2013 was a rather incredible year in the world of travel, wasn’t it? During this year we saw some of the best – and worst – that comes with taking the roads, the skies, and the seas. We’ve seen companies come together, passengers divide on how to get to their destination, and storms that have twisted and snarled traffic across the United States. Personally speaking, my 2013 has been a rather successful campaign in retrospect: nearly 28,000 miles traveled in the air, with 46 total flights – which turns into the equivalent of three days in the air.
In looking back at the year, there were a lot of stories that really stuck out to me for many different reasons. Here are the stories that topped my list of big events in 2013:
- Government affairs were a big travel topic not once, but three times in 2013. First, there was The Sequester that threatened to furlough air traffic controllers, the closure of air traffic control towers across the country, and unfilled vacancies at the TSA potentially causing more backups getting through security. While these situations were actualized in April, it took but a week for Congress to appropriate the money and bring the effects of the Sequester effect on travel to an end. This was a temporary reprieve to the bigger government event of the year: the government shutdown. The government shutdown forced the closure of non-essential government offices, including national monuments, parks, and museums. The shutdown also forced the slowdown of many essential operations such as passport and visa processing. Only lasting 16 days, the shutdown realized losses of $76 million per day to communities dependent on tourism from the National Parks. Both of these events overshadowed the third travel event that the federal government found themselves in the middle of in 2013:
- The on-again, off-again, on-again merger of American Airlines and US Airways also concerned travelers in 2013. In February, US Airways announced their intention to merge with American Airlines, creating what would become the world’s largest airline based on passengers. The Department of Justice stepped in to attempt to block the merger, but gave way to the combined airline when they agreed to hold their commitments to their current hubs, and give up gate space at several major airports across the country (including Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, New York LaGuardia, and Washington Reagan). Full integration between the two airlines is expected to start in 2014.
- More concerning to travelers, however, was the very high profile breakdowns of two cruise ships in the Caribbean in the spring of 2013. The cruise liners – both belonging to Carnival Cruise Lines – left vacationers stranded with very rudimentary service. In the case of the Carnival Triumph, passengers were forced to wait to be tugged back to port. I maintain that cruises can be a fun and exciting vacation, offering something for everyone. However, the lessons we learned from these experiences taught us to be prepared for what may come while on the high seas – and to definitely pack travel insurance along for the ride.
In 2014, may our travels be safe, healthy, and may we all get to see much more of the world than we have before. What were your biggest travel stories of 2013? What would you include on this list? Let me know in the comments below!