Hurricane Sandy has had significant impact in the Northeast, especially NY and NJ. Airport closings, flight delays and cancellations, hotels sold out, a decrease in the availability of rental cars; all have made travel very difficult during such a disaster. But for those with upcoming travel plans, here are a few updates:
Enterprise Holdings who operate Alamo, Enterprise, National and WeCar, were forced to close more than 400 of their branches due to Sandy along the Eastern Seaboard and the storm damaged hundreds of their vehicles. Fortunately, they were able to bring most of their branches back online quickly and all of their airport locations in the New York City area are now open. Enterprise Holdings is doing their best to accommodate contracted business, but vehicle availability is still an issue and vehicle selection still a concern. Cars are being shipped from locations throughout the East Coast and Midwest and more are getting prepared as needed. In addition, securing fuel for the vehicles is currently a challenge; Enterprise Holdings has instituted a “half-tank” policy in an effort to conserve fuel. Furthermore, at the request of the governor of New Jersey, they have temporarily stopped washing cars in order to conserve water.
The Holland Tunnel opened today, November 7th, at 5am to commuter traffic and is fully operational. On an average weekday, an estimated 91,000 vehicles use the Holland Tunnel to commute between NY and NJ. The Manhattan Cruise Terminal has reopened to cruise ships.
With approximately 19,000 flights cancelled due to Sandy, travel agents have actively worked with clients whose travel plans were affected. Major airlines including Delta, United, American, US Airways, JetBlue and Southwest have extended travel waivers by opening more booking windows and added destinations for flights that were disrupted by the hurricane.
And now with an approaching storm, as of November 7th, hundreds of flights have been canceled at various airports in North America already. United Airlines has reported halting about 500 flights from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports in New York.
With major weather disruptions, it is important to note how much a travel agent can be depended upon. Travel agents are trained to closely monitor situations for travel alerts and warnings that impact their clients. They are in a position to work on alternate plans, obtain travel vouchers or refunds that clients may not know are due or available to them. With limited airline seats available, travel agents have the resources needed to quickly rebook clients and reserve the next available seat. Travelers who make their own reservations, have to call an 800 number or stand in a lengthy customer service line to try and get rebooked. Should we become aware of an issue for a particular destination, we alert clients who may be planning to travel there or are at that destination, so we can offer assistance.
Whether traveling domestically or internationally, it is strongly encouraged to purchase travel insurance, particularly at the time when travel is booked. Something travelers may not think about. Travel insurance offers an additional layer of protection and can potentially help a traveler save hundreds or thousands of dollars if a medical or travel emergency occurs or if a trip has to be cancelled.
Many hotels have offered services and packages to those in need. Trump SoHo in NY has reopened and is offering a special hurricane relocation package that can be booked direct with the hotel, on the web or through me. It is available to anyone with a valid ID in NJ, NY or CT. The relocation package includes free internet, 15% off best available rates, 25% off laundry (50% off for kids up to 12), 25% off spa service and a welcome gift for kids. This package is valid from 11/5-12/28.
For those now looking for a weekend getaway, there are promotions taking place up and down the East coast as well as warmer destinations and there is still holiday availability at hotels and resorts around the world.
Be safe and know there is assistance available to help with travel.