As 2007 draws to a close, I’ve rounded up a quick list of last year’s top travel stories.
In 2007, the cost of foreign travel to many countries rose as the U.S. Dollar sank against many currencies, including the euro (by a margin of about 11 percent from one year ago) and the British pound (by about 4 percent).
Gasoline prices continue to climb, effecting everyone who relies on their car for transportation to work, etc. From a year ago December, when the national average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.28, the price has risen to $2.98, according to the American Automobile Association.
Flying, similarly, has become even more costly and inconvenient. U.S. airports are more crowded than ever, resulting in record delays in 2007. In the first quarter of 2007, 29 percent of flights were delayed, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. At this time, both the airlines and government are looking for solutions to the overcrowded airports and overall delays, especially in the New York area.
Of course, the flights themselves have also been more crowded than ever, with few empty seats. U.S. airlines carried more domestic and international passengers in the first nine months of 2007 than in the same period in 2006.
New rules requiring up-to-date passports for air travel between the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, and much of the Caribbean meant record numbers of travelers applying for theirs. The overwhelmed system turned into processing delays and in June the government had to ease its rules until the end of September in order to allow passport adjudicators time to catch up with the backlog.
Most major airlines this year adopted rules allowing frequent-flier miles to expire if there is no account activity, making it harder than ever to redeem miles. One way to keep your miles active is by using a credit card tied to the mileage program.
And remember all of the JetBlue uproar in February? Passengers onboard some of their flights out of JFK were stuck on the tarmac for upto 11 hours due to a snowstorm, the most extreme example of several such incidents last winter. Travelers demanded a passenger bill of rights, and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer signed a bill in August requiring airlines operating out of New York airports to provide passengers with food, water, fresh air, power and working restrooms on any flight that has left the gate and been on the tarmac for more than three hours. At this time, the airline industry is still fighting the bill, claiming only the federal government has the right to regulate the airlines.
It’s been a hectic year for travel, and 2008 is looking to carry on much of the same. There are developments that could reach fruition this year and reason to be hopeful.