CT Residents See Rising Gas Prices, Airline Fares Heading Into Busy Travel Season – NBC Connecticut

Whether driving or flying, the cost to travel continues to rise. Airline fares saw a record increase in April.

With warmer weather arriving, many of us are dreaming about summer vacations.

“I might be taking a trip up to Maine or New Hampshire, do a little bit of hiking, do a little bit of biking,” said Christopher Kempf of Windsor.

Kempf said he’s not going to let the cost of gasoline get in the way of traveling.

“It’s just a few gallons of gas to get up there, so I’m not too concerned. I’ve got a Prius, so things could be worse,” said Kempf.

With many making plans, gas prices only seem to be going up.

AAA said the average price of a gallon of regular gas in the state is $4.40. That’s up from $4.23 a week ago. Last year at this time, drivers were paying far less at $3.04.

“It doesn’t matter to me because I need to go,” said Nhan Ma of Windsor Locks.

Ma will travel by plane this summer, and rising costs are hitting that industry, too.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported airline fares rose sharply by nearly 19% in April – that’s a one-month increase record.

“The airfare has been going up for the last few weeks, and I’m afraid it will go up even more significantly in the next few months,” said Quinnipiac University International Business Professor Dr. Mohammad Elahee.

Elahee said there are two factors behind the surge: the demand for travel and the increase in costs for labor and jet fuel.

He said many families increased the amount in their savings account during the pandemic by staying home and getting stimulus money from the government, and their desire to travel now will mean consumer demand will still be there even with the higher prices.

“I think more people will be traveling internationally, more people will be traveling domestically,” Elahee said.

Elahee believes the higher prices we’re seeing are going to be here until at least September.

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Winter Storm Snarls Travel, Forces Tough Choices for Schools | Connecticut News

By MARK PRATT, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — A winter storm that had already blanketed parts of the South in snow moved into the Northeast on Friday, snarling air travel, crushing morning commutes and delivering a dilemma to school districts that had been trying to keep children in classes during a surge in coronavirus cases.

Schools in Boston closed, and Providence, Rhode Island, public schools switched to distance learning, but New York City kept the nation’s largest public school system open.

“Children need to be in school. We don’t have any more days to waste” after the many closures and remote-learning days of the pandemic, said Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat dealing with his first major storm after taking office Saturday. He also noted that many children rely on in-school meals and that some working parents can’t stay home.

In central Pennsylvania, Ericka Weathers, a Penn State University education professor, scrambled to finish a fellowship application while her two kids were home from school because of the snow. She started working around 5:15 a.m. to try to ensure she’d have enough time to finish by the deadline Friday evening.

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“I’ve been trying to juggle,” she said as her 7-year-old sledded on the hill outside and her 4-year-old didn’t want to go out. “Every five minutes, someone’s asking me a question.”

By midday on the East Coast, airlines had scrubbed more than 2,400 flights, with the largest numbers at airports in Boston and the New York City area, according to tracking service FlightAware.

Airlines have struggled with staffing shortages caused by an increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious omicron variant. In the U.S., cancellations had eased a bit this week after peaking at more than 3,200 on Monday.

By Friday morning, some spots in New England including Danielson, Connecticut, Norwood, Massachusetts, and Burrillville, Rhode Island, had received more than a foot (30 centimeters) by late morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged people to stay off the roads and take public transportation if possible, but there were reports of crashes around the region.

Plow driver Michael D’Andrea got a firsthand look at the mess on the roads. He saw plenty of vehicles spin out as the thick snow fell.

“The first storm is always a bit more dangerous,” said D’Andrea, 34, of Norwood, Massachusetts. “No one has driven in this weather for like six months. People have to relearn how to drive in this. And it’s usually not a foot of snow the first one. This is almost a blizzard with how fast it came down. 2022 is off to a bang, but I suppose we were overdue.”

A commuter bus spun out of control and blocked lanes on the Massachusetts Turnpike just outside Boston early Friday. No injuries were reported, but the bus caused a huge traffic jam.

A driver died at about 7:30 a.m. when a car went off Route 140 in Freetown, Massachusetts, state police said.

A tractor-trailer jackknifed in Greenwich, Connecticut, and forced a temporary closure of southbound Interstate 95, state police said. There were no indications of mass strandings on the major north-south thoroughfare, as happened after snow in Virginia earlier this week left hundreds of motorists marooned for hours.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday night declared a state of emergency and delayed opening state offices for nonessential employees until 11 a.m.

But the snow had ended by 10 a.m. in New Jersey, allowing plows to clear the roads. Preliminary snowfall amounts showed 6 inches had fallen in Berlin, with 5 inches in Howell.

The storm also affected coronavirus testing sites, many of which have been overwhelmed with long lines and waits for days. Some testing sites in Rhode Island delayed their openings until later in the day, when the storm was expected to start tapering off. Testing sites in Connecticut closed.

From late Thursday through Friday afternoon, 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 centimeters) of snow were expected in parts of central and southern New Hampshire, and south-central and southwest Maine, according to the weather service.

The storm brought record-setting snow to some areas of the South on Thursday.

Nashville saw 6.3 inches (16 centimeters) Thursday, shattering the city’s previous Jan. 6 record of 4 inches (10 centimeters), which had stood since 1977, the weather service said. Freezing rain and sleet coated areas around the Tennessee-Alabama state border, said Scott Unger, a meteorologist for the service in Nashville.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear closed state offices at noon Thursday and later extended the closure through Friday.

The largest snowfall in Kentucky was nearly 10 inches (25 centimeters) in Lexington, according to the weather service.

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York; Shawn Marsh in Trenton, New Jersey; Dave Collins in Glastonbury, Connecticut; Philip Marcelo in Norwood, Massachusetts; and Bill Kole in Warwick, Rhode Island; and AP Business Writer David Koenig.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Forecast: More rain in the forecast, but travel will be good to go for Sunday | Connecticut Weather

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TRAFFIC ALERT: I-84 in Southbury is CLOSED after crash | Connecticut News

SOUTHBURY, CT (WFSB) – I-84 in Southbury is closed after an overturned motor vehicle crash. 

The state department of transportation’s website says I-84 westbound is closed between exits 17 and 16. 

According to state police, serious injuries were sustained as a result of this crash. 

CARS and the department of transportation are on their way to the scene police say. 

Police are asking drivers to use alternate routes for the time being. 

Stay with Channel 3 for all of your traffic updates. 

Copyright 2021 WFSB. All rights reserved.

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Holiday airline travel expected to be at pre-pandemic levels | Connecticut News

WINDSOR LOCKS, CT (WFSB) – With Christmas just a day or so away, families are traveling to see their loved ones.

Airline passenger travel is expected to be near pre-pandemic levels.

The busiest travel times are between 4 to 7 in the morning.

Lauren Angat is all packed and ready to fly to Florida for Christmas.

“Gonna go see family. It’s been about a year since I’ve seen my parents because of COVID so we are going to go for the holidays to get a little warmth and sunshine,” she said.

This year, she’s bringing her boyfriend, Tom Franco, with her.

Franco said, “I was born and raised in CT and the running joke I’ve been saying is this will be my first Christmas above 70 degrees, so we will see how it goes.”

Bradley International Airport says passenger volume is expected to double compared to last holiday season, it’s yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels.

But nationwide, the TSA says they screened more than 2 million people today. That’s more than they screened in 2019.

They also plan to screen 20 million people between today and January 3rd.

Sean Clarke from Fairfield said, “we decided to leave early so we are not rushing so we have 2.5 hours and sit down and have some lunch. As long as you leave early everything is ok. Very manageable.”

Clarke is also heading to Florida for Christmas.

He says he now vacations with his family for the holidays, “now that my kids are older yes. It’s so nice to be in a warm climate then to be in CT over the holidays.”

Near baggage claim, the airport is continuing to offer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations and booster shots during certain times.

Copyright 2021 WFSB. All rights reserved.

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Demand for COVID Tests High Amid New Cases, Christmas Travel | Connecticut News

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Demand for COVID-19 testing remained high Wednesday, with many sites reporting long lines as positive cases in Connecticut continue to climb and families prepare to gather for Christmas.

Mark Kidd, director of Wren Laboratories and one of two scientists that helped develop a saliva test that’s now being offered at two locations in New Haven, said demand has “exploded” for COVID-19 testing and staff at his lab have been working 12-hour shifts to make sure people get timely results.

“For us, the most important gift we think that you can give anyone right now is the gift of a negative test,” Kidd said Wednesday, during a news conference held at a testing site at Long Wharf on Sargent Drive that opened Monday. New Haven officials also opened a second saliva testing site on the New Haven Green, in addition to other existing testing locations in the city.

New state data released Wednesday show there have been more than 3,600 new positive cases reported since Tuesday. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 925.3, an increase of 59%, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins.

Officials from the city of Bridgeport on Wednesday urged residents to get a free test at the North Branch Library and not wait in long lines at other locations.

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In Waterford, for example, a weekly drive-thru testing site at the local library on Wednesday had to turn people away because the line had gotten too long and became a traffic hazard, The Day of New London reported.

Stephen Mansfield, director of the Ledge Light Health District in eastern Connecticut, told The Day that turning people away “has not been uncommon and unfortunately it will likely be common in the future.”

“It’s not a matter of resources in terms of test kits, it’s just that the demand for testing has gone up exponentially in the past few weeks,” he said.

Meanwhile, Yale New Haven Health announced Wednesday that all visitors planning to see admitted patients will have to show proof they’ve been fully vaccinated or a negative PCR test. The change to the visitation policy, which takes effect on Thursday at 8 a.m., stems from the increased number of COVID-19 cases.

Patients will also be allowed only one visitor per day and that visitor must be 18 years or older.

Nuvance Health, which operates hospitals in Danbury, Sharon, New Milford and Norwalk, also plans to impose new restrictions on visitations, beginning Thursday. Visitation hours for inpatients will be restricted to a maximum of four hours and limited to one support person per day for patients not suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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State Police Traffic Stops Drop by Half Since Pandemic Began | Connecticut News

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut State Police are pulling over law-breaking drivers at less than half the rate they were at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data.

Troopers pulled over about 76,000 motorists in 2020, compared with about 157,000 in 2019, according to statistics compiled by the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at the University of Connecticut and reported Saturday by the Hartford Courant.

Traffic stops have further dropped this year, despite data showing motorists are driving faster than ever. State police stopped about 59,900 vehicles from January to October, statistics show.

Troopers also are writing fewer tickets — 105,000 in 2019, about 45,000 in 2020 and about 27,600 in the first 10 months of this year, data show.

Andrew Matthews, executive director of the state troopers’ union and a retired state police sergeant, said three factors in the drop in enforcement have been decreased staffing, worries about contracting the virus and low morale caused by new police accountability laws. He said there are about 300 fewer troopers than there were about 15 years ago, when staffing peaked at 1,283., because of retirements.

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Gov. Ned Lamont and Bridgeport state Rep. Steven Stafstrom, both Democrats, said staffing is a concern, but they doubted the accountability laws are to blame. The laws have limited police immunity from lawsuits and expanded the reasons officers’ state certifications can be revoked, among other measures.

Traffic fatalities in Connecticut are on track to total more than 330 this year, which would be the highest annual number since comprehensive records began being compiled in 1994, state officials said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Public health experts offer advice for holiday travel | Connecticut News

WINDSOR LOCKS, CT (WFSB) — Despite the omicron variant surfacing in the U.S., public health experts say you don’t need to cancel your holiday plans.

Public health experts say traveling within the country for the holidays is low risk if you’re vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.

Public health experts say if you are vaccinated and you’re visiting other vaccinated people over the holidays, you can do so safely.

The CDC recommends knowing the level of COVID transmission at your destination, and wearing a mask indoors in high-level communities, even if you are vaccinated.

Public health experts say being on a plane itself is safe if you’re vaccinated, and if you follow the rules, you will be safe.

“I think we all have to be wise, but I also think we know that isolating and missing Christmas would be tragic, so I’m going to continue to do what was planned,” said Lou Elliot, who is traveling to visit family in Massachusetts.

Public health experts say the omicron variant will likely start peaking in January.

Copyright 2021 WFSB. All rights reserved.

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Want to Book a Trip? Tips from Local Travel Agents During Pandemic – NBC Connecticut

First it was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday. Now it’s Travel Tuesday, a day where there’s lots of deals on destinations.

With a new variant and covid protocols constantly changing, local travel agents we spoke to say make smart travel plans, so don’t just bite on the best deal.

“Nonrefundable rates are definitely a risk and we do not like to book them, especially far in advance,” said Melissa Albright the vice president of Wethersfield Travel.

With so many unknowns, should you still plan ahead? She says, yes.

Albright says travel demand has been taking off the past couple of months.

“I’m always a fan of booking ahead because especially now with all the pent-up demand for travel, space is limited.”

For example, she says Cancun is one of the most popular vacation spots for passengers flying out of Bradley International Airport.

But if you want to go in April during school vacation, she says you’re probably out of luck. The best flights are booked.

Another tip: have safeguards in place so if you have to make a change so you don’t lose cash.

Agents we spoke to strongly recommend travel insurance, but read the fine print.

“Selecting the right policy that’s going to cover the things most important to you and to fit your needs,” said Dianne Bourgoin, AAA Travel Spokesperson.

Make sure the policy covers what is most important to you. Does it cover pre-existing conditions? Does it include “cancel for any reason” coverage? What happens if the country you’ve scheduled a trip to gets included on the CDC’s travel restriction list? These are some of the questions you need to ask.

Also, beware of bundle deals. They’re easy to book, but if a flight needs to be rescheduled, it can become a headache.

Make sure to stay up on the covid protocols and procedures at your destination. Hiring a travel agent can help with that.

“Understand and knowing what your testing requirements are. Do you need to be vaccinated or do you need to quarantine when you get to your destination?,” said Bourgoin.

Don’t expect cancellation policies that became common at the start of the coronavirus crisis to still be in effect, like extended rebooking periods.

So they reiterate make sure to read the fine print for whatever you book: plane, train, and automobiles.

“I think in these days insurance and patience and just being flexible with all the changes that are happening is very important,” said Albright.

If having to get a negative a covid test to enter or exit a country makes you too anxious, she says that’s probably not the place for you.

“You don’t want somebody to be anxious about their trip. They want to look forward to it.”

Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection sent over these tips:

  • Read the terms of any purchase – understand the refund and cancellation policy before you book
  • Be aware ahead of time of any COVID-19 protocols. Masks are still required in airports and on airplanes, so be prepared.
  • Do your research to determine if you might want travel insurance. This comes with understanding the refund and cancellation policies.

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Officials offer tips for a safe Thanksgiving | Connecticut News

(WFSB) – Millions of drivers will be hitting the road tomorrow morning.

Officials are working to help drivers stay safe this weekend, as car thefts are on the rise in the state.

The next two days are huge for traveling and shopping, and with car thefts on the rise police are sending out tips to keep you safe.

Like when you’re parked in a parking lot, always making sure you have your keys out and ready to go and if you’re shopping at night, they say try to park under a light.

Another big tip this weekend is to have patience on the road because they will be crowded.

The 2020 holidays looked a little different for everyone, and now that we’re getting back to normal, that means holiday traffic is back.

AAA is predicting 48 million people will hit the roads this Thanksgiving. That’s up 13% from last year.

They estimate 2 million drivers in New England alone.

Jordan Udi of Hartford said, “normally we’d go up to Massachusetts, but we decided we don’t want to travel this year.”

Luckily for Udi, his family will be coming to him.

“My brother and his wife are going to be traveling to us and my grandmothers going to be coming from Massachusetts,” said Udi.

The same goes for the Wade family in Hartford.

Alversia Wade said, “my dad lives near New Jersey and my brothers coming up Springfield. So, we’re all just going to be at my house just having fun, cooking up a feast.”

While some will stay home prepared their Thanksgiving meals, others will be heading to the bars tonight.

“I expect the bars to be full,” said Jordan.

Sometimes called Blackout Wednesday or Drinksgiving, bars tend to fill up the night before Thanksgiving with people home for the holiday.

“We’re going to be preparing doing all the prep but there is a bar right there so maybe we’ll sneak out. But that’s only if we get all the cakes baked,” said Wade.

In an effort to stop drinking and driving. The Connecticut Department of Transportation is encouraging those who drink this holiday season to use a ride service.

They created a $10 discount code for Uber, it’s SAVETHENIGHTCT.

It’s available until January 14th.

If you plan to do any holiday shopping this weekend, police are asking people to stay vigilant.

East Hartford Police sent out these tips:

  • never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or children inside.
  • do not leave valuables on the seat.
  • park as close as you can to your destination.

East Hartford Police also say if you feel uncomfortable or you see anyone looking suspicious, ask mall or store security to escort you to your car.

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