Just in time for the busy summer travel season, Southwest Airlines plans to launch a number of new international flights from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to several Caribbean destinations.
The airline announced earlier this year that a new five-gate international concourse set to open at the airport would allow it to offer service between Ft. Lauderdale and four new international destinations — George Town, Grand Cayman; Belize City; Cancun, Mexico; and Montego Bay, Jamaica. Those flights are expected to begin on June 4.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You’re not alone. Yes, I’m talking to you, the person who is looking for a way home that doesn’t take you past a shopping mall. Or a way to your doctor’s appointment that won’t lead you along a street where cars will be stacked up in a right-turn lane to get to JC Penney’s.
I used to work at a mall. I was an assistant manager at Picture People at the Mall at Wellington Green while in college, and during the holidays I often walked 10 or 15 minutes from a distant parking space to the store.
And that was after I sat in traffic for 20 or 30 minutes just trying to find a parking space to begin with.
So I know all too well the pain of struggling to navigate traffic around a shopping mall during the holidays. That’s why I’ve put together this list of side roads and alternate routes to help you get around the deadlock.
All of these routes are going to take you a little out-of-the-way. But if you time it just right, you’ll save yourself the headache of sitting bumper-to-bumper with other frustrated drivers who just want to get home.
Check out my suggestions, then comment to share your ideas.
This is a great destination shopping area — but if you want to avoid it altogether, that could be difficult. Suggested routes: Military Trail to Kyoto Gardens Drive, then take Alternate A1A north to Donald Ross Road or south to Burns Road.
This area is surrounded by development, so there’s still quite a bit of potential for congestion, even on side roads. Suggested routes: Use either Village Boulevard or Australian Avenue to travel north and south and avoid the stretch of Palm Beach Lakes directly to the south of the mall, where most people access the shopping area’s parking lots.
I have a particular soft spot for these options, because I use them quite frequently. Suggested routes: If heading or coming from the west, use Stribling Way and State Road 7; if heading or coming from the east, use a combination of Lyons Road, Stribling Way and State Road 7.
This can be a little tricky; similar to the Palm Beach Outlets, the Boynton Beach Mall has seen a surge in surrounding development in recent years, especially with the addition of more homes in Renaissance Commons. If you don’t need to drive near this mall during the holidays, don’t. Suggested routes: For east-west travel, use Gateway Boulevard to the north or Boynton Beach Boulevard to the south. For north-south travel, take either Lawrence Road or head east of I-95 to take Seacrest Boulevard. (Again, these routes aren’t for people in a rush — just for those who want to avoid that bumper-to-bumper traffic you inevitably find near malls around the holidays.)
This area is a great destination shopping spot — along the lines of the Gardens Mall. It also happens to offer some of the more direct routes that let you get around it. Suggested routes: For north-south travel, take either Powerline Road or Military Trail. Just keep in mind that Military does not intersect with Glades Road, so if you need to get onto I-95 or Florida’s Turnpike, you may want to head St. Andrews Boulevard, which borders the mall south of Glades but saves you the trouble of going too far north or south. For east-west travel, take either Palmetto Park or Yamato roads.
Now it’s your turn: Comment to share your thoughts on holiday shopping traffic and how you try to avoid it each year.
The landmark flights follow a recent pledge by President-elect Donald Trump via Twitter to “terminate” the deal between the U.S. and Cuba if “Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole.”
If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal.
Three airlines will launch direct flights to Havana from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in coming days. JetBlue Airways’ flight took off at 11 a.m. today; Spirit Airlines’ flight leaves at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow; and Southwest Airlines’ flight departs at 11:55 a.m. Monday.
Air travel between the U.S. and Cuba had been limited to charter flights until earlier this year when, as part of President Barack Obama’s plan to normalize relations between the two countries, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved several airlines to provide regular commercial air service.
In a blog post, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez said that by the end of the year, airlines estimate they will have conducted more than 500 round trip flights — equal to more than 90,000 passenger seats — between Havana and Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando and Tampa.
“The numbers themselves are impressive,” Mendez wrote, “and they underscore the significant benefits that President Obama’s policy of re-engagement is having for both the American and the Cuban people.”
Earlier this month, a federal official cautioned that it’s too soon to tell what effect a Trump presidency could have on how U.S. airlines operate to and from Cuba. Jenny Rosenberg, acting assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, said in a conference call with reporters that it’s too soon to “speculate on the current agreement that we have.”
Mark Gale, CEO and president of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, told The Palm Beach Post in August that he’s proud of his team and JetBlue, whose flights account for about a fifth of all traffic at the airport.
“To have that very, very first flight come out of our airport is a great honor,” he said.
During the event, Strong Towns encourages people to take photos of empty parking lots on the day seen by many as the benchmark for maximum parking capacity, then post the photos on social media with the tag #BlackFridayParking.
In his blog post, Marohn argues that parking is costly, both to build and maintain, and lowers a city’s tax base. He also said it “fragments neighborhoods and makes them less walkable,” which can have a negative effect on small businesses.
The Fun House float is more than three stories tall, Krazy Glue said in a news release. The main room rocks back forth as furniture hangs from the ceiling and walls. Carnival performers will walk with the float, including acrobats and street artists.
“Krazy Glue is an instant solution and the only super glue that allows consumers to create ‘krazy’ things,” Victor Misawa, senior vice president of marketing, writing and creative expression for Newell Brands, said in a news release. “Macy’s has been a fantastic partner in bringing the brand’s remarkable ability to glue things together to life with the Fun House float. We’re thrilled to debut our fun and ‘krazy’ float during the landmark 90th anniversary of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”
Having your baggage lost, damaged or stolen is a quick way to spoil an otherwise fun holiday trip. According to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are a few airlines you might want to avoid if you don’t want this to happen to you.
The most recent Air Travel Consumer Report from the DOT shows that in September, Frontier Airlines had the greatest number of reports of mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, at 5.62, while Southwest Airlines had the overall most reports of mishandled bags, with 30,049.
For the first nine months of this year, the DOT said that Expressjet Airlines takes the lead for the greatest number of reports per 1,000 passengers of mishandled bags, with 4.41, and Southwest again ranked at the top, with 342,155 total mishandled baggage reports.
In compiling its data, the DOT looks at reports of lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered baggage for major airlines.
The travel website looked at canceled flights during Thanksgiving and December at the 50 busiest U.S. airports from 2010-2015 and found that more than 3 percent of regional flights were canceled, compared to about 1 percent of flights via large airlines.
Spirit Airlines and JetBlue ranked at the top of the list for most holiday flight cancellations among commercial airlines, with 2.3 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Delta had the best holiday flight cancellation record among large airlines, the study found.
The site also found that flights booked around the December holidays are five times more likely to be canceled than Thanksgiving flights.
Leave your bags in an evacuation: In the unlikely event that you need to evacuate, leave your bags and personal items behind. Your luggage is not worth your life. Passengers are expected to evacuate an airplane within 90 seconds. You do not have time to grab your luggage or personal items. Opening an overhead compartment will delay evacuation and put the lives of everyone around you at risk.
Pack safe: Pack safe and leave hazardous materials at home. From lithium batteries to aerosol whipped cream, many items can be dangerous when transported by air. Vibrations, static electricity, and temperature and pressure variations can cause hazardous materials to leak, generate toxic fumes, start a fire, or even explode. When in doubt, leave it out.
Don’t bring that Note7: Leave your Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone at home. You are prohibited from transporting this recalled device on your person, in carry-on baggage, or in checked baggage on flights to, from, or within the United States.
Watch your batteries: If you have spare batteries, pack them in your carry-on baggage and use a few measures to keep them from short circuiting: keep the batteries in their original packaging, tape over the electrical connections with any adhesive, non-metallic tape, or place each battery in its own individual plastic bag. You cannot fly with damaged or recalled batteries.
Follow carry-on rules: Prevent in-flight injuries by following your airline’s carry-on bag restrictions.
Stow your electronic devices: Use your electronic device only when the crew says it’s safe to do so.
Listen to the flight crew: Pay attention to the flight attendants during the safety briefing and read the safety briefing card.
Wear your seatbelt: Buckle up at all times.
Bring a safety seat or device for young children: Your arms cannot hold onto a child during turbulence or an emergency.
As part of its monthly Air Travel Consumer Report — which also includes data about flight cancellations, mishandled baggage and on-time delays — the DOT said it was releasing the data on reports of airline discrimination as concerns rise about the treatment of passengers. The data includes complaints of treatment based on ancestry, color, national origin, race, religion and sex.
The DOT found that there were 67 complaints from January to September this year, up from 49 complaints for the same period last year — a rise of 37 percent.
For the first nine months of this year, there were 52 complaints regarding race, eight regarding national origin, four regarding sex, two regarding religion and one regarding color.
Six of those complaints were received in September: three regarding race, two regarding national origin and one regarding religion. This is down from eight in September 2015 and 15 in August of this year.
The DOT investigates all allegations of discrimination against airlines to see if a violation has occurred.