Airlines Add Holiday Surcharge

If you are looking to travel on some of the busiest travel days of the season, be prepared for another surcharge on your ticket. United Airlines and Americans Airlines each added a $10 surcharge on most of their tickets for the following busy travel days: November 29th (Sunday after Thanksgiving), January 2nd, and January 3rd. The charge is technically a “fuel surcharge,” but it seems that the airlines are really just looking to hit you in your wallet, just for traveling during the holiday season. If you plan on traveling by air for the holidays, perhaps you could choose travel dates that don’t include these three special days. Your wallet will appreciate it.


In-Flight Internet Access is Quickly Expanding

For busy business travelers, time spent in the air can be a waste. Stuck 30,000 feet above ground in a communication blackout is not ideal considering the old adage “time is money”. That may be changing soon however, since most airlines in the continental United States are testing and rolling out in-flight internet access.

Many major airlines in the US, including American Airlines, Airtran, JetBlue, and Southwest just to name a few, are either quickly rolling out the service, or starting to test the service on a limited number of planes. Airline industry experts seem to agree that offering internet access during flights could be a win-win situation for passengers and airlines.

For passengers, high speed internet access would allow email checking, video streaming, and everything the internet offers. This would allow business travelers to do work, and leisure travelers to relax with streaming music or internet surfing.

For airlines, high speed internet offers a new stream of potential income in a tough economic time. Fees are expected to be around $10 for internet access during a single flight. If widely adopted, high speed internet could make a significant impact on struggling airlines’ profits.


What Happens to Confiscated Items at Airports?

When you are going through the security checkpoint at the airport and they take your favorite pocket knife and your excess shampoo and toothpaste, do you know where your items are going? Well, it depends on the item.

As for your shampoo and toothpaste (in quantities greater than 3 ounces), they are immediately disposed of. As for your favorite pocket knife (or anything else considered of value), it will be donated to a state surplus agency, and be sold at auction, retail store, or website such as Ebay. Some agencies give first choice of the items to deserving organizations, like the Boy Scouts of America.

Just remember, if you have something of value and you want to keep it, your best chance is to put it in your checked-in baggage. Don’t risk losing your prized possession because you didn’t follow the rules. You can’t bring knives, corkscrews, electric saws, meat cleavers, bats, clubs, blades, wrenches, replica weapons, or even “decorative belt buckles shaped like guns or plastic toys”, (or gasoline, as one traveler tried and failed) with you on an aircraft. The rules are for your safety and the safety of those around you.


Passenger Bill of Rights to Limit Time on Tarmac

New legislation being debated in the US Senate seeks to limit the amount of time that passengers are forced to wait in cramped planes on a tramac waiting to take off. The bill is being referred to as a “passenger’s bill of rights,” and one provision in the bill would allow passengers to have the option to leave their planes after three hours of being stuck in a take-off queue.

Most travelers have heard the horror stories of planes sitting on runways for six hours or more waiting to take off. This can be unbelievably uncomfortable, not to mention all of the connecting flights that will be missed when flights are delayed this long. Needless to say, advocates of the flying public are pushing hard for new laws to prevent this from happening in the future.

Stiff resistance from airline lobbies exists to this legislation, so there is sure to be a long fight before anything comes to a vote or gets signed by the president.

Source: Associate Press

Unruly Passengers Face Harsher Punishment

Next time you fly, you can feel safer knowing that the punishment for unruly passengers is becoming more and more severe. The FAA reports an average of 80 unruly passenger aircraft incidents annually, with a total of over 900 over the past five years. These number don’t even reflect the all of the incidents, only the major ones. Many more less severe confrontations take place over delays, missing baggage, etc.

Confrontations can happen in many ways:

  • the most popular confrontation occurs when the flight attendant refuses to serve an already intoxicated passenger another beverage
  • failing to comply with airline policies, such as staying seated when the seat-belt light is on or turning off personal electronics when the plane is taking off or landing
  • fewer meals, snacks, and drinks, smaller seating space, more delays, more fees, and less fresh oxygen on board the aircraft are also triggers for confrontation

Interfering with a crew member can result in a civil penalty fine of up to $25,000. If criminal laws are also broken, the fine will be higher and jail time will most certainly be involved.


No More Lemons for Southwest Airlines

Southwest is finding creative ways to cut costs in the current difficult economic environment that airlines are currently operating in.

Earlier this week, Southwest announced that it will no longer offer lemons with the beverages served on flights. They expect this move to save the airline approximately $100,000 per year.

Limes will still be offered.

Southwest remains as one of the minority of airlines not charging for checked bags. I think most passengers will sacrifice their lemon wedges in order to save $20 checking a bag. Another smart move by Southwest Airlines.

Source: USA Today

Guns on Trains?

The United States Senate has passed legislation that would make it legal for Amtrak passengers to travel with guns.

The guns will need to be declared, checked, and stowed away unloaded in locked cases. This represents a return to the policy that was in place prior to September 2011.

So, if you are planning to travel across the country by train and you want to take your gun with you, now you can!

Source: Associated Press

Rental Car Availability Shrinks, While Prices Rise

With fewer people traveling, rental car companies are lowering the size of their fleets. These smaller fleets are forcing the leisure traveler to spend more to rent a car. The effect is not as noticeable to corporate travelers. Their companies have contracts with the rental companies to secure lower rates.

According to the article, a week long car rental has gone up an average of 36% since last year for midsize and compact rentals at major car rental companies at major airport locations. A representative from Enterprise says that its rates are up “less than 5%” from last year, but the data doesn’t lie.

This rate increase has led to an increase in support for lesser known companies, such as EZ Rent-A-Car. Consumers are finding lower rates with the smaller companies. They may not offer all of the amenities of the major rental companies, but the prices usually offset those amenities.

Travelated recommends that you examine all of your options before renting your next car. Do your research and it will pay off in the end.

Source: USA Today

Top 5 U.S. Theme Parks

Everyone loves a trip to a good theme park. Whether you are there for the rides, the shows, or just the experience, a theme park is reason enough to travel to a destination. Travelated has rounded up our top 5 favorite theme parks, no particular order.

  • Disney World (Orlando, FL) – Quite possibly the most well known park in the world, Disney World is actually a collection of smaller “parks”, including the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach. At the Magic Kingdom, you can experience all classic attractions and character you have known forever. Epcot allows you to experience the culture and cuisine of nations all over the world, all in one place. The Animal Kingdom is the world’s largest animal-themed park, where you can go on safaris with the animals. Hollywood Studios give you a behind the scenes look at where movies come to life. Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are both water parks that the whole family can enjoy. There are many ways to purchase tickets, with discounts as you purchase extended length tickets. For example, a one day adult ticket cost $79, while a 10 day adult ticket costs $24.30 per day. The Park Hopper pass, which is extra, allows you to get into any park, any day, with extended hours just for Park Hopper pass holders. There is so much to do, there is no wonder why this is the most famous park in the world.
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Branson, MO Vacation Facts

Branson is a quiet little Ozark Mountain town in Southwest Missouri, but don’t let that quaint description fool you. Branson is full of fun and entertainment for the whole family. There are plenty of shows, shopping, indoor and outdoor activities, among many other wonderful activities.

Branson Climate

Branson offers a good range of climate, depending on when you plan to visit. The summers are warm, but no too hot, and the winters are comfortably mild.

Season Average Daily High Temperature
Spring 66
Summer 87
Fall 75
Winter 45

Busiest Travel Seasons for Branson

Although there is plenty to do in the winter, the spring, summer, and fall seasons are definitely the busiest times for Branson.

Average Airfare To Springfield, MO (nearest major airport to Branson)

Prices given are for Round Trip, coach.

Atlanta to Springfield $189.00
San Francisco to Springfield $478.00
New York to Springfield $387.00
LA to Springfield $478.00

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