SNAFU - Delta credit only meals

Remember when airlines cut out meals on flights on short-hauls, followed by long-haul domestic flights?

Imagine what would happen if you weren't able to eat on a flight, even if you had low blood sugar, for the singular reason that you forgot your credit card.


Delta's decided to do away with cash on all domestic and select international routes (including Mexico, Canada and the Bahamas). So if you don't have a credit card, or if your credit card is declined, you won't eat.

The idea sounds good, but the practicality is somewhat different. Let me use an example from my own recent experience.

I fly Delta. I fly Delta frequently.

I fly Delta frequently enough that I'm what they consider a Platinum Medallion, which means that I'm in a position to often get upgraded to First Class on most coast-to-coat domestic flights.

Yet, in this particular instance, I would have been subjected to the inability to eat from LAX to ATL, at least a four-hour flight.

I ended up in LA without my credit cards, but didn't notice it until I landed on my flight from Atlanta, mainly because I was bumped to First Class and didn't have to reach for my non-existent wallet to buy a meal.

After being on the ground for three days, two of those over a weekend, I was unable to get a replacement credit card before my return flight. I also needed to subsist on what I had in my pocket, until Monday morning, when I could visit a bank branch and verify my identity (with my passport, of all things).

The return flight from LA to Atlanta was full enough that I didn't end up in First Class, so I had to use the last $8 in my pocket to buy food on the plane (I'd withdrawn what the bank would let me, but had to pay for a hotel, etc.)

If that event had taken place anytime after December 1, 2009, I would not be able to even buy a meal.

That would not have been acceptable for reasons of both well-being and health.

Think, Delta, think! Do you want to lose frequent fliers just because you choose to disengage from cold hard cash?

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Update: Official US Chamber of Commerce stance on 100% container scanning

Yesterday's blog post on DevelopedEconomy.com, regarding 100% container scanning, contained a brief report from a keynote at a local economic development summit.

Today, after sending a request to the US Chamber of Commerce representative that spoke (via Gary Mabrey, a Johnson City, TN, Chamber executive who served on the USCoC's board for several years), I've received a bit more detail on the USCoC's stance on this topic.

From Ann M. Beauchesne, VP, National Security & Emergency Preparedness Department for the USCoC:

The technical and infrastructure constraints are two of the greatest shortcomings of the mandate. In many meeting with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) they actually show photos of scanned containers and have the audience guess the contents. Never once has the audience guessed correctly, and we have seen dozens of examples. CBP remains committed to a risk based approach to security to maximize impacted and costs. Congress created the mandate but they did not give CBP or the trade community the funding to see it implemented. Consequently we find the international community completely in line with leaders at CBP and the business community.

To give you a better understanding of our position on 100 percent scanning here are some recent statements we have made to both the administration and Capitol Hill:

The Chamber opposes any laws, policies, or regulations that require 100 percent scanning of maritime containerized cargo prior to lading at overseas ports. A policy of blanket inspection misdirects limited resources away from programs with the greatest security benefits and places an unnecessary burden on the global supply chain. Since the passage of the 9/11 Act in 2007, it has become evident, as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reported, that the 100 percent mandate is impracticable. Beyond the direct costs of implementation, the hidden costs contribute to greater supply chain delays and increased trade barriers. In light of the operational shortcomings of this mandate, keeping the law in place sends a confusing message to the international community and threatens U.S. credibility in the development of a viable trade security program.

Many of these concerns with 100 percent scanning requirements have been shared with Congress by the current and past leadership at DHS, the Governmental Accountability Office, and the international community. These concerns include:

• significant technical and affordability challenges with current technology;
• insufficient infrastructure at foreign ports;
• threat of reciprocity by international community;
• strong opposition from U.S. trading partners;
• customs limited resources focused on an ineffective program;
• security is actually diminished, not enhanced; and
• significant impact on global trade and economic recovery.

The Chamber believes that the United States should reach out to its trading partners to develop a comprehensive, multilateral supply chain security program that promotes trade and security on both sides of the transaction. The United States can accomplish these goals by furthering discussions on the World Customs Organizations SAFE Framework and moving forward on mutual Recognition. Businesses harmonize processes around the globe and governments should as well.
Comments

Update: Official US Chamber of Commerce stance on 100% container scanning

Yesterday's blog post on DevelopedEconomy.com, regarding 100% container scanning, contained a brief report from a keynote at a local economic development summit.

Today, after sending a request to the US Chamber of Commerce representative that spoke (via Gary Mabrey, a Johnson City, TN, Chamber executive who served on the USCoC's board for several years), I've received a bit more detail on the USCoC's stance on this topic.

From Ann M. Beauchesne, VP, National Security & Emergency Preparedness Department for the USCoC:

The technical and infrastructure constraints are two of the greatest shortcomings of the mandate. In many meeting with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) they actually show photos of scanned containers and have the audience guess the contents. Never once has the audience guessed correctly, and we have seen dozens of examples. CBP remains committed to a risk based approach to security to maximize impacted and costs. Congress created the mandate but they did not give CBP or the trade community the funding to see it implemented. Consequently we find the international community completely in line with leaders at CBP and the business community.

To give you a better understanding of our position on 100 percent scanning here are some recent statements we have made to both the administration and Capitol Hill:

The Chamber opposes any laws, policies, or regulations that require 100 percent scanning of maritime containerized cargo prior to lading at overseas ports. A policy of blanket inspection misdirects limited resources away from programs with the greatest security benefits and places an unnecessary burden on the global supply chain. Since the passage of the 9/11 Act in 2007, it has become evident, as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reported, that the 100 percent mandate is impracticable. Beyond the direct costs of implementation, the hidden costs contribute to greater supply chain delays and increased trade barriers. In light of the operational shortcomings of this mandate, keeping the law in place sends a confusing message to the international community and threatens U.S. credibility in the development of a viable trade security program.

Many of these concerns with 100 percent scanning requirements have been shared with Congress by the current and past leadership at DHS, the Governmental Accountability Office, and the international community. These concerns include:

• significant technical and affordability challenges with current technology;
• insufficient infrastructure at foreign ports;
• threat of reciprocity by international community;
• strong opposition from U.S. trading partners;
• customs limited resources focused on an ineffective program;
• security is actually diminished, not enhanced; and
• significant impact on global trade and economic recovery.

The Chamber believes that the United States should reach out to its trading partners to develop a comprehensive, multilateral supply chain security program that promotes trade and security on both sides of the transaction. The United States can accomplish these goals by furthering discussions on the World Customs Organizations SAFE Framework and moving forward on mutual Recognition. Businesses harmonize processes around the globe and governments should as well.
Comments

Update: Official US Chamber of Commerce stance on 100% container scanning

Yesterday's blog post on DevelopedEconomy.com, regarding 100% container scanning, contained a brief report from a keynote at a local economic development summit.

Today, after sending a request to the US Chamber of Commerce representative that spoke (via Gary Mabrey, a Johnson City, TN, Chamber executive who served on the USCoC's board for several years), I've received a bit more detail on the USCoC's stance on this topic.

From Ann M. Beauchesne, VP, National Security & Emergency Preparedness Department for the USCoC:

The technical and infrastructure constraints are two of the greatest shortcomings of the mandate. In many meeting with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) they actually show photos of scanned containers and have the audience guess the contents. Never once has the audience guessed correctly, and we have seen dozens of examples. CBP remains committed to a risk based approach to security to maximize impacted and costs. Congress created the mandate but they did not give CBP or the trade community the funding to see it implemented. Consequently we find the international community completely in line with leaders at CBP and the business community.

To give you a better understanding of our position on 100 percent scanning here are some recent statements we have made to both the administration and Capitol Hill:

The Chamber opposes any laws, policies, or regulations that require 100 percent scanning of maritime containerized cargo prior to lading at overseas ports. A policy of blanket inspection misdirects limited resources away from programs with the greatest security benefits and places an unnecessary burden on the global supply chain. Since the passage of the 9/11 Act in 2007, it has become evident, as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reported, that the 100 percent mandate is impracticable. Beyond the direct costs of implementation, the hidden costs contribute to greater supply chain delays and increased trade barriers. In light of the operational shortcomings of this mandate, keeping the law in place sends a confusing message to the international community and threatens U.S. credibility in the development of a viable trade security program.

Many of these concerns with 100 percent scanning requirements have been shared with Congress by the current and past leadership at DHS, the Governmental Accountability Office, and the international community. These concerns include:

• significant technical and affordability challenges with current technology;
• insufficient infrastructure at foreign ports;
• threat of reciprocity by international community;
• strong opposition from U.S. trading partners;
• customs limited resources focused on an ineffective program;
• security is actually diminished, not enhanced; and
• significant impact on global trade and economic recovery.

The Chamber believes that the United States should reach out to its trading partners to develop a comprehensive, multilateral supply chain security program that promotes trade and security on both sides of the transaction. The United States can accomplish these goals by furthering discussions on the World Customs Organizations SAFE Framework and moving forward on mutual Recognition. Businesses harmonize processes around the globe and governments should as well.
Comments

100% container scanning: feasible or ineffective?

The saying "all issues are local issues" struck home today; returning from London to the Tri-Cities of Tennessee and Virginia, I attended the Washington County / Johnson City Economic Development Summit, where the keynote focused on homeland security.

Ms. Ann M. Beauchesne, Executive Director of the Homeland Security Department at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spoke at the lunch-time keynote slot regarding disaster recovery and other issues surrounding homeland security. 

One issue she addressed, though, hit home for global trading: the goal of scanning 100% of all incoming containers, prior to landing in the US.

"It's a great soundbite on the Hill," said Ms. Beauchesne, "to say that we need to have 100% of shipped containers scanned before import. Unfortunately, the technology is not yet available to do this; forcing 100% scanning on the transportation industry would grind transportation to a halt."

Having visited several ports, including a large trans-shipping port near Valletta, Malta, that received, repacks and forwards on thousands of containers per day, I can attest that the attempted policies would significantly undermine shipping timeliness.

At the Malta port, a single container scanner is available - courtesy of the US Department of Homeland Security - that takes close to 5 minutes to scan a single container.

It's hard to imagine the backlog that would be faced with the current technology, with weeks building to months in terms of receiving container shipments. Let's hope the US Chamber of Commerce is successful in its goal to hold off the requirement for 100% scanning at foreign ports - until such a time as the technology makes it feasible to scan each container in less than 90 seconds.
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North American Trade: Free Yet?

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A welcome sign in the historic town of Tlaquepaque, a neighborhood in Guadalajara, welcomes the World Trade Center North America 2007 Regional Meeting.


The North American World Trade Centers met in Guadalajara, Mexico, provides a first-hand glimpse into the manufacturing and trade opportunities in central Mexico. It was moved to Guadalajara due to a bit of uncertainty in Mexico City. I arrived the way I often do, on a local air carrier, having traversed customs in Monterrey and caught a domestic flight, and then from the airport to the hotel in a domestic cab, after having watched the patterns for a bit to understand how it all works. Am I a glutton for domestic transportation? Yes, since I think it’s the best way to understand the pulse of a city or country I’m visiting (& I like to see how intra-country air operates).

The meeting threw light on key issues facing US-Mexican relations, specifically in terms of the North America Free Trade Agreement. One speaker noted politicians like to defer thornier issues till the very end, and a very big NAFTA issue is the free movement of goods across the US-Mexican border. Currently goods are transferred between trucks at the border; resolving the issue should reduce transportation costs considerably, but it will certainly be fought with formidable weapons, namely Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

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Where West Meets East

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On the night of the closing gala of the WTC General Assembly,in Istanbul, Turkey, in early November 2006.

Pictured is Dr. Piero Piccardi, a friend and mentor who has introduced me to the world of trade fairs, trade marts, Italian and speaking opportunities in front of Senators, small groups and high-tech business park executives.

Istanbul! What a city! Besides Bangalore and Mumbai, India, the city of Istanbul, Turkey ranks as one of the most intriguing places I’ve been able to establish business contacts. As has been said in more recent times, Turkey has inexorably thrown its lot in with the West, yet it faces alienation from both the Middle East and Europe as the country that provides the bridge between West and East faces difficulty in obtaining its EU membership.

The Cypriot question remains between Greeks, Turks and the whole of the European Union, but Istanbul put on its finest face for a meeting that allowed the Tri Cities of TN / VA the opportunity to present its case as a key port of entry for goods and services into the lucrative US market.


I hope to be able to visit Istanbul and other Turkish cities again in the very near future, to further gauge the business climate, reacquaint with new friends and roam the streets as I did on this trip.

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India Rising

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The honorable governor of the state of Maharashtra, a state in India in which Mumbai (Bombay) is the capital, speaks at the 2005 WTC Global Meet (World Trade Center General Assembly).


Several interesting speakers at this year’s WTC Global Assembly, taking place this week in Mumbai (Bombay). Also, along the same note, several issues getting patched up between India and the US, as well as India and China. As the world’s second largest population and (some would argue) the world’s largest and oldest democracy, India provides a glimpse into an accelerated rise of a huge middle class.

The MBAs I’ve met here are sharp, very sharp, and eager to show that they can serve as well as lead. One in particular, Rajesh Radhakrishnan, is interested in expanding relations with companies from the US that use AS/400 computers for central-office and back-office work, but want to add a kinder, gentler front-end interface in the form of a web browser, rather than completely redesigning a system that’s already working.

Is this work menial compared to most of today’s new client-server work? Yes. Is it a market segment that will soon die away? Yes. Is Rajesh and his team willing to give it the best effort they can over the next few years? Yes.

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A Fool's Errand?

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A group from Tri-Cities TN / VA (northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia) venture out to Geneva, near  the Swiss Alps, to make the case for a seat at the table of global trade.

Representing our region at the World Trade Center 2004 General Assembly are (L-R) Jerry Petzoldt, Tim Siglin, Roger Lowe, Sharon Hayes (reporter), Anne-Marie Stone and Liesa Jenkins.


Sometimes you go with your gut instinct and find out, much later, that you were absolutely wrong. Other times you go with the same instinct and trust it implicitly. Such was the case for a group that went to Geneva this week on what many have called a fool’s errand: making the case for a seat at the table of global trade, requesting an equal standing alongside major cities with World Trade Centers (WTC) such as Taipei, Shanghai, Mumbai, New York, Rome, London and Atlanta.

Once the WTC’s board hears the presentation, and meets the team, the option for a license is granted, and the real work can now begin: convincing the folks back home that the region is being taken seriously when it comes to the potential of global trade. That challenge is left for another day as the group celebrates a spectral shift, from cynicism and doubt to elation and confidence.

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