It has not been a good week (or month) for United Airlines.
Unless you've been secluded in a cave the past few days, you have either seen or heard about the dramatic video of the passenger being dragged off one of United's planes on Sunday evening at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, by the city's aviation security officers, after refusing to give up his seat on an overbooked flight.
It goes without saying, United handled the situation very poorly, from the flight crew up to the CEO, and the public has been relentless in its criticism of the airline. Its reputation and stock price has taken a beating.
The multi-million dollar question now is, why did they not offer some extra cash rather than allow it to escalate to getting law enforcement involved? That option almost never ends well (sigh).
However, before you book your next flight, here are 5 things to remember about your rights...
Get the full details of U.S. Department of Transportation policies on bumped flights here.
While Thomas Edison is known as the 'great inventor', Granville T. Woods not only secured at least 60 patents for his own work during his lifetime, he also successfully challenged a patent infringement claim by Edison for an invention that laid the groundwork to make transportation systems safer.
Born in Columbus, Ohio in the mid-1800s, to a free African-American father and part Native American mother, Granville T. Woods displayed ingenuity at a young age.
Compelled to end his formal education at age 10 to help support his family financially, he became an apprentice to a machinist. It was in that role that Woods acquired the skills to repair complex machinery.
Woods spent a considerable amount of his young career working in transportation-related fields, including as an engineer aboard a British-based steamship. His high level of proficiency paved the way for him to become the chief engineer within two years.
However, when it became apparent he had reached a glass ceiling in that setting, Woods established his own electrical shop, focusing on inventions that improved rail travel safety.
Among the inventions credited to Woods are the overhead electric power lines to power trains and telegraph systems to facilitate communication between moving trains in order to avoid collisions--the invention which prompted Edison to sue Woods, albeit unsuccessfully.
Subsequently, Woods rebuffed Edison's offer to join his company, preferring to remain independent and maintain autonomy over his own creations.
It turned out to be a smart move for Woods, as he eventually sold his inventions to some notable American companies, including General Electric and the American Bell Telephone Company (now known as AT&T).
It's no wonder Granville T. Woods is referred to the "Black Edison". Perhaps, we should be calling Edison the 'mainstream Granville T. Woods".
As we celebrate Black History Month, it only seems appropriate to highlight African-Americans who made meaningful contributions to maritime history.
Most of us are familiar with Marcus Garvey's 'Back to Africa' movement, which took place in the early 20th Century. Garvey led an aggressive effort through his Black Star Line shipping company to forge a robust and enduring economic relationship between the African continent and Black communities in the United States and beyond.
While Garvey's efforts are well-documented, it was not the first attempt by African-Americans to pursue freedom, both physical and economic, through repatriation back to the mother continent. That distinction belongs to Paul Cuffee.
Cuffee, the tenth and youngest child of Kofi Slocum, a freed African slave from the Ashanti region of present-day Ghana, and Ruth Moses, a Wampanoag Native American, began his sea career as a whaler. He moved into trading, and ultimately founded his own company, engaging in international commerce with the Caribbean and Europe.
When the U.S. government tried to force Cuffee to pay taxes, he boldly resisted, citing his inability to vote and have an influence on those who sought to tax his enterprise. Although Cuffee was arrested, he ultimately had his tax obligation reduced and was released.
Through his business activities, Cuffee wanted to ensure free Blacks and freed African slaves could both return to Africa to live, as well as engage in trading goods to benefit communities in Africa and Black Americans in the U.S.
Cuffee made history by successfully transporting close to forty African-American passengers--on their own volition--back to the continent of Africa, when they arrived in Sierra Leone aboard his vessel, the Traveller, in 1816.
While Cuffee's large-scale aspirations to repatriate efforts were ultimately tempered by resistance from factions of the free Black community in the United States, his bold vision became the framework for others, including Marcus Garvey, to pursue the goal of economic freedom for ex-slaves and people of African descent around the world.
Paul Cuffee is someone worthy to celebrate, not only for his ingenuity within the maritime industry, but also his passion for advancing the cause of Black economic empowerment.
It's not everyday you get the opportunity to spend your vacation in the same space as arguably, the world's most powerful woman.
However, you may have your chance this upcoming summer, as Holland America Cruise Lines announced a partnership with "'O', The Oprah Magazine" to highlight its 'Adventure of Your Life' Cruises.
While there will be several summer and autumn sailings for these themed cruises, the companies announced the Queen of Media herself is only scheduled to be on board for a couple of days in mid-July.
Now, why wouldn't you want to take be a part of something this special?
If you were unable to grab a stateroom on one of the April or May sailings to Cuba, no need to fret. Royal Caribbean just announced dozens of new sailing dates through November 2017.
Sailing from Tampa, Florida aboard the Empress of the Seas, explore Cuba's capital city, with selected five and six-night sailings that will allow you to enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of Havana overnight.
With the heightened interest in visiting the Caribbean's largest island, and with selected staterooms already sold out, travelers would be wise to book their staterooms early.
One of the best things about traveling is getting a free upgrade! I mean, who doesn't appreciate getting a pleasant surprise while they're on vacation.
Beginning, Feb. 8, passengers on Norwegian Cruise Lines will be able to bid to upgrade their stateroom--if they have already paid booked and paid for their room.
According to a recent news release, Norwegian will open that opportunity up on a handful of their ships before making it available to passengers throughout their entire fleet by Spring 2017.
This move makes Norwegian a pioneer in the cruise industry, and if things continue to go well, perhaps other cruise lines will follow.
Meanwhile, this is great news for cruise travelers! So, kudos to Norwegian!
Last week, both Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Lines announced they were granted approval to include Cuban port cities among the ports of call on their 2017 Caribbean cruise itineraries.
Since travel restrictions were relaxed by the Obama administration, more Americans are taking advantage of the opportunity to travel to the Spanish-speaking island nation, located just 90 miles off the coast of Florida.
While the recent U.S. election puts the the future of Cuban travel in limbo, Americans' interest in visiting and exploring Caribbean nation is likely to remain high.
A more than a half-century U.S. government-imposed embargo has built up a great amount of intrigue and enthusiasm by Americans to experience the country described by many as being 'frozen in time'.
Be among the first group of Americans who experience post-embargo Cuba before it loses its charm.