AUS asks passengers to arrive early as busy travel season begins


The airport said an estimated 22 million passengers will fly out of AUS this year, making 2022 a record-breaking year. The increase in passengers comes after significant growth and investment in Austin by the airlines. 

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is asking passengers to plan ahead for the record-breaking summer. 

AUS expects to have the busiest Memorial Day travel time in the airport’s history. Memorial Day Weekend traditionally signals the start of summer travel, but AUS daily passenger numbers have already been climbing. 

The airport said an estimated 22 million passengers will fly out of AUS this year, making 2022 a record-breaking year. The increase in passengers comes after significant growth and investment in Austin by the airlines. 

Last summer, peak travel days at AUS were Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays, mainly before 8 a.m. But heading into summer 2022, passengers can expect every day of the week to be busy. 

“Our COVID-19 recovery has been stronger than we ever could have imagined, which is why AUS is the strongest-recovering and fastest-growing airport in the U.S. based on seat capacity increases,” said Jacqueline Yaft, AUS Chief Executive Officer. “With unprecedented growth comes unprecedented challenges. We continue to work with our airlines, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and concession partners to address staffing shortages that lead to lines and delays. AUS is also committed to delivering an improved passenger experience through our Airport Expansion and Development Program (AEDP). This summer, we will break ground on the first series of construction projects.”

Those near-term AEDP projects will accommodate future passenger demand and include a new outbound baggage handling system and Gate 13 renovation to maximize capacity for flights. 

As well, the Department of Aviation, along with airport business partners such as concession operators, airlines, the TSA, and more, are hiring for full and part-time positions. For airport employment opportunities, visit AustinTexas.gov/AUSJobs.

AUS has offered some tips for passengers heading into a busy travel season:

When to arrive at AUS
To help manage summer travel through AUS, passengers using general security should arrive at least two and a half hours before boarding domestic flights and three hours before boarding international flights, regardless of the day of week or time of day their flight is scheduled.
 
Travelers should budget extra time if they need to check luggage, return a rental car, or complete other activities before joining the security screening lines. First-time flyers, travelers who have not flown in years, large groups, and those traveling with small children should also give themselves extra time.
 
Preparing for TSA screening and packing properly
Security screening checkpoints open at 3 a.m. TSA PreCheck and Clear screening are available at Checkpoints 1 and 2 West. All four checkpoints lead to all gates and airlines in the Barbara Jordan Terminal.
 
TSA security delays can occur when passengers accidentally pack prohibited items in their carry-on luggage. To help avoid delays, passengers should review what they can and can’t bring with them through security at TSA.gov.
 
Parking and or dropping off passengers
An increase in travelers means more vehicles at AUS. Drivers dropping off passengers can use either the upper level for departures or the lower level for arrivals to ease congestion. Passengers dropped off at the lower level can quickly get upstairs to ticketing and security using escalators and elevators. If the lower level is congested, arriving passengers can use escalators and elevators to be picked up on the upper level.
 
Travelers looking to park onsite can visit ABIAParking.com to reserve a parking space and check for real-time parking availability before arriving at the airport.
 
Uber, Lyft, Wingz, or other rideshares use a tram service available on the first floor of the Red garage to take passengers to the rideshare pick-up area located on the ground floor underneath the rental car facility.
 
Checking into your flight
Travelers without checked luggage can bypass the ticket counters and head immediately to TSA screening checkpoints using these time-saving flight check-in options:

  • Use the lower curbside and upper curbside for drop-off — from the lower level, passengers can quickly get upstairs to ticketing and security via escalators and elevators.
  • Self-service flight check-in kiosks that allow travelers to print their boarding passes and bag tags are available inside the terminal, across from the airline ticket counters.
  • In addition to traditional check-in procedures, some airlines offer outside curbside check-in on the upper level.
  • Travelers can also save time by checking in for their flight using their airlines’ mobile app and a mobile boarding pass.

Getting the most out of AUS
Once inside the terminal, travelers can explore new art installations, concession offerings, live music stages, and more using step-by-step directions on the AUS digital wayfinding map at AirportMaps.AustinTexas.gov.
 
While airport restaurant hours may vary pending concession company staffing levels, AUS has invested in new self-service kiosks that are available 24/7 for passengers to purchase snacks, beverages, and travel necessities, including made-and-delivered-daily Sprinkles Cupcakes.

Information for Allegiant and Frontier travelers
Travelers flying with Allegiant and Frontier will depart from The South Terminal. All other airlines operate out of the main Barbara Jordan Terminal. The two terminals are not connected and must be accessed separately. The South Terminal is located near US 183 and Burleson Road, at 10000 Logistics Lane, Austin. Travelers can use the shuttle bus, which picks up from the departure level of the curbside, to travel from the Barbara Jordan Terminal to The South Terminal.



Source link

WNBA travel issues resurface early for Washington Mystics and Las Vegas Aces


The Mystics defeated the Aces Tuesday on the strength of a dominant 24-7 third quarter to earn perhaps the most impressive win of the young WNBA season. But before and after the game, the conversation turned to the league’s travel policy.

This isn’t the first time travel has dominated the discourse between Washington and Las Vegas, but at least this time, the game went on as scheduled.

Four years ago, during their inaugural season in Las Vegas, the Aces spent more than 24 hours traveling to Washington, a harrowing day that involved flight delays and cancellations, sleeping overnight in a Dallas airport terminal, and splitting up from there on the way to D.C. Las Vegas ultimately forfeited the game, even after it was pushed back an hour, because the Aces didn’t believe they were physically fit to play.

(Frankly, nothing ever goes according to plan when these two teams play, but we’ll stick to travel for now.)

The next season, in one of her first acts as WNBA commissioner, Cathy Engelbert decided to charter planes for Las Vegas — and the Los Angeles Sparks — who were both flying cross-country to Washington and Connecticut, respectively. The Aces and Sparks were contesting playoff games on a Tuesday on the East coast after each playing on the West coast that Sunday.

At the time, it seemed like chartering flights might become a more regular part of the WNBA travel experience. But other than when the New York Liberty covertly chartered flights a year ago in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, charter planes have only been used within the rules once, when the Sky and Mercury had to travel between games 2 and 3 of the 2021 WNBA Finals.

It’s worth noting that the league has played its last three seasons, including the current one, during a global pandemic, making commercial flights even more of a sticking point. That is particularly true since the mask mandate ended, as Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud became acutely aware of this this week. Cloud was unavailable to play in Tuesday’s game after entering the league’s health and safety protocols, and she blamed her positive Covid test on the commercial flight the Mystics had taken from Minnesota.

Natasha Cloud was not happy about testing positive for Covid and missing her team’s game Tuesday.
via @t_cloud9 on Instagram

Cloud’s teammates were able to pick up the slack for her, in part because of fatigue from Las Vegas. The Aces played at their home arena Sunday night, then traveled all day Monday to get to Washington for the Tuesday tip. It was a relatively simple process compared to their 2018 ordeal, but flight delays and a full day of making their across the country left them at less than their best.

“I think I’m the best conditioned player in this league, respectfully, and I feel like to play that type of game against Seattle (Sunday), then to get on a delayed flight for five and a half hours, fly across the country, wake up and play the next day, I mean, I was tired today,” Kelsey Plum said postgame. Plum had 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the first half against the Mystics and 4 points on 1-of-6 shooting in the second half.

“If you guys have ever watched me play, I can go all day,” Plum added. “So I don’t think it’s necessarily conditioning as it’s just the setup of the schedule. I mean, let’s be real, I mean, I’m not here to blame a charter flight for the reason that we lost, but normally a team would fly out that night, and have that whole day to rest and get your legs back under you and then go play the next day. So you know those little things make a difference. Hopefully we’re on our way.”

Cloud’s complaint may be a relatively new issue for the WNBA to deal with, but Plum’s is familiar to the league office. After a marquee game featuring 2019 MVP Elena Delle Donne out-dueling 2020 MVP A’ja Wilson and undrafted rookie Katie Benzan splashing three triples, the talk of the game should be on basketball, not Cloud’s absence or Plum’s fatigue. But instead the players are harping at the league’s travel policy only three games into a condensed schedule that has more games than any WNBA season to date.

The 2022 season has gotten off to an entertaining start, from the Mystics’ excellence to signs of life from the Indiana Fever and the rest of the rookie class. The league’s product is worth celebrating, but Tuesday was a reminder that the WNBA still has work to do to place the focus on the court instead of off of it.





Source link

Seniors are busting out their travel bucket lists, how the Tragically Hip’s final concert inspired an expat to retire early and tax tips for dual Canadian-U.S. citizens


Elizabeth Forsythe plans to travel to Florida in May.Chris Donovan/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Content from The Globe’s weekly Retirement newsletter. To subscribe click here.

Elizabeth Forsythe wasted no time booking a trip to Florida after travel restrictions were lifted on the Canada-U.S. border.

The 69-year-old from Sussex, N.B., will be heading to Orlando with a group of girlfriends for some shopping and fun in the sun in mid-May.

“We have rented a car and a house and plan to do a lot of shopping, eating, sitting around the pool and take some day excursions,” says Ms. Forsythe. She is used to going south at least once a year to visit her brother in South Carolina and enjoy a sun-destination getaway, plus some quick jaunts across the border.

“We are [close] to the border and I go shopping with friends in Bangor several times a year. With the pandemic, this all came to a screaming halt.”

Like many Canadians who plan to take advantage of their retirement years by travelling, Ms. Forsythe is very pleased restrictions have ended. Dene Moore reports.

Why the CRA wants a closer look at investments held in RRSPs

Buried in the more than 300 pages of Canada’s latest federal budget are three short paragraphs that caught many financial advisors by surprise.

Starting in the 2023 taxation year, banks will be required to report the total fair market value of property held in the registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and registered retirement income funds (RRIFs) they administer. The purpose behind increasing disclosure requirements to the same level as tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs) is to “assist the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in its risk-assessment activities regarding qualified investments held by RRSPs and RRIFs,” the document said.

Ottawa hasn’t given a lot of detail in terms of what it’s looking for or trying to avoid by adding this requirement, says Wilmot George, vice president of tax, retirement and estate planning at CI Investments Inc. in Toronto.

“But we do have enough information to know that they have some concerns,” he says. Jameson Berkow reports.

Decision to retire early easy for 57-year-old entrepreneur, but follow-through proved difficult

Shayne Smith, 57, made the decision to retire on the night of his 52nd birthday – a birthday he shares with his wife of almost 33 years.

“We were both attending the CBC’s live broadcast of The Tragically Hip’s last concert at a gathering of Canadians in Los Angeles. The realization that life is too short came as the tears streamed down my face listening to Gord Downie sing Fiddler’s Green. I retired six months later,” Mr. Smith says in the Globe’s latest Tales from the Golden Age feature.

Can this 40-something couple maintain their current level of spending and still retire at 60?

At age 40, Leon and Lydia “enjoy a good life – dinners out, good-quality groceries, a wine collection, travel, a personal trainer,” Lydia writes in an e-mail. A couple of years ago, they bought a century house in southeastern Ontario. “We have no debt other than our mortgage and can always pay the bills,” she adds.

They both enjoy professional careers in education, bringing in a combined $245,000 a year. They both contribute to defined-benefit pension plans, partly indexed to inflation, as well as to registered retirement savings plans and tax-free savings accounts. “We would love to know if there are extra things we should be doing to set ourselves up for a successful retirement in 15 to 20 years,” Lydia writes. “Is our spending reasonable given this scenario, or should we try to cut back on some luxuries?”

In the Globe’s latest Financial Facelift column, Stephanie Douglas, partner and portfolio manager at Harris Douglas Asset Management in Toronto, looks at their situation.

In case you missed it

How to cut your kids out of your will

Are you thinking about disinheriting your kids?

Experts say that deciding to cut off a child or children in your will comes with financial, emotional and practical considerations. It’s your right to not pass your assets on to an independent adult child or children, but it’s important to get good advice, document your reasons, certify your state of mind and communicate your wishes to those you are disinheriting.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise,” says Rachel Blumenfeld, a partner in the tax, trusts and estates group at Aird & Berlis in Toronto and deputy chair of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Canada.

She says the reasons parents disinherit kids can range from disagreements over lifestyle choices or political views to feelings of estrangement, concerns that their heirs don’t need money and fears that their offspring lack the judgment or the financial wherewithal to handle the funds. Mary Gooderham reports.

Tips for becoming a green thumb in your senior years

Gardening is one of the most versatile retirement activities, ranging from growing a few flowers on the balcony to designing ambitious full-yard plant landscapes.

A survey by Dalhousie University researchers found 31 per cent of people who started food gardening in 2020 were between 54 and 72. Enthusiasts cite benefits including being active outdoors, fostering creativity and – particularly during the pandemic and amid rising grocery prices – having affordable and healthy homegrown food.

Gardeners throw themselves into the hobby for varying reasons and are always ready to offer tips. In this article, Kathy Kerr talks to four Canadian green thumbs who offer advice for seniors on how to dig in.

Ask Sixty Five

Question: I am a 66-year-old dual U.S.-Canadian citizen in a public sector job with a salary of close to $250,000. I also earn about $60,000 consulting as a sole proprietor. I am single with no debt or dependants (I have helped my grown children buy their first homes and they’re now having families of their own). I plan to retire in three years from my public sector job but continue consulting and earn about the same income of $60,000 annually.

I’m paying a lot of tax on top of withholding, more than ever before, because my travel and other business-related expenses have been much lower during the pandemic. Also, until last year, I owned a two-bedroom condo that I rented out at a loss, which reduced my taxes.

What are my options to reduce taxes payable on my consulting income this year and the next few years after I retire? Should I consider increasing my charitable contributions? Does benefaction make sense? Or are there other tax-efficient ways to contribute to charitable causes or my family’s ultimate well-being that I should know about? Maybe a trust or life insurance? What are my options considering that I am a dual citizen?

I realize that I am very fortunate to have a good salary from a job I enjoy and the capacity to consult alongside. Still, I feel as though I am missing some important strategies. Thanks for any advice you can provide.

We asked Ryan Connolly, a senior financial planner with Coleman Wealth at Raymond James Ltd. in Toronto, to answer this one:

First, it’s important to distinguish the ultimate objective; reduce yearly taxes or increase net worth? ‘Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog’ is a saying that still holds true. Consider that:

  • $60,000 of income, less $30,000 of expenses, less $16,059 of taxes = $13,941
  • $60,000 of income, less $0 expenses, less $32,118 of taxes = $27,882

Being a dual citizen adds complexity and increased costs to ensure strategies are compliant on both sides of the border. Generally, the most effective way to reduce an ongoing tax liability without sacrificing net worth is to maximize applicable retirement investment vehicles. Having a good cross-border team, including an accountant, lawyer and financial adviser, will certainly help.

Increasing charitable donations can be a valid way of reducing your ongoing tax liability. It’s important to note that this is not a dollar-for-dollar benefit. You donate a dollar to reduce taxes by a percentage of that dollar through the charitable donation tax credit.

A living inheritance may be worth exploring, after completing a stress-tested financial projection for your retirement. There is also talk about the reversion of the U.S. estate and gift tax exemption at the end of 2025. In consultation with your cross-border accountant/lawyer, it may be prudent to utilize some of your exemptions available before 2026.

Life insurance, specifically whole life or universal life, can be a tool to use with other investment vehicles. Funding the policy annually may reduce ongoing taxation from investment income, assuming a redirection of capital into the policy every year. However, does the life insurance policy qualify under the Canadian and U.S. tax laws? The laws and accompanying tests aren’t the same. It may be useful to employ the use of an actuary knowledgeable in such matters.

Implementing an alter-ego trust as a will substitute starts to look enticing when analyzed against the cost of probate and the time it takes for the assets to be distributed. An estate lawyer can provide a memorandum illustrating the set-up and benefits of utilizing such a structure. It’s imperative that you deal with a cross-border law firm, as the penalties from mishandling the set-up may outweigh any projected benefit. We have to be mindful of estate and tax laws in both countries for the multiple generations that may be involved in the structure.

Have a question about money or lifestyle topics for seniors, or want to suggest a story idea for the Sixty Five series? Please e-mail us at [email protected] and we will find experts and answer your questions in future newsletters.



Source link

3 essential locations for the early game


Dark Souls games always encourage exploration and experimentation, and Elden Ring takes that to the next level. The shift to a vast open world makes Elden Ring feel even more mysterious, and with that comes an almost unbearable amount of freedom. After you complete the opening tutorial area, you’re let loose on the world, and it can be incredibly overwhelming trying to figure out where to go and what to do. Of course, you can strike out in any direction and explore to your heart’s content, but for those looking for a little more structure, we’re here with a few essential tips and suggestions about where you should go first in Elden Ring.

1. Visit The Church of Elleh

The Church of Elleh should be your very first stop in Elden Ring. Bandai Namco

The Church of Elleh should be your very first stop on your Elden Ring journey. It’s where you get a couple of key items, namely a Crafting Kit and Spirit Calling Bell. You can actually see the church from your starting point in Limgrave, just due north of where you talk to White-Faced Varre. Be careful as you head toward the church, however, as one of the first bosses, the Tree Sentinel, is often roaming around the area. Make sure to rest at the Site of Grace so you can travel back later.

Once you arrive at the church, look for Merchant Kale sitting at a campfire, and make sure to purchase the Crafting Kit. This will allow you to craft a variety of items like bombs and arrows, and finding cookbooks will let you craft even more. Now to get the second item, you’ll want to continue on to the next Site of Grace at the Gatefront Ruins. We’ll walk you through that below, but once you’ve done so make sure to rest until night, then fast travel back to the Church of Elleh. You should see a witch named Ranni sitting on a pillar that beckons you over. If you talk to her you’ll obtain the Spirit Calling Bell, one of the most useful items in Elden Ring that allows you to you summon spirits to help in battle. If you happen to miss the item, it can also be bought at the Roundtable Hold later on.

2. Head to the Gatefront Ruins

Don’t be afraid to simply run past the enemies in the ruins to get to the Gatefront Site of Grace, then come back later.Bandai Namco

The Gatefront Ruins should be your second stop as it’s where you’ll unlock the ability to level up, as well as gain access to a mount. There’s a road to the east of the Church of Elleh that runs North, so follow that up into a series of ruins. There are enemy soldiers roaming around the ruins so you might have to do a bit of fighting, but follow the road West from the ruins to hit the Gatefront Site of Grace. Here you’ll meet the Finger Maiden Melina, one of the major characters of Elden Ring. Now you’ll have the ability to level up at any Site of Grace using Runes, and the Spectral Steed Whistle will let you call your mount, Torrent, at any time.

Now you can also explore the Gatefront Ruins to get a few items and weapons. The wagons around the area have chests in the back that contain the Flail and Lordsworn’s Greatsword, and the enemy camp is near a pillar that contains the Limgrave West map. Explore and take out enemies, then head back to the Church of Elleh to get the Spirit Calling Bell and purchase a few more items from Merchant Kale, including the telescope and Cracked Jar.

3. Make your way to The Third Church of Marika

Getting the Flash of Wondrous Phsyick at the Third Church of Marika should be a priority. Bandai Namco

The Third Church of Marika is a bit of a longer journey than the previous two locations, but it’s absolutely worth doing. The church is near the Northeastern tip of Limgrave, so first, follow the road East from the Gatefront Ruins and go across the bridge. Bring up your map, and follow the Northern path all the way to its end, which is where you’ll find the Third Church of Marika. Rest at the Site of Grace at the church and straight ahead you’ll see an item, which is why you’re here. Pick it up and you’ll get the Flash of Wondrous Physick, a single-use restorative item that recharges each time your rest at a Site of Grace.

With the item, you’ll notice a new option on the Site of Grace menu called “Mix Wondrous Physick.” When you picked up the flask you also picked up a Crimson Crystal Tear, and there are dozens of more tears you’ll pick up throughout the game. Essentially each tear has a different effect, and you can mix two into your Wondrous Physick to have various effects. For example, the two tears you choose might restore half of your HP and reduce damage at the same time. It’s a tremendously useful item that’s well worth going out of your way to grab.



Source link

Air Travel Demand in Early 2022 Surged Despite Impact of Omicron Variant


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced air travel’s recovery slowed for both domestic and international in January 2022 compared to December 2021 due to travel restrictions associated with the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Total demand for air travel in January 2022 was up 82.3 percent compared to January 2021, but was down 4.9 percent compared to the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis. Domestic travel in January was up 41.5 percent, while international rose 165.6 percent.

ADVERTISING

Trending Now

Travel technology, man with airplane and laptop

In North America, airlines experienced a 148.8 percent traffic rise in January versus the 2021 period, while capacity rose 78 percent and load factor climbed 17 points to 59.9 percent.

“The recovery in air travel continued in January, despite hitting a speed bump called Omicron,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said. “Strengthened border controls did not stop the spread of the variant, but where population immunity was strong, the public health systems were not overwhelmed.”

“Many governments are now adjusting COVID-19 polices to align with those for other endemic viruses,” Walsh continued. “This includes lifting travel restrictions that have had such a devastating impact on lives, economies and the freedom to travel.”

Despite the strong traffic growth recorded in January 2022, passenger demand remains far below pre-COVID-19 levels. Numbers for January were down 49.6 percent compared to January 2019, with international traffic down 62.4 percent and domestic traffic off by 26.5 percent.

While the IATA figures do not include any impact from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the resulting sanctions and airspace closures are expected to have a significant impact on travel. Airspace closures have led to rerouting or cancellations of flights on some routes, mostly in the Europe-Asia and Asia-North America markets.

In addition to the disruptions, the sudden spike in fuel prices is putting pressure on airline costs.





Source link

Travel Tip Thursday: how Daylight Savings can affect early morning commuters


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — While Daylight Savings means more sun during the evening, it also means less visibility for early morning commuters.

Watch the video above to hear from a representative from AAA discuss the unexpected dangers that come along with Daylight Savings and how to keep yourself and others safe on the road this spring.



Source link

Business travel community assesses early Ukraine impact


The business travel community is assessing the early impact of the war in Ukraine with airlines and travel management companies keeping a close eye on the situation.

Data from flight intelligence company Cirium revealed that 212 flights were cancelled to and from the Ukraine since 18 February with a total of 1,792 flights flown in the same period.

Further insight showed which destinations have been impacted with 33 flights cancelled between Ukraine and Russia while 25 flights were cancelled to Poland and 15 to Germany.

In its most up-to-date figure on 24 February, Cirium recorded that 155 had been cancelled to and from the Ukraine globally.

Between the UK and Ukraine there were 44 flights from 18 February to 23 February while four flights scheduled to fly between the destinations on 24 February were cancelled.

On the same day, Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, announced a ban on Russian airline Aeroflot in Parliament and the Civil Aviation Authority suspended the airline’s permit.  

The Russian government followed suit banning British carriers from its airports and airspace.

British Airways issued a statement saying it had suspended flights to Moscow as well as the use of Russian airspace “following the confirmation of Russian government restrictions.”

It said: “We apologise for the inconvenience but this is clearly a matter beyond our control. We are notifying customers on cancelled services and are offering a full refund. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

“The rerouting of some services may lead to longer flight times and we apologise to customers for the inconvenience. Our only current destination in Russia is Moscow (and we operated three times a week). We do not operate to Ukraine and haven’t for a number of years, and we do not use Ukrainian airspace.”

Other carriers with services in and out of Ukraine suspended flights to the country on 24 February as its airspace closed.

Wizz Air said: “Due to the current events in Ukraine and the airspace closure, Wizz Air regrets to inform our customers that the airline must temporarily suspend all flight operations in the country.”

In a similar statement Air Baltic said was suspending flights until 13 March: “The safety of our passengers and employees is the main priority of AirBaltic. AirBaltic is evaluating the current situation before each flight and following the recommendations issued by official authorities. AirBaltic is flexible and ready to adjust its flight schedule if necessary.”

The closure of Ukraine’s airspace and banning of UK flights over Russian airspace raises big questions over carriers serving routes to the east.

Finnair said on 23 February that it would not be using Ukrainian airspace “until further notice.”

It added: “The changes in flight routes affect our flights to/from Dubai, Gazipasa and Tel Aviv causing them five to 10 minutes longer flight time. Finnair doesn’t have flights to Ukraine in its traffic plan.”

TMCs are also watching the evolving situation closely.

Drew Crawley, CCO Amex GBT, said: “American Express Global Business Travel is proactively monitoring the situation in Ukraine and regularly communicating with customers and travellers, colleagues and partners.

“Providing continuity of service to our customers and travellers is of paramount importance. We have implemented business continuity plans for Ukraine, working closely with our partner agencies in the region, to provide servicing and support for both local and global customers and travellers.”



Source link

Plan way early to see popular US national parks


Editor’s Note — Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get news about destinations opening and closing, inspiration for future adventures, plus the latest in aviation, food and drink, where to stay and other travel developments.

And some of the most visited national parks in the United States are going through the same thing — the downside of being popular.

It puts them in quite the jam, especially those with short, sought-after peak seasons and one-of-a-kind attractions. After all, you want people to come. Just not too many all at once. Achieving a balance can be tricky.

And like those canal-laced European favorites, the US National Park Service is turning to some of the same methods to regulate the flow.

How does this affect you? If you want to visit a popular park this summer, it’s already time to plan.

Extra fees, advanced reservations, special passes, lotteries and caps on the number of visitors are all in play in 2022 to keep what’s special about some crowd-pleasing parks from being deluged by the sheer flood of humanity.

Travelers to national parks: We want in!

Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming saw record visitation in 2021.

Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming saw record visitation in 2021.

forcdan/Adobe Stock

The Covid-19 pandemic fueled the desire of people hunkered down in small spaces for weeks and months at the time to head out into the restorative wilds all over the country.

In 2021, they especially packed the big-name parks, parkways and related sites. Here’s a brief snapshot of some of the action:

• In Wyoming, Devils Tower National Monument saw the highest number of recreation visits in the monument’s history. For the first time, it surpassed 500,000 recreational visits.
• And the first US national park, Yellowstone, saw a staggering 4,860,537 recreation visits in 2021, making it the busiest year on record. That’s as if the entire state of Louisiana — plus the city of Des Moines, Iowa — came to visit. And a lot of that visitation is packed into a few months of the peak warm weather season.

You begin to see what these park areas are up against.

So the NPS is experimenting with a variety of ways to satisfy crowd demand and safeguard fragile environments at the same time. Here are some of the things you may encounter on your next visit:

New entry fees

A boardwalk leads down a dune at Indiana Dunes National Park, which will be instituting an entry fee.

A boardwalk leads down a dune at Indiana Dunes National Park, which will be instituting an entry fee.

Jon/Adobe Stock

However, more could be joining the pay-to-enter list. Indiana Dunes National Park is one that will institute an entry fee for the first time this year, beginning March 31.

The fees will vary depending on how you enter. The walk-in / bike-in / boat-in rate will be $15 per person (up to a maximum of $25 per family).

The new fee revenue will help pay for a bike trail and other improvements, the park said.

Timed entries

Sunsets at Arches National Park in Utah are stunning. The park has set up a timed entry program from early April to early October.

Sunsets at Arches National Park in Utah are stunning. The park has set up a timed entry program from early April to early October.

aheflin/Adobe Stock

The days of just popping into the most popular parks on the spur of the moment could be fading.

“By implementing a temporary, timed entry reservation system, our goal is to better spread visitation throughout the day to reduce traffic congestion and visitor crowding,” Patricia Trap, Arches National Park superintendent, said in a statement late last year.
The park tickets are on a first-come, first-serve basis on Recreation.gov. They are released three months in advance in monthly blocks according to the following schedule:

• February 1: May reservations (May 1-31)
• March 1: June reservations (June 1-30)
• April 1: July reservations (July 1-31)

The pattern continues into July for visits through October 3. A limited number of tickets will be available one day before entry for purchase through Recreation.gov.

Extra fees or advance tickets for popular attractions

A view from the Old Rag Mountain hiking trail at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. You'll have to get a special day-use ticket to visit Old Rag.

A view from the Old Rag Mountain hiking trail at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. You’ll have to get a special day-use ticket to visit Old Rag.

eurobanks/Adobe Stock

You might start encountering more fees or advance tickets (or both) for highly popular park attractions once you’re inside.

The trial program will be in effect from March 1 to November 30.

Lotteries

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park is just one of many spectacular natural spots in the wildly popular park.

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park is just one of many spectacular natural spots in the wildly popular park.

Lane Erickson/Adobe Stock

Some features are so popular that the NPS is trying out lotteries — and there’s no guarantee you’ll win.

In Utah’s Zion National Park, visitors who want to tackle the Angels Landing hike will have to enter an online lottery in hopes of getting a permit to take the hike. There are actually two kinds of lotteries: Seasonal and day before. The lottery entry fee is $6, and it’s not refundable even if you aren’t picked for a spot. This goes into effect on April 1.
At California’s Yosemite National Park, North Pines Campground is so popular during peak summer season that they have tested a pilot program for campers: A lottery in which winners get a chance to make early reservations. The lottery ended on February 6. There was a $10 nonrefundable fee to enter.
At Yellowstone National Park, backcountry permits for more than 1,000 miles of trails and 293 designated campsites are very popular. In addition to taking advance online reservations, Yellowstone is also holding a lottery from March 1 to March 20. Winners get a chance to book early reservations. It costs $10 to enter; again, it’s not refundable if you’re not chosen.

New entrance stations

Joshua Tree National Park is taking public comment on a new entrance station.

Joshua Tree National Park is taking public comment on a new entrance station.

Doug Oglesby/Adobe Stock

The last thing you want on your escape is being in a city-style traffic jam. Limited entry points can often be pain points these days.

The park hopes a new station will ease “excessively long traffic back-up outside the park boundary” as well as give park staff safer working conditions in the desert.

Campground size limits

Big RVs are posing a problem at some places run by the NPS.

“The current limits in place will be enforced for the safety and protection of the park and visitor property,” said Darrell Echols, Gulf Islands superintendent, in a news release.

“In 2021, Gulf Islands National Seashore saw an increase in incidents resulting in damage to park resources and visitors’ property. The enforcement of these restrictions is expected to reduce these incidents.”

Planning far out on your calendar

A tourist visits an overlook at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. You have to plan really far out to raft the Colorado River at the bottom.

A tourist visits an overlook at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. You have to plan really far out to raft the Colorado River at the bottom.

Matteo Colombo/Moment RF/Getty Images

The general trend is toward visitors having to plan out their trips for months and even more than a year ahead.

At Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, the NPS has already started accepting applications for noncommercial river trip permits to raft the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park for launch dates in 2023. That is not a typo — it’s for 2023. A total of 359 permits will be available for 12- to 25-day river trips.

The application period ends on February 22. The NPS says follow-up lotteries are “held as needed throughout the remainder of the year to reassign canceled and/or left-over river trips.”

Back at Yellowstone, they’re already taking reservations for several campgrounds six months out. At Indian Creek, Lewis Lake, Pebble Creek, Mammoth and Slough Creek campgrounds, 80% of sites will be reservable six months in advance. For people who don’t like to plan that far out, the remaining 20% of sites will be available two weeks in advance.

Other NPS efforts

Glacier National Park in Montana will have a ticket system in place for peak season.

Glacier National Park in Montana will have a ticket system in place for peak season.

Snehit Photo/Adobe Stock

Here’s a short roundup of other parks and their crowd-control efforts for 2022:

North Cascades National Park (Washington state): It will offer online trip planning and reservations for the May 27 through September 30 peak hiking season. It starts March 3 with an early access lottery.
Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado): It’s moving to a new system for backcountry camping permit reservations for peak season this year. Beginning March 1 through April 3, customers will be able to view permit availability, book a reservation and pay online. Phone, mail, email and fax reservations will be not accepted.
Glacier National Park (Montana): Visitors in 2022 “can expect to use a ticket system to access portions of the park from May 27 through September 11. This will be the second year of the pilot ticket system in the park, designed to manage high traffic volumes within the park and avoid gridlock.” Visitors will need to set up an account on Recreation.gov to get tickets.
Yosemite National Park (California): Beginning May 20, the park will start a temporary peak hours reservation system, designed to spread visitation out and reduce congestion. Park visitors will need a reservation to enter the park from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.

Escape the crowds

A brown bear rests along a river in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

A brown bear rests along a river in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

Paul Souders/Adobe Stock

Don’t like those fees and early planning involved with the most popular parks?

Consider visiting lower-profile or harder-to-reach parks. The NPS is encouraging people to see their other offerings. Some ideas:

Congaree National Park (South Carolina): This is the “largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the [Southeast].” You won’t find another national park quite like it.
Great Basin National Park (Nevada): This features 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, sage-covered foothills and the darkest of dark-night skies.

Go state level

You don't have to go national to see epic wilderness. For example: New York's Letchworth State Park.

You don’t have to go national to see epic wilderness. For example: New York’s Letchworth State Park.

Matt/Adobe Stock

And one last option to consider: state parks. There are some great ones scattered around the United States, and they might be less congested while still offering memorable nature excursions. Some more ideas:

Cheaha State Park (Alabama): You might be surprised to find mountains this far south in Alabama. It’s the high point in this Deep South state at the extreme southern end of the Appalachian chain.
Crystal Cove State Park (California): Explore beautiful Pacific Coast beaches and interesting tide pools in Orange County.
Letchworth State Park (New York): Sometimes called “The Grand Canyon of the East,” the Genesee River roars through a gorge over three major waterfalls,
Tettegouche State Park (Minnesota): The big draw is the soaring views of Lake Superior from the top of a cliff trail. It’s a favorite of rock climbers. Midweek travel is suggested if you like solitude.

Top image: At Sequoia National Park in California, a hiker enjoys a bit of solitude — a sometimes rare commodity at popular national parks in peak season. (Maygutyak/Adobe Stock)



Source link

The Upgrade: Get up early on vacation like your dad


By 10 a.m., he might be on his first nap. As a teenager, I was just rolling out of bed.

Wherever I am, I like to enjoy the peaceful morning hours while everyone else is in bed. I probably started this in my early 20s at the start of my career, when my vacation hours were precious. Plus, I’ve never been a great sleeper — especially when I’m not at home — so waking up early comes easily to me. It allows me to reflect and take in my surroundings without the noise of everyone else.

Most mornings when we woke up, my dad had already been up for hours. By 10 a.m., he might be on his first nap.

To be clear, I don’t really want to travel with anyone else who likes to get up early. This is my “me” time.

If there are beach or pool chairs to be saved, I’m saving them. If there’s a coffee shop to walk to, I’m checking it out — and bringing back coffee for everyone. See, they benefit, too. If there are people to watch, I’m watching them.

I’ve wandered the streets of Florence and taken in the early morning sun on the Greek island of Santorini. I’ve enjoyed empty beaches on the Cayman Islands and had practically whole days to myself while friends slept off hangovers in Las Vegas. For me, it’s a way to see a city as it wakes while locals head to work and shop owners prepare for tourists.

When I’m the first person to get up on vacation, I’ve already come up with a plan by the time someone gets up and asks, “So what are we doing today?” Control freaks — this tip is for you.

So on your next trip, maybe you’ll get up at the crack of dawn, too. As any dad would say: We didn’t come here to sleep.



Source link

TRAVEL TURBULANCE: Gearing up for potential travel delays in early 2022 | News


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) – Have you been bitten by the travel bug? Many people seem to have the urge to get out and see something new as the pandemic seemingly winds down, but travel still comes with some hiccups to be prepared for.

What you don’t want is to have the trip booked to escape an Iowa winter and then get stuck in a connecting airport because the next flight was canceled. Up until recently, that was a very real possibility. According to flight-tracking website, FlightAware, airlines still cancel around 1,500 flights a day worldwide. This is a big decrease from the beginning of the year where domestic airlines were canceling that many in the continental U.S. Now, U.S. flights only tally a couple hundred every day as COVID-19-related staffing shortages lessen at the airlines and some pandemic restrictions are waived.

Trip advisers at Humble Travel in Cedar Falls have been working the phones as the Iowa winter drags on as people look for their getaway. Co-owner Gregg Humble said it’s been a challenging time for travelers, especially when cancellations were what they were at the beginning of the year.

“You can’t always count on the airlines reimbursing you all of the expenses involved with the potential delay of getting to your destination or, maybe, altogether missing your destination,” he said.

Humble and his wife know a thing or two about travel as their agency just turned 60 last year. There have been challenging times to be a traveler before. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, they were tasked with how to get their clients back home when all flights were grounded. Today, they’re dealing with what happens if you test positive for COVID-19 in a foreign country on your way back to the U.S.

“One situation we had fairly recently was a family where part of the family might be able to return and the other had to quarantine longer at the destination and then return home,” he said.

If you aren’t traveling internationally, you still could run into some setbacks. Perhaps you’re flying to see family. You fly out of Cedar Rapids or Waterloo only to find that your next flight is canceled in Chicago or Dallas.

“Sometimes the airlines might give them a voucher for a hotel, but you don’t know how that’s going to come out. Sometimes they might not give your a voucher that’s for a very good quality hotel,” Humble said.

He said never count on getting a voucher either. Sometimes the airlines won’t give out the extra accommodations and you’re stuck in the terminal waiting on your new flight if you can get on one.

This is where travel insurance comes in. Humble said they push travelers to go for the extra expense because it might save you in the long run.

Top travel sites, like TripAdvisor, echo this sentiment. There are some questions you should ask yourself: Is this trip refundable if something comes up? Is this trip likely to be affected by weather like hurricanes and canceled? Depending how you answer will help determine if you should pay for some extra peace of mind.

As for going with a travel adviser or not, that’s up to you. The questions are similar. Humble said if it’s a high-cost trip out of the country, they are able to help you jump through the hoops and also help fight for you if you do come into contact with one of those pesky delays.



Source link