Air travel still clogged by hurricane Sandy, but some flights resume (+video)

Hurricane Sandy largely grounded air travel in the nation’s busiest air corridor, and it will take days for travelers to get their plans back on track.

Skip to next paragraph

  • In Pictures: Sandy: the perfect storm

Flooding means it’s unclear when New York’s LaGuardia Airport will reopen. But as the storm moves inland, limited air travel has resumed in the Northeast.

On Tuesday, for example, Alaska Airlines’ morning nonstop from Seattle to Boston was back in action, after being cancelled Monday. While en route, Flight 12 was actually scheduled to land at Boston’s Logan Airport a few minutes early.

IN PICTURES: Superstorm Sandy

But many thousands of travelers who were still searching for ways to, from, or through East Coast airports, confronted the following realities:

• Sandy has resulted in over 18,100 flight cancellations so far, including nearly 8,000 on Monday and more than 7,000 on Tuesday.

• The major New York City area airports remain closed with no estimated reopen time.

• Airports in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston were open but operating with limited flights.

• Passengers are reporting wait times of several hours at most airline call centers.

“Every airline is allowing fee-free changes (and refunds in some cases) for itineraries potentially impacted by the storm,” FlightAware said in a Tuesday afternoon status report, which contained the flight-cancellation totals. “The best way to make flight changes is on airline websites.””

Some passengers have been helped in rebooking by posting Twitter updates about their plight, with a mention of the airline involved. Even as airlines work to restore service and rebook passengers, the tally of Sandy-related flight cancellations could grow.

But when the airports do reopen, lessons that airlines learned the hard way from previous storm-induced disruptions to regular service should help the airlines restore service more smoothly and quickly, even if they’re dealing with a substantial backlog.

“It will probably take until the weekend for things to return to normal,” Rob Maruster, chief operating officer of New York-based JetBlue Airways, told the Associated Press.

Taking a page from a new bad-weather playbook, airlines that had been tracking Sandy for days moved quickly to cancel flights in advance, keeping passengers from congregating in terminals (nothing good can come of that), aircraft scattered at other airports out of harms way, and flight crews and airport staff rested and fresh for the resumption of business.

“The last few major storms created such gridlock, and such bad will with their best customers,” airlines “just had to shift their behavior,” Kate Hanni, who heads up the passenger advocacy group Flyers Rights, told the AP. “The flying public would rather have their flights pre-cancelled than be sleeping in Chicago on a cot.”

IN PICTURES: Sandy, the perfect storm

Article source:

Travel getting back to normal

Destination Koehler

Eric Koehler is the pastor at ValleyPoint Church in Glen Mills. A father of six, husband and teacher, he uses his site to share a mixture of insight on life, family, culture and the church.

Article source:

Top Canadian book prize awarded to humorist, travel writer

Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:25pm EDT

TORONTO (Reuters) – A humorist, travel writer and novelist who penned a fictional tale about the inner workings of Nigerian email scams won Canada’s most prestigious and lucrative literary prize on Tuesday.

Will Ferguson won the C$50,000 ($50,000) Scotiabank Giller prize for his novel “419,” published by Penguin Canada.

“I’d like to raise a toast to the written word,” Ferguson, said in his acceptance speech as he drank from a flask at the podium.

Besides the cash prize, the award will likely to lead to a sharp boost in sales for the novel that is about a woman who hunts for those she believes are responsible for her father’s death.

The winner was chosen from a short list that included Alix Ohlin for “Inside,” Nancy Richler for “The Imposter Bride,” Kim Thúy for “Ru” and Russell Wangersky for “Whirl Away.”

In its 19th year, this year’s Giller winner was chosen by a three-member jury: the Irish author Roddy Doyle, the Canadian publisher and essayist Anna Porter and the American author Gary Shteyngart.

Ferguson’s book was called a “fast-paced, impeccably plotted thriller that investigates the world of Nigerian email scams,” by Globe and Mail critic John Barber, who had predicted the book was the odds on favorite to win.

In the run-up to the competition the Giller jury extolled Ferguson as a “true travel writer” who was attuned to detail as well as dialogue and suspense.

“It is tempting to put “419″ in some easy genre category, but that would only serve to deny its accomplishment and its genius,” the jury said.

(Reporting By Russ Blinch; editing by Christopher Wilson)

Article source:

Sandy Grounds Northeast Air Travel

Anyone hoping to fly to or from the northeastern U.S. today was largely out of luck, and Wednesday won’t be much better, at least around New York City. The federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed the area’s three main airports (John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty, and LaGuardia) on Monday over flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, and while it’s unclear when traffic may resume, the major carriers do not expect to return their planes to the city before Thursday.

Here’s an FAA map of the airports’ current status. A black dot means an airport is closed.

“It’s just water, water everywhere,” says Michelle Mohr, a spokeswoman for US Airways (LCC), which parked about 85 planes at its Charlotte hub and a roughly equal number in Pittsburgh ahead of the storm on Monday. Airlines such as United (UAL), Delta (DAL), and American are aiming to restore service in Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore late Tuesday and Wednesday, but the outlook for New York remains dimmer given worse flooding.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he expected JFK would reopen on Wednesday, but LaGuardia would not. LaGuardia, which is closer to Manhattan, is a favorite for business travelers and the site of near-hourly shuttle services to Washington and Boston. Both airports are adjacent to large bays, with runways that sit beside water. One of LaGuardia’s runways was built partly over Flushing Bay.

Airlines canceled nearly 6,200 flights on Tuesday at the eight largest Northeast airports, down slightly from Monday at the height of the storm, according to data from FlightView, a flight-tracking software firm in Newton, Mass. Since Sandy began its northward trek from the Caribbean, airlines have scrubbed more than 16,200 flights, according to flight tracker FlightStats.

Airlines worked over the weekend to get their jets out of New York ahead of the pending storm and to rebook passengers. Most airlines allowed passengers with travel reservations through Nov. 1 to alter their plans, which reduced airport strandings. “Folks, in general, got a sense that this was going to be a real storm and got their plans in order,” Mohr says.

Article source:

Virgin Australia Deals Spark Air-Travel Duopoly Concerns

Virgin (VAH) Australia Holdings Ltd.’s
plan to buy two domestic airlines faces a “very complicated”
review because of concerns the country’s aviation market will be
reduced to a duopoly, the nation’s antitrust regulator said.

The proposed acquisition of a controlling stake in Tiger
Airways Holdings Ltd. (TGR)’s local unit and of a regional carrier
will need to be examined “extremely carefully” in a process
that will probably take months, Rod Sims, chairman of the
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said yesterday
by phone. The antitrust issues will be “very complicated,” he
said, declining to comment on whether approval was likely.

A Tiger deal would combine Australia’s second and third-
biggest airlines as Virgin Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti pursues acquisitions and international tie-ups to lure
passengers from Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN) Brisbane-based Virgin also
agreed to sell a 10 percent stake to Singapore Airlines Ltd. for
A$105 million ($109 million) to help fund its plans.

“Having a third player in there like Tiger does discipline
the other two players,” Sims said, referring to Virgin and
Qantas. “If you have that taken out you do lose that

Virgin Purchases

Virgin plans to buy 60 percent of Tiger Australia for A$35
million. It intends to pay about A$94 million in shares and
stock for all of Skywest Airlines Ltd. (SXR), pending approval from
the smaller carrier’s shareholders. The stake sale to Singapore
Air, which has already been approved by Australia’s foreign
investment regulator, is unlikely to raise significant
competition issues, Sims said.

Virgin has about 30 percent of Australia’s domestic travel
market, while Tiger has around 4 percent and Skywest has less
than 1 percent, Matthew Spence, an analyst at Bank of America
Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit, wrote in an Oct. 30 note to clients.
Qantas has about 65 percent of the market, a level which it
considers optimal and has pledged to defend.

Borghetti yesterday said the Tiger and Skywest acquisitions
will bolster competition as Qantas would face a larger rival. He
also said that Tiger isn’t a direct competitor as, unlike Qantas,
Virgin doesn’t have a budget arm.

“Since we’ve started, any entry that we’ve had in just
about any market improved competition,” he said. “That won’t

The carrier’s entrance into the business-class market has
helped drive domestic premium ticket prices to 20-year lows. The
airline began adding business-class seats in the past couple of
years after abandoning a budget-carrier strategy.

Overlapping Markets

Sims rejected the suggestion that low-cost and full-service
carriers aren’t in competition with each other.

“You can’t segment it to say there is an absolutely
separate premium and low-cost carrier market,” he said. “They
do cross over.”

Virgin may also argue that its joint venture may be the
best way to stop Tiger’s management quitting the Australian
market to focus on more profitable routes, Russell Shaw, an
analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. in Sydney, wrote in a note to
clients Oct. 30.

Still, this exception is only allowed when the target
company is “in imminent danger of failure,” according to the
regulator’s guidelines. Tiger Air is based in Singapore.

No Concessions

Virgin may be unwilling to make significant concessions to
win regulatory approval for the two takeovers as it seeks to
pare costs and boost sales by aligning operations.

Coordinating Virgin and Tiger’s schedules is “absolutely
fundamental” to the deal, Borghetti said in an interview. If
the regulator blocks this, the deal won’t happen, he said.

Virgin rose 1 percent to close at 49 Australian cents in
Sydney. The stock surged 5.4 percent, the most in almost two
months, yesterday. Qantas declined 0.8 percent to A$1.33 today.

The takeovers and the Singapore Air equity tie-up may add
to pressure on Qantas, which has already cut international
services, delayed new planes and sought a tie-up with Emirates
on Europe routes to pare overseas losses.

The takeovers would give Virgin a budget brand to compete
with Qantas’ Jetstar and a regional arm to challenge QantasLink,
Tony Webber, managing director of Webber Quantitative Consulting,
said by phone. These are markets Virgin has overlooked in its
push to win premium traffic, he said.

“They’ve aggressively pursued the corporate and business
market but they lacked depth and exposure to the leisure segment,
regional and charter segments,” he said.

Etihad Stake

Virgin, which is part-owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin
Group, has previously sold stakes to Etihad Airways PJSC and Air
New Zealand Ltd. (AIR) The airline also cooperates with the two
carriers, Singapore Air and Delta Air Lines Inc. on
international routes.

Qantas “remained focused on its strategy” of maintaining
market share on domestic routes and forming the alliance with
Emirates, spokesman Andrew McGinnes said in an e-mailed

Qantas has defended this mark by increasing Jetstar’s
capacity about 20 percent over the past year, mainly because of
expansion by Tiger, Macquarie’s Shaw wrote in an earlier note to
clients Oct. 22.

Growth in domestic capacity “remains well above long-term
demand growth,” which will pressure fares and margins, he said.

Tiger, which flies to nine destinations in Australia
including all of the country’s state capitals, said last week it
was looking at adding new flights after restrictions imposed by
Australia’s air-safety regulator were lifted. The carrier had
its local flights grounded for about six weeks last year because
of safety violations.

To contact the reporter on this story:
David Fickling in Sydney at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Neil Denslow in Hong Kong at

Article source:

New Yorkers take Sandy travel challenges in stride

NEW YORK (Reuters) – With New York City’s subway system paralyzed by Sandy’s crippling blow, millions of commuters are rethinking how they will get to work this week, and they are taking it one step at a time.

The storm, which killed 23 people in New York state, closed roads and bridges and flooded tunnels, garages and rail yards, dousing the nation’s largest mass transit system with saltwater, which is corrosive to its electrical system.

“The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night,” Joseph Lhota, chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, said in a statement on Tuesday.

He later said that water was “literally up to the ceiling” at downtown Manhattan’s South Ferry train station.

The subway could be out of service for four or five days, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, as the authority checks the entire system for saltwater damage. Late on Tuesday, Lhota issued a statement saying the agency would be able to discuss a timetable for restarting the system by mid-day on Wednesday.

This could prompt hordes of New Yorkers to lace up their walking shoes. Some said they did not mind.

“You can’t go three to four days without pay,” said Anthony Perrone, a 31-year-old consultant on Wall Street, who said he was planning for an hour-and-15-minute walk to work. He said he was annoyed, but noted others had suffered more.

His brother, who lives in the waterfront neighborhood of Howard Beach, lost two cars to flooding, Perrone said. “I can’t complain,” he said.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, as the city slowly crept back to life, crews assessed the damage to the subway system’s tunnels and elevated tracks. Restoring the system is likely to be a gradual process, MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker said.

All seven subway tunnels running under the East River from Manhattan to Queens and Brooklyn took in water, Parker said.

“It’s really hard to say which areas will come back first,” she said, adding it will likely be a combination of limited subway and bus service. “It will come back gradually.”

As for buses, the city resumed limited service on Tuesday and full service will return on Wednesday, Bloomberg told a news conference.

The city counts an average of 5.3 million riders each weekday. The system, which runs around the clock, comprises 21 subway routes linked by 468 stations, and stretches across 660 miles of track.

To ease some of the burden, Bloomberg signed an executive order permitting taxi cabs to pick up multiple passengers, including when they already have passengers. Restrictions on livery cabs have also been relaxed, allowing the non-metered, non-yellow cars to pick up people on the street anywhere in the city.

The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the Queens Midtown Tunnel remained closed due to flooding. An MTA spokeswoman said the damage cannot be assessed until the water recedes.

The MTA’s Metro North Railroad lost power on its suburban Hudson and New Haven lines, while there was flooding in an East River tunnel used by the Long Island Rail Road, the agency said.

New Jersey’s PATH commuter train, which connects New Jersey with New York City, will likely remain suspended for at least a week to 10 days, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said. He said commuters should rely more on ferries and driving.

But with telecommunications disruptions still causing spotty coverage for cell phones and telephones the day after the storm, some New Yorkers were more worried about connecting with their families than about their commutes.

“I work all the way downtown and I don’t even care, to be honest,” said Brandon Brown, 30, who lives in midtown Manhattan and works in the human resources department of a financial services firm. “My primary concern is my family. I’m not worried about work or commuting right now.”

(Additional reporting by Dhanya Skariachan, Barbara Goldberg and Luciana Lopez; Editing by Eric Beech, Paul Simao, Jim Loney and Lisa Shumaker)

Article source:,0,7436632.story

Sandy shuts down Northeast air travel

Superstorm Sandy grounded more than 18,000 flights across the Northeast and the globe, and it will take days before travel gets back to normal.

According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, more than 7,000 flights were canceled on Tuesday alone. Delays rippled across the U.S., affecting travelers in cities from San Francisco to Atlanta. Some passengers attempting to fly out of Europe and Asia also were stuck.

Authorities closed the three big New York airports because of the storm. New York has the nation’s busiest airspace, so cancellations there can dramatically affect travel in other cities.

It was possible that John F. Kennedy airport would re-open for flights on Wednesday, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It wasn’t known when the LaGuardia and Newark, N.J. airports would reopen.

Flying began to resume at other airports. Delta restarted flying from Boston and Washington Dulles and Reagan on Tuesday. Airline spokesman Morgan Durrant said it would resume domestic flights from JFK on Wednesday.

Service was slowly returning to Philadelphia International Airport on Tuesday afternoon.

Hurricane Sandy converged with a cold-weather system and slammed into New Jersey on Monday evening with 80 mph winds. The monstrous hybrid of rain and high wind — and even snow in some mountainous inland areas — has killed more than three dozen people in the U.S.

Airlines anticipated the storm’s impact and began canceling flights on Saturday. By Tuesday they had scrapped more than 18,000.

In years past, airlines would have operated many of those flights — and left airplanes and crews stranded in the wrong cities when a blizzard or thunderstorm shut things down.

But airlines have gotten aggressive about canceling because it makes restarting flights easier.

“It’s kind of like dominoes — when one aircraft is out of place, it means the flight crew is out of place, and that has a ripple effect throughout the rest of the day,” said Lance Sherry, who runs the Center for Air Transportation Systems Research at George Mason University.

The number of cancellations from Sandy was roughly on par with other major storms that airlines deal with. A major winter storm in early 2011 caused 14,000 cancellations over four days.

Airlines face a large task in getting things back to normal. Workers had to clear garbage and downed tree limbs from runways at JFK. Water was on the runway at LaGuardia, according to a letter from United CEO Jeff Smisek to workers. At one point, some airlines hoped to restart some New York flights by late Tuesday, but that idea went out the window right along with the travel plans of their passengers.

Flooded roads and closed subways will keep some workers from the airport. Reservations workers at other airports and at call centers are busy dealing with stranded passengers.

Some travelers hunkered down and waited, while others looked for a new way home.

Orbitz said car rates jumped 14 percent in New York from last week. Rates jumped even higher in Boston and Washington, including a 50 percent spike in Philadelphia.

Orbitz said hotel room rates rose 55 percent in Newark, where cancellations accelerated earlier than other New York-area airports. They rose 9 percent in one week in Washington, but fell 8 percent in Boston and New York City.

Some travelers figured they could do better the further away they got from the coast.

Wedding photographer Josh Saran was in Washington D.C. to shoot a Saturday wedding. His Southwest flight home to Seattle was canceled, so he rented a car and headed toward Columbus, Ohio. When snow closed the highway, he turned his rented Chevy Aveo toward Pittsburgh to catch a US Airways flight.

“I have a really loving and smart girlfriend in Seattle that sits in front of a computer and calls the airlines and sees where I can go,” he said.

Airline reservations systems are so complex that one department might cancel a flight even while a reservations worker is trying to shift a traveler onto that same flight, said Joe Brancatelli, a travel expert who runs a newsletter for business travelers.

Travelers don’t have any choice but to be patient, he said.

“Where are they gonna go? They hate United today, they go to Delta next week,” he said. “Delta screws them, they go to American, and then it’s a big circle.”

—Copyright 2012 Associated Press

Article source:

Your suit is on a roll

Name: SkyRoll Garment Bag

What it is: A carry-on size, shoulder-hoisted cylindrical bag around which you wrap a zippered garment bag for hang-up clothes. It’s designed to get formal clothing to your destination wrinkle-free. The cylinder holds shoes, underwear, socks and folding clothes, plus toiletries.

The good: A nephew’s destination wedding in the Poconos was the perfect opportunity to try this suit-friendly bag. Of little faith, I packed a steamer too. The steamer turned out to be wasted cargo, because there was not a single wrinkle in my suit upon arrival. Previously, if I needed a suit on a trip, I’d wear it, because I had never found a way to pack one without creasing it — even in checked bags. The two compartments within the cylinder are ample for a long weekend. They are accessed via zippered lids on each end, separated by a semimobile divider inside. This bag is on the smaller side of carry-on sizes and will even fit in the overhead bins of regional jets, though you may have to convince the flight attendants of that. For business travel, this bag and a briefcase or small backpack would be more than enough cargo space. And look, no checked-bag fee!

The bad: The bag is so easy to carry with its shoulder strap, you may be tempted to walk down the airplane aisle that way, but don’t. Carry it vertically with the hand strap on the end, or you will bonk fellow passengers (as I did once — sorry!).

Cost: $150

Available from: or at Men’s Wearhouse stores.

Article source:,0,1926669.story

Maps, travel search and how the game is changing for the better

NB: This is a guest article by Marcus Thielking, co-founder of Skobbler.

Google Maps. Apple Maps. OpenStreetMap. Sound familiar?

No matter what map service or platform we’re talking about, I think now, more than ever, one thing is clear – digital maps and mapping technologies are more important than they’ve ever been.

Don’t believe me? Ask Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. He’ll tell you.

Maps matter and always have. They matter to vacation goers using an app to find a last-minute hotel reservation nearest to them (for the record, we prefer Airbnb).

They also matter to the developer who made the app that allowed you to do that in fine minutes. Maps matter. They’ve always been an essential albeit under-appreciated digital resource.

Now, though, we’re just more aware of their value.

To some degree, you can credit this to Apple and iOS 6. The rise and fall of Apple Maps made mapping services one of the topic of the year in the digital world.

Yet, this emergence has been in-progress for quite some time. Maps were bound to be the world’s focal point. It was inevitable. But why is that, exactly?

The rise of location-based apps

According to a May 2012 report from Pew Internet, nearly 74% of smartphone owners today use real-time location-based information services and 10% use geo-social services like Foursquare or Sonar.

These numbers are up significantly from just a year prior. In 2011, Gartner noted that location-based services will reach 1.4 billion users by 2014.

Clearly, the use of location-based services is expected to see huge gains each year.

However, more importantly, for our purposes, what we must not forget is that every single location-based service, feature, etc., needs a digital map woven into its core. Without mapping data as a foundation, Foursquare, Yelp, Uber—none of them exist.

This why maps are a focus today. It’s because they’re a critical resource. They power your favorite location-based service and are the engine in the car.

And as more location-based apps and services are created and developed, maps will continue to be central (more LBS also means more location-based dollars for developers, map-makers and the brick-and-mortar businesses that are being featured on the maps).

With this in mind, what makes one map different from another?

The need for hyperlocal data

As location-based services grow in their popularity, so, too, does the need for the most accurate and detailed location data. After all, you can’t have a good location-based service without a rich and meticulous mapping platform supporting it in the back-end.

The service is only as good as the data, which makes the map’s quality and depth an important, ongoing issue.

In fact, as more map services come to the fore, the level of detail and better-quality hyperlocal data will be what separates one map from the next.

This is why Google Maps, for instance, recently announced the addition of 25 million new building footprints.

It’s also why the OpenStreetMap project is often touted for the richness of its hyperlocal data, enabling developers to incorporate location information beyond just the street level.

It’s also why services like Walkbase exist, giving developers remarkable access to indoor positioning data and real-time room-level context.

The need for unparalleled breadth and accuracy of location information has grown in tandem with the rise of location-based services. Simply put—the more data, the better.

This is why the concept of crowdsourcing has become so successful. From a scalable perspective, there’s simply too much data (a good thing) and no other way to collect and maintain it. You need troops on the ground, as they say, to help with the database-building.

That’s why Google and Apple integrate some degree of crowdsourcing into their map offerings. It’s also why the OpenStreetMap has become a go-to platform.

This actually brings us to another reason maps are so top-of-mind today—platform diversity.

Maps and platform diversity 

Mapping service diversity has made maps sexy.

The emergence of LBS and the related need for hyperlocal data are core to mapping’s pubic ascent. But, as seen with Apple Maps, the reason more and more people are interested in maps is because of the unique competition we’re seeing across the board.

With Google, Apple, Bing, OpenStreetMap and other services, end-users and developers are being provided choices.

After a static period, the space is being disrupted by newcomers keen to address the location needs of consumers and developers alike. Each service is offering something that the other may not have, as well. When you’re discussing the benefits of diversity and having multiple players in a space—that’s huge

For the same reason the Android versus iPhone battling is interesting – there’s so much at stake – similar logic applies to the mapping wars of 2012. Location is key to every aspect of our lives and that’s playing out digitally. This makes mapping tech central

That’s why Apple chose to enter the mapping space. They know what’s at stake (and you can bet they’ll work on getting their map offering right so that it has a say).

So, what can we predict about the mapping space moving forward?

As the importance of location-based services continues, maps, and the quality of them, will, as well. This is hardly a prediction, though. Logic tells us that this will happen

If this is the case, the real question becomes: in an increasingly crowded landscape, which map wins? Or can there even be a winner?

If I had to pick, I would say that the map service that best incorporates accurate and rich hyperlocal data will. That will depend, though, on the service that truly embraces crowdsourcing to handle the challenge.

NB: This is a guest article by Marcus Thielking, co-founder of Skobbler.

NB2: Paint globe image via Shutterstock.

Related posts:

  1. Google Maps monoculture is over – socially integrated and beautiful maps coming to travel
  2. Mobile, maps, travel and the Walk-In Economy
  3. Not to be outdone by Google hotel maps, TripAdvisor debuts maps with vacation-rental pricing

Article source:

Easing family air travel for the holidays

Air travel with your family during the holidays can be stressful and challenging. Here are tips to ease the pain.