Travel in northeast US difficult in wake of Nor’easter

Even though the storm, nor’easter, has come and gone, having brought its own problems to those who were battling Hurricane Sandy just a week ago, its effects are still being felt by travellers in the region.

The hurricane, which was not as strong or vicious as Hurricane Sandy, was still destructive enough to affect a population that had already been battered by the first storm. Travellers had to endure an arduous commute when Sandy struck, and had been experiencing major difficulties throughout the first full workweek. Those who endured the hurricane have been further subjected to hardships after the new storm made its presence felt. A wet, heavy climate, felled trees, dangling electric wires and hazardous conditions for motorists have severely affected travellers in the region.

The change in the weather had prompted the Port Authority to place speed limits of 35 mph on some of its New Jersey-New York crossings. Sections of the New Jersey Turnpike were reduced to 45 or 50 mph. The weather also meant that people abandoned their travel plans, preferring to stay indoors rather than venturing out.

Downed trees were slowing or blocking travel on Route 18 North in Neptune, Colts Neck and Marlboro, according to the state Department of Transportation, and travellers are being warned that they could encounter hazards along the way. For much of the time only essential traffic was allowed through, as the cities affected by the hurricane are slowly limping back to normality.

John Durso Jr, a spokesman for the statewide transit agency, said, ‘Crews worked throughout the night to clear snow and ice from NJ Transit properties for the morning commute. Some buses operating through Northwest New Jersey were subject to detours during the morning commute.’

The limited trains on the Northeast Corridor between Trenton and New York were fully packed, and the North Jersey Coast Line train service to New York was scrapped because of overcrowding on the platform.

UK Travellers in New York Face Delays Despite Airports Reopening

New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Airport are slowly resuming normal service, after remaining closed for two days, bringing some relief to travellers that have been trapped in the city, due to the severe weather in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy has battered the northeast coast of the US, before moving northwards, causing extensive damage to the cities of New York, New Jersey and many others. Most of the public transportation system in New York, the financial capital of the US, has been shutdown, with some underground tunnels being completely flooded.

Both New York airports opened to some extent at 7am local time, but La Guardia Airport, which suffered most from flooding, remains closed.

Virgin Atlantic, an airline subsidiary of UK-based Virgin Group, has announced the resumption of flights to and from New York, with plans to run most of its scheduled flights, as well as a ‘special recovery flight’ to JFK Airport from London, to bring back the stranded UK passengers.

However, UK-based British Airways has stated in a web update, ‘On Wednesday 31 October we have cancelled the majority of our flights to and from New York, JFK and Newark (EWR). Flights to other East Coast US airports should be operating normally. Please only come to the airport if you are confirmed on a flight.

Public transport links to East Coast US airports continue to be disrupted, please check your flight and local travel plans before leaving for the airport.’

According to the flight tracking service FlightAware, around 18,300 flights were cancelled across the US East Coast in the last three days, with 8,183 flights cancelled on Monday, 7,258 on Tuesday, and 2,829 to date on Wednesday.

The airports may take some time to become fully operational, as the public transport system is taking time to become functional, and airport staff face difficulties in commuting to work.

For UK passengers who are delayed in the US and are travelling with an EU-based airline, all reasonable costs incurred during the period that they are waiting for a replacement flight should be covered by that airline. These include food, hotel bills and phone calls. The airline might provide food and accommodation directly, or reimburse the passenger against receipts provided.

Travellers with non-EU based airlines may have to claim theses expenses on their own travel insurance, dependant on that airline’s policy.

Sandy expected to reduce tourist inflows into Jamaica

The devastation unleashed by Hurricane Sandy is expected to reduce tourist inflows to Jamaica.

Analysts believe that the hurricane’s effects on the Northeast United States could have a devastating effect on Jamaica’s tourism industry, because the Northeast is Jamaica’s largest source market and a disruption of amenities in that part of the world would automatically have an impact on the fortunes of Jamaica. Forty percent of the business that is generated by the country’s tourism stakeholders comes from areas that include Boston, New York, Washington and Philadelphia, and all of these areas have been affected by the hurricane. Business analysts feel that tourism in Jamaica will become cheaper because of the lack of demand and a surge in cancellations.

The president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Evelyn Smith, said, ‘It is a situation that we are watching very closely, already some of our members are reporting that guests have not been able to travel to Jamaica. It’s our most important source market, in comparison to the Midwest, South and West Coast, and in recent years the Philadelphia gateway has been doing very well. And the hurricane is cutting right through that area.’

However hotel owners in the region are not speculating on how the hurricane will affect business in December. Even though Sandy is considered to be one of the biggest hurricanes to have hit the US, and even though the devastation has been huge, there is a reticence to speculate on the long-term affects on Christmas trade.

From Sunday afternoon, flights from New York to Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean were being cancelled.

By contrast, tourists who are already on the island have been forced to extend their stay because of the large-scale flight cancellations.

British Consulate-General in New York Closed by Tropical Cyclone Sandy

As Hurricane sandy batters the East Coast of the US, and New York plunges into flood and darkness due to the heavy rains and power outages, the British Consulate-General In New York will remain closed on Tuesday.

Although the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), a government agency responsible for the interests of UK citizens overseas, has not issued any travel restrictions for UK citizens visiting any parts of the US, a statement issued by the agency reads, ‘Post-tropical cyclone Sandy has caused significant flood and wind damage across a large area along the east coast of the US. Effects are being felt further inland, including blizzard conditions in some parts of Virginia. Widespread power outages have been reported.

There will be severe disruption to air, road, rail, and cruise line services over the next few days; check with your travel provider before travelling.

The storm is moving north and will continue to affect the northeastern States and into southeast Canada, with strong winds, heavy rain, and flooding.

British nationals requiring emergency assistance can obtain help by calling our toll-free number 1-877-UK-IN-USA (1-877-854-6872).

Travellers are advised to monitor weather reports on radio and television and follow the advice of local authorities, including if ordered to evacuate. The British Embassy in Washington and the British Consulates-General in New York and Boston will be closed to the public on Tuesday October 30.’

Services to US airports on the East coast have been severely affected, leaving thousands of Britons stranded in US cities. British Airways has cancelled 13 flights to and from the East Coast that were scheduled for today.

Virgin Atlantic has cancelled all service from New York’s JFK and Newark airports for today, as airports have closed following the severe bad weather. Both airlines have also cancelled a number of flights that were due to depart from JFK and Newark airports early tomorrow.