Thanksgiving travel tips: Flight delays and long airport lines

Whether it’s plane, train or automobile, one thing is certain for Thanksgiving travelers: You’re in for a rough ride.The days before major holidays, especially Thanksgiving, are nightmares for regular commuters and travelers. Trains and buses are standing room only. Stations and terminals become mosh pits of angry luggage-wielding travelers. Rush hour traffic lasts for hours at a time. MORE: 5 myths about Thanksgiving travel AAA projects that nearly 51 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving, the highest travel volume for the holiday since 2005.Here’s your guide to getting away – or simply getting home – for Thanksgiving by any means necessary. We’ll start with the fastest way: Airplane. Do you need to take a train? Check out our guide here! Or are you driving? Here's your primer.  Are you flying somewhere for Thanksgiving?Well, you’re not alone. Air travel is the fastest-growing means of transportation for Thanksgiving weekend, with about 4 million people taking to the skies. And last year, Transportation Security Administration agents screened more than 24 million passengers during Thanksgiving week.Flight delays are much more likely to occur when traveling during Thanksgiving week, according to Airhelp, a website that helps travelers receive compensation for delayed or canceled flights. STEP-BY-STEP: Guide for first-time flyers And Newark Airport? It’s among the worst. Between 2012 and 2015, an average of 18 percent of flights departing from Newark were delayed -- the second-highest average among major U.S. airports.“Newark might have a reputation for being a lesser-known New York-area airport, but it’s also the busier of the sibling airports during the holidays,” Airhelp wrote last year.There is one bright spot for air travelers: According to AAA, plane travelers will pay the cheapest airfare on average since 2013.But if you need a car, Continue Reading

Two United Airlines pilots suspected of being drunk arrested in Scotland — delaying flight to Newark by 10 hours

Scottish cops cuffed two drunken United Airlines pilots before the duo took off with 141 passengers bound for Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday, police said. The Police Service of Scotland said it arrested the flyboys at Glasgow Airport, sparking a whopping 10-hour delay for passengers as the airline called in their replaces. The pilots were identified as Carlos Licona, 45, and Paul (Brady) Grebenc, 35, a police source told the Daily News. Licona and Grebenc will be arraigned in the Glasgow suburb of Paisley on Monday for charges connected to Britain's transport safety laws. "The two pilots have been removed from service and their flying duties," United spokeswoman Erin Benson said. "We are cooperating with the authorities and will conduct our own investigation as well. The safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority." Both men have ties to the U.S. military and have been with United Airlines for at least a year, according to their LinkedIn profiles. Grebenc, who goes by Brady on social media, joined the airline in April 2015 from the Air Force Reserve while Licona joined United in Jan. 2014. after a 10-year stint with Colgan Air. Licona has been with the U.S. Air National Guard since 1988, according to his Linkedin. Saturday's arrests come barely a month after two Canadian pilots of an Air Transat plane were arrested at Glasgow Airport and charged with trying to fly while intoxicated.  With News Wire Services Continue Reading

Federal Aviation Administration under fire as flight delays grow after furloughs of air traffic controllers

WASHINGTON — With anger over airline delays rising, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that budget cuts left him little choice but to furlough 10% of America’s air-traffic controllers. Republicans fumed that the Obama administration was trying to maximize the impact of the automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, not minimize them. The goal, they said, was to force the GOP to capitulate in the broader fight over government spending. Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) singled out the FAA for “mismanagement at its worst, incompetence at its worst.” But appearing at a House hearing, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said he had no alternatives to the furloughs. The reason, Huerta made clear, is found in the specifics of the sequester law that was originally meant to force a budget compromise and not trigger the automatic, across-the-board cuts affecting all agencies. Those details included not touching certain grants, he said. With 70% of the FAA’s operating budget devoted to payroll, and 40% of that earmarked for the salaries of air-traffic controllers, Huerta said he could not shield the controllers from the $637 million in savings he had to find across the agency. “We have been working as diligently as we can to deal with what is an unmanageable situation,” he said. Flight delays eased on Wednesday after waits of as long as two hours Tuesday at the busiest U.S. airports, including Newark and LaGuardia. According to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, there were 5,800 flight delays across the U.S. in the three days beginning Sunday, when the furloughs began. Some were caused by weather. That compares with 2,500 delays in the corresponding period a year ago. As the mild-mannered Huerta quietly responded to questions at the House hearing, the frictions between Republicans and Democrats were clear. Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the Continue Reading

Port Authority wants to fine airline passengers who refuse to turn off phones, cause flight delays

NEWARK, N.J. — The agency that operates the New York City area’s three major airports wants passengers who don’t turn off their cellphones or tablets before takeoff to pay up or go to court. The executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Monday the agency is considering levying fines that could reach tens of thousands of dollars for behavior that causes flight delays. “We think that with the economic costs of delays and with the passenger inconvenience and the effect on our airports’ ability to serve 100 million passengers a year, it’s the right thing to do,” Pat Foye said. The issue of electronic devices on planes received national publicity in December when Alec Baldwin was kicked off a New York-bound flight in Los Angeles for refusing to turn off his cellphone. Baldwin, who stars on NBC’s “30 Rock,” later issued an apology to fellow American Airlines passengers who were delayed but mocked a flight attendant on Twitter. The use of electronic devices on planes generally is prohibited during takeoffs and landings, and passengers are warned by public announcements. The Port Authority initiative is believed to be the only one of its kind being contemplated at a domestic airport, but it’s unclear whether the agency would have the power to implement it. News of the Port Authority’s plans was first reported in the New York Post. According to Foye, Port Authority police last year responded to about 400 calls involving passengers who refused to turn off their electronic devices at John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports. Foye said he believes for every one of those episodes there may have been dozens more in which police weren’t called but delays may have ensued. New York has some of the most crowded airspace in the country, and delays at any of its three major airports can cause havoc around the globe, Continue Reading

Newark Airport flight delays persist after smoke condition at control tower

NEWARK, N.J. — Flight delays could persist into the evening at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport after the control tower was evacuated for an hour due to a report of smoke in an elevator shaft. Flights couldn't take off or head for the airport for an hour after smoke was reported at 12:44 p.m. Tuesday. The Federal Aviation Administration says the tower was evacuated by 1:05 p.m. and controllers managed air traffic from an alternate site. A "ground stop" was in effect for an hour, during which no flights were allowed to take off from or head to Newark. Controllers returned to the tower at 2 p.m. However, the FAA says they're operating under a "ground delay" that limits the number of flights to safely manage arrivals and departures until 8 p.m. Officials haven't determined what caused the smoke. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Grounded: Flight delays drop, but not at New York City airports

For the first time in years, flight delays are on the decline nationwide - except in New York, where the problem keeps getting worse.Arrival delays fell 2% nationwide from May 2008 to May 2009, federal Department of Transportation records show. Here, there were 11.5% more delayed arrivals at Kennedy Airport and 5.5% more late arrivals at LaGuardia Airport. Newark Airport showed some improvement - delays were down 2.5% - but it still ranked 30th out of the nation's 31 major airports. Kennedy was 29th, and LaGuardia was 31st. Sen. Chuck Schumer blamed disproportionate cuts in air-traffic control staffing at the three airports and called on the Federal Aviation Administration to immediately boost personnel levels. Schumer (D-N.Y.) also demanded that the FAA begin installing more efficient Global Positioning System-based plane tracking technology already in use in Britain, France - and even Tibet. "We should buy it immediately, and New York should get it first," he said.   Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Flight delays increase local ozone levels, city Controller report shows

The flight delays that plague New York City airports would make anyone gag, but they may also make you cough and wheeze.A report by city Controller William Thompson on the costs to the city of increased delays at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports shows that planes waiting longer to take off increase the amount of ozone in the air, contributing to local ozone levels that exceed federal clean air standards. Jet engines spew volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide, which combine to form ozone, a ground-level pollutant known to trigger asthma. Thompson's report documents that a major but avoidable source of aircraft emissions is "taxi out" delays - planes idling at the runway waiting to take off. Between 1997 and 2007, the time planes annually spent waiting after leaving the gate at the city's three airports increased by 3.9 million hours. That's the equivalent of 445 airliners running their engines 2-4/7 for an entire year. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Weather causing New York flight delays

Wind and rain are causing delays of two hours or more at New York’s three major airports.The Federal Aviation Administration is reporting delays averaging two hours and 27 minutes on arrivals at Newark International Airport.Flights headed to La Guardia Airport are experiencing delays averaging two hours and seven minutes. At Kennedy International Airport, the delays are averaging 55 minutes.The FAA advised travelers on Monday to check with their airline about the status of departing flights. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Feds: New York airports have the most flight delays

The city's three hubs are the worst in the country, with more than 40% of incoming flights arriving late between January and August of this year, according to the federal Transportation Department.Almost all the delays were because of weather, air-traffic congestion - or maintenance and crew problems, the department said.Newark Airport had the nation's worst record for on-time arrivals.LaGuardia was second worst, with Kennedy Airport only marginally better."The race to the bottom continues,"said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)."Without a doubt, the skies above New York are more clogged and congested than ever. . . We need concrete action before the holiday travel season revs up yet again," he said.The report showed Kennedy had the worst record in the country for on-time departures, and Newark was almost as bad."It's been like that for more than two years," said Marc Lavorgna, spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airports."The Port Authority has put together a task force . . . to look for comprehensive solutions to what is a growing problem." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

N.Y. leads nation with worst flight delays and long waits

New York's airports are the worst in the U.S. when it comes to getting passengers around on time - and the flood of delays and cancellations frequently fouls up air travel nationwide. But if you've flown out of Kennedy, LaGuardia or Newark Liberty, you knew that already. For the record, 38% of all flights from the three airports were late or never got off the ground between January and April. And when they were late, they were very, very late. The 15,480 delayed flights from Newark, according to federal figures, averaged 95 minutes - almost enough time for passengers to take in a movie. Those at LaGuardia were, on average, an hour tardy. Why are we at the bottom of the efficiency heap? Bad weather and bad geography are two reasons. Minor storms that wouldn't be a problem elsewhere often delay New York flights because of where the city sits on the Eastern Seaboard. The airports also have outdated runway configurations, meaning they can land fewer jets per hour than modern facilities in Atlanta and Denver. On top of it all, air congestion is at an all-time high. Nearly 1.4 million flights passed through the region's airspace last year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. A variety of government agencies and aviation experts will take their best shot at solving the mess in the coming months. A high-level task force convened by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will study, among other things, ways to maximize runway use and get planes in and out more quickly. Meanwhile, the FAA is nearing approval of a new flight pattern for the crowded corridor between Delaware and Connecticut, which officials hope can slash delays by 200,000 hours a year. The airlines and FAA also are pushing Congress to authorize a multibillion-dollar upgrade of the nation's air traffic control system. Its high-tech replacement would use global-positioning satellites to coordinate traffic, allowing aircraft to fly closer together. Continue Reading