Entries in Travel (28)


Holiday Travel Woes: Severe Weather Will Cause Delays

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the Gulf Coast struggles to recover from an outbreak of tornadoes, millions across the nation are waking up Wednesday morning on the busiest travel day of the Christmas season to cope with more severe weather that promises to upset the travel plans of millions.

"Traveling will definitely be affected as people go home for the holidays," Bob Oravec, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service, told ABC News.  "Anywhere from the Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley and the Northeast, there's definitely going to be travel issues as we have heavy snow and some very high winds."

That large storm has been pounding not just the Gulf Coast but most of the South from Oklahoma to Arkansas, and Texas, where Dallas had a rare white Christmas.

In Lubbock, Texas, more than an inch of snow fell, making it difficult for some drivers to stay on the road.  At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, flights have been delayed as crews worked to de-ice planes.

Oklahoma got about seven inches of snow across the state, making for treacherous road conditions.  A 21-car pile-up in Oklahoma City temporarily shut down a major roadway through the state.  No one was seriously injured.

Arkansas also got a rare Christmas Day snow storm, with an estimated 10 inches falling in Fayetteville, limiting roadway visibility.

All of that snowy weather in the South left a white trail everywhere it went, and on Wednesday, it's expected to bring at least six to eight inches to the lower Midwest.  Wednesday's severe weather could cause potential delays at airports in St. Louis, Louisville, Ky., Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

In Northern California, residents were socked with the third storm in three days.  Wet weather spread from the Bay area through the Sierras, delaying inbound flights at San Francisco International Airport and causing a landslide in Oakland that almost crushed one driver to death.

The severe weather system in the South has been moving overnight, and a front with heavy rain and wind is forecast for the Northeastern corridor late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.

"The [weather in] big cities from Washington up to Philadelphia and New York City will mostly be in the form of rain," Oravec said.  "There may be a brief period of snow from the nation's capitol this morning up into Philadelphia and then to New York City.  But the track of the storm currently suggests that the precipitation will definitely change over to rain."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Thanksgiving Travel: Midwest Fog, New York Train Trouble

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As Americans continued to their holiday destinations Wednesday, train issues in New York City were added to the mix of inclement weather and airport strikes threatening to put a damper on Thanksgiving travels for some.

Service on the Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak to and from Pennsylvania Station were temporarily suspended Wednesday evening because of switching problems, according to ABC station WABC-TV.

In the Pacific Northwest, travelers had a soggy ride. Up to 10 inches of rain have fallen this week in parts of Oregon, up to nine inches in Washington, and 6.5 inches in Northern California.

In Oregon, this was in some places a record rainstorm. A third storm system is moving through the West Wednesday, producing more rain, but it will not be as heavy as Monday's rainfall.

Approximately 39 million of Wednesday's travelers were hitting the road by car, according to the AAA. Motorists along the East Coast faced heavy traffic, but most of the weather looked calm from New York to Atlanta, with temperatures in the 50s in the Northeast and near 70 in Georgia.

Dense fog that rolled into the Midwest from Chicago to Texas Tuesday night caused traffic delays across the area.

At Chicago's Midway Airport, Angieang28 tweeted that fliers were "packed like sardines."

The top five cities bracing for the worst traffic Wednesday were: New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and the most tangled roads will be in Los Angeles, with holiday road trips predicted to take 33 percent longer than usual.

And that's not the only headache in Los Angeles. Airport union workers were preparing to strike at LAX. The workers, who are angry over terminated union contracts and health insurance, admit they could not have picked a worse day or a busier airport.

"It's a national day about being with your family and taking care of your family, and these workers are not able to do that," said Andrew Gross Gaitan of the SEIU United Service Workers West.

Job actions are not just in California. Angry workers are picketing coast-to-coast: from Chicago's O'Hare airport to New York's JFK to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

There is, however a silver lining for motorists, as gas prices are down 5 cents in the last two weeks. The Energy Department reported the national average for a gallon of regular fuel was $3.41.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Travel Plans at a Standstill as Hurricane Sandy Approaches

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As a large section of the nation sits at a standstill as Hurricane Sandy makes its way up the East Coast, traffic in and out of airports and train stations from North Carolina to Boston has been virtually shut down, and may not be back in service until later this week.

Nearly 7,000 flights have been cancelled in anticipation of the storm's arrival, most of which are either from, or to, one of the hubs in Sandy's path.  These cancellations are creating a ripple effect that is being felt across the entire country, forcing delays as far west as Seattle and San Francisco.

The eye of Sandy is forecast to make landfall late Monday night in Atlantic City, N.J., bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and intense winds and rain, all of which will cripple transportation.

The passengers who have become stranded as the storm slowly makes its way north are for the most part taking the delays in stride.

"It's not the airlines' fault, you can't really control the weather," one passenger in San Francisco said.  "Just go with the flow."

On Sunday, Jet Blue and United Airlines moved their planes out of the strike zone, where they will remain until Tuesday.  But at low-lying airports like New York's LaGuardia and JFK, there is also concern about the storm's surge.

"The thing were going to be watching very, very closely is the flooding and the flood potential here in New York," Jet Blue COO Rob Maruster said.  "With these airports basically at sea level, that poses a major risk to us."

Maruster said that the delays at the airport are likely to last through later this week.

"It'll take us a couple days, probably until at least Thursday, if not Friday, to get back to normal with something this large," he said.

Meanwhile, plans to travel via train have been derailed, as Amtrak has shut down all East Coast service. On a typical day, over 300 trains would be running.

For now, travelers are just going to have to wait. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Travel Increase Predicted for Memorial Day 2012

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The number of Memorial Day vacationers to travel more than 50 miles from home is expected to increase by 1.2 percent in 2012, according to an annual survey from the automobile group AAA.

As is typical, the number of people expected to travel by car far outnumbers those expected to travel by plane. More than 30 million people will get to their destinations by car, while roughly 2.5 million will get there by air.

Eighty-eight percent of holiday voyagers will travel by car; 7 percent by air and the remainder by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.

The total increase in travelers comes from drivers, at a rate of 1.2 percent. The number of people traveling by air is expected to decline 5.5 percent from last year's 2.7 million air travelers.

More than half of the survey's respondents said gas prices would not affect their Memorial Day holiday travel plans. However, the average travel distance is considerably less this year than in 2011. The average distance vacationers will travel will be 642 miles, which is 150 miles less than last year's average travel distance of 792 miles.

This is despite gas prices being, on average, 25 cents per gallon cheaper than this time last year, according to the AAA.

TripAdvisor, which ran its own Memorial Day travel survey, found a larger increase in the expected Memorial Day travelers: An 8 percent increase compared with 2011. The site also found that respondents weren't letting gas prices affect their summer vacations.

It's not only gas prices that are on the decline: AAA reports weekend daily car rental rates will average $36, which is 4 percent, or $2, less than last year.

Hotel rates, though, are expected to climb between 8 and 10 percent compared with last year.

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 24, to Monday, May 28.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas Warns Spring Breakers to Steer Clear of Mexico

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The Texas Department of Public Safety issued an advisory to "Spring Breakers" this week urging them to avoid traveling to Mexico given the rising level of drug-related violence.

"The Mexican government has made great strides battling the cartels, and we commend their continued commitment to making Mexico a safer place to live and visit," said DPS Director Steven C. McCraw.  "However, drug cartel violence and other criminal activity represent a significant safety threat, even in some resort areas."

The DPS, which oversees such statewide law enforcement agencies as the Texas Rangers and the Texas Highway Patrol, has issued similar warnings for several years.  This year's bulletin, however, follows the detailed warning issued by the U.S. State Department in early February recommending that travelers avoid some of Mexico's major tourist destinations and keep low profiles.

The State Department ramped up its warnings from previous years due to increases in reported threats.  The DPS notes that the new State Department warning urges visitors to bypass all or part of 14 Mexican states, up from 10 in 2011.  The biggest tourist hub affected by this year's warning is Acapulco, where the State Department urged Americans not to travel more than two blocks inland from the boulevard that runs along the popular beaches.

The Texas warning reemphasizes the State Department's finding that the number of U.S. citizens murdered in Mexico rose from 35 in 2007 to 120 in 2011.  The warning also highlights the persistence of sexual assault around resorts, the use of popular bars and nightclubs as havens by drug dealers, and the high number of narcotic-related homicides reported in Mexico -- 12,903 over the first nine months of 2011.

Though only a small percentage of U.S. travelers are victimized, Mr. McCraw claims, "Many crimes against Americans in Mexico go unpunished, and we have a responsibility to inform the public about safety and travel risks and threats."

Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan chastised Texan officials for their advisory.

"As their number one trading partner and largest export market, Mexico believes Texas should be able to more objectively evaluate facts, providing nuance and context, and in doing so, dispel the notion that their motivation is a clear-cut political agenda," Sarukhan said in a statement Tuesday.

Texas is itself a major destination for Spring Break revelers.  Local officials on South Padre Island said they expect an increase in visitors to the beach resort this year, with close to 50,000 arriving this month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


TSA Confiscates Four Guns per Day

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Transportation Security Administration said it picked up 1,306 guns at airport checkpoints last year.

That’s four guns a day. And that doesn’t include the spear guns and bombs.

Last week alone the TSA confiscated a live mortar bomb, heavy-duty firecrackers, three stun guns, signal flares and a jar of dead snakes. Two weeks ago, TSA agents found, yes, a spear gun and 24 loaded firearms in passenger luggage.

Yes, you can carry registered handguns in checked luggage, but they have to be declared at check-in.

Surprising the TSA’s X-ray machine is not advised. Also this year, two cannonballs were confiscated at Kahului airport in Hawaii, two grenades in Colorado Springs, Colo., and a grenade launcher in checked baggage in Seattle. The TSA said it would have been even more concerned if the grenades and grenade launcher were in the same Samsonite.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bill Would Give $400K Left Behind at Airport Security to USO

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When Congressman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., noticed someone left behind change at an airport security checkpoint, he started wondering about all those forgotten pennies. Turns out all that change really adds up: the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports that about $409,000 was left behind in the year 2010, the most recent year documented.

Miller would like to see that money benefit the United Service Organizations (USO) and has introduced a bill that would do just that.

The USO is a private, non-profit organization supporting the military that, in part, operates welcome centers for returning service men and women at airports around the country. In 2005, Congress gave TSA the authority to use the money on security operations, which it does.

“Travelers’ lost change should be put to good use, and there is no better organization to use this money wisely than the United Service Organizations. Each airport center provides a place for service men and women to enjoy a welcoming atmosphere, connect with family, and utilize the services provided by the USO,” Miller said in an email to ABC News.

TSA does not comment on pending legislation, but a spokesperson did tell ABC News it makes every effort to reunite passengers with items left behind at checkpoints.

“TSA keeps travelers’ change accidentally left at checkpoints as an appropriations backfill for agency activities. There is no incentive for TSA to try to return the forgotten change to its rightful owner,” Miller said.  Miller is the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

The USO says that while it did not initiate the idea to have the money left behind earmarked for its use, the money would “absolutely” make a difference.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


America’s Top-10 Trashiest Spring Break Destinations

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If trashy is what your heart desires in a vacation, has got you covered.

The site, a lifestyle and entertainment destination for college guys, has just released its America’s “Top 10 Trashiest Spring Break Destinations” list.

Neal Lynch, the site’s editor-in-chief, told ABC News, “Typically, people associate 'trashy' with things of poor quality; however, we associated the word with enjoying guilty pleasures. Like reality television -- but in real life, where you can have the most amount of fun with the least amount of money.”

Lynch cautions that a fatter wallet may be necessary to enjoy the full experience at the number-one destination on his list.

Here it is, starting with number 10.

10.  San Diego.  ”We know that most of the people who live in the San Diego area head to other destinations for Spring Break,” Coed writes, “but that just means the people left partying here are extra trashy.”

9. Lake Havasu,  Ariz. According to the list, Kokomo Havasu and Martini Bay are two of the rowdier destinations.

8. Fort Myers, Fla. Lana Kai is where it’s at if you’re interested in checking out the daily “booty contest” during high season.

7. Panama City Beach, Fla.  Coed says the cast of Jersey Shore was among last year’s celebrity visitors. Enough said.

6. Miami Beach. The Jersey Shore cast factors in again as part of the trash factor. They taped a season here.

5. Myrtle Beach, S.C. Coed makes a distinction between North and South Myrtle Beach and advises that if it is trashiness you’re after, South Myrtle Beach is where you want to be.

4. Daytona, Fla. This city’s high number of underage-drinking arrests helped win it a spot on Coed’s list.

3. South Padre Island, Texas. Coed poses the question, “How can it get any trashier than South Padre, a beach that essentially exists for the sole purpose of having wild parties?”

2. Key West, Fla. Garden of Eden, a clothing-optional bar, is a Key West hot spot the magazine suggests visiting.

1. Las Vegas.  Last year MTV took over the Palms Casino Resort during spring break, according to Coed. And, after all, “anything involving MTV Spring Break is bound to bring out the trash in anyone.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gooey Muck Stops Traffic on PA Turnpike

Comstock/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Dozens of cars were disabled after a tanker carrying driveway sealant leaked the gooey muck for 40 miles on the eastbound lanes of the Pennsylvania Turnpike between New Castle and Oakmont Service Plaza on Tuesday night. Traffic had returned to normal by Wednesday morning after work crews used plows and sand to contain the sticky substance.

“This stuff will eventually dry. Now, that doesn’t help all the people that got some of this material on their cars, and we know there are many of those,” Pennsylvania Turnpike spokesman Bill Capone told ABC News Pittsburgh affiliate WTAE-TV.

WTAE spoke with tow truck driver Tony Armenti who said the disabled cars will likely be costly to fix.

“That tire’s gonna have to be replaced. The rim’s gonna have to be replaced, and the rest is gonna have to be taken off,” he said.

For some it was more than just another inconvenience going into one of the biggest travel days of the year.

“This is Thanksgiving. Now we have to turn around and go back home,” Laura Frick, who was traveling from Cleveland to New Jersey, told WTAE. “It’s horrible.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Expensive Turkey Day: Travel and Food Costs Up from Last Year

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With 42 million Americans planning to travel this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, many are in for a big surprise, because the cost of celebrating Turkey Day has shot up.

The typical family looking to travel this holiday season will see hikes in airfares, gasoline and even the traditional Thanksgiving bird.

For the family that thinks they’ll save a bundle by driving to the family feast, taking the car might be the wrong choice -- gas prices have risen about 50 cents per gallon from last year’s rates.

And flying doesn't fare much better -- airfares are up more than 10 percent from last year.

Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor for, said the smart action to take -- as usual -- is to book in advance.

“Typically, as you get closer to the holiday period, the travel prices do increase, because it is such a compact travel weekend and travelers are going to be traveling over such a short period,” she said.

Those looking to stay at a hotel will be hit too, with hotel prices up nearly 5 percent from 2010's prices.

But even if you choose to avoid traveling, you still won't escape added expenses.  The Farm Bureau estimates the cost of the classic Thanksgiving dinner is up 13 percent from last year.  The cost of a turkey is now up $3, pumpkin pie is up 41 cents and stuffing is up 24 cents.

The reason being: rising fuel prices. The cost of gasoline ultimately affects everything that gets transported to store shelves.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio