Hurricane Isaac is poised to strike the Gulf Coast, just a few days before the busy Labor Day holiday travel period. While AAA does not expect a large number of Ohio travelers to be visiting the Gulf Coast region this holiday, those who are planning a trip to this area should continue to monitor the situation closely.
The National Hurricane Center provides up-to-date information on the storm’s path and strength: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov
Anticipated Impact on Labor Day Travel
While it is challenging to predict the impact that Isaac may have on Labor Day travel plans, tropical storms and hurricanes typically do not negatively influence travel at the national level.
Most holiday weekend travel plans are confirmed and even pre-paid well in advance so the majority of Americans tend to monitor weather forecasts and keep their plans if possible. However, since tropical storms and hurricanes are localized events regional travel could be impacted in affected areas.
Data from 2004 and 2005 supports the fact that hurricanes typically do not negatively impact travel at the national level. There were a total of eight hurricanes during 2004 and 2005, and these were two of the worst hurricane years during the past decade in terms of frequency and severity. Meanwhile, quarterly travel in the third quarter (hurricane season) of 2004 and 2005 actually increased on an annual basis (2.4 and 1.5 percent growth, respectively).
Even though hurricanes may alter plans in localized regions, this historical data reaffirms that the effect of hurricanes on travel at the national level is not significant.
Storm Impact on Cruises and Airlines
Isaac is also impacting a number of cruise itineraries. If you are going on a cruise this week, or are planning a trip to the area affected by Isaac, contact your local travel agent, as they have up-to-date information on travel in that region.
Airlines have also been cancelling flights due to the storm. In fact, from Sunday through Monday Airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights. These cancellations can have a trickle-down effect and impact flights that are not even near the storm’s path. More than 2.5 million Americans, including 50,000 Ohioans plan on flying this Labor Day (Thursday, Aug. 30 through Monday, Sept. 3). If you are flying this week, check with your airline before heading to the airport to find out the status of your flight.
Tips for Travelers Planning a Trip to Areas Impacted by Isaac:
For travel this week:
- - Travel with only a carry-on bag when flying to give you greater flexibility if your schedule changes and so that you will have your luggage with you if delayed
- - Pack “emergency” creature comforts with you like snacks, rain coats, and extra clothing, etc. A flashlight with extra batteries, radio and extra water are a good idea if going to a beach house
- - Heed all evacuation advisories and/or orders
If you are planning a trip to any of the areas affected by Isaac, after the storm passes, make sure you ask very specific questions about the hotel accommodations and surrounding area. It isn’t enough to ask if the property is open. Instead, experts recommend asking the following:
- - Is the facility under reconstruction after the storm?
- - Are all of the facility’s amenities (pool, work out facility, golf course, tennis courts, etc.) up and running?
- - If I show up and I am not happy with the accommodations, will you refund my money or relocate me to a similar property?
- You can reach a AAA travel expert by calling 888-AAA-OHIO (222-6446), or by visiting your local AAA store:
Gas prices may continue to rise this week as Hurricane Isaac disrupts production along the Gulf Coast. As a precaution, some refineries and pipelines along the coast are beginning to close which could result in price increases in parts of the country. It remains too early to predict the extent of the impact Isaac may have on gas prices, or if that impact will be felt nationwide. Daily gas prices can be tracked at http://www.fuelgaugereport.aaa.com/
As stated earlier, most Labor Day holiday weekend travel plans are confirmed and even pre-paid well in advance. Keeping the possibility of regional impacts in mind, we expect that travelers will continue with their confirmed holiday travel plans. However, it is possible that last-minute or impromptu travel plans could be impacted by increases in gas prices.