Siblings Used An Amazon Gift Card To Tip Their Server & TikTok Is Divided Over It

The holiday season can really put a dent in your wallet, and there’s a chance that sometimes, you might be out of cash but flush with gift cards.

That’s precisely what happened to a sibling trio on TikTok during a recent trip to a Korean BBQ spot in California.

Kaitlyn and Gustavo Lombera, along with their older sister, decided to grab some food together but found themselves in a pickle when they had no spare change left to pay their tip.

The siblings posted about the awkward moment on TikTok, in a video that shows them leaving a $25 Amazon gift card on top of their almost $100 bill.


holidays left us #broke 😮‍💨😮‍💨

The caption read: “holidays left us #broke.”

To be fair, they asked the waitress first if she’d accept her tip in gift card format, the siblings told BuzzFeed. The server was totally OK with it and even thought it was funny, they said.

However, other TikTok users were torn over how they felt about paying with a gift card. Many who identified as service industry workers said they’d love to get a gift card as a tip, while others thought it was a cheap move.

One commenter said: “I’m a bartender. I WOULD HAVE LOVED THAT AS A TIP!!! 😁😁😁”

Another agreed and even pointed out that the $25 gift card was probably more than she would get in tips anyways.

“Also that $25 gift card is not taxable. You get that money all for you,” said another person in the comments.

However, not everyone agreed with the move.

One person said: “I didn’t think it was bad till I saw the bill. ‘We didn’t have money for a tip,’ you should’ve put some food down then.”

Other people also brought up the hefty bill and questioned why they were unable to pay the tip.

“Really?! The receipt says it cost $95, and he couldn’t afford to tip her $10 like wow.”

Many people came to their siblings’ defence and pointed out that tips are up to the guest, so a gift card should be more than acceptable.

“It blows my mind that people get angry at customers for not tipping them, rather than be mad at companies for not paying a livable wage,” one person wrote.

Another person joked that the card might be nearly empty. “Gift card has $0.37 in it,” they wrote.

One user who claimed to be the restaurant owner’s son even joined in on the fun.

“LMAO that’s my dad’s restaurant!” he wrote. “Hope you guys enjoyed.”

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Total Travel Service is giving the gift of love | Local News

The team at Total Travel Service Inc., in Madisonville, is collecting home good items the entire month of January for tornado victims. This is free for all those affected by the December disasters in our area.

“We want to be able to help those who lost everything,” Owner of Total Travel Service, Mary Lou Boal said. “We will be collecting items all month long, with the deadline of receiving items as January 31.”

With most places around town collecting nonperishable food items, cases of water, clothing, diapers, shoes, jackets, blankets, and things of that nature, Total Travel wanted to help but in a different way.

“Here you can find comfortable things,” Boal said. “Things that you need to make a house a home.”

With the space generously provided by Ron Sanders, tornado victims will be able to come shop for things at their convenience. Items such as bath towels and bathroom decorations, wall art, home décor, pots and pans, stylish vases and framed items, silverware, tables, bedroom furniture, lamps, gently used furniture, and much more will be available to those in need.

Hopkins County pulled together and has been receiving items from all over the country. Total Travel, with ties to other travel agency locations and people from all over the world, items and supplies from the previous disasters have been coming in left and right, in addition to donated items from those who are wanting to do their part and help those in need.

According to Boal, Total Travel has received supplies from the tornado that hit Oklahoma in June, and items from Hurricane Katrina that devastated Baton Rouge in 2005.

Total Travel, located at 22 Madison Square Dr., in Madisonville, is open Monday — Wednesday, from 10 a.m.- 4p.m. If you or someone you know is in need but not able to come during those times, please call 270-841-0404 to make a personal appointment.

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Travel Gift Ideas: 27 Condé Nast Traveler Editors Share the Best Presents They’ve Ever Received

Gifting is a tricky business. No matter who you’re shopping for, there’s always a chance you’ll buy something they already own, don’t like, or that will end up at the back of a storage closet. Sometimes, though, you stick the landing, and give something your mom, friend, partner, or otherwise will treasure for years to come—whether that’s something tangible, or a can’t-put-a-price-on-it experience gift. We asked Condé Nast Traveler editors from around the globe to reminiscence on the most memorable presents they’ve ever received. Hopefully, these gift ideas will serve as inspiration for your future giving needs…or help you craft a wish list of your own (after all, it’s an easy way to save everyone else the stress of guessing).

Below, find 27 gift ideas for the travelers in your life.

All products and listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Honeymoon adventures

“Ahead of our recent destination wedding in Italy, my now-husband and I decided to forego the traditional registry and instead establish a honeymoon fund with Zola. So while we didn’t receive tangible gifts, contributions did go toward once-in-a-honeymoon experiences like a stay at the beautiful Hotel Eden in Rome, as well as impressive private tours (Fendi flagship, anyone?) with operator Imago Artis Travel and a few languorous, sun-soaked days at La Posta Vecchia, an estate off the coast of Ladispoli. Sure, a KitchenAid mixer is great—but it was far more memorable to sip Franciacorta by the sea and explore the underbelly of the Colosseum.” —Betsy Blumenthal, editor, features and editorial franchises, U.S.

Hotel Eden in Rome

Niall Clutton/Hotel Eden

A flight to Paris

“During my first year of college, my parents gifted me a round-trip ticket to Paris for spring break (printed from the travel agency and tucked into the inside cover of a Lonely Planet Paris guidebook nonetheless). I’d grown up what felt like a million miles from Europe and had spent weeks of my life dreaming of finally getting there. My friends and I exited the Metro early morning in the 10th arrondissement. I could smell the boulangeries; a woman in a bright orange coat ate a pastry as she walked down the street; wicker chairs were lined against the bistros facing onto the roads as if anticipating the great spectacle that would become Paris during the height of the day. It sounds cliché but it wasn’t; it was just Paris and it was marvelous. I fell so hard for Europe that I returned a few months later for work, moved there after university, and have juggled a life that straddles the East Coast and Europe ever since. That gift literally changed the course of my life.” —Erin Florio, director of features and editorial franchises, U.S.

“The best travel gift I ever received was a trip to Paris. Yes, it sounds unoriginal, but classics never die. My parents were celebrating 25 years of marriage and planned to travel alone to the city of love, but at the last moment, my mother decided that it would make her much happier if my two brothers and I traveled with them. We did all the touristy things possible, we accumulated a lot of anecdotes: I shared a little hotel room with my two brothers, I gave an emotional speech at sunset on a Bateau Mouche, and, to top it off, a painter made a very flattering portrait of me in Montmartre which has presided over my parents’ living room ever since. That was, without a doubt, my best travel gift, the trip in which I fell in love with Paris, France, and the idea of travel itself.” —Clara Laguna, writer, Spain

Hand-woven goods from Turkey

“A hand-woven wool cushion and carpet from Turkey. We visited the local production factory and learned about the beautiful patterns of the cushions, in which each shape has a meaning and each pattern is the first of its kind. Hand-woven wool products have a long history in the region, and this souvenir provides insight into how they were made and used by local people thousands of years ago.” —Zhicheng Guo, art designer, China

A camera strap

“A couple years ago when I was starting to get into photography, I bought a starter camera and used my friends as models for my portfolio. I always carried my camera in my hand because I didn’t want to use the generic straps that came with a Canon. As a gift, a good friend of mine bought me a monogrammed leather camera strap from a local leather company in Portland, Oregon, called Portland Leather Goods. It was a dark blue color so I didn’t have to worry about standing out too much whenever I was out and about snapping pictures. She knew I was trying to take photography seriously and I haven’t taken that strap off since.” —Kayla Brock, associate social media manager, U.S.

Mossio seven-piece set of packing cubes

Packing skills (and cubes)

“The best travel gift I’ve ever received is my mother’s talent for packing. Especially now, when we are separated by an international border, I revert to the skills my mother taught me every time I pack. Although I moved to Toronto, Canada, two years ago, I still try (pandemic permitting) to visit my family and friends in New York at least once a month. So, it seems that I am always packing or unpacking. My mother taught me how to magically create space in a suitcase and still take seemingly everything. One of her tricks is to lay everything flat, not stacked too high, and pack each category of clothing in its own separate packing cube. She also taught me to pack fragile items, like a computer or hard drive, in between clothing, and to put shoes and heavier items in a carry-on to avoid overweight fees. One last tip from my mom for the traveler with more than one suitcase or who is traveling with others—separate your clothing between bags so that if one suitcase is lost, then you know you will have something to wear no matter what.” —Andrea Edelman, associate digital photo editor, U.S.

A hot air balloon in Morocco

María Casbas

A hot air balloon ride

“One of the most special gifts I remember is a flight, not by plane but in a hot air balloon. It was during a trip to Morocco (a birthday present from my boyfriend). We were staying at a beautiful riad in Marrakech and one morning he told me that we were going to do an excursion to the desert. What I didn’t know is that a huge balloon was waiting for us, ready to soar into the sky as the sun peeked over the Atlas Mountains. Then, we had a traditional breakfast in a Berber camp. I will never forget it. (The best companies that offer this experience: Ciel d’Afrique or Marrakech by Air).” —María Casbas, writer, Spain


“I love buying perfume on vacation; different scents help me remember different feelings from a trip. My friend bought me Gucci Bloom when we traveled in Krabi—the fragrance is definitely much more sharper and juicier; the jasmine and tuberose scent makes you feel like you’re walking through an actual garden, making me remember the time in Thailand, soaking up the sand, sun, and sea.” —Ginni Jiang , lifestyle editor, China

“My friend went to Paris a few years ago and gave me a bottle of perfume with a beautiful story: Buly 1803 is a Parisian brand founded in 1803. The old shop of Buly 1803 is located at No. 6 Rue Bonaparte in Paris. The name originated from Jean-Vincent Bully, a perfumer, Parisian distiller, and pharmacist who was famous for making perfumes and vinegar in the 18th century. Bully was very fond of Balzac’s ‘Comedy on Earth’ and a character named Saicha Pirotto. Inspired by him, Bully created a series of perfumes full of Parisian style. I have never been to Paris, but that has always been the city I’ve dreamed of visiting. Now it is easy for us to buy a bottle of perfume online, but I look forward to the day when I can go to this store in Paris.” —Chen Li, senior features editor, China

A great cup of coffee 

“Convenience and portability, the primary factors I value during travel, can be found in Saturnbird Coffee. Among the mountains and lakes, a sip of coffee and a breath of fresh air brings me calm and comfort, and a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the cities. The sense of intimacy from Saturnbird Coffee always energizes me.” —Chenxu Wang, lifestyle editor, China

Rimowa hard-shell luggage

Rimowa luggage

“My best travel gift to date is my goes-everywhere, never-lets-me-down Rimowa suitcase set. The exact model, the Salsa Air, is now discontinued, but there’s a new style that has replaced it, the Essential Lite. Aside from being incredibly light and gliding smoothly across all types of terrain, the Rimowa suitcase also has a clamshell design that I’m convinced allows me to fit more than a standard one would. My carry-on size got me through a seven-day Alaska cruise (one half was dedicated solely to hiking shoes and rain boots), while the check-in size fit everything I needed for a two-week trip across three different countries in Southeast Asia. I swear by this suitcase—it’s pricy, but has been worth absolutely every penny.” —Stephanie Wu, digital director, U.S.

A flight upgrade

“The best travel gift I’ve received is a sudden cabin class promotion after a long tiring trip. Also up there: meeting a stranger that is good at chatting, sharing his wonderful experience while sitting at a random bar.” —Yuejie Liu, senior art designer, China

Great travel companions

“Thinking about the best travel gift takes me back to the summer of 2019, when my friends and I went camping. The fresh air, the clear nearby lake, and the wide, starlit sky gave me a burst of energy. Personally, I think the best travel gift is to have like-minded friends to travel the world with.” —Yang Lu, editorial coordinator, China

A trip to Tuscany

“To celebrate my birthday, I gave myself a trip to Tuscany with my friend, experiencing a very remarkable time in Castiglion Del Bosco by Rosewood. It is such a charming place with elegant style, a fabulous natural landscape, and a profound food culture. Absorbing myself in all this good food and drink, I brought back two dozen bottles of wine as a souvenir to memorize this happiness.” —Shawn Ong, content deputy director, China

National Geographic Atlas of the World, 11th Edition

An atlas

“A few years ago, my mother-in-law bought us a National Geographic World Atlas. The book is huge—like a solid foot by a foot and a half, and the only place we could store it was out on our coffee table. I can’t tell you how often our family flips through the atlas, talking about where we want to go next or playing that game where the page you randomly open up to is where you are going to live one day. Every guest that comes into our house—whether they’re 50 or five years old—gets lost in its pages.” —Rebecca Misner, West Coast editor, U.S.

Luggage straps

“Okay, this is admittedly not a flashy once-in-a-lifetime travel gift, but it is my most used travel item thanks to my mother-in-law: this invaluable luggage strap. It helps you stack luggage, cram souvenir bags, and balance random accessories like your hats and purses, all while leaving you hands-free. And when you’re not using it? Just tuck it away in a tiny spot—it folds up to almost nothing. Plus, it’s made from quality elastic, has adjustable straps, is machine washable, and comes in a few bold colors—what more could you want from a little gadget? And all for just $10.” —Lara Kramer, global associate director of audience development, U.S.

A trip to Thailand

“Before the pandemic, I went on a trip with my girlfriend to Krabi, Thailand. It was her 27th birthday and she decided to celebrate it with her favorite person of the year. I was lucky enough to be that person. Back then, we were still in a long-distance relationship, and it was not easy for us to meet. After a six-hour flight and two hours of ground transportation, we managed to get to there from different cities. But the three-night-stay at the Ritz-Carlton Reserve Krabi was totally worth it. It was such a relaxing time, the weather was perfect, and nothing bothered us during that holiday.” —Phillip Leung, editor, China

A semester at sea

“When I was 20, my parents agreed to put a semester’s worth of my college tuition toward a study abroad program on a cruise ship. On Semester at Sea, I sailed alongside 600 students, faculty, and life-long learners to 17 countries in four and a half months, spending a few days to a few weeks everywhere from Brazil to Morocco to Cuba, and taking classes with a curriculum that followed our itinerary. It was the best gift I could ever ask for—an adventure of a lifetime that pushed my wanderlust into high gear.” —Madison Flager, commerce editor, U.S.

A signed jersey

“Basketball is my favorite sport, and I like watching NBA games and NBA stars, especially Kobe Bryant, who was one of the greatest players in the world. A few years ago, my friend went on a trip to Los Angeles and watched one of Kobe’s games in person. After the game, he bought a signed Kobe jersey and gave it to me. It is still hanging on the wall in my living room, and it’s one of the most valuable travel gifts I’ve ever received.” —Miracle Liu, art director, China

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2021 Spring Gift Guide: Must-Have Kitchen Tools

A lot of cooking gift stories tout lavish accessories and single-use tools, the kind of stuff you pull out of the back of the cupboard once every six months. This is not one of those stories. Here, we are rounding up the tools—not showy gadgets, but tools—that chefs in Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Awards program keep close at hand.

We asked them for the objects they use most and always travel with. Some are quite rudimentary, and that’s part of what makes them so important. A cabinetmaker will never be far from their hammer or saw; likewise, a chef building a fine plate in a restaurant, and the home cook too, always have certain things within reach. Whether you’re shopping for someone just starting out in a new home or for an experienced cook who needs some superior tools to elevate their skills, these chefs have shared picks, tips and hacks that are sure to be put to good use.

Edward Lee

Succotash Restaurant, Washington, D.C.
Award of Excellence

GE Cool Touch Kettle, $99

“I always bring an electric kettle when I cook on the road. The one I like is a GE Cool Touch Kettle. It is great for holding sauces warm when there is not enough space to cook. It has a digital control temp so you can keep your sauce at exactly the perfect temp. It can hold soup, it can keep your oil warm for a dish if needed. It’s powerful so if you need to boil water, it does it quickly. Also, it’s very portable and durable. I always bring it to any cooking event I do.”

 Silpat baking mat

Silpat Baking Mat, $40

“I like traveling with a Silpat. It makes anything that is baked more precise and pretty, anything from tuiles to crisps. So many times, you cook in a kitchen that doesn’t have the equipment you are used to and there is nothing worse than walking into a kitchen with nothing but warped and beat up sheet pans when you are trying to make a soigné garnish. A Silpat solves all that. It is like traveling with your own sheet pan that is light as a feather and rolls up into a small space.”

Microplane Stainless Steel Grater, $18

“I always travel with a Microplane. It gives you maximum flavor extraction for minimal space in your luggage. I use it for everything from zesting limes and lemons to creating granitas by freezing fruit and shaving them frozen to making chocolate snow or even foie gras snow. It is an amazing tool.”

Marc Vetri

Vetri Cucina, Philadelphia and Las Vegas
Best of Award of Excellence, Award of Excellence

“Anyone that knows me knows that I love espresso, so when I travel my go-tos are:

 Bag of Miscela d’Oro Gran Crema Espresso beans

(Courtesy of Miscela d’Oro)

Miscela d’Oro Gran Crema Espresso Beans, $26 for 2.2 pounds

“The espresso is from Sicily and it has such a rich chocolate tobacco taste. A lot of these third-wave espressos are super acidic, and I can’t tolerate them. This one is 30 percent robusta beans and 70 percent arabica. No one uses robusta anymore, but I dig the mix and think it has the best crema and flavor. It’s also from Sicily, which is where my family is from.”

6-Cup Bialetti Express Moka Pot, $40

“The Moka pot is just a good brand that I like. It’s old school, and I dig traditional stuff.”

 Portrait of chef Ngawang Rinchen outside The Oven

Chef Ngawang Rinchen

Ngawang Rinchen

The Oven, Lincoln, Neb.
Best of Award of Excellence

Wüsthof 10-inch Classic Ikon Knife, $274

“I travel everywhere with my Wüsthof 10-inch Classic Ikon Knife in my bag. I’ll use it to cut meat for curries and, as long as I have that and my hands, that is all I need to travel with. My favorite kitchen tools are my tandoors to grill meats and make naans, but I can’t travel anywhere with those, so all you will see me with is my knife!”

 Portrait of chef Richard Lee with arms folded

Chef Richard Lee

Richard Lee

Saison, Angler, San Francisco, Calif.
Grand Award, Best of Award of Excellence

Dexter Russell Chinese Cleaver, $56

“Being first-generation Chinese-American, I often watched my mom and grandma cook with these; they were the only knives we really had in the kitchen. Working in professional kitchens, I would occasionally come across cooks that like using these, but I never found myself interested in using one in a professional setting, mainly because they’re a lot larger of a tool than I like having around. It wasn’t until I moved out on my own and was living on a budget that I found myself needing to stock the kitchen in my apartment with an inexpensive knife that was versatile and easy to maintain. I headed down to the Bowery in Manhattan and picked up my first and only Chinese cleaver. I quickly started to reach for the cleaver when I cooked at home over most of my other knives. It’s the pick-up truck of knives: It’s humble, very easy to keep sharp, versatile and will probably outlive me. My favorite part is when I am cooking at home it is easy to use the large blade to pick up what I just cut to move to a pot, pan or container helping work cleaner and faster. So maybe my mom and grandma knew a few things I didn’t.”

Joyce Chen Scissors, $25

“First, they help keep your knives sharp since I reach for [the scissors] instead of using my kitchen knife to open bags or containers, which can dull out knives quickly. They are also great for cutting small herbs without bruising them and over-handling them. When we break down fish we have a pair handy to help get through some of the bones with more control than a knife so that we do not damage the beautiful fish we receive. Ironically, almost every cook in kitchens that I have worked in has a pair, but it is also one of the items that gets lost the most. I personally have lost over 10 in my career. I specifically like the smaller Joyce Chens because they are sharp and a lot more manageable in size than the standard larger kitchen shear.”

Sponsored Content

 Cover of Drinking and Knowing Things book

Drinking and Knowing Things, $10

Want to know the best California Chardonnay to bring to your next neighborhood dinner party? If so, this book isn’t for you. But if you’ve always wanted to learn more about the seemingly enigmatic world of wine and haven’t known where to start, pour yourself a glass of wine and imbibe on Drinking and Knowing Things, the latest from wine author Michael Amon.

Delivered in Amon’s trademark irreverent, unpretentious yet thoroughly informative manner, DAKT is an easily digestible, entertaining and pragmatic way to simultaneously gain practical and diverse wine knowledge. Equally suitable for the wine newbie or experienced sommelier, the book is a collection of 50+ short entries, each covering a unique wine region, topic or type of wine—ranging from the well-known to the obscure—focusing on the most important points to know, infused with helpful hacks and tips.

Each entry ends with Amon’s personal recommendations, for readers to purchase on their own and explore what they’ve just learned. With exactly 52 topics, it’s the perfect companion to become smarter and more confident about wine (not to mention, the star of your next neighborhood party!) in a year—for yourself or as an awesome gift!

David Shim

Cote Korean Steakhouse, New York, N.Y.
Best of Award of Excellence

 Massomoto high-carbon slicer

(Courtesy of MTC Kitchen)

Tsukiji Masamoto 10.6-inch Carbon Steel Sujihiki, $226

“[Carbon-steel knives] are a lot easier to sharpen and [hold their] sharpness longer in my opinion. Also, it’s a knife that you can do everything with. I realize this is a long knife and many people are not comfortable using longer knives, however, once you get used to the length and get comfortable, the cuts that you make are better/cleaner.

“I use this knife for meat butchering, fish butchering and all varieties of vegetables from fine cuts such as brunoise, julienne, even fluting a mushroom and rough cuts to anything you ask for. Cote is a steak house and everyday there is loads of butchery to oversee, and with this knife I can tackle any style of butchering possible and also make our signature diamond cuts for galbi (marinated short ribs).

“This is the one that I will always have in my knife kit, and if for some reason I don’t have this available, I will immediately regret it.”

Preston Clark

Lure Fishbar, Miami Beach, Fla.
Award of Excellence

 Gray Kunz sauce spoon

(Courtesy of JB Prince)

Gray Kunz Sauce Spoon, $12

“The first time I started using a Gray Kunz spoon was when I started at Restaurant Jean-Georges in Manhattan. It was the perfect spoon to make quenelles of tuna tartare. As I moved up the ranks at J-G, Kunz spoons were the only spoons in my toolkit. The precision when saucing the plate of asparagus with morels or roasted squab was second to none. That was almost 20 years ago and those same spoons are still in my kit today. Anywhere I go to cook, they are with me. Kunz spoons are great gifts, especially for a home cook who will quickly realize the difference in cooking experience and final results, just by having a superior tool in their kit.”

 Vitamix 5200 blender

(Courtesy of Vitamix)

Vitamix Legacy Series 5200 Standard Blender, $400

“At the beginning of my culinary career, I thought all blenders were the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Vitamix brand—specifically model 5200—has more power, lasts longer and looks better than most blenders available. I started using this blender at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. I used it for a corn soup and would never have survived without it. This blender is absolutely essential to my style of cuisine and I wouldn’t run a restaurant without it. I love it because of its power and versality. They make the best kitchen tool gifts because you can puree soups to the proper consistency, break down herbs for salsa verde, pulverize pistachios for a pistachio crusted halibut or crush ice for a perfect frozen margarita. Pro tip: To achieve super-smooth consistency, always use the plunger to force whatever is mixing through the blades of the blender.”

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Southwest Airlines Delivers Gift Of Travel For Medical Patients And Caregivers

DALLAS, March 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) today announced it has donated 7,500 roundtrip tickets to help remove the financial burden for those who need to travel for life-changing or specialized medical care. More than 75 nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation organizations across the United States received the tickets through Southwest’s® Medical Transportation Grant Program, allowing them to bring patients and caregivers closer to much-needed medical care.

“As the airline with Heart, we have a passion for making a meaningful difference in the communities we serve,” said Laura Nieto, Director of Community Outreach. “Through our Medical Transportation Grant Program, our hope is to ease the financial burden of air travel expenses and provide a critical lifeline for patients and caregivers, allowing them to stay focused on medical treatment and recovery.”

This year, Southwest is supporting hospitals in 26 states, providing access for patients and their caregivers.

“Southwest’s generous gesture of aloha provides much-needed help to our patients and their families who travel for essential medical care,” said Jill Hoggard Green, PhD, RN, President and CEO of The Queen’s Health Systems in Honolulu, Hawaii; one of two new hospital groups in Hawaii to join Southwest’s Medical Transportation Grant Program in 2021. “Southwest’s donation provides assistance and peace of mind where it is most needed by making health care more easily accessible.”

To view the full list of participating hospitals and charitable organizations for 2021, visit Since this signature program’s inception in 2007, Southwest has donated nearly $39 million in transportation value, helping to remove the financial costs associated with travel for more than 96,000 patients and caregivers. Visit Southwest’s 50th Anniversary website to see the Medical Transportation Grant Program at work.  

In its 50th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 56,000 Employees to a Customer base that topped 130 million Passengers in 2019. Southwest has a robust network of point-to-point service with a strong presence across top leisure and business markets. In peak travel seasons during 2019, Southwest operated more than 4,000 weekday departures among a network of 101 destinations in the United States and 10 additional countries. In 2020, the carrier added service to Hilo, Hawaii; Cozumel, Mexico; Miami; Palm Springs, Calif.; Steamboat Springs; and Montrose (Telluride), Colo. Thus far in 2021, Southwest began service to both Chicago (O’Hare) and Sarasota/Bradenton on Feb. 14; and will begin service to both Savannah/Hilton Head and Colorado Springs on March 11; both Houston (Bush) and Santa Barbara, Calif. on April 12; Fresno, Calif. on April 25; Destin/Ft. Walton Beach on May 6; Bozeman, Mont. on May 27; and Jackson, Miss. on June 6.

The carrier issued its Southwest® Promise in May 2020 to highlight new and round-the-clock efforts to support its Customers and Employees well-being and comfort. Among the changes are enhanced cleaning efforts at airports and onboard aircraft, along with a federal mandate requiring every person to wear a mask at all times throughout each flight. Additional details about the Southwest Promise are available at    

Southwest coined Transfarency® to describe its purposed philosophy of treating Customers honestly and fairly, and low fares actually staying low. Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer bags fly free® to everyone (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply, some carriers offer free checked bags on select routes or in qualified circumstances). Southwest does not charge change fees, though fare differences might apply.  

Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for a triple bottom line approach that contributes to the carrier’s performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities they serve, and an overall commitment to efficiency and the planet. Learn more about how the carrier gives back to communities across the world by visiting  

Book Southwest Airlines’ low fares online at or by phone at 800-I-FLY-SWA.  

SOURCE Southwest Airlines Co.

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Amazon tip: Get a $70 gift card when you sign up for Amazon Prime Rewards Visa


If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, this Visa card is a must-have for a variety of reasons — not the least of which is a $70 Amazon splurge.


Do you have an Amazon Prime subscription? Could you use an extra $70 to spend on, say, a Valentine’s Day gift? Consider adding a new credit card to your wallet: If you sign up for an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, you’ll get a $70 Amazon gift card. And not in four to six weeks or anything like that; it’s awarded as soon as you’re approved. 

Although this bonus was $100 around the holidays, $70 is still a pretty nice chunk of free money. And it’s not a one-and-done proposition, either: Amazon’s no-annual-fee Visa also pays you 5% back on just about everything you buy from Amazon and Whole Foods. You get 2% back at restaurants, drug stores and gas stations, and 1% on most other purchases.

Here’s a lesser-known benefit as well: Amazon frequently runs exclusive offers for Prime Card holders. Right now, for example, you can get 10% back on select a variety of Roku streamers and soundbars — and that’s on top of pretty solid sale prices. (The cash back kicks in when you pay using the Amazon Visa, natch.)

I will note that there are some pretty mixed customer reviews for this card, though it seems many of the lower ratings have to do with poor customer service from Chase, the issuing bank. For what it’s worth, I’ve had a Prime Rewards Visa for about a year. I use it exclusively for Amazon purchases, and it’s been hassle-free. Your mileage may vary, of course.

As with any credit-card offer, be sure to read all the terms and conditions first.

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Giving the Gift of Travel this Holiday Season with Pure Michigan

Many of us are finishing up our holiday shopping and have those last few people to check off our list.Pure Michigan

Have you considered giving the gift of Pure Michigan travel?

From a stay at their favorite Michigan destination to a treat from their favorite Michigan town, there are many ways to give the gift of Michigan travel.

What does “gifting travel” look like?

It could mean a gift card to a hotel for a weekend getaway, passes for a weekend of skiing, vouchers to spend in a downtown shopping district, or passes for an exhibit you can’t wait to reopen.

“The memories made exploring and enjoying the state of Michigan are gifts that last forever, and while the holiday season might look and feel a bit different this year, Michigan-inspired gifts are always the perfect way to showcase that Pure Michigan pride,” said Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “Those shopping for loved ones can find inspiring travel ideas, great deals and packages, and Michigan-themed merchandise ranging from cozy winter accessories to games that are fun for the whole family.”

The four’s Xavier Hershovitz and chief photojournalist Derrick Larr talked with Lorenz on the various ways to gift Michigan travel.

Pure Michigan has also put together a gift guide.

To learn more about Pure Michigan, click here.

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US coronavirus news: Increase in coronavirus admissions prompts a Los Angeles hospital to use chapel and gift shop for new patients

So many patients are coming into Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital some are being put in the gift shop, a chapel or a conference room.

Over the past week, almost 100,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in Los Angeles County, and that causes problems for what do with other patients.

Hospital CEO Dr. Elaine Batchlor told CNN on Monday: “If we continue to see an increase in the number of Covid patients, we may be forced to do something that, as health professionals, we all really just loathe having to even think about.”

She was talking about rationing care. Right now, it’s not business as usual.

“Our staff has been incredibly adept and flexible in accommodating increasing numbers of patients, so as you heard, we have five tents outside of the hospital,” Batchlor said. “We have patients in our conference room, in our chapel.”

Many gurneys are taken into the gift shop, she said.

While Batchlor didn’t specify how many new patients have Covid, the increase in their numbers is putting stress on all care.

Batchlor said the hospital will not turn patients away but may have to employ techniques that have been used during war.

“We use what in the battlefield is called triage techniques, which is doing an assessment of each person’s needs and prognosis and using scarce resources with patients that are most likely to benefit from them,” she said.

L.A. County Health Services Director Christina Ghaly said some hospitals are seeing patients who are still on ambulances.

“Those patients are being cared for and treated in the ambulance as if it’s part of the emergency room bay,” Ghaly said.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said there have been 97,472 new cases over the past seven days. “The sad reality is that all indicators show us that our situation may only get worse as we begin 2021,” she said.

Hospitalizations reach all-time high

More Americans were hospitalized this past week than any other week of the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project. And the United States reported 121,235 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Monday, a pandemic high.

Six states set records Sunday for the most Covid-19 patients hospitalized: Alabama, California, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. Texas hit an all-time high on Monday.

If you want to travel next year, you may need a vaccine passport

Doctors say mass holiday gatherings will lead to even more patients — a huge problem because many hospitals are already beyond capacity.

“It’s really frustrating, because if you look at the data over the last 10 days, it actually started to show some signs of light,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine at George Washington University.

“Places like the Midwest, with a drop in the number of cases. Even in the Northeast. US positivity rate dropped from about 12% down to about 10%. Those are really tangible signs of a slowing of the crisis. And now there almost certainly will be another spike.”

Why coronavirus can linger and travel more than 6 feet -- especially indoors

And unlike previous holidays, the Christmas-New Year combo stretches an entire week.

“We know that after every major holiday, that there was a spike in the number of cases,” emergency medicine physician Dr. Leana Wen said.

“We saw this after Memorial Day, after Fourth of July, after Labor Day. And those holidays were relatively short in comparison to Christmas and New Year’s.”

On top of that, the weather is much colder now — meaning more indoor gatherings and increased risk of aerosolized spread.

Patients are taking up more and more ICU beds

ICUs are often associated with heart attacks and car accidents, but a growing number of ICU beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

200 hospitals have been at full capacity, and 1/3 of all US hospitals are almost out of ICU space

This past week, about 40% of all ICU patients in the US had Covid-19, according to a CNN analysis of data published Monday by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

That’s up from 16% in late September; 22% in late October; and 35% in late November.

And more hospitalizations inevitably precede more deaths.

The deaths of more than 63,000 Americans have been reported so far this month — the most of any month since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In just 11 months, more than 334,000 people have died from Covid-19. That means more than 1 in 1,000 Americans have died from coronavirus.
As hospitals start to max out, medical workers beg for new Covid-19 mandates

And since most Americans can’t get vaccinated until well into next year, the US faces a “surge upon a surge” following holiday travel, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health.

New travel requirements go into effect Monday

As more countries detect the highly contagious strain of coronavirus first spotted in the UK, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new testing requirements for travelers arriving from the UK.
What this new coronavirus strain means for you
The new rules go into effect Monday. Passengers must have had a negative PCR or antigen test within 72 hours of boarding a flight from the UK to the US, along with documentation of their lab results.

Airlines will be required to confirm the test prior to the flight.

All viruses mutate over time, and the novel coronavirus has mutated before. But scientists advising the UK government estimated this strain could be up to 70% more effective at spreading than others.

The companies behind the first two vaccines to gain emergency authorization in the US — Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna — are testing their vaccines to confirm whether they’re effective against the new strain.

Biotech company Novavax — which announced the launch of a phase 3 trial of its Covid-19 vaccine in the US on Monday — said it is also testing its vaccine against the UK strain.

It will take weeks for the results, the company said.

The vaccine rollout is slower than expected

About 2.1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the US, according to the CDC. More than 11.4 million doses have been distributed.

Operation Warp Speed promised 20 million vaccinations by 2021. So far, it's not even close
Those numbers now include both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. And while there are lags in data reporting, federal officials had previously said they were working to distribute 20 million doses by the end of the year.

Asked about the apparent slow rollout of vaccines, Fauci said large, comprehensive vaccine programs with a new vaccine start slow before gaining momentum.

“I’m pretty confident that as we gain more and more momentum, as we transition from December to January and then February to March, I believe we will catch up with the projection,” he said.

Dr. Esther Choo, a professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, said vaccine distribution is “just a very complicated thing.”

The Novavax vaccine becomes the fifth to begin Phase 3 trials in the US

“At every step, there’s complexity and there’s possibility for delay, whether it’s individual state planning, allocation, training, supply of vaccine, storage … there (are) just so many factors at this stage,” Choo said.

“We need to be prepared for the fact that it is going to be a slow rollout in many places and that it will not change our behaviors or necessarily the trajectory of the pandemic in this country in the short term,” Choo said.

With vaccines likely not widely available until the summer, experts have urged Americans not to let their guard down. That means continuing to wear masks, washing hands frequently, and social distancing.

CNN’s Brandon Miller, John Bonifield, Jenn Selva, Deidre McPhillips, Pete Muntean, Christina Maxouris, Michael Nedelman, Elizabeth Cohen, Naomi Thomas and Virginia Langmaid contributed to this report.

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