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falls

Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls Reopening After 3-Year Closure 

Havasu Falls is known as one of the most beautiful and popular features of the Grand Canyon. The Falls have been closed for the past three years after initially closing down due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

The reopening of Havasu Falls is scheduled for February 1st, however, access will initially be limited for small groups. 

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People who had reservations before the Falls closed three years ago will have the first chance to reschedule their visit.

Havasu Falls is famously known for its mesmerizing pool located at the base of where the water falls. The land itself is located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, and while it’s adjacent to the Grand Canyon National Park, the Havasupai tribe has full control over the falls.

As of right now, no new 2023 reservations are being offered to give individuals who had their trips suspended the opportunity to finally bear witness to the beauty of the falls. However, if the individuals who had their trips suspended opt out of rescheduling their visit, their spots will be made available online. 

According to the Havasu Falls official Facebook page, “the tribe says that “the only way to get a reservation for 2023 is to purchase off the official transfer list. Open an account at www.havasupaireservations.com to see what is available.”

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Individuals who had their initial trips suspended have a limited window to sign up for rescheduling, as the tribe warned that they’re implementing a “new check-in process and there may be some delays as [they] work through the system.”

According to their most recent Facebook post, the tribe sent out detailed instructional emails to trip leaders last week, specifically for groups who had trip arrival dates throughout the entire month of February this year. 

Havasu Falls was closed for so long due to the disproportionate healthcare problems faced by Native American tribes throughout the US during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We closed our Reservation in March 2020. With limited access to meaningful healthcare, closing the reservation was the best way to keep our community safe and healthy. We have remained closed to tourists since that time.” 

Additionally, in October 2022 the trails and bridges at Havasu Falls were damaged by severe flooding, the debris have recently been cleaned up, hence the February 1st reopening date. 

lunar

China Gearing Up For Likely Covid-19 Surge As Travel For The Lunar New Year Begins

The Lunar New Year holidays, also referred to as the spring festival, officially begins on January 21st. Local media outlets have already been reporting massive spikes in Covid-related hospitalizations and deaths, along with supply and drug shortages to combat the spread.

airport

2022 Thanksgiving Travel Expected to Top Pre Pandemic Levels

Despite rising airfares due to inflation, many Americans are taking to the skies to spend the holidays with loved ones and celebrate the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. The number of travelers in just the few days leading up to this Thanksgiving has surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

tsa

Gun Found Stuffed Inside a Raw Chicken at Florida TSA Checkpoint

A Florida air passenger attempted to smuggle a gun onto a flight using a raw chicken on Monday. Transportation Security Administration officers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport caught the firearm at one of its checkpoints, wrapped in thin paper packaging inside a Kikiri Quirch brand baking hen. 

The passenger had stashed the chicken in his carry-on and was headed to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, according to Sari Koshetz, a TSA spokesperson for the Gulf region. 

The official TSA Instagram account shared a post on Monday containing a photo of the raw chicken being examined inside the security area alongside the gun. It was captioned, “there’s a personal fowl here…”

“The plot chickens as we barrel our way closer to Thanksgiving. For us, it’s a time to be thankful that our officers are always working around the cluck to keep you safe. Take for instance this ‘hen you believe it?’ find at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. We hate to beak it to you here, but stuffing a firearm in your holiday bird for travel is just a baste of time. This idea wasn’t even half-baked; it was raw, greasy, and obviously unsupervised. The only roast happening here is this poor packing choice! Feather you like it or not, there are rules for traveling with guns and ammunition. So, don’t wing it; roost over the proper packaging info through the link in our bio.”

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Passengers are permitted to transport fresh meat and seafood in their carry-ons if they follow special instructions provided by the TSA. People who want to travel with guns and ammunition must pack the firearms unloaded in locked, hard-shell containers within their checked bags. They must also declare the items at the airport ticket counter.

“You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage.”

A criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is ongoing. Nestor Iglesias, a spokesperson for Homeland Security Investigations, told CNN he could not provide additional details since the incident is a “criminal case which has been accepted for prosecution.”

This is not the first time a passenger has attempted to conceal prohibited items using unconventional methods. According to CBS News, a “meth burrito” was confiscated in Houston last year. 

In 2022, passengers cumulatively brought more than 700 guns to TSA checkpoints at Florida state airports, a higher number of guns than any previous year. Twelve airports set records, according to a TSA news release

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“The largest number of guns TSA officers have had to intercept were: 129 guns at Orlando International Airport (MCO), 120 guns at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), 102 guns at Tampa International (TPA), 83 guns at Miami International (MIA), 58 guns at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), 37 guns at Southwest Florida International (RSW), 28 at Palm Beach International (PBI), and 24 at Pensacola International (PNS).”

Koshetz said that “every passenger bears the responsibility of knowing exactly where their gun is before entering the security checkpoint” since “an accidental discharge could result in tragedy.”

“Don’t let bringing a gun to a federal checkpoint be the reason you cannot answer ‘no’ to the question often asked on job applications: have you ever been arrested? As we enter the busiest holiday travel period, remember if you are going to travel with your gun, it must be in your checked bag, but be sure you know what the gun laws are on each side of your trip or you may be heading to jail instead of to your family gathering. Guns may not be legal to transport even in checked baggage in some jurisdictions.”

Passengers who violate TSA rules could face civil penalties of up to $13,910, even if they are not arrested by law enforcement. 

Koshetz told USA Today that it was unclear whether the passenger’s gun was loaded. 

passengers

New Study Reveals the Most Annoying Passengers on Flights

According to a study from The Vacationer, American travelers find fellow passengers who kick the seats in front of them or display drunken or disruptive behavior as the most annoying.

The Airplane Etiquette Violations Survey polled 1,098 Americans over the age of 18 and asked them to choose which common behaviors by co-passengers they found most irritating. The survey takers could choose as many or as few options as they wanted.

Seat kickers and drunken, unruly passengers were at the top of the list, with 59.11% of respondents checking them off.

“The 59.11% of American adults that selected each represent more than 152 million people according to the recent census. So, the next time you fly, you may want to reconsider your foot placement inflight and how many alcoholic drinks you consume.”

Passengers who smell too bad from bad hygiene or too good from strong perfume or cologne came in second, with 48% of respondents disliking these co-passengers.

Passengers who do not pay attention to their children’s behavior earned the third spot at 46.81% of respondents choosing it.

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Some of the other top 10 offenders were passengers who eat food with pungent smells (39.8%), passengers who hog the armrest (39.07%), passengers who recline their seats all the way (38.25%), passengers who talk too much (29.87%), passengers who board or deplane out of turn (29.6%), and passengers who have their headphones turned up too loud (28.96%).

Some other annoyances that did not make the top 10 list included passengers who take off their shoes, passengers who flirt with other travelers and flight attendants, passengers who use overhead space meant for other rows, and passengers who practice excessive PDA.

Passengers who requested too much from flight attendants were at the bottom of the list, cited by only 13.02% of respondents.

According to Federal Aviation Administration data, there were 5,981 reports of unruly passengers in 2021, making it the worst year on record. Nearly 4,290 of those cases were mask related.

In a statement issued last November, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland directed U.S. attorneys to “prioritize prosecution of federal crimes occurring on commercial aircraft that endanger the safety of passengers, flight crews and flight attendants.”

“Passengers who assault, intimidate or threaten violence against flight crews and flight attendants do more than harm those employees; they prevent the performance of critical duties that help ensure safe air travel. Similarly, when passengers commit violent acts against other passengers in the close confines of a commercial aircraft, the conduct endangers everyone aboard.”

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Several bizarre headlines have sprung out of these altercations. In an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., earlier this year, a man attempted to open the plane door after an argument with a flight attendant. The flight attendant managed to subdue the man, hitting him in the head with a coffee pot.

In the survey, some people checked off none of the options. The Vacationer found that 11.57% of respondents had no issues with any behaviors.

“Nearly 12% of American adults said that none of these 16 onboard flight behaviors annoyed them. The 11.57% that said this represents nearly 30 million people. Nearly 30 million people say they are not annoyed by sitting next to disruptive drunks, having their seat kicked or someone smelling. In addition, they have no problem with inattentive parents, loud music, talkative people, and more. These people must be saints, and we need to cherish their patience. They put the 88.43% of the rest of us who get annoyed to shame.”

dollar

The International Value Of The US Dollar Is Making Travel Cheaper For Americans

The US dollar has been moving upwards in value when compared to international currency, such as the Euro and British pound, which are typically much stronger than the US dollar, making travel much cheaper for Americans.

airport

Airlines Commit to Providing Meals and Hotel Rooms After Canceled Flights

Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, put pressure on major airlines to improve their customer service policies when passengers face flight disruptions.

In a letter to the CEOs of major airlines, Buttigieg requested they provide meals if there is a flight delay for more than three hours and hotel accommodations for overnight cancellations within the airline’s control.

“When passengers do experience cancellations and delays, they deserve clear and transparent information on the services that your airline will provide, to address the expenses and inconveniences resulting from these disruptions.”

The Department of Transportation also revealed an online dashboard last week which gives passengers information on which airlines provide accommodations in case of a cancellation or delay. Buttigieg notified airline executives that the department would unveil the dashboard by Sept. 2.

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DOT officials claim that leading airlines made significant policy changes within two weeks of unveiling the dashboard. According to Buttigieg, the dashboard acts as a “tool for transparency” and is not intended to shame the airlines.

If airlines fail to keep their obligations, passengers may file a complaint.

The airlines currently listed on the dashboard include Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United.

If a cancellation or delay were to occur, the dashboard checks if the airline will rebook the passenger on its airline or another airline at no cost. It also checks if the airline will provide meals or meal vouchers if flights are delayed three or more hours and pay for overnight hotel accommodations. It even lists if the airline will cover transportation from and to the hotel.

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Data from the Department of Transportation shows that in the first six months of 2022, roughly 24% of domestic flights were delayed, while 3.2%  were canceled. Since the start of June, more than 45,000 flights have been canceled.

The statistics became so dire that the attorneys general of 40 states banded together to write a letter to congress about the aviation industry’s inability to live up to its responsibilities to customers.

“The mistreatment of airline consumers is a bipartisan issue—one that requires immediate action from federal lawmakers. Flying is essential to millions of Americans as they go about their personal and professional lives and is critical to our local, state and national economies. Customers booking airline tickets should enjoy a reasonable expectation of being treated fairly, respectfully, and consistently under the law throughout all interactions during their experience with the airline industry.”

The upcoming holiday season will strain the current system further. Due to staff shortages, airlines have been reducing their scheduled number of flights. For their July schedules, 11 major U.S. airlines trimmed their schedules by 19,000 flights.

Buttigieg said that the department would fine airlines if they do not fulfill the obligations they claimed on the dashboard. However, it would be one small part of “a bigger framework.”

travel

Fall Vacations Increase By 40% As People Search Online For A Getaway

With the summer months coming to a close and the crisp autumn breeze beginning to fill the air, people are still looking for that perfect getaway. 

According to Travel Pulse, a recent study showed that the online searches for travel destinations this fall are higher in comparison to 2021. 

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Travelers from the United States are increasingly setting their sights on international destinations.  Barbados, Ho Chi Minh City, London and Munich among the most popular,  have seen triple-digit increases for fall travel,” stated recent data from Expedia. 

After the recent spikes in flight and travel prices due to a busy travel season throughout the summer, the study also found that the ticket prices for these trips should be at least 45% cheaper during the week of September 26. 

 

“Fall is right around the corner, and while many are looking forward to breaking out their favorite boots and pumpkin bread recipes, autumn also means big travel savings”

 

There also has been a recent trend in travelers looking to visit large U.S. cities as the ultimate travel destination. 

New York City has seen a 75% increase within online searches, Seattle has been up by 55%, Washington D.C. at a 45% increase, San Francisco at 35% and then Boston at a 30% increase. 

The average ticket price (ATP) for some of the biggest cities have also showed the best value of traveling there is in the fall compared to summer. For Seattle, the ATP is down more than 45%, Los Angeles down more than 35% and San Francisco down more than 25%. 

Vacationers still want to enjoy the warm weather before the cold winter starts creeping in over the next few months. Beach destinations have also found an increase in online searches for vacations as well.

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Leading the pack is Barbados which saw an overwhelming 3,360 increase in searches, Orlando jumped up to 60% in interest, Punta Cana increased to 40% and Fort Lauderdale grew up 25%.

Travel companies are also suggesting to those who want to travel internationally to start looking around the week of October 10, when the average ticket should be at least 20% lower than it was throughout the summer months. 

“Many destinations are more affordable than they’ve seen in months, making it the perfect time to have an authentic Oktoberfest experience in Munich or swap out the faux foliage for the real deal in New England,” said Expedia spokesperson Christie Hudson. 

The study also shows that departing your destination midway through the week rather than at the beginning of the week could be another way to help vacationers save some money on their adventures. 

flight

Domestic Airfare To Drop 40% In Fall Months After Pricey And Demanding Summer Travel

After a summer that saw airline prices, staffing shortages, and flight cancellations abound, domestic travelers will get some much-needed relief this fall according to a new report by Hopper, the travel booking data platform.

According to Hopper, domestic airfare will drop to $286 in August, down 25% compared to May’s airfare and over 10% from July’s. Meanwhile, September and October will see drops of about 40% ($238 for a domestic round-trip) from the peak summer months.

Though that estimated price doesn’t match September 2021’s average domestic airfare of $225, it does beat out October of last year’s $240. Hopper noted this year’s August to October drop is abnormally large because of those high prices and earlier-than-usual travel demand peaks.

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International round-trip airfare, meanwhile, will decrease 19% ($179) to an average of $754 in September and October. It’s a massive drop, but unfortunately nowhere close to September ($641) and October ($706) of 2021.

Those prices are also helped by the fact that airlines are attempting to combat the slow season by offering better deals for travelers as a way to “incentivize travelers to plan one more trip before the holiday season,” Hopper explained.

“For travelers who held off on summer trips given the soaring airfares, this lower demand season can mean lower fares and less crowded tourist destinations!”

Among the most trending fall domestic destinations include Seattle ($419 average round-trip), Asheville, North Carolina ($313), Jackson, Wyoming ($460), Hilton Head, South Carolina ($315), and all cities in Hawaii ($500 and under).

As for international destinations, Sydney, Australia ($1,394), Tokyo, Japan ($1,333), Bali, Indonesia ($1,951), and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam ($1,085) are all trending with flyers looking to explore the world while capitalizing on a deal.

Unfortunately, flyers don’t have much time to take advantage. October and November will see slow rises before airfare takes a gigantic boost to $368 in December, with last-minute holiday bookings sitting at $390.

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Travelers have had to bear the burden of airline shortcomings after the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the air travel industry. According to the Bureau of Transportation, 88,161 flights have been canceled already this year, over 55,000 more than in 2021.

While the number won’t come close to 2020’s 263,941 canceled flights, it already ranks higher than any yearly total from 2013 to 2019. Toward late July, Hopper reported travel delays had risen to 25% of departures, equaling more than 5,000 flights a day. They aren’t likely to subside anytime soon.

Of course, the high prices experienced just aren’t due to the multitude of airline struggles, but inflation as a whole. Airfare has suffered the second-worst 12-month price change with 27.7%, second behind gasoline (44.0%).

Even with the potential problems, taking advantage of decreased savings before they — and the tourists paying them — begin to ramp up again in the winter could be intriguing if you’ve been itching to add one more pin to your map of America or the world.

luggage

Lost Luggage Seeing A Surge During Summer Travel Months

Think of all the frustrations that could occur at the airport. Check-ins. Delays. Cancellations. All are sure to give you headaches, but perhaps the worst possible scenario is arriving at your destination, only to find that your luggage is nowhere to be seen.

Not only does lost luggage turn countless valuable hours into a full-on manhunt, but in the event that baggage isn’t found, money will have to be spent on clothes and other necessities. And unfortunately, that’s becoming more of a possibility than ever.

According to data by the Department of Transportation, almost 220,000 bags were “mishandled” — either lost, damaged, delayed, or stolen — by airlines in April. That’s 0.55 mishandlings per 100 bags enplaned.

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American Airlines Network led the way in mishandling with nearly 65,000 (0.72 per 100), while Alaska Airlines Network came in second with almost 16,000. Those 220,000 mishandlings are up from around 93,000 in April of 2021.

The crisis of lost luggage could be seen as the result of a number of factors. For one, travel has seen rapid increases since the reduction of COVID-19 protocols. On July 20, 2.2 million passengers were screened by the Transportation Security Administration, up from 1.9 million a year ago.

Airline and airport staffing is also lacking. Those shortages have resulted in putting the industry on track for the most cancellations in a non-pandemic year, and have an equally frustrating impact on baggage handling.

“When you hit a rough patch in your operations, the bags are going to be affected probably even more so than customers,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said, whose airline sent a whole plane to retrieve 1,000 stranded bags at London’s Heathrow Airport last week. It’s a problem some travel analysts expect to carry into 2023.

If you find yourself in this situation, there are a number of actions to take. The first should be to immediately go to the baggage claim office, as some airlines have a certain number of hours you must file a claim within.

One of the most important tips to remember is that airlines are required to compensate you for the bag’s content: domestic flights have a maximum of $3,800 in compensation, while international flights are $1,800. Bag check fees are also refunded.

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“The financial compensation is helpful, because that’s not money you’d have spent ordinarily,” NerdWallet travel expert Sara Rathner told MSNBC. However, you won’t receive the money immediately. Airlines have different timelines for when they deem a bag lost, with some taking up to two weeks.

Traveling light by simply bringing a carry-on is also an excellent strategy, though one that might only work for a brief trip instead of a longer excursion. In the event you do check your bag, make sure to pack an additional set or three of clothes in your carry-on.

If your luggage gets lost and isn’t eventually found, you’ll at least have outfits to carry you over for a bit until you can replenish your wardrobe. The same applies to medicine and toiletries that might be critical to your health and hygiene.

Additionally, ensure that nothing of value, like electronics or jewelry, is placed into your checked bag as airlines are unlikely to cover the costs.