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Marriott Hotel in downtown Tampa
GOOGLE maps

Hotels in the Tampa Bay area had their second-best month ever in February.

But, what a difference a month makes.

In recent years, airlines have been cramming more seats onto planes and squishing passengers ever closer to one another. The entire airport experience isn't much better, with overcrowded eateries and bookshops, as well as tightly packed lines of people queuing up at check-in counters, at security checkpoints and on the jet bridge for boarding.

But that's not the case anymore.

"Airports are empty. The flights are empty," said physician Frank Garcini after stepping off a recent flight from Phoenix at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Aquarium tank with people viewing fish
Visit Tampa Bay

Travel-related businesses, particularly those in Florida, have taken a hit from coronavirus and the safer-at-home policies put in place.

As a matter of fact, officials with the U.S. Travel Association say the impact is nine times greater than that of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Congressional leaders are now working with the USTA to expand relief efforts to help the embattled industry recover.

If you use travel booking websites, beware.

New research from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) reveals that customers are cheated out of almost $6 billion annually by online booking scams from fraudulent or misleading travel websites.

Updated Oct. 9 at 3:50 p.m. with statement from Expedia Group

Gas pump in Jacksonville, Florida.
Wikimedia Commons

As Labor Day approaches, gas prices are near the lowest level of the summer. And even with the threat of Tropical Storm Dorian, AAA officials say they are not expected to rise.

Courtesy of the Tampa Police Department

The Tampa Police Department can help protect your home if you're planning to leave town this holiday season.

Many seaports and airports along the southeastern U.S. coastline have been shut down, more than 1,000 flights have been canceled, and some highways and bridges in low-lying coastal areas could close soon, as Hurricane Florence gets closer to making landfall.

Authorities in coastal areas that lie in the path of the massive storm are urging residents one last time to evacuate.

As you set out to gather with family this Thanksgiving weekend, you can expect a lot of company no matter how you’re getting there. 

If you’ll be hitting the road this Thanksgiving you’ll have plenty of company, with an estimated 2.6 million Floridians expected to travel 50 miles or more.


Renata Sago / WMFE

A record 43.1 million passengers passed through Orlando International Airport in the past year. The latest data show domestic travel climbed 5.95 percent, with more than 37 million people moving through the airport. International traffic also grew to 5.7 million passengers, a 4.45 percent increase from a year ago.

President Trump will be in Miami Friday to unveil his new Cuba policy, which will reverse some of his predecessor’s normalization measures. The main targets are Cuba’s military – and wannabe American tourists.

A new poll on Americans' health care attitudes finds almost half are wary of traveling to places in the U.S. where people have been infected with the Zika virus by mosquitoes, such as parts of Florida.

Health officials say a Texas resident who recently traveled to an area of Miami where local Zika transmission occurred has tested positive for the virus.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Big changes are coming to Tampa International Airport, and this week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 23 at 7:30 a.m.), we’re bringing you a special newsmaker edition of the show with airport CEO Joe Lopano.

One of our burning questions: Is it TPA – or TIA? According to Lopano, it’s both.

My Time In Cannes

Aug 12, 2015
Quincy Walters / WUSF News

Before each feature film at the Cannes Film Festival, an enchanting piece of music from Camille Saint-Saen's Carnival of the Animals, plays. For me, it reinforced the magical nature of attending one of the world's most important film venues. 

With gas and oil prices plunging, among those benefiting are airlines. With fuel prices down, profits are up, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to find cheap airfares, especially over the holidays.

The airline industry is predicting more people will take to the skies over Thanksgiving than any year since the start of the recession.

The weather in Chicago is not quite frightful yet, but the snow and cold is coming; so warm weather destinations for the holidays sound appealing.

Spirit Airlines is one of the fastest-growing airlines in America. Last week, we flew Spirit from New York to Fort Lauderdale for $68.99 each. Cheap!

But that doesn't count fees. We paid $30 extra to pick our seats ahead of time. Once you're on the plane, a bottle of water costs $3. Even putting a bag in the overhead bin costs money on Spirit.

Somewhere between New York and Florida, the guy sitting across the aisle from us leaned over and said, "This sucks."

With more than 6,000 flights within the nation canceled today and more than 1,000 delayed because of the snow and ice storm moving up the East Coast, it's time once again to point to FlightAware.com's "Misery Map."

File photo / Associated Press

If you're heading home after the holidays, or just hitting the road to squeeze in that last bit of fun before going back to work or school next week, there are a few websites you might want to check out.

Bay News 9

As if today being the busiest travel day of the year wasn't enough, bad weather around the country is leading to flight delays at Tampa International Airport.

While those in the western half of the nation will mostly enjoy fair skies on this Thanksgiving Eve, we regret to repeat that for millions of Americans east of the Mississippi it's going to be a messy busiest-travel-day-of-the-year (otherwise known as Getaway Day).

Here's what the National Weather Service has to say:

As I write this, snowstorms are swirling over the East Coast, threatening Thanksgiving holiday travel plans for millions of travelers. How much time in the purgatory of airports will this mean for you? Check out FlightAware's MiseryMap, which combines weather and flight data into a live map that lists which airports are being struck by storms, the number of delays and cancellations, and graphs that show flight destinations and the chances they'll actually make it on time.

Rain, sleet, snow and an estimated 43.4 million Americans traveling to be with family or friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

South Florida-based Spirit Airlines is known for being cheap. It boasts "ultralow" base fares and then charges for items such as carry-on luggage or printing out your boarding pass at the airport.

That thrift carries over to Spirit's advertising. Even compared with other low-cost airlines, Spirit spends almost nothing on ads. And yet the company makes a surprising splash with its campaigns. A visit to Spirit headquarters reveals the secrets of its marketing.

Cuba Lifts Tough Travel Restrictions on Residents

Oct 16, 2012
cmrlee

Cuban officials announced today that residents leaving the country will no longer need to go through the tedious and bureaucratic process of obtaining an exit visa.

The new policy will take affect on January 14th. 

Cuba used to require an exit visa as well as a letter of invitation to travel abroad.  And Cubans who stayed abroad for more than 11 months would lose residency privileges. 

The new policy would only require a passport and visa and travelers would be able to re-file for a visa after 12 months.