PLUS: American Airlines goes supersonic
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August 17, 2022 | View OnlineSign Up

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In today's edition:

  • American Airlines bets big on supersonic speed

  • Airbnb's ethical practices called into question

  • Your company is watching you...

  • Biden signs a sweeping Inflation Reduction bill



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Boom Press

American Airlines is going supersonic with the purchase of 20 jets

American Airlines has purchased 20 supersonic Overture aircraft from Boom Supersonic. 

While United Airlines was the first to strike a deal with Boom, American’s deal would make them the biggest carrier of supersonic jets. The purchase, which was made for an undisclosed amount, also gives them the option to buy another 40 jets down the line. 

The planes would fly up to 80 passengers as fast as 1,304 mph. It’s estimated that the jets will cut flight times up to 50% for over 600 routes. For example, a flight from Seattle to Tokyo, which typically takes about 10 hours, would only take six hours on an Overture jet.

To mitigate concerns from environmentalists about the high fuel burn rate, Boom is designing the fleet to use 100% sustainable aviation fuel or a blend.

Though you may be eager to travel at supersonic speeds, don’t get too excited just yet. The first model isn’t set to roll out until 2025 and passengers aren’t expected to be aboard the jets until 2029.


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Airbnb scores poorly on ethical practices, some booking alternatives to consider

As more people turn away from Airbnbs for their skyrocketing rates, people might also start booking elsewhere for ethical purposes.

The short-term rental company landed in the bottom 10 in terms of ethical practices in a study conducted by Ethical Consumer. The UK organization calculated scores by giving companies a starting score of 14 and deducting points for failing to meet standards in categories like reducing environmental impact and tax avoidance schemes. 

Airbnb lost points for not engaging with local communities and for the excessive pay package their CEO receives at $120m.

There were a few companies that made the shortlist for being more ethically conscious. Fairbnb is a booking platform that splits 15% of its commission fees 50/50 with the local community and is available in nine European countries. 

Canopy & Stars is a UK glamping company that has made significant moves to reduce environmental impacts. In 2022 they planted 250,000 trees and they plan to be net zero in emissions by 2030.

See more ’ethical’ alternatives to Airbnb here.


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The rise of remote work…and employee tracking

While many companies have adjusted well to the β€˜new normal’ of remote work, both employers and employees are learning that the pandemic also ushered in another workplace trend β€” employee productivity tracking.

From hospice care workers to remote tech companies, more and more companies are relying on employee monitoring software to calculate the time worked and even pay people according to the detected work times. 

Their reasoning is that as people work from home, the technology could optimize productivity and ultimately benefit the entire company by reducing multi-tasking and other distractions.

The accuracy of this tracking software, however, is still up for debate and may even be counterproductive. The trackers are often unreliable and inaccurate at assessing work that is hard to quantify. For example, social workers at UnitedHealth were marked as idle for lack of keyboard activity while they were actively counseling patients. 

Other criticisms also point to how the micromanagement of time can be demoralizing for employees and reduce their agency in their role by controlling their activities. Some employees found themselves afraid to use the bathroom while on the clock.

While companies experience differing results while tracking employees, it seems that workplace surveillance is not going anywhere for now.


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Flickr U.S. Secretary of Defense (CC BY 2.0)

Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act, what it means for you

On Tuesday, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. 

The purpose of the bill is to decrease inflation by reducing demand and bringing down budget deficits. The $750 billion package encompasses changes to healthcare, corporate taxes, and climate protections. 

On the healthcare front, the act gives Medicare the power to negotiate the prices of some drugs and includes a $35/month cap on insulin purchased through Medicare. 

The act also takes aim at companies paying little to no income tax, like Amazon. The new legislation will require corporations to pay a 15% minimum tax and a 1% tax on stock buybacks. 

The taxes will raise over $700 billion in government revenue over the course of 10 years. Some of the additional revenue generated will go directly to the IRS with the goal of processing tax refunds more quickly and with better response rates. Another $430 billion will go towards reducing carbon emissions and extending health insurance subsidies under the affordable care act. 

The other climate-focused initiatives include rebates for those who choose more clean and sustainable energy choices. For example, homeowners could receive rebates for including electric water heaters or installing solar panels and drivers can receive a $7,500 credit for buying an electric vehicle. 

As for easing the pains of inflation in the short term? Most of the changes will take effect next year. In the short term, you’re not likely to notice a big change in prices. According to the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Wharton Budget Model, the act might only bring prices down by about 0.1% over the next 5 years.


📖 READ: The backstory on everyone’s favorite airplane snack.

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