5 things to look for in Brightline’s new passenger trains

We got our first look this week at the new train for All Aboard Florida’s Brightline passenger-rail service.

With trains set to start rolling this summer between West Palm Beach and Miami with a stop in Fort Lauderdale, journalists were given tours of two train cars, a locomotive and the Brightline maintenance facility just north of downtown West Palm.

Brightline unveiled its first passenger train Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility in West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Brightline unveiled its first passenger train Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility in West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

» RELATED: Take a look: All Aboard’s Brightline unveils first passenger train

Ticket prices are yet to be announced, but those who hope to hop aboard can expect to see various ticket packages to cater to customers’ needs, Brightline President Michael Reininger said. Travelers will be able to choose between two levels of car: the Smart Coach, which has four seats across per row with an aisle down the middle; and the Select Coach, which features wider seats, free snacks, alcoholic beverages, and two seats on one side of the aisle and one seat on the other, allowing for solo seating.

» PHOTOS: All Aboard Florida unveils Brightline, train designs

Here are a few features inside the trains for travelers to watch for:

WiFi: Each Brightline train car is equipped with free on-board WiFi. Brightline officials said with multiple antennas per train, the WiFi signal will be powerful enough to allow guests to stream TV shows and movies, or play online games.

Brightline officials say each set of seats on its passenger train will be equipped multiple electrical and USB outlets. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Brightline officials say each set of seats on its passenger train will be equipped multiple electrical and USB outlets. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Power: Each seat has access to multiple power outlets and USB ports. One seating configuration, which has four seats facing each other with a table in the middle, has outlets between each of the seats, with another set of outlets that pops up out of the table.

One of the hands free wash rooms inside new Brightline passenger train unveiled Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility in West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
One of the hands free wash rooms inside new Brightline passenger train unveiled Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility in West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Touchless bathrooms: The bathrooms on the Brightline train are mostly touchless — you still have to grab the toilet paper yourself. Toilets flush with the wave of your hand, and the sink and soap also are motion-activated. For those who forget to flush, the toilet will do it for you when you open the door to exit.

Mind the gap: Each train car has “gap fillers” that bridge the gap between the car and the station platform. There’s about a three-inch difference in height between the two, Brightline said, so the gap filler will allow travelers in wheelchairs or with strollers or walkers to safely cross.

Luggage rack inside a Brightline passenger train Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Luggage rack inside a Brightline passenger train Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Brightline repair facility. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Pet-friendly trains: Brightline trains will have room for both large and small pets. Smaller critters will have to travel in carriers, which can be stowed under a seat or in the overhead luggage area. Pet owners also can make reservations for larger pets — but they’ll get their own larger carrier at the end of the train, near the luggage racks.

» RELATED: 

Construction advances on Brightline’s Miami station

Brightline opponents call financing plan shift a “scheme” to avoid lawsuit

 

All Florida tolls reinstated after Hurricane Matthew

The entrance to the Florida Turnpike at Okeechobee Boulevard Tuesday, June 30, 2015. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
The entrance to the Florida Turnpike at Okeechobee Boulevard Tuesday, June 30, 2015. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Floridians: It’s time to pay for your trip on Florida’s Turnpike again.

As Florida continues to clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Gov. Rick Scott’s office said Monday that all tolls throughout the state have been reinstated.

Scott suspended tolls for the storm beginning Wednesday, as evacuation orders were issued from Palm Beach County north along Florida’s east coast.

» Photos: Hurricane Matthew’s effects on Florida

The issue first was given Wednesday to suspend tolls on State Road 528, the Beachline, to assist with Brevard County’s mandatory evacuation. That highway saw delays Wednesday and Thursday as thousands of people left their homes and headed inland.

Later Wednesday, Scott expanded his order to included all toll roads in Florida. Tolls continued to be free until Sunday night.

» Hurricane Matthew: Full coverage

 

 

 

 

 

Disney closes — for the fourth time ever — because of Hurricane Matthew

Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary on October 1, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by David Roark/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images)
Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary on October 1, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by David Roark/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images)

As Hurricane Matthew approaches Florida and the state prepares for hurricane-force winds and heavy rain, theme parks in Central Florida are issuing closures.

» Stay safe: Where to find a shelter in the area

Disney announced Thursday it would close its parks for just the fourth time in the resort’s history. The first three times also were for hurricanes: Sept. 15, 1999, for Floyd; Sept. 4-5, 2004, for Frances; and Sept. 26, 2004, Jeanne.

Here’s a wrapup of which parks are closing:

Disney

Disney’s theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs, miniature golf courses and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will close by 5 p.m. today and will stay closed Friday. Disney also canceled Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for Thursday.

Click here for the latest from Disney.

Universal

The park posted a notice on its Facebook page that for Thursday, its theme parks and CityWalk will close at 5 p.m., Wet ‘n Wild will close at 2 p.m. and Halloween Horror Nights is canceled.

» Related: FPL forecasts up to 1.2 million customers could lose power

On Friday, all theme parks will be closed and Halloween Horror Nights is canceled.

Universal expects to reopen its parks Saturday.

Click here for the latest from Universal.

Legoland

Legoland Florida will operate as usual Thursday, but will be closed Friday.

Click here for the latest from Legoland.

SeaWorld

SeaWorld posted on its website that it will close at 2 p.m. Thursday and be closed Friday. The park is expected to be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Hours are subject to change.

The SeaWorld call center will follow the same schedule for Thursday and Friday, and reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Click here for the latest from SeaWorld.

Check back for more updates.

More reading

 

 

 

Hurricane Matthew: Amtrak to suspend service in Southeast

(Provided by Amtrak)
(Provided by Amtrak)

Amtrak said Wednesday it is temporarily suspending its train service in the Southeast as the region is expected to begin feeling the effects of Hurricane Matthew.

» COMPLETE LIST OF SHELTERS, EMERGENCY RESOURCES

According to a news release, the following routes are canceled for Thursday and Friday, with no alternate transportation provided:

• Silver Star 91 and 92 from New York City to Miami
• Silver Meteor 97 and 98 from Miami to New York City
• Auto Train 52 and 53 between Lorton, Va., and Sanford

In addition, the Palmetto 89 and 90 from New York City to Savannah, Ga., will instead run to Washington, D.C.

To check your train’s status, change your plans or check refund information, go to www.amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL.

» The latest on how Matthew is affecting flights in South Florida

» How Matthew is muddying cruise lines’ plans

» How FEC, All Aboard and CSX are preparing for Matthew

More coverage of Hurricane Matthew:

The latest from The Post’s weather reporter, Kim Miller

Make sure you have your hurricane supplies

Which Palm Beach County gas stations can pump without power?

Airlines expand travel waivers in Southeast as Hurricane Matthew approaches

American is one of several airlines offering travel waivers for some flights. (Getty Images)
American is one of several airlines offering travel waivers for some flights. (Getty Images)

UPDATED: Several airlines have issued travel waivers for airports across South and Central Florida and the Caribbean as Hurricane Matthew makes its way toward the Sunshine State.

Many flights were delayed or canceled at Palm Beach International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport.

» See the latest on delays and cancellations at South Florida airports

A travel waiver typically allows passengers to change their flights with little to no penalty. The waiver offered varies depending on the airline. For information regarding a specific flight, contact your airline.

Here’s the list of travel waivers in effect. This list will be updated as more waivers are announced.

American Airlines

Waiver benefits: No change fee for eligible flights.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Key West, Melbourne, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 4; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 5-7; you can travel Oct. 5-12; and you don’t change your origin or destination.

Southeast U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Augusta and Savannah, Ga.; Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh/Durham, Richlands and Wilmington, N.C.; Columbia, Charleston, Florence, Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 4; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 5-9; you can travel Oct. 5-14; and you don’t change your origin or destination.

Caribbean

Where the waiver is in effect: Cienfuegos, Cuba; Holguín, Cuba; Santa Clara, Cuba; Cap-Haïtien, Haiti; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Kingston, Jamaica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.

You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 1; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 1-6; you can travel Sept. 3o – Oct. 9; and you don’t change your origin or destination.

Bahamas

Where the waiver is in effect: Eleuthera, Exuma, Freeport / Grand Bahama, Marsh Harbour and Nassau.

You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Sept. 30; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 2-7; you can travel Sept. 30-Oct. 11; and you don’t change your origin or destination.

More information from American Airlines

Delta

Waiver benefits: Receive a refund for the unused portion of your ticket, or make a one-time change to your ticket without a fee on eligible flights.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Daytona, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Key West, Melbourne, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 6-7. Your ticket must be reissued on or before Oct. 12, and your rebooked travel must begin no later than Oct. 12.

Southeast U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Brunswick and Savannah, Ga.; Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Fayetteville, Jacksonville, New Bern, Raleigh and Wilmington, N.C.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 6-9. Your ticket must be reissued on or before Oct. 14, and your rebooked travel must begin no later than Oct. 14.

Caribbean

Where the waiver is in effect: Kingston, Jamaica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Georgetown, Bahamas; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 2-6. Your ticket must be reissued on or before Oct. 9, and your rebooked travel must begin no later than Oct. 9.

More information from Delta.

Frontier

This airline has canceled many flights into and out of Orlando and St. Augustine. Click here for a complete list.

Waiver benefits: Receive one itinerary change; rules and restrictions regarding standard change fees, advance purchase, day or time applications, blackouts, and minimum or maximum stay requirements will be waived. Also, travellers on eligible flights may request a refund.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and St. Augustine.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were originally scheduled to fly Oct. 5-8 and purchased your ticket on or before Oct. 4. Travel on rescheduled flight must be completed by Oct. 29.

More information from Frontier.

JetBlue

Waiver benefits: No change/cancel fees and waived fare differences for eligible flights.

U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Charleston, S.C.; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Savannah/Hilton Head, Ga.; and Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 5-9 and booked your flight on or before Oct. 4. You may rebook from now through Oct. 18, before your originally scheduled flight was set to depart.

Caribbean

Where the waiver is in effect: Kingston, Jamaica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Nassau, Bahamas; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; Santa Clara, Cuba.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 2-6 and booked your flight on or before Sept. 30. You may rebook from now through Oct. 10, before your originally scheduled flight was set to depart.

More information from JetBlue.

Silver

Waiver benefits: No change fees or fare differences for eligible flights.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Key West, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were schedule to fly Oct. 3-8. You must exchange your ticket and complete your travel by Nov. 17.

Bahamas 

Where the waiver is in effect: Bimini, Freeport, Governors Harbour, Great Exuma Island, Marsh Harbour, Nassau, North Eleuthera and Treasure Cay.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were schedule to fly Oct. 3-8. You must exchange your ticket and complete your travel by Nov. 17.

More information from Silver.

Southwest

Waiver benefits: No additional charge for rebooking for eligible flights.

U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Charleston, S.C.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 4-8 and rebook in the same class as originally scheduled within 14 days of the original date of travel between the same originating city and destination.

Caribbean

Where the waiver is in effect: Montego Bay and Nassau.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Sept. 30-Oct. 5 for Montego Bay and Oct. 2-7 for Nassau, and rebook in the same class as originally scheduled within 14 days of the original date of travel between the same originating city and destination.

More information from Southwest.

Spirit

Waiver benefits: No modification charge/fare difference for eligible flights.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 6-7, and rebook your flight before Oct. 14. After Oct. 14, the modification charge still will be waived, but a fare difference will apply.

Southeast U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Myrtle Beach, S.C.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 7-8, and rebook your flight before Oct. 14. After Oct. 14, the modification charge still will be waived, but a fare difference will apply.

More information from Spirit.

United

Waiver benefits: No change fees and waived fare differences for eligible flights, as long as travel is rescheduled in the same cabin and between the same cities as originally ticketed.

Florida

Where the waiver is in effect: Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to travel between Oct. 5-7 and your new flight must be rescheduled before Oct. 12.

Southeast U.S.

Where the waiver is in effect: Charleston, Columbia and Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro and Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Savannah, Ga.

You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to travel between Oct. 6-9 and your new flight must be rescheduled before Oct. 14.

More information from United.

Allegiant

The airline has canceled a slew of flights into and out of Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Sanford. Those flights will be rescheduled, and passengers on the affected flights will be contacted via email, Allegiant said. Check here for updates.

More coverage of Hurricane Matthew:

The latest from The Post’s weather reporter, Kim Miller

Make sure you have your hurricane supplies

Which Palm Beach County gas stations can pump without power?

List of Palm Beach County grocery and home improvement stores with generators

Flights to Havana could be offered from four Florida cities

If a proposal released Thursday takes effect, you may not have to travel far to catch a flight to Havana, Cuba.

Four Florida cities are among 10 chosen as possible locations for flights to and from the Cuban capital beginning this fall.

Cubans dance the Tango in the middle of the famous Prado boulevard in Habana Vieja January 25, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Cubans dance the Tango in the middle of the famous Prado boulevard in Habana Vieja January 25, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The list of cities was released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation and includes Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Tampa, along with Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark and New York City.

“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”

Foxx also said eight airlines tentatively have been chosen as carriers for Havana flights: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines.

In making the decision on which U.S. cities to include in the proposal, the DOT said it looked for areas with large Cuban-American populations, along with areas that are aviation hubs.

The DOT said 12 U.S. airlines applied to offer service to Havana. The department did not release the names of the four airlines that did not make the cut.

The release of the proposed cities and carriers follows an agreement signed in February between the U.S. and Cuba to open air service between the two countries after more than 50 years. The arragement allows for each country to operate up to 20 roundtrip flights each day between Havana and the U.S.

Those traveling to Cuba must fall under one of 12 categories set by the U.S. government: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions. Read more here about what you need to travel to Cuba.

The DOT said it will release its final decision later this summer.

5 things to know about All Aboard Florida and Brightline

(Provided)
(Provided)

As the new year begins, we’re betting All Aboard Florida’s plans for an intercity rail system in Florida will continue to be one of our top business stories.

Here are five things you need to know about the massive project.

1. It’s truly massive. The downtown Miami station is slated to have a footprint that spans six city blocks. The West Palm Beach station will be 60,000 square feet, and it’s paired with a plan for a rail-side apartment complex.

Read more about the planned stations.

2. You could ride a Brightline train by the end of 2017. The company plans to run 32 trains a day between Miami and Orlando with stops in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Service between Miami and West Palm Beach is set to begin in 2017, with the West Palm-to-Orlando route set to open by the end of 2017.

3. Station construction already is happening. This month, engineers tested lighting for the signature V’s that mark the facade of its stations. Above-ground work is underway in Miami, and Florida East Coast Railway, All Aboard’s sister company, has been adding a second line of tracks along its route to accommodate both freight and passenger trains.

4. All Aboard Florida didn’t change its name to Brightline. Rather, Brightline is the official brand name of the rail line.

5. The project has its detractors. Citing safety and economic concerns, groups including Florida Not All Aboard and Citizens Against Rail Expansion have launched campaigns against All Aboard Florida. Martin and Indian River counties have pledged money to fight the rail line. Opponents also have fought to block the company from issuing bonds to pay for the project.

Get more details on All Aboard Florida and Brightline.

Report: These were 2015’s biggest travel trends

A plane comes in for a landing at Miami International Airport. (Getty Images)
A plane comes in for a landing at Miami International Airport. (Getty Images)

This has been a huge year for travel — in particular for Florida, which is expected to receive a record number of tourists by the year’s end.

CNN has put together a list of some of the top travel trends for 2015. Here are two of the ones we think had the biggest impact:

Frequest flier miles based on dollars spent instead of miles traveled

This year, three airlines switched up their frequent flier programs in a big way: issuing rewards based on the amount of money spent, instead of how many miles were traveled.

And American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines might be leading a bigger charge, CNN reports.

“We saw some of the first hints globally from international carriers,” Skift.com co-founder Jason Clampet told CNN.

The rise of Uber and Airbnb in business travel

With the addition of Uber for Business, the increasingly popular ride-hailing app made it easier for companies and employees to expense trips. Companies now can set up corporate accounts, set rules and monitor rides more closely.

Airbnb also has risen in popularity for corporate travel, CNN reports. Instead of booking costly hotel rooms, for example, a company might book a large condo through Airbnb.

Read more from CNN.