Entries in Travelers (8)


An American Airlines Merger Could Mean Higher Fares for Travelers

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As American Airlines emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the carrier will be looking at potential mergers with other airlines, according to its chief executive.

In a letter to employees on Tuesday, American Airlines CEO Tom Horton said, "We are approaching the point where we have greater clarity on our revenue outlook and cost structure and can begin to accelerate the plan for the new American.  And it is at this juncture that it now makes sense to carefully evaluate a range of strategic options, including potential mergers, which could make the new American even stronger."

A merger with US Airways has already been thrown in the mix, but now other airlines, like JetBlue, are being reported as potential partners.

What will this mean for travelers?

"The most likely outcome is going to be higher fares.  And that's most concerning for consumers who have seen prices on airfare go up consistently over the last several years," says ABC News Travel and Lifestyle Editor Genevieve Shaw Brown.

"Whenever a merger takes place that means there's less competition among airlines, therefore less incentive for airlines to lower their prices," she explains.

AMR Corp., American Airlines’ parent company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Nov. 29, 2011 "in order to achieve a cost and debt structure that is competitive in the airline industry." 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Airport Volunteers Lend Frazzled Travelers a Helping Hand

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's gearing up to be a busy summer travel season: Airlines for America predicts there will be more than 206 million people flying this summer, and that's only on U.S carriers.  That breaks down to about 2.24 million passengers per day.

With all those people passing through airports, many of them infrequent fliers, there's sure to be plenty of angst -- from lost bags, lost children and parking questions, to rental car inquires, flight delays and cancellations.  So who can you turn to for help?

Your friendly airport greeters, of course. You'll recognize them by the white hats at Denver International, or the red vests at Calgary International in Canada.  And, very soon, the pins on their clothing at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

JFK airport rolls out a new program on May 22, just in time for the busy summer travel season. Called Edge4Vets N.I.C.E. Corps, the program plans to use the skills of military veterans to help alleviate passenger frustrations at the airport.  It takes airport employees who are also veterans and gives them N.I.C.E. (Neutralize Irritations Customers Experience) training.

The pilot program was designed by Tom Murphy, director of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University.  He said the program would initially be in Terminal 4, and has 30 trained problem solvers ready to help.

"What travelers want most," he said, "is for someone to care when things go wrong.  They want someone who will step up and help."

Veterans employed at a variety of airport companies -- even airlines like JetBlue, Delta and American Airlines, and agencies like the Transportation Security Administration -- have signed up for the training.  The idea, Murphy said, is for veterans already involved in the pilot program to spot other airline employees going the extra mile and then report it.  Those employees will then be recognized and rewarded for their helpfulness.

Murphy said that in time he hopes the program will take on a life of its own, resulting in a more positive airport experience for employees and travelers alike.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Most Americans Feel Safer Flying Now than Before 9/11 Attacks

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Airport safety wasn't that much of a concern before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but the public's mindset has changed since then.

AAA South says an overwhelming majority of Americans -- 84 percent -- are worried that another 9/11-style attack involving planes could happen again.  Yet, because of the all the security measures instituted since then that have raised prices, delayed flights and frayed passengers' nerves, they somehow feel safer than a decade ago.

The AAA survey finds that 77 percent of respondents believe airport security is much improved since the 9/11 attacks.

Flight bookings dropped significantly immediately after 9/11 but have since climbed back, in large part to Americans having greater confidence in airport security and less fears of terrorism.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Irene Hampers Weekend Travel Plans, Weddings

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- States of emergency in advance of Hurricane Irene's expected assault on the East Coast this weekend have led to busted plans likely to affect businesses and travelers' wallets.

Travelers are scrambling to change airplane and train tickets while hotels deal with cancelled reservations.

Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and counties in South Carolina have declared states of emergency.

Andy Fink, an evening manager at the Dayton House Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, said the effect of Hurricane Irene is not yet as harsh as that of Hurricane Charley in 2004, when the resort had to implement a mandatory evacuation of its guests.  But even with the area on watch for a tropical storm, there have been nearly 20 cancelled reservations in two days.

Fink said many of his guests were from New Jersey and many checked out to return home ahead of the storm.

At the beginning of the week, the resort, which has a seven-day cancellation policy and a non-refundable deposit, gave guests who wanted to cancel their reservations full refunds, with a $20 service fee for staff services and credit card processing.

Erica Jackson, a guest at the resort from Bristol, Tennessee, planned to have her dream beach wedding through the Myrtle Beach Wedding Chapel on Friday and stay in town until Sunday.  Instead, her family decided to push the wedding to Wednesday evening and drove back to Tennessee on Thursday.

The resort agreed to give her credit for future use for the block of rooms she reserved.

Ashley Martin, the chapel manager, said out of five weddings scheduled for Saturday, two couples postponed until a later date, one couple cancelled completely, and two couples planned to proceed as scheduled.

There were at least 448 expected weddings this weekend in north and central New Jersey, 401 in North Carolina, 264 in Virginia, 264 in Connecticut, 209 in South Carolina, and 151 in South Jersey, according to The Knot Wedding Network.

If the hurricane hits those areas, chances are couples will have to reschedule, postpone or cancel their cerimonies, said Amy Eisinger, associate editor of, which is owned by The Knot.

Items like rental equipment, lighting, draping and tents will most likely not be eligible for refunds, Eisinger said.

She recommended couples invest in wedding insurance, which can cost around $350, to cover loss of photos, video, rings, deposits, attire, and presents in the case of high-risk wedding dates, situations and locations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fewer Americans Expected to Travel on Labor Day Weekend

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(AURORA, Ill.) -- As Labor Day weekend approaches, fewer Americans appear to be planning on hitting the road for one last trip to celebrate the unofficial end of summer.

AAA estimates that 31.5 million Americans will travel during this year's holiday weekend, which begins on Sept. 1 and runs through Sept. 5.  The latest projection is down 2.4 percent from the 32.3 million who got behind the wheel in 2010.

AAA's Heather Hunter says "the decrease in expected travelers is a result of a mixed economic outlook.  We've had some recent poor economic news that has come out and also [high] gas prices."

Among those traveling, more will be doing so via automobiles.  According to AAA, 87 percent of holiday travelers -- or close to 27.3 million Americans -- will be hitting the roads, while eight percent will be opting to fly.  The remaining five percent will be reaching their destinations using other modes of transportation, like trains or watercraft.

If they do take to the road, travelers will be staying closer to home this year.  AAA says Americans will travel an average distance of 608 miles, down from 635 miles the year before.  They will, however, spend slightly more than last year despite the shorter distance -- $702 compared to $697 -- mainly due to the rise in fuel and transportation costs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fewer Americans Traveling this Fourth of July Weekend

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- If you have plans to travel this Fourth of July weekend, it appears you will have plenty of wiggle room on the roads.

AAA estimates that 39 million Americans will be traveling far (50 miles or more) this year, a 2.5 percent drop from last year's 40 million travelers.

More specifically, close to one million fewer drivers (32.8 million) will be on the road during this holiday weekend compared to the 33.7 million last year.  More Americans, however, will be traveling by plane this year, marking a nine percent jump from the Independence Day weekend of 2010.

The main reason behind the overall drop in travelers?  Gasoline prices.

"AAA is projecting a slight decline in the number of Independence Day travelers mainly due to fuel prices being approximately one dollar per gallon higher than last year," said Glen MacDonell, director, AAA Travel Services. "Increased fuel costs are also responsible for a shift in the demographics of the typical Independence Day traveler as higher prices impact lower income households more significantly."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Crisis in Japan Has Travelers and Airlines Scrambling for Options

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Cancelling your travel plans can be very expensive.  With Japan's crisis, international travelers and airlines are scrambling. 

American Airlines is the latest carrier to announce changes in ticket policies for people traveling to and from Japan.  The airline decided that they would offer a full refund to anyone who wanted one in the form of the original payment -- even for non-refundable tickets.

George Hobica with says when booking any flight be aware of an airline's policy on changes.

"It's a good idea to get travel insurance especially if you're traveling during a period of bad weather such as during the winter," Hobica says. "Travel insurance would certainly protect people in the Japan situation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Airlines Changing Ticket Policies Amid Japan Crisis

John Foxx/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Canceling travel plans can be costly to consumers, and with the crisis in Japan leaving many international travelers scrambling, some airlines are making changes.

American Airlines is the latest carrier to announce changes in ticket policies for people traveling to and from Japan.

"American Airlines decided much to their credit that they were going to give a full refund to anyone who wanted one in the form of the original payment even in the form of a non-refundable ticket," says George Hobica with

Hobica advises travelers to be aware of an airlines policy on changes or cancellations when booking any flight.

"It's a good idea to get travel insurance especially if you're traveling during a period of bad weather such as during the winter," he says.  "Travel insurance would certainly protect people in the Japan situation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio