Category Archives: Travel News

Few flights leaving JFK, Newark; damaged LaGuardia closed

6 hrs.

Mehdi Taamallah / AFP – Getty Images

New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport resumed light service Wednesday after being closed due to Hurricane Sandy.

As hundreds of thousands of fliers still stranded by Superstorm Sandy struggle to get home or resume their disrupted itineraries, many are getting frustrated with air travel and turning to four-wheel transportation options.

Car rental companies are reporting unusual activity in the wake of the storm, with travelers desperate to get moving.

“It’s people saying, ‘I’m stuck, I’ve got to get out of here’,” said Richard Broome, a spokesman for Hertz.

The company estimates it will have rented 10,000 cars one-way from the storm-affected area, compared to a few hundred — at most — reservations of this type at this time of the year, Broome said. It means lots of people are picking up a car at one location and dropping it off at another far away, a shift from the typical car rental.

“For this kind of activity, you only see it during truly catastrophic events. Major natural disasters and, for example, 9/11,” Broome said.

Hertz has a very large number of reservations in New York, but it doesn’t physically have enough cars in the city to handle them, he added. The company is moving the cars in as quickly as it can. Orbitz is reporting a 14 percent spike in car rental rates in the Big Apple compared to last week, an indication of increased demand.

For travelers who either couldn’t get a rental car or who are waiting for a flight, there was some good news on Wednesday: JFK and Newark airports provided limited air service. Travelers should check with their airlines before heading to the airport and should take precautionary measures as terminals may have limited food and concessions.

Video: Airports slowly open after Sandy

LaGuardia remained closed Wednesday and was described by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as having suffered “extensive damage.” It will open on Thursday and offer limited service, according to an e-mail alert from the airport.

Robert Reid is among the many stranded travelers waiting to return home after the storm. On Wednesday, he was in Bogota, Colombia, preparing to fly back to JFK International after Sandy unexpectedly extended his trip to Ecuador by several days. His original flight would have put him in New York on Monday just as the hurricane was arriving, so he was relieved when it was canceled. Reid used the delay to relax in Quito.

“These are crazy times,” said Reid, who is the U.S. travel editor for Lonely Planet. “(But) I can’t complain. I was lucky. I’d rather spend a few bonus days in the Andes with hot chocolate cafes than be stuck back in New York.”

Video: Aerials: LaGuardia tarmac flooded by Sandy

Carriers have canceled more than 19,500 flights since Sunday, according to FlightAware.com. Almost 3,000 flights were scrubbed today, with LaGuardia accounting for most of them.

Flooded subway tunnels and train tracks in New York are having an impact on carriers who may have planes ready to go but whose pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and other employees are having a hard time getting to the airport.

Limited subway service will be restored to 14 of 23 lines on Thursday, Gov. Cuomo announced.

For airlines, it will probably take at least until this weekend for the domestic backlog to sort out, said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. It could take a bit longer for people stranded in Asia and Europe who are trying to come back to the U.S., depending on the number of flights and seats available.

“But we will see many people deciding not to begin outward journeys or postponing non-essential outbound trips until after the mess clears up, so that will help,” Hobica said.

The big job now for airlines is to assess the damage and regroup:

  • Delta resumed about 50 percent of its schedule at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday. It expects to resume operations at LaGuardia on Thursday.;
  • United planned to resume inbound flights to JFK International and Newark Liberty on Wednesday afternoon;
  • American Airlines plans to operate limited flights into JFK on Wednesday evening and will resume flying out of JFK, LaGuardia and Newark on Thursday morning;
  • JetBlue saw its first arrival at JFK International on Wednesday morning and is looking at a phased return to service. There still will be no JetBlue departures from JFK until Thursday when the airline plans on operating at about 50 percent of its schedule. The airline plans to resume flights at Newark on Thursday.

Airlines will use bigger planes and add more flights to speed things up if they can, said Brett Snyder, who runs the Cranky Concierge air travel assistance service.

“It could have been a lot worse, but this is a lower demand travel time so there is more slack in the system to recover than you’d find around the holidays,” he said.

Click here for full coverage of Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath.

41 days

Best apps and websites for travelers

1 hr.

Turnstiles

Subway-dependent businesses see traffic slow to halt 

Close post

Stranded by Sandy, air travelers eager to change status

9 hrs.

Paul J. Richards / AFP – Getty Images

Stranded between flights, Italian tourists Patrizio D’Emido, left, and his girlfriend Joelle Carota, sit at Ronald Reagan National Airport as Superstorm Sandy blew through Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Stuck. Stranded. In limbo. Whatever you call it, weary fliers grounded by Hurricane Sandy were eager to change their status on Tuesday as airlines and airports began assessing damage from the powerful storm.

On Tuesday, all New York City-area airports were closed, including John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro. JFK International will be reopened Wednesday, but LaGuardia will stay closed “due to extensive damage,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a news conference.

Carriers have canceled 18,000 flights since Sunday, and that number is still expected to grow, according to FlightAware.com.

Video: Airline operations limp back to life

With no way of getting out of or into the Big Apple and other parts of the East Coast by air, there’s a huge backlog of fliers around the country and the world with nowhere to go.

Some travelers spent the night on cots set up at airports including Newark Liberty, Boston Logan International and Chicago O’Hare International. Others snapped up hotel rooms — hotel bookings are up 15 percent in New York City and 68 percent in Washington compared to last week, according to data provided by Orbitz.

The question now: When will airline schedules get back to normal?

“A lot of it depends on what kind of damage they assess at the New York metro airports and when those reopen,” said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor at Orbitz.

“Should flights, for example, start going back out tomorrow on a limited basis, we don’t anticipate flight schedules really getting back to normal until late this weekend, early next week,” she said.

Related: Sandy leaves NYC subway system, infrastructure, licking its wounds

There’s already a big backlog of travelers who canceled their flights before the storm so there won’t be a lot of seats to rebook displaced fliers on, Tornatore noted.

Video: NBC’s Tom Costello talks about transportation interruptions for the areas affected by Sandy.

For stranded travelers, there’s nothing to do but wait. 

Claire Conroy, who lives south of Boston, is stuck on the West Coast until Thursday. Conroy flew out to San Diego, Calif., with her mother and sister last week to celebrate her niece’s first birthday. When they realized over the weekend that they might have trouble returning Monday as planned, they spent 35 minutes on hold with JetBlue to rebook for a flight on Sunday afternoon. But it was too late.

“When we got to the counter, the flight was still listed as on time but was in fact canceled. The soonest flight we could get on was Thursday afternoon. Even then, only two of us are on that flight — my sister will be (flying) Friday. That’s how fast the seats were filling,” Conroy said.

Slideshow: Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath

Nicole Abramowski — who grew up on Long Island and now lives in Berlin, Germany — was flying home to New York for the first time in over a year to visit friends and family when she got stuck. She made it as far as London, where she was supposed to catch an American Airlines flight to JFK International on Sunday but it was canceled right before the gate opened.

The carrier booked Abramowski on a Thursday flight and put her up in a hotel, but later found out only two nights of her stay are covered and she has to pay for the rest of her accommodations herself.

“Hotel rooms here are 150-200 pounds a night, which is a whole month’s rent for me in Berlin on my salary and completely unaffordable,” Abramowski said, pointing out that she is stuck in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

“After an hour on the phone and taking a bus back to the airport to speak with them in person, they tell me it’s not their responsibility, ‘We didn’t even have to book you into a hotel for those two nights.’”

Her whole hotel is filled with people trying to get to New York, Abramowski said.

“I feel bad for everyone having to deal with this. We have bad timing,” she added.

American Airlines has suspended operations until Wednesday at nine airports in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including Ronald Reagan Washington National, Dulles International, Baltimore/Washington International, Norfolk International, Philadelphia International, Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Bradley International.

US Airways has similar closures, plus cancellations at airports in Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Delta Air Lines is resuming flying at Boston Logan and the major Washington-area airports on Tuesday, but its operations continue to be shut down in New York. 

United plans to resume inbound flights in the Big Apple on Wednesday. The airline warned that it is experiencing extremely high call volume due to the storm.

JetBlue posted a photo of its planes waiting out Sandy in Puerto Rico and asked passengers for patience.

“We will be ready to start operations as soon as Wednesday morning if the airports and public transportation are open, but we expect it will take much longer to get back to business as usual,” the airline said on its blog.

Close post

Travelers around the world stranded by Sandy

3 hrs.

PAUL J. RICHARDS / AFP – Getty Images

Italian tourists Patrizio D’Emido (left) and his girlfriend Joelle Carota (right) sit in Ronald Reagan National Airport stranded between flights, with a handful of other travelers, as Hurricane Sandy blew through Washington, DC on Monday.

Stuck. Stranded. In limbo. Whatever you call it, weary fliers grounded by Hurricane Sandy were eager to change their status on Tuesday as airlines and airports began assessing damage from the powerful storm.

On Tuesday, all New York City-area airports were closed, including John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro. JFK International will be reopened Wednesday, but LaGuardia will stay closed “due to extensive damage,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a news conference.

Carriers have canceled 18,000 flights since Sunday, and that number is still expected to grow, according to FlightAware.com.

With no way of getting out of or into the Big Apple and other parts of the East Coast by air, there’s a huge backlog of fliers around the country and the world with nowhere to go.

Some travelers spent the night on cots set up at airports including Newark Liberty, Boston Logan International and Chicago O’Hare International. Others snapped up hotel rooms — hotel bookings are up 15 percent in New York City and 68 percent in Washington compared to last week, according to data provided by Orbitz.

The question now: When will airline schedules get back to normal?

“A lot of it depends on what kind of damage they assess at the New York metro airports and when those reopen,” said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor at Orbitz.

“Should flights, for example, start going back out tomorrow on a limited basis, we don’t anticipate flight schedules really getting back to normal until late this weekend, early next week,” she said.

There’s already a big backlog of travelers who canceled their flights before the storm so there won’t be a lot of seats to rebook displaced fliers on, Tornatore noted.

Video: NBC’s Tom Costello talks about transportation interruptions for the areas affected by Sandy.

For stranded travelers, there’s nothing to do but wait. 

Claire Conroy, who lives south of Boston, is stuck on the West Coast until Thursday. Conroy flew out to San Diego, Calif., with her mother and sister last week to celebrate her niece’s first birthday. When they realized over the weekend that they might have trouble returning Monday as planned, they spent 35 minutes on hold with JetBlue to rebook for a flight on Sunday afternoon. But it was too late.

“When we got to the counter, the flight was still listed as on time but was in fact canceled. The soonest flight we could get on was Thursday afternoon. Even then, only two of us are on that flight — my sister will be (flying) Friday. That’s how fast the seats were filling,” Conroy said.

Slideshow: Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath

Nicole Abramowski — who grew up on Long Island and now lives in Berlin, Germany — was flying home to New York for the first time in over a year to visit friends and family when she got stuck. She made it as far as London, where she was supposed to catch an American Airlines flight to JFK International on Sunday but it was canceled right before the gate opened.

The carrier booked Abramowski on a Thursday flight and put her up in a hotel, but later found out only two nights of her stay are covered and she has to pay for the rest of her accommodations herself.

“Hotel rooms here are 150-200 pounds a night, which is a whole month’s rent for me in Berlin on my salary and completely unaffordable,” Abramowski said, pointing out that she is stuck in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

“After an hour on the phone and taking a bus back to the airport to speak with them in person, they tell me it’s not their responsibility, ‘We didn’t even have to book you into a hotel for those two nights.’”

Her whole hotel is filled with people trying to get to New York, Abramowski said.

“I feel bad for everyone having to deal with this. We have bad timing,” she added.

American Airlines has suspended operations until Wednesday at nine airports in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including Ronald Reagan Washington National, Dulles International, Baltimore/Washington International, Norfolk International, Philadelphia International, Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Bradley International.

US Airways has similar closures, plus cancellations at airports in Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Delta Air Lines is resuming flying at Boston Logan and the major Washington-area airports on Tuesday, but its operations continue to be shut down in New York. 

United plans to resume inbound flights in the Big Apple on Wednesday. The airline warned that it is experiencing extremely high call volume due to the storm.

JetBlue posted a photo of its planes waiting out Sandy in Puerto Rico and asked passengers for patience.

“We will be ready to start operations as soon as Wednesday morning if the airports and public transportation are open, but we expect it will take much longer to get back to business as usual,” the airline said on its blog.

Air travel isn’t the only mode of transportation impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Amtrak service remains shut down in the Northeast Corridor through Tuesday.

It’s not a good time to be a tourist either. In New York, the Statue of Liberty crown reopened to the public on Sunday, but the monument remains closed Tuesday because of the storm. All Broadway and off-Broadway shows have been canceled for Tuesday. 

Close post

Sandy snarls flights: What you should know if you’re traveling

3 hrs.

Andreas Gebert / AFP – Getty Images

A man walks in front of a flight information board highlighting canceled flights to the U.S. at the airport in Munich, Germany, on Monday. International air travel from Europe and Asia was hit by flight cancellations as much of the United States’ eastern region battened down for the threatened impact of Hurricane Sandy.

If you had to define a travel nightmare, this would be it: Thousands of flights canceled, train service halted, public transit on pause and countless travelers going nowhere fast as Hurricane Sandy menaces the East Coast.

“There are travel messes and then there are travel messes,” said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com.

“You have things like the Icelandic volcano, for example, which was only (affecting) trans-Atlantic traffic. This is bigger because it’s both trans-Atlantic and Eastern seaboard. The Eastern seaboard controls sort of the nation, so it trickles down throughout the nation. Even if you’re flying on the West Coast you could be delayed because of what’s going on.”

Deteriorating weather conditions forced airlines to cancel nearly 14,000 flights through Tuesday, and that number is expected to grow, according to Jackie Butcher, a spokesperson for FlightAware.com. Philadelphia International was most affected on Monday with 1,259 cancellations, followed by the three major New York City-area airports.

Video: Sandy shuts down East Coast.

John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia remained open on Monday, but the Port Authority of New York New Jersey discouraged travelers from even trying to get to the airports.The agency also began setting up cots for stranded passengers and placed sandbags at Newark Liberty. Photos showed flood waters from Hurricane Sandy approaching LaGuardia runways and taxiways on Monday afternoon.

The ripple effects are being felt across the country and even the world, as travelers trying to fly into the region to either get back home or make a connection are in limbo. Even Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot made famous by the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight, tweeted that he was “stuck in PA” because of Sandy on Monday afternoon.

Hailey Walmsley was scheduled to return to Boston after attending a wedding in Atlanta, but she is stuck at the city’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport – often dubbed “Hotel Hartsfield” when travelers in transit have nowhere to go – and told she won’t be able to fly out until Thursday.

“My flight was actually canceled twice,” she told Atlanta’s NBC affiliate WXIA. “So now it’s just kind of up in the air.”

In Denver, where about 50 flights to the East Coast were canceled, Steve Houston was trying to get home to Belfast, Ireland.

“My biggest concern was that I would leave Denver, get to New York, and then get stranded in New York and be sitting there in the middle of the hurricane,” Houston told Denver’s NBC affiliate KUSA.

JetBlue closed its New York City operations Sunday night and proactively canceled more than 1,000 flights through Wednesday morning, said airline spokeswoman Sharon Jones.

“High winds are no bueno for flying machines, so we are sheltering our aircraft in other cities,” the airline said on its blog.

American Airlines suspended operations Sunday night until Wednesday at nine airports in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including Ronald Reagan Washington National, Dulles International, Baltimore/Washington International, Norfolk International, Philadelphia International, Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Bradley International.

“First flights into these cities will resume Wednesday. First flights out of these cities will take place after noon on Wednesday,” said spokesman Kent Powell.

Video: Sandy could cost airlines $450 million, a source told CNBC.

Delta Air Lines, which has cancelled about 2,500 flights, expects to resume limited operations at its LaGuardia and JFK hubs on Tuesday afternoon, with a full restart targeted for Wednesday. Operations at other East Coast airports are expected to resume by mid-morning Tuesday.  

Still, the good news is that the storm is hitting during a relatively slow travel period, FareCompare.com’s Seaney said. Airlines also had plenty of notice to move planes to safer grounds and pre-cancel flights, he added.

“They’ll be able to unwind (the backlog) in a day or two completely as long as there’s no major damage to airports,” Seaney said.

Related: Hurricane Sandy, by the numbers

All airlines now have hurricane-related travel waiver policies in effect, allowing passengers to change their reservations without a fee.

If you bought tickets through sites such as Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz, call those companies and have them rebook, instead of calling airlines directly, because the carriers’ phone lines may be jammed as everyone scrambles to change plans, advised Airfarewatchdog.com founder George Hobica.

Also keep in mind that if you are stuck at the airport, hurricanes are considered a “force majeure” event or an “act of God” by the airlines, which means that cancellations are viewed as out of the airlines’ control and the only thing travelers are entitled to is a refund, Hobica said. In other words, you may not get a hotel voucher.

Here are some more tips if you have to fly into or out of the region this week:

  • Sign up for alerts from your airlines and follow them on Twitter to get the latest information on your flights;
  • Monitor the FAA’s flight information map for any airport delays or closures;
  • Have items like medications, your hotel and airline phone numbers, a change of clothes and toiletries with you, Hobica advised. If they’re kept in checked luggage and you’re stranded, you’re most likely out of luck;
  • For JetBlue travel waivers, click here;
  • For United travel waivers, click here;
  • For Delta travel waivers, click here;
  • For American travel waivers, click here;
  • For US Airways travel waivers, click here;
  • For Southwest travel waivers, click here.

Air travel isn’t the only mode of transportation impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Amtrak cancelled nearly all service on the eastern seaboard on Monday, and public transit was suspended in New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

It’s not a good time to be a tourist either. In New York, the Statue of Liberty crown reopened to the public on Sunday, but the monument will be closed Monday and Tuesday because of the storm. All Broadway and off-Broadway shows have been canceled for Monday. 

More hurricane coverage from NBC News:

7 hrs.

Google

Google tool tracks Hurricane Sandy and emergency resources

4 hrs.

People using cellphones

Text, don’t call, once Sandy hits, say wireless carriers

Close post

Snake on a plane! Flight crew finds reptile under seats

5 hrs.

Though it became a well-known pop culture joke after Samuel L. Jackson’s 2006 fictional movie, snakes can sometimes be found on a plane.

That’s exactly what happened on Tuesday when a cabin crew was checking an airplane that landed in Glasgow, Scotland, according to The Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh. The flight had come in from Cancun, Mexico when staff found a 18-inch long, juvenile snake under a row of seats in the passenger cabin, the newspaper reported.

A Scottish animal welfare charity was called in to recover the snake, The Scotsman reported. 

An inspector with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Billy Linton, said Glasgow Airport staff “remained remarkably clam” after finding the snake, the BBC reported.

The snake, which has been named “Furtivo” (meaning “sneak” in Spanish), is believed to be a Middle American smooth-scaled racer, according to the BBC.

“Racers aren’t venomous but, like all snakes, they can bite and Furtivo is very feisty,” said Linton, according to the BBC.

The airline at the center of this incident was not named.

Back in April, a pilot in Australia made an emergency landing after a snake crawled down his leg.

2 days

Google product manager Ryan Falor walks with the Trekker during a demonstration.

Google cameras map popular Grand Canyon trails

2 days

High-speed rail efforts gain momentum across the country

3 days

Xiaohwa the cat bolted at JFK Terminal 4 on October 18.

Search is on for lost cat at JFK’s Terminal 4

Close post