks as possible, but that doesn’t mean you should bend your priorities around whatever oddball benefits a card decides to include.

Which reminds me, it’s a new year, which means it’s time to order a new shirt from Saks for my baby to throw up on.

More From NerdWallet

Sam Kemmis writes for NerdWallet. Email: Twitter: @samsambutdif.

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Oettinger’s bad night causes Dallas Stars to lose 7-4 to the Rangers

Sometimes goaltenders across the league have a bad night and tonight that happened to Jake Oettinger tonight. The young Dallas Stars goaltender would give up 6 goals as the Stars would go on to lose 7-4 Wednesday night to the New York Rangers. Hidden by Oettinger’s bad night as that it was Tyler Seguin‘s 800th career NHL game. Here is the recap of Oettinger’s disappointing night at the AAC.

Dallas Stars vs New York Rangers: 1st period recap

Well, the Stars wasted no time firing up the crowd as Esa Lindell would score within the first minute of the period to make it 1-0 Stars. Tyler Seguin would get a goal on a redirect in his milestone game 4 minutes later to make the Stars lead 2-0.

Now for the bad part of the 1st period, this was the start of Oettinger’s bad night. Greg McKegg would start things off for the Rangers to cut the lead in half 2-1. Zibbanejad would score three minutes later on the power play to tie it at 2.

Two minutes later is where the Rangers took the lead on an Adam Fox goal to make it 3-2 Rangers. Artremi Panarin would score less than a minute later to make it 4-2 Rangers going into the 1st Intermission. The Stars would be outshot 14-11 in the 1st period but lead in faceoff won 10-6.

Stars would have to get it in gear in the 2nd if they want a shot to get getting back in this game and take two points at home before hitting the road for a 4 game road trip starting in Toronto.

Dallas Stars vs New York Rangers: 2nd period recap

Not much scoring really happened in the period as Jason Robertson would score on the power play with 12:50 remaining to close the gap on the Rangers lead 4-3. It’s what the Dallas Stars needed to get some momentum going in their favor.

Patrik Nemeth would have his goal reviewed to see if it crossed the red line. After further review it did and the Rangers pushed their lead back up to 2. Rangers would go into the second intermission up 5-3. The Stars need to get some offense going in the third if they want to win the game.

Dallas Stars vs New York Rangers: 3rd period recap

Joe Pavelski would tip in a goal with 12 minutes remaining in the 3rd period to bring the game back within reach 5-4 Rangers. However, before pulling Oettinger to bring on the extra man advantage, Barclay Goodrow would score an unassisted goal to make it 6-4 Rangers.

Ryan Strome would put the dagger in the Star’s hope winning this by scoring the empty-net goal for the final score of 7-4 Rangers. Stars next game will be on Tuesday night as they travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs for the final time this season.


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Ask Wirecutter: How Can I Convince My Prima Donna Pooch to Go Outside in Bad Weather?

Ask Wirecutter, an advice column written by Annemarie Conte, explores the best approaches to buying, using, and maintaining stuff. Email your biggest product-related problems to

Dear Wirecutter,

My dog refuses to go outside in any kind of bad weather, and I hate dragging her down my front steps by her leash. Is there a kinder and gentler way to get my mutt to go for a walk on rainy or snowy days?


Dear M.G.,

I too have been on the human end of this situation, waiting, leash in hand, for my dog to get his butt off the porch and just pee already. It’s frustrating. For your sake and mine, I spoke with Curtis Kelley, a certified dog trainer with nine years of experience and owner of Pet Parent Allies. He sympathized: “This is pretty common. They’ll stand there and be obstinate about the situation. The sensation of being rained on can be unpleasant for some dogs, and they’ll see it as punishment,” he told me in a phone interview. Here are his tips, as well as some Wirecutter picks that will get your pup moving in the right direction.

Avoid the bad weather

I know it’s not always possible, but if you know that a storm is coming, don’t wait until it’s happening to get your pup outside, especially if you expect thunder and lightning. Since many dogs often need a longer walk to help them do their business, going out while it’s dry and calm is preferable for everyone involved. If your dog has a strong gastrocolic reflex (meaning they have to poop after they eat) and you normally feed them on a set schedule, consider adjusting their mealtime up to two to three hours earlier, before the storm hits, says Kelley.

Bring an umbrella

A red umbrella that has been folded up and strapped close and left on the wet ground.
Photo: Michael Hession

Juggling a leash and an umbrella can be tricky, but that bit of extra protection might just do the trick. “Some dogs will tolerate bad weather much better if you’re holding an umbrella to keep rain off of them,” says Kelley. We like the Balios Prestige Travel Umbrella and the Repel Easy Touch Umbrella, both of which have a 37-inch diameter and auto-close features that can be helpful when you have your hands full. You might also consider the Totes Blue Line Auto Wooden Stick Umbrella, which has a bigger, 42-inch canopy for full coverage. Of course, you know your dog best, and if your pet is reactive to shadows or quick movements, skip the umbrella and move on to the next tip.

Consider a jacket and boots (for your dog)

WeatherBeeta 300D Deluxe Reflective Parka

The WeatherBeeta sits securely and will keep a dog warm and dry in all but the worst conditions. It comes in sizes that fit dogs between 12 inches and 32 inches long, in 2-inch increments for a close fit.

Original All-Weather Muttluks

Muttluks protect against sharp objects, keep paws comfortable in cold or hot weather, and provide a flexible fit to accommodate most dogs.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $56.

Some dogs are fine wearing clothes—but others will look at you like their dignity is being stripped from them, one tiny cowboy hat at a time. There’s also the potential issue of overstimulation because of the touch of the clothing. “They get too excited and flop on their back, and it’s a good time for no one,” says Kelley.

The design of the clothing matters. “I know they’re cute, but many dogs don’t like wearing hoods, just like they don’t enjoy having their heads patted because it’s improper dog etiquette or it can signal discomfort and stress,” says Wirecutter’s Kaitlyn Wells, who edited our guide to jackets and raincoats for dogs. “If you can, find a dog-friendly raincoat that’s hoodless. It’ll make your pup’s outdoor time in bad weather a bit better.”

The key to introducing your dog to something they may be reluctant to wear, says Kelley, is to acclimate them to it slowly and with tons of positive reinforcement. “Put it on, give them a treat, take it off, give them a treat. Build it into becoming a neutral,” he says. It can take days, or even weeks, of prep work and positive encouragement for your dog to wear a coat comfortably.

Introducing a set of boots to protect your dog’s feet from mud, snow, or road salt is often even more of a challenge, so expect it to take as long as two months for some dogs to get used to wearing them. That means potentially getting ready in October for a December snowfall. Kelley recommends starting with just one boot on one front foot and having your dog stand or walk a bit for a few minutes. Then move on to the second front foot. Then do both front feet, then one back foot, then the other back foot, and then the back two feet. Slow and steady.

You don’t have to do all of this inside the house, either: You can try taking your dog outside into the rain and then putting the coat on so they connect the coat with a feeling of protection from the elements.

Consider a jacket and boots (for yourself)

A person wearing a black raincoat, standing in a busy city street.
Photo: Sarah Kobos

If you normally let your dog out into the backyard to go to the bathroom, but they staunchly refuse during bad weather, you might have to suck it up and put on your own rain jacket and boots and go outside with them. “My dog, Vista, will do that sometimes. If it’s really, really raining, she’ll look at me and be like, ‘Nah, you too. Get your coat,’” says Kelley. Just the act of stepping outside with them in solidarity can be enough.

Lure them with treats

If your pup is absolutely resolute, luring with a treat is acceptable in this situation, says Kelley. Leave a trail of training treats out the door for them to follow (we like PureBites Mini Trainers Freeze-Dried Raw Beef Liver Dog Treats and Etta Says Sit Training Treats Bacon Recipe). Another option is to hold a treat in your hand and walk outside, getting your dog to slowly approach you. High-value, smelly treats are best for this. Kaitlyn recommends a training treat, a small piece of string cheese, a hot dog, or Full Moon Chicken Jerky. For dogs on a specialized diet, kibble can also work.

Kelley also suggests keeping an eye on your dog while you’re inside. When you see your pup becoming more and more desperate, that’s the time to get them outside, have them do their business quickly, and then head back inside. This approach teaches your pet that the faster they go out to use the bathroom (and get some relief!), the faster they’ll be back inside in the dry warmth.

Turn it into a game

Hear Doggy Ultrasonic Squeaker Toy

With a squeaker tuned to an ultrasonic frequency between 24 and 28 KHz that’s silent to people but fun noise for dogs, you can play without being driven up a wall.

For toy-loving dogs, distraction is a great way to trick them into leaving the house. Start their favorite game inside, whether it’s tug or chasing a ball, and then move it outside. In their excitement they might not even realize your bait and switch.

Soothe their sore paws

Musher’s Secret

Popular in the dogsledding community, this waxy protectant creates a breathable barrier between paw pads and pavement, ice, and salt.

The abrasiveness of cold, wet roads and sidewalks (or salted ones, if it has been snowing) can be brutal on a dog’s paws. For dogs that don’t wear booties, make sure to wipe their paws off with a warm washcloth after they return inside the house, and then apply Wirecutter-pick Musher’s Secret to protect their paws from the elements. Kelley says twice a day in between walks is best.

This article was edited by Jason Chen.

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How Bad Will This Year’s California Fire Season Be?

When rain pummeled California in October, many breathed a sigh of relief: At least in some parts of the state, the worst of the fire season, experts said, was most likely over.

The following month, however, precipitation was scarce. In December, it rained again, smashing records. Now, some parts of the state have barely seen another drop of water since early January.

“It has been both an unusually dry and an unusually wet winter,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Nature Conservancy.

But what do these ups and downs mean for California’s next fire season? The answer is complicated.

Before October, a vast majority of California was considered to be in “exceptional” or “extreme” drought (the highest rankings, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor). So when meteorological conditions known as “atmospheric rivers” drenched parts of the state in October and December, much of that water was sucked up by the parched landscape.

The hot and windy conditions that followed also led the rain to evaporate quickly, drying out the vegetation that fuels fires. California’s rising snowpack, which provides moisture to the ecosystem as it melts in the spring, has since plummeted.

Historically, California’s fire season lasted a few months during the hottest part of the year. But recently it has become more year-round.

In January, typically one of California’s wettest months, a wildfire swept through Big Sur, a mountainous coastal region south of San Francisco, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate. The scene was “pretty surreal” given California’s wet October and December, the National Weather Service said on Twitter at the time.

But though the extreme rainfall and dryness might average out to near-normal levels of precipitation, that’s no insurance policy against fire, scientists say. As global temperatures warm, even in wet years, hot weather can ultimately dry out vegetation to produce droughtlike conditions.

“We still get dry years and wet years but we don’t really get cold years anymore,” Swain said. He added, “No matter what, everything still dries out.”

For now, the dry spell has a small silver lining.

The lack of rain gives fire authorities more opportunity to conduct prescribed burns that help to reduce the worst impacts of fires during the summer. And fires that ignite spontaneously during these colder months are also likely to be less intense, and can help to avert worse fires in hot, dry conditions.

But without rain in the coming days or weeks, the state could begin relapsing further into drought. Last year, historically low rainfall and ongoing drought helped cause a brutal fire season that lasted several months and burned 2.6 million acres.

“I don’t think March is going to somehow bail us out,” Swain said of the likelihood that generous rain in the coming weeks would help stave off intense fires this year.

“We’re seeing bad fire years almost every year,” he added.

For more:

Livia Albeck-Ripka is a reporter for The New York Times, based in California.

  • Sacramento shooting: A man believed to be meeting his three children for a supervised visit at a church just outside Sacramento on Monday afternoon fatally shot the children and an adult accompanying them.

  • Medicaid expansion: California is making it easier for older residents to qualify for health coverage through Medicaid.

  • Russian divestment: State lawmakers plan to file legislation to get rid of California’s Russian investments, The Associated Press reports.

  • Obituary: Richard Blum, former chairman of the University of California Board of Regents and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband, died on Sunday after a long battle with cancer. He was 86.

  • State pension: CalPERS is adding the largest cost-of-living increases to retirees’ pensions in more than 30 years because of high inflation, The Sacramento Bee reports.

  • Victim compensation: A decline in payments to crime survivors by California’s victim compensation board has raised questions about gaps in the program, The Guardian reports.


  • Oil company sues: An oil company based in Houston sued those they say failed to prevent an underwater pipeline leak off the coast of Orange County, The Associated Press reports.


  • Rare daisy against a gold mine: The Inyo rock daisy, which grows only in the crevices of cliffs in the southern Inyo Mountains, may be threatened by a gold mining operation, The Los Angeles Times reports.


  • Chesa Boudin: The New York Times Magazine spoke with Attorney General Chesa Boudin of San Francisco, who is facing a recall election. Read the interview.

  • Mask mandate upheld: San Francisco will keep its school mask mandate in place despite the state’s decision to lift the rule, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • Oakland parklets: The Oakland City Council will vote today on whether to extend a program that has allowed for outdoor parklets and sidewalk cafes, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • Oakland school closures: Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would not interfere with Oakland Unified’s decision to close 11 schools, KQED reports.

$1.5 million homes in California.

Thai curry with silken tofu and herbs.

Today’s travel tip comes from Jim Palmer, who recommends Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles:

“Not just the 1930s sci-fi exterior, but much of the old stuff such as the Tesla coil, which has delighted kids forever with its lightning bolts at the touch of a button. I’m 85 and can still remember a day trip to the planetarium when I was in high school in Long Beach. As a budding engineer, it was and is my favorite place anywhere.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

During their wedding in Oakland last year, Abram Jackson and Julius Crowe Hampton jumped the broom.

The tradition was popularized among Black couples before the Civil War when enslaved Africans generally had no legal right to marry. It has since come to signify sweeping away the old and welcoming the new, The Times reported recently.

For his recent wedding, Hampton purchased a cinnamon broom at Trader Joe’s and adorned it with fabric in mustard and sage, plus sprigs of dried lavender and eucalyptus.

“Jumping the broom was the most transcendental experience of my life,” Hampton, 34, an elementary schoolteacher, said. “I felt as if I was lifted by the ancestors as we took this grand leap of faith witnessed by our friends, family and community.”

“To jump the broom as two queer Black men in love,” he added, was an experience “we will cherish for eternity.”

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Why Omicron Travel Restrictions Are Bad News For Ryanair

Omicron is behind unexpectedly low passenger numbers and a doubling of the forecasted net loss for Ryanair this northern winter. On Wednesday, the Dublin-based low-cost carrier issued a revised annual net loss warning. That warning flagged anticipated yearly net losses will increase from the €100 million to €200 million range to the €250 million to €450 million range.

Ryanair has doubled its expected annual net losses in the wake of the omicron outbreak. Photo: Ryanair

January schedules cut, no decision yet on February & March schedules

According to Ryanair, the omicron variant and recent Government travel restrictions across Europe have notably weakened close-in Christmas and New Year bookings. This sudden downturn has also caused Ryanair to cut its planned January schedule capacity by 33% this week.

“In light of the current uncertainty about the omicron variant, and intra-Europe travel restrictions, no schedule cutbacks have yet been decided for February or March 2022,” says Ryanair in a statement.

“These schedules will be revisited in January as more scientific information becomes available on the omicron variant, its impact on hospitalizations, European population, and/or travel restrictions in February or March.”

Ryanair has cut its January schedules by 33%. Photo: Ryanair

How omicron plays out will impact Ryanair’s anticipated losses

Recent Government travel restrictions, in particular, last weekend’s ban on UK arrivals into France and Germany, have impacted the number of passengers Ryanair expects to fly this month. Ryanair was anticipating flying between 10 and 11 million passengers in December. The airline has revised that back to between nine and nine a half million.

January’s passenger numbers are revised downwards from around 10 million to between six and seven million. As a result, Ryanair now expects to fly slightly less than 100 million passengers in the 12 months to March 31, 2022. At the same time, net annual losses are also expected to increase significantly.

However, Ryanair notes these figures are very sensitive to any further positive or negative Omicron-related news.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary is critical of how the UK Government has handled omicron. Photo: Getty Images

Ryanair’s CEO flays the UK Government

With much of Ryanair’s business based in the UK, the airline’s CEO Michael O’Leary has been critical of the UK Government’s recent omicron response. Last week, Mr O’Leary told The Guardian newspaper;

“People in the UK recognize that the government there are idiots. You wouldn’t rely on Boris Johnson or Grant Shapps or Dominic Raab, who can’t add or subtract – would you want your journey dependent on the intervention of those idiots? The answer is no.”

Ryanair likes to fill its planes, even if it has to offer single-digit fares to do so. But all the cheap fares in the world won’t lure passengers onboard if they aren’t sure constantly changing travel rules won’t (often seriously) disrupt their trip.

“What deters booking is the whole uncertainty – this idea that if I travel abroad if the government changes the rules in 24 hours, I could be stranded, even if COVID-free and vaccinated … travel only exists on a degree of confidence,” Mr O’Leary said.

The Ryanair boss saves his scorn for the UK Government. He says things are still relatively trouble-free in mainland Europe from an operational perspective. While Omicron is an issue in mainland Europe, O’Leary argues mainland European governments are being more considered in their responses.

But it is a fast-changing landscape. Ryanair will issue third-quarter profit results on January 31. By then, the airline hopes to have a better handle on how omicron and intra-Europe travel restrictions are impacting their passenger numbers and bottom line.

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I Lost My Cell Phone Before An International Trip: The Good The Bad And The Ugly


As a married couple sharing our love of culinary tourism through our Food Travelist website, our weekly #FoodTravelChat on Twitter, and amazing publications like TravelAwaits, we are seasoned international travelers. With a sense of adventure we recently relocated to Portugal. We typically travel together and manage the details of travel with ease. But when my (Diana) father was about to reach his 90th birthday, I went back to the United States to celebrate while Sue stayed in Portugal to finish up some relocation tasks and look after our cats.

After I visited with my dad for about a week, he drove me to the airport, we said our “I love yous,” and hugged goodbye. I got my boarding passes, checked my bags, and then went to text him one last time before I went through security.

Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris

But when I reached for my cell phone in the side pocket of my purse where it usually rests, it wasn’t there. Or anywhere else in my purse. Or any clothing pocket. Or my backpack. I lost my cell phone! Just as I was starting a three-flight international journey back home to Portugal my technology nightmare began. And here’s how it went from there.

Everyone Has A Cell Phone But Me

Imagine being in an airport and discovering your cell phone is missing. Is your heart pounding? Mine sure was. After no luck at the lost and found, I thought my cell must have slipped out during goodbye hugs or driving to the airport. At this airport, the payphones were gone. No loss really because the important phone numbers were in my cell phone, not my head. I asked a guard to borrow his cell to call Sue, the one person’s number that I had memorized. No answer. I left her a message to call my father about the phone. When I looked around I realized that everyone in the airport had a cell phone — everyone except me.

O'Hare Airport Interior.
Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris

Not Much I Can Do

Before an international journey, I really rely on my cell phone. My phone had the digital results of my COVID-19 test and a copy of my vaccination card. Fortunately, some paranoia caused me to keep printed copies of both with my passport. If not, my trip home would have ended there.

My fitness watch is tied into a cell phone app so I would not be able to synchronize it for each new time zone on my journey. I could not receive text messages with flight updates, gate changes, delays, or anything else from the airline. Because my flights to get to my dad’s birthday were plagued with changes and delays, not knowing what was happening made me nervous. I sat near a departure board and checked flight status at every stop.

Aha! My Laptop

I also realized that I couldn’t call anyone else to tell them what was going on. That is until I remembered I had my laptop in my backpack. Fortunately, most airports now have a free Internet connection. Hooray! Email is not instant like messaging or a call, and most people tend not to check it as often. But it is a way to communicate. I sent emails to Sue and my father hoping that at some point someone would read them.

I also remembered that my cell had a function called Find My iPhone, which I could use to see if I had really lost my phone or it was safe somewhere in my father’s car. I found the online version and entered my phone number. Success! The pinging phone was at my dad’s address. There was a ray of hope that I and my cell would someday reunite.

Seaside cityscape of Cascais city in summer day. Cascais municipality, Portugal.
Evannovostro /

Finding My Phone Is Not Getting My Phone

My flights were largely uneventful and I made it safely back home to Portugal. I used email to keep Sue apprised of my progress along the way, though much less frequently than when I would if texting. By the time I got home, my dad had been in touch with Sue. I called him using Sue’s phone and told him that my cell was in his car somewhere. He checked but did not find it. Fortunately, my nephew was visiting and quite familiar with the sounds Find My iPhone makes. He took charge and a ping or two later, he found my cell under a seat.

Though Portugal stole our hearts, one of its less wonderful features is customs for items from the United States. Most people said that if my phone made it back to me at all, it would likely get stuck in customs and cost an excessive amount to get. They suggested that maybe a friend could bring it to me when they came for a visit.

Help Is On The Way

None of my friends or family had immediate plans to visit, but I belong to online groups where expats and locals help one another, develop friendships, and provide support. I posted a note to one such Facebook group about my situation and asked for suggestions on how to get my cell back. Several wonderful people offered to bring my phone with them on a return trip to Portugal. I was shocked at how many people offered assistance. I selected Kamruddin Shams, an experienced entrepreneur who travels frequently between Lisbon and the United States. He was returning to Portugal in about a month.

Phone Sweet Phone

My dad sent my cell phone to Kamruddin at his United States address. He received it, packed it with his belongings, and carried it with him back to Portugal. Sue and I met him in Lisbon and bought him lunch at the Time Out Market as a token. The three of us found out that we had much in common, and while the phone was the reason we got together, we will certainly see one another as friends again in the future.

Diana and Kamruddin at Time Out Market Lisboa.
Sue Reddel & Diana Laskaris

The Kindness Of Strangers

Even though it is easy to be cynical about how selfish people can be, it was a humbling lesson in gratitude to realize that so many people were willing to go out of their way to help me get my phone back safely. If you ever find yourself in need of support, consider those you may know through social media groups and other common interests. There are gems just waiting to provide help and support. Do your homework of course, and don’t just trust absolutely anyone. But don’t be surprised if you find a whole online community helping you find a solution to a difficult challenge.

Life Lessons To Share

As much as I (and many of us) rely on technology, especially our almighty cell phones, this experience taught me that some low-tech backup is a good idea. When traveling, keep paper copies of important documents. Memorize or write important phone numbers on paper to take with you. Bring a regular watch that is not tied into your cell through an app as well as your sport or smartwatch. If you have a computer or laptop, add an app that allows you to read your text messages or get your calls on it if one is available from your provider.

I also learned the hard way how important it is to double and triple-check that you have your phone and all other gadgets and items whenever leaving a car, train, plane, restaurant seat, or anywhere.

The most important lesson I learned is not to be afraid to ask for help with a frustrating or confusing travel situation. I had a challenging month without my cell phone, but thanks to a generous online community, my willingness to call for help, and a wonderful person who answered the call, I got my phone back and made great new friends in the process.

Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris, writers of Food Travelist, are frequent contributors to TravelAwaits. Check out their contributions here:

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Bad break for Aztecs as Lamont Butler suffers wrist injury

Three thoughts on San Diego State’s 72-47 win against Long Beach State on Tuesday night at Viejas Arena:

With 9:02 left, sophomore guard Lamont Butler split the defense, dribbled down the lane, elevated and threw down a two-handed jam that drew maybe the loudest roar on a night when the Aztecs would dunk six other times.

At least it’s a good memory to hold for the next month, while he sits out with a broken left wrist.

Butler immediately pointed to his wrist and asked out of the game. The initial prognosis was a sprain and that he could return if necessary. It wasn’t necessary, with SDSU up 27, and he didn’t.

But X-rays Wednesday showed a non-displaced fracture (that won’t require surgery), and the Aztecs now must play the remainder of the nonconference season without their 6-foot-2 bull in a china shop.

“It’s like a skateboard accident,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “He put out his hand to brace himself on the fall and fractured the wrist.”

The good news: Because of exam week and the Christmas holiday, that encompasses only five Division I games. Had he missed the month of January, it would be nine. And because it’s an arm instead of a lower body injury, he can maintain some semblance of fitness.

The bad news: He won’t play at No. 24 Michigan on Saturday or Dec. 17 against Saint Mary’s in Phoenix — the two remaining nonconference chances at quality wins so important for NCAA Tournament selection purposes.

Butler had made the biggest stride of SDSU’s three-man freshman class from last season, earning a starting spot ahead of fifth-year senior Adam Seiko, regularly guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter player (he held USC leading scorer Boogie Ellis to two points, 15 under his average). He also was becoming one of the Aztecs’ most consistent offensive weapons, averaging 12.0 points over the last five games while shooting 47.6 percent overall and 47.1 percent behind the arc.

Now what?

The obvious replacement is Seiko, who participated in part of practice Wednesday after missing the last 2½ games with quad contusion. He played some point for the Uganda national team at the FIBA AfroBasket tournament last summer but doesn’t have the same dribble penetration skills. That, and even more minutes for starting guard Trey Pulliam.

Other candidates for increased minutes are less experienced: sophomore Keith Dinwiddie, who appeared in just seven games last season; and Duquesne transfer Chad Baker-Mazara, who at 6-7 gives the Aztecs more size on the floor but hasn’t yet mastered the defensive system and has made only 5 of 25 shot attempts.

“We can fill minutes,” Dutcher said, “but we can’t replace Lamont. He’s been playing great for us. He’s so tough defensively that he takes the pressure off Trey by guarding the other team’s point guard. The No. 1 concern is whether Trey is capable of playing heavy minutes and having primary ballhandling duties. When he and Lamont are both in the game, they can take turns bringing the ball up the floor.

“But we’ll just have to figure it out.”

2. Next man up

Dinwiddie entered Tuesday’s game with 11 points in six games this season.

Then he scored 12.

It wasn’t an en-fuego, heat-check shooting performance — 4 of 9 overall, 2 of 7 behind the arc — but it was a welcome, timely step forward by a guy whose role will expand with Butler and Seiko both injured. This is a team desperately in need of a reliable, respected perimeter marksman; Dinwiddie might be the only guy on the roster who fits the job description.

“Keith has to shoot the ball for us to be good,” Dutcher said. “Every time Keith shoots it, I think it’s going in. But he missed a couple wide open ones. As he continues to grow in his confidence and his percentage rises from 3, we’ll be a more dangerous team at the offensive end.”

More impressive, in some ways, is what he’s done at the other end. You don’t play defense, you don’t play at this program. It took a freshman season sitting on the bench for him to fully embrace that, and he’s become a committed defender who is taking charges, tipping passes and grasping the sophisticated rotations.

So much that when he wasn’t scoring, he stayed on the floor because he wasn’t a defensive liability.

“When I’m not scoring,” Dinwiddie said, “old me would just be out there. Now, being here, there’s so much more to the game than just offense.”

Added Pulliam: “You can tell defensively, he’s in the right spots. He knows when he makes a mistake now. He doesn’t need anybody to tell him. That’s the biggest thing, him recognizing it.”

Dinwiddie played a career high 20½ minutes against USC last Friday. He played 21 on Tuesday.

“If I have this opportunity and not come in and produce, it’s just going to be the next man up,” Dinwiddie said. “I’m just trying to take as much advantage of this as I can.”

The Aztecs get an extra day to prepare for Michigan, which has a 9:15 p.m. EST tip at North Carolina on Wednesday night as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. They’ll use it, too.

“I told our guys I’d like to give them the day off but we’re not,” Dutcher said. “We have an extra prep day, so we have to take advantage of it. I told them, ‘We won’t tax your legs. It might be more mental. But we have to prep for Michigan.’ They’re traveling, they’re playing North Carolina, so all their focus is on North Carolina. Our focus right now is (already) on Michigan.”

There’s another reason. Because of the four-hour flight and three-hour time change, Dutcher won’t have his normal road routine Friday, where his team practices in San Diego before getting on the plane. The best option was a nonstop that leaves at 7 a.m.

They’ll get in Michigan’s Crisler Center after arriving, but not for a full practice. Experience has taught him that much.

“After we travel a full day and then try to practice, usually that doesn’t set itself up for a good performance on the practice floor,” Dutcher said. “You’ve been on the plane four hours, our flight is at 7 in the morning, we’ll be up early. I like to just get there and shoot around, get familiar with Crisler, maybe walk through a few things but try to get all our prep work done Wednesday and Thursday leading to Friday’s travel.”

The game Saturday is at 1 p.m. EST, so there isn’t time for a shootaround, usually at noon, like there would be before a night tip.

That makes Wednesday and Thursday key prep days. Friday is for travel and a brief walk-through. It also helps that he was able to save legs in the blowout win, using 14 players and no one more than 25 minutes.

“You have to set what you want to accomplish and have a smaller amount to work on,” Dutcher said of the Friday evening session at Crisler. “If you try to do everything in that day, they are taxed mentally and physically and they can’t get it done.”

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How Bad Could California’s Winter Coronavirus Surge Get?

As you probably remember, the winter coronavirus surge in California last year was nothing short of catastrophic.

Emergency rooms were so full that ambulances often had nowhere to drop off patients desperate for treatment. Hospitals needed refrigerated trucks to manage the overflow of bodies in their morgues. In less than three months, California’s death toll from Covid-19 more than doubled.

So, with our second pandemic winter nearly upon us, will disaster strike again?

Coronavirus cases in California have been ticking up since late October. The state is preparing for the possibility of a winter surge — what Gov. Gavin Newsom last week called his “biggest anxiety.”

But unlike last year, 76 percent of Californians have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. That means that while the holiday season may again lead to more transmission of the virus, the consequences will be less ruinous, experts say.

“I don’t think we’ll have the same huge peak we had last winter, but I do think we will see another peak,” Dr. Timothy Brewer, an infectious-disease expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, told me. “And the big difference will be because of the large number of people vaccinated.”

Getting your Covid-19 shots remains the best way to protect against serious illness. And as of last week, all Californians can now receive booster doses to enhance immunity.

But the fact remains that some 9.5 million Californians are totally unvaccinated against the coronavirus. And that’s where things get tricky.

Even in a place like San Francisco, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state, tens of thousands of people — roughly a quarter of the city’s population — aren’t fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times vaccination tracker. And some residents who have gotten their shots may have had their immunity wane in recent months.

“From an individual perspective, I feel really safe,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who added that she and her family had gotten their boosters. “But I don’t feel like the city where I live, the state where I live, will be out of the woods. That I don’t feel confident about.”

Bibbins-Domingo and others worry that hospitals could still be overloaded, mostly by unvaccinated individuals, as the virus takes off this winter. Unvaccinated Californians are nearly 10 times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 as those who are fully immunized.

The next few months concern epidemiologists because the coronavirus appears to follow a seasonal pattern — similar to how the flu proliferates in the winter — that causes a peak in California in the summer and a bigger one around the end of the year.

Plus, the arrival of chillier weather pushes people to socialize indoors, where it’s easier for the virus to spread. And during the Thanksgiving and winter holidays, families and friends from multiple households tend to congregate, further increasing the chances of coronavirus transmission.

These conditions could mean that regions with large numbers of unvaccinated people, such as the Central Valley and far Northern California, could see disastrous overflows in their hospitals, experts say. (Already, these regions have the highest level of transmission in the state.)

Still, even if California logs as many new coronavirus cases as it did last winter (which seems unlikely), the death toll won’t approach the same heights because so many people have protection conferred by the vaccines.

In recent days, some experts have been calling for California to focus on hospitalizations instead of case numbers, since most people who become infected won’t also become seriously ill.

Brewer, the U.C.L.A. physician, recommended that vaccinated Californians think about holiday precautions differently than they did last year, when officials asked everyone to stay home.

He instead suggested figuring out what Covid-19 precautions can make your gatherings safer. The most important thing, he said, is to make sure that everyone you spend time with is vaccinated. Then perhaps consider avoiding parties with hundreds of people.

“I think what people need to realize is that this virus is not going away,” Brewer told me. “So going into the holidays, people need to recognize that the coronavirus will be out there. There will be transmission. There will be cases, and the question just is: What is your comfort level in terms of trying to go on with your life?”

For more:


  • High school football: Two Los Angeles County high schools, St. John Bosco and Santa Ana Mater Dei, are making high school football look increasingly like the Division I college game.


  • Kern River protest: About 30 people walked the length of the Kern River bed to protest the river’s lack of water, The Bakersfield Californian reports.

  • Astroworld memorial: Family and friends of Axel Acosta held a memorial service for Acosta, 21, who was killed at the Astroworld Festival in Houston, ABC 13 reports.


  • Weather warning: Strong winds and possible rain are expected in Lassen, Plumas and Sierra Counties starting Monday.

  • U.C. Davis hazing: A report from the University of California, Davis, said that the school’s baseball team hazed new players, The Associated Press reports.

Homeowners are trying to build disaster-proof houses.

Today’s travel tip comes Lori Silver, who recommends Paso Robles:

“It used to be a place to pass through, but it’s become a wonderful place to stay. The wine tasting rooms have come to town, and that has changed the entire town. New restaurants have come in. Try the Alchemist’s Garden for best cocktails and small bites. Go see a light installation a mile out of town called Sensorio.

We loved the art gallery of locally made high quality art and crafts. In April and October, the main plaza turns into an art event. The stores are charming. We come from Carmel to visit!”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

In the summer of 2012, Audrey Han and Dong Frank Han had to sit next to each other at an internship in New York because the seats were assigned alphabetically.

The two hadn’t known each other before and, despite sharing a last name, aren’t related. They exchanged phone numbers at the end of the summer, but never bothered to call.

Five years later, the two had separately moved to San Francisco and saw each other on a dating app.

“Wow, she was gorgeous,” he recalled.

“He was even more handsome than I remembered,” she said.

The rest, as they say, is history. The couple married last month in front of 100 of their family and friends.

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