Category Archives: Travel

Here’s Which Airlines Are Capping Fares, Adding Flights For Travelers Fleeing Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria continues to gain momentum as it churns through the Caribbean, strengthening to a Category 5 storm after making landfall on the island of Dominica on Monday. Forecasters and safety officials are advising everyone in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to get to safety, and so some airlines are capping fares for travelers trying to get out of the storm’s path. On Monday, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida sent letters to 10 U.S. airlines asking them to limit prices on airfare for anyone fleeing Hurricane Maria, citing skyrocketing prices many travelers faced ahead of Hurricane Irma, which led some airlines to cap fares for evacuees as a result. “As you know, Hurricane Maria is a major hurricane and is threatening Puerto Rico and the Caribbean now and may be a threat to the U.S. coast by next week,” Nelson wrote. “Individuals and families should not be forced to delay or cancel their evacuation efforts because of confusion over the cost of airfare,” he added in his letter to executives at United, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Alaska, Hawaiian, Frontier, and Allegiant. In response, some airlines have announced their plans for capping airfare, as well as adding additional flights, and offering travel waivers for those who need to change their travel.

United

United says it has capped fares at $384 plus tax for nonstop flights in economy class. United also says it’s adding more seats on departures out of Puerto Rico beginning with an early morning departure today from Aguadilla (BQN) to Newark. Additional seats have also been added on the airline’s three scheduled departures out of San Juan (SJU) on Sept. 19. United also added an extra flight departing San Juan at 3:30 p.m., bringing the total number of seats leaving the island today to 500. “We will suspend operations at SJU and BQN on Wednesday with a tentative plan to resume operations on Thursday pending infrastructure assessments,” the airline says. “Our Emergency Response teams are engaged to coordinate any needs. As the storm tracks northwest, we will also develop plans for Punta Cana/PUJ and Santo Domingo/SDQ for Thursday operations.” United is also waiving change fees and any difference in fare for flights departing through Sept. 30.

American

American says it will also cap nonstop fares at $99 one-way for Main Cabin, and $199 for premium cabins (though connecting fares may be higher) through Sept. 24 in the following markets: • Antigua, Antigua (ANU)
• Cap Haitien, Haiti (CAP)
• Port Au Prince, Haiti (PAP)
• Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (PLS)
• Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (POP)
• Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)
• San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
• Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI)
• Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ)
• St. Croix Island, U.S. Virgin Islands (STX)
• St. Kitts, Saint Kitts and Nevis (SKB)
• St. Thomas Island, U.S. Virgin Islands (STT) “Our team of meteorologists continues to coordinate closely with the National Weather Service; we are also monitoring developing storms offshore,” American notes. Check here for more information on American’s Hurricane Maria-related travel waivers.

Delta

Delta is capping main cabin, one-way nonstop fares at $199 for flights departing the following airports through Sept. 21: • San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
• Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)
• Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI)
• Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ) The airline says it’s also added two extra flights to and from San Juan to Atlanta to help customers leave ahead of the hurricane, and is temporarily waiving fees for baggage and pets in cabin for customers traveling to and from San Juan and several other airports. A travel waiver has also been issued for passengers flying out of San Juan from Sept. 19-26. The waiver, which allows customers to change plans without incurring a fee, also covers customers from St. Maarten, Saint Thomas, and Turks and Caicos with tickets issued from Sept. 5 to Dec. 31. For more information, check out Delta’s travel advisory here.

JetBlue

For those looking to evacuate areas in the hurricane’s path, JetBlue is offering any remaining seats on its flights to and from the below destinations for travel through Sept. 25 at reduced fares: • San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
• Aguadilla, Puerto Rico (BQN)
• Ponce, Puerto Rico (PSE)
• St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (STX)
• Antigua, Antigua (ANU) JetBlue also says it has added five additional flights to its regular schedule from San Juan to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and New York JFK on Sept. 19 “in order to help customers and crewmembers evacuate ahead of Hurricane Maria.” The airline is also waiving waiving cancellation fees, change fees, and differences in air fare customers traveling today through Thursday, Sept. 21.

Southwest Airlines

A spokeswoman for Southwest tells Consumerist that the airline has removed advance purchase requirements to allow customers to have access to fares that were lower than what they would normally have had access to. The airline has also added five extra flights out of San Juan today, one additional flight out of Punta Cana, and “had all inventory set at the lowest fare.” Southwest says it has “also matched all competitor pricing actions if lower than ours.” Travelers can check the Southwest site for travel advisories and flexible accommodations.

Other airlines

As for the rest of the airlines, we’ve reached out to each to ask if they’ll be capping fares in regions affected by Hurricane Maria, and will update this post as we receive new information. As always, you should check with your airline before you head to the airport to confirm your scheduled flight. In the meantime, you can check out travel advisories for the carriers below for more information on waivers and change fees related to Hurricane Maria (not all airlines have issued alerts or advisories, depending on which markets they serve): • Frontier Airlines
Spirit Airlines

I really want to love myself… Q&A

Q: “I really want to love myself, I hate depending on others to make me feel loved.” A:” You are unique Emma (not the real name). Unique in a way that only you can be! No one else in this world can be who you are. You have unique and beautiful qualities and perhaps you… The post I really want to love myself… Q&A appeared first on BayArt.

Frontier Fined $1.5M For Long Tarmac Delays, Will Only Pay $600K

Last December, Frontier canceled 275 flights after severe winter weather disrupted operations in and out of its hub at Denver International Airport. Still, the airline was slow to respond to the storm, federal aviation officials claim, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded on planes for hours. As a result, the company has been fined $1.5 million.  The Department of Transportation announced recently that it had fined Frontier $1.5 million for violating rules prohibiting long tarmac delays. Under DOT rules, U.S. airlines operating aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats are prohibited from allowing their domestic flights to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without giving passengers an opportunity to leave the plane. According to the DOT [PDF], Frontier failed to abide by this rule in 12 incidents during a severe snowstorm between Dec. 16 and Dec. 18. Specifically, 11 flights arriving at the airport and one departing were found to be in violation of the tarmac delay rules. An investigation by the agency found that during the storm, Frontier failed to properly adjust its operations resulting in gate congestion and long tarmac delays. Frontier failed to assess the gate situation during the height of the snowstorm and continued to experience gate availability issues and a ground staff shortage after the storm had passed.

Arriving Flights

While Frontier canceled many flights during the storm, it did not do so in a timely fashion to avoid congestion at Denver International Airport. The DOT found that once heavy snow began to fall, the airline started to return departing airplanes to their gates. At this point, many of the aircraft began to experience mechanical issues, rendering the gates they were located at unusable. This caused a problem for flights that were currently in route to Denver. Once these planes landed, there were not available gates for passengers to exit. In one instance, when a Frontier gate became available, the carrier made the decision to bring an empty aircraft to a gate in order to operate a delayed flight, instead of deplaning one of its long-delayed arrival flights which was experiencing a tarmac delay. To make matters worse, the DOT claims that Frontier could have prevented at least a portion of the tarmac delays had accepted services offered by the airport.

Departing Flights

As the storm continued to affect the airport, three Frontier flights preparing for departure experienced mechanical issues. Frontier quickly made the decision to return two of these flights to the gate. While the planes were unable to return within the FAA’s allotted three hours, because they began the process before that time frame, they are not subject to enforcement. As for the third flight, employees attempted to correct the mechanical issue. That was not possible, and it was decided that the plane would return to the gate. However, the decision to return to the gate was made after the three-hour mark. The plane did not receive clearance to return to the gate until the 4 hour and 14 minute mark.

Paying Up

In the end, the DOT determined that Frontier failed to adequately adjust its operations in response to the snowstorm, creating tarmac delay that were in violation of federal rules. The DOT ordered Frontier to pay $1.5 million for the violations. Frontier will only pay about $600,000 of the fine, as the agency is crediting the airline for compensation provided to customer on the affected flights. For its part, Frontier admits that the snowstorm was “much more severe and intense than predicted.” Still, it claims that it attempted to keep up with the influx of delayed and arriving flights by increasing its staffing and writing with airport personnel.

Prosperity & Abundance

Prosperity & Abundance “Once you change your definition of abundance to reflect its true nature, you will be able to perceive it instantly and without the acquisition of anything. It will put you in the flow of abundance, and will enable you to manifest it easily in whatever form or shape you desire. Until you… The post Prosperity & Abundance appeared first on BayArt.

Live your Calling – Find your Lifestyle

Live your Calling – Find your Lifestyle The sheet below is meant to help you get a clear sense into how it is to live your calling, how your day-to-day life should/will be like and to clean out limiting beliefs so you can empower your life and live exactly what you came here to live…… The post Live your Calling – Find your Lifestyle appeared first on BayArt.

TSA Approves Faster Airport Baggage Scanners

No matter how well you prepare for airport security — wearing belt-less pants and slip-on shoes, knowing exactly how to stand when it’s your turn — you may still end up waiting because your carry-on hasn’t finished its trip through the baggage scanner. That may soon improve, now that the Transportation Security Administration has approved new, faster scanners for use at airport checkpoints.
Massachusetts-based Analogic Corp. revealed this week that its ConneCT scanner had received a stamp of approval from the TSA by meeting the agency’s Advanced Technology (AT) detection standards. Like the speedier machine currently being tested by American Airlines at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, the Analogic scanner users computed tomography (CT) to generate a fuller, three-dimensional image of bags and their content. As the L.A. Times points out, the TSA approval of ConneCT means that additional airports will be able to test this next generation of scanners, hopefully expediting their deployment in the long run.

The Technology

The newly approved ConneCT scanners, manufactured by Analogic Corp, uses the same imaging technology one would find in a hospital CT machine. But instead of looking at your insides, the scanners will generate a 3D image of carry-on baggage. The image is then analyzed by security officers, who can manipulate the image, spinning 360 degrees to show the contents from several angles. Additionally, the machines use an algorithm to automatically identify weapons, Analogic says in a statement. If an item in the bag appears suspicious, a security worker will check the bag. “With record-breaking air travel numbers and new threats to the public, it is ever more important to deploy cutting-edge technology that can evolve with the security landscape,” Jim Ryan, senior vice president and general manager of security detection and power technologies at Analogic, said in a statement.

Moving Faster

TSA has previously noted that CT screening technology could decrease time spend in security screening by about 30%. Travelers would be able to speed through the lines, as the technology would allow them to keep liquids and personal electronics in their bags. The L.A. Times reports that Analogic estimates the number of passengers going through security in one hour would increase from 180 to 500 if its scanners were in use. While its unclear just where the scanners will turn up, Analogic already has one customers: American Airlines. The carrier announced in June that it would purchase several ConneCT scanners for use in the future.

Motel 6 Admits Some Locations Were Sharing Lists Of Guests With Immigration Officers On Daily Basis

When you check into a hotel and provide a photo ID, your expectation is that the hotel will be holding this info for its records in case you mess up the room or try to skip out on your bill. What you don’t expect is that the hotel management is taking its daily guest logs and turning them over to federal immigration officials. Earlier this week, an article in the Phoenix New Times pointed to a recent pattern of frequent arrests by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers at two Motel 6 locations in the Phoenix area. Records showed that ICE was showing up at these two Motel 6 addresses at a rate of about once every two weeks, while New Times reporters couldn’t find any evidence of ICE making arrests at any other area hotels during the same time period. Warrants granted for these arrests only stated that the officers were “following a lead,” though these were leads with incredibly specific information about the allegedly illegal aliens staying at the hotel. It appeared to those concerned that someone at the hotels was the source of the information being provided to ICE. In fact, Motel 6 staff confirmed to the New Times that they weren’t just calling ICE when they suspected that a guest was in the country illegally. They were giving daily reports of all guests to the officers. “We send a report every morning to ICE — all the names of everybody that comes in,” a front-desk clerk admitted to the New Times. “Every morning at about 5 o’clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE.” Unlike some Motel 6 locations that are owned by franchisees, the two Phoenix hotels involved in this story are corporate-owned, but in a statement released after the story broke, the company still contends that the decision to voluntarily turn over all guest records to ICE was made at the local level and without knowledge of Motel 6 HQ. “When we became aware of it, it was discontinued,” says the hotel chain, which is promising to make sure that all 1,400 of its locations now understand that “they are prohibited from voluntarily providing daily guest lists to ICE.”

United Accused Of Stranding Woman In Wheelchair After Bumping Her From Flight

United Airlines is apologizing to yet another passenger, after a man said airline employees left his 77-year-old mother to her own devices after bumping her from her flight home to London. According to WUSA-9, a Washington, D.C. man said he’d dropped his mother off at Ronald Reagan National Airport, where she was supposed to catch a flight to New Jersey before connecting to a London-bound flight. His mother travels in a wheelchair and can be easily confused, he says, but he thought United would take care of her. “They assist people in wheelchairs and get someone to wheel them through and basically take responsibility for that person until they arrive at their destination,” he told the news station, so he left the airport, trusting that United would make sure she got where she needed to go. Cut to the wee hours of the morning, when the driver he hired to pick his mother up in London texted him to tell him she hadn’t arrived. “I called the airline to make sure she was on the flight and they reassured me three or four times she was on that flight,” he said. She wasn’t, however: After hours of phone calls, he says United told him that his mother had made it to Newark, but the airline had bumped her from her London flight. As for why, he’s not sure. “Basically she was left at the gate for 12 hours. They offered her a hotel that was miles away,” he explained. “She had to get there on her own steam. There’s no way my mom could have pushed a wheelchair at her age, so she sat there. “ On Tuesday, United said it had apologized to the man and his mother. “This never should have happened and we have spoken with our customer’s family to apologize,” the airline said in a statement to WUSA-9. “We are working with our team and our wheelchair assistance vendor at Newark to review what happened and to prevent this from happening again.” In an additional statement to NJ.com, United added that it had offered the woman a hotel room and to take her there, but said that she had declined the offer of assistance. The man says United called him Tuesday night to apologize, and offered his mother a $1,000 flight voucher.

Don’t Let The Basic Economy Gate-Service Fee Catch You By Surprise

This year, airlines have introduced a new kind of fare, the “Basic Economy” ticket. Passengers with this ticket type board last and, on some airlines, only get to bring one carry-on item on board, paying the same fees as Economy travelers to check other luggage. Some passengers on United or American who didn’t read the fine print are getting hit with fees for bringing extra carry-on bags in addition to the fees for gate-checking those bags.

“This fee is not at all fair”

The Wall Street Journal reports that some passengers who have chosen to save money by booking a basic economy ticket (or who booked one without raelizing it) lose the money they saved when they have to pay to gate-check their carry-ons, in addition to paying a fee for forgetting their lowly status and bringing two carry-ons in the first place. One traveler described paying $25 for his own carry-on suitcase and $35 for his wife’s, since she had already checked another bag. On top of that, they had to pay an extra $25 fee for each bag for bringing them to the gate. “Whatever I saved with Basic Economy, I had to pay more, he told the WSJ. “This fee is not at all fair.”

A fee for forgetting

United and American have different names for the same type of fee, calling it a “gate-handling charge” or a “gate service fee.” They mean the same thing, though: It’s the fee that airlines charge you for forgetting that you aren’t allowed to have any space in the overhead bin. “The whole guiding principle here is that it’s important for Basic Economy passengers to check all bags larger than a personal item,” a spokesman for American told the WSJ. “We do everything we can to make sure customers do not reach the gate with a bag that needs to be gate-checked,” a United spokeswoman said when asked the same question. It’s easier for agents at check-in to accept the bags and credit-card transactions, rather than having gate agents taking bags and processing payments closer to takeoff.

Is That Sardine-Style Coach Class Seating So Tight It’s Unsafe?

Everyone who flies, but who doesn’t have deep enough pockets to travel exclusively in first class, knows it: Airplanes are increasingly crowded and unpleasant. But is that frustrating lack of legroom actually endangering your life when you fly? The Daily Beast reports today that based on more than 900 pages of Department of Transportation and FAA documents it reviewed, that coach may simply be so crowded that it’s no longer safe in the event of an emergency.

Smaller and Smaller

It’s no secret that coach has steadily been getting more crowded for years. Seat pitch in particular — the distance between your seat and the seat in front of you — has been putting the squeeze on consumers for decades. In 1985, that depth measured between 31 and 36 inches on the major airlines; by 2014, it was down to the 30-33 inch range. Budget carrier Sprint crams their seats in even more shallowly, with a seat pitch of 28 inches, while American recently abandoned a plan to drop their economy seat pitch to 29 inches. Seats are also significantly narrower. Thirty years ago, they measured an average of 19 to 20 inches across; these days, they’re as low as 16.5 inches and average 17-18 inches wide. In Aug. 2015, an organization called Flyers Rights called on the Federal Aviation Administration to start making rules about seat pitch. Flyers Rights claimed that it wasn’t just a matter of convenience and comfort, but literally one of health and safety: Decreased space could make evacuations more difficult, they argued, as well as increase the risk of blood clots forming in the legs of passengers trapped in tiny seats for long-duration flights. After a lengthy legal back-and-forth, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year that the FAA needs to at least give serious consideration to the Flyers’ Rights petition, even if ultimately declines to make a rule about minimum allowable seat pitch.

The dangers of squeezing in

The Daily Beast reports that one of the reasons the FAA may have tried to dismiss Flyers Rights’ claims out of hand is because none of the safety testing actually lines up with the current configuration of planes and passengers. “All of the tests designed to achieve the fastest possible evacuations were devised decades before” density began to skyrocket and seat size began to shrink, the Daily Beast writes. As a result, it’s impossible to know if everyone really can evacuate a fully-packed jet under current seating conditions based on the tests that are currently done — especially as many tests are kept proprietary and internal by the airlines and manufacturers that conduct them. Of particular concern are the individual seat-back TV screens that airlines increasingly use. Sure, they’re convenient for catching an in-flight film or ordering a snack, but the combination of “TV” and “head” is not a healthy one. Department of Transportation documents the Daily Beast examined revealed that testing seat-back screens for blunt trauma impact destroyed so many screens that the FAA started allowing manufacturers to test with cheaper replicas, instead. Why? Because dummies’ heads were whamming into them with alarming frequency. For your safety, in a crash or otherwise problematic landing, you’re supposed to put yourself in the brace position to protect your head. But DOT diagrams show that simple geometry means that with low seat pitch, you literally don’t have enough space to do so.

Does it matter?

The FAA has until Dec. 28 to respond to the Flyers Rights’ petition with “a properly reasoned disposition of the petition’s safety concerns about the adverse impact of decreased seat dimensions and increased passenger size on aircraft emergency egress.” In English, that means the agency has to explain why it’s fine for them not to make rules about seat size or pitch, and ignore how densely packed airplanes are getting to be.