Overcoming obstacles while traveling with people who have autism spectrum disorder

For many people, an out-of-town trip can be refreshing and invigorating. Experiencing a new place together as a family offers the chance to make lasting memories outside your normal routine. But for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), traveling brings a host of unique challenges. New sights and sounds paired with the disruption of their usual daily routine can make it difficult to navigate the unpredictable nature of a trip.

But that does not mean families with a member who has autism need to avoid travel altogether. Whether you’re considering air travel or are opting for a road trip, planning ahead can make things much easier for everyone.

In this article

Benefits of Travel for Someone with Autism

While traveling with a child with autism may seem like a challenge, there are several benefits that a trip may bring to all members of the family. For the family member with autism, experiencing a new environment can gently push their comfort zone and build confidence. Traveling is also an effective way to build social skills and interact in new situations, like going to a restaurant, using public transportation or waiting in line.

A new environment may also help with sensory desensitization. Rather than completely avoiding loud or crowded areas, travel offers the opportunity to learn new coping mechanisms to minimize anxiety as much as possible. Traveling with a person who has autism requires some preparation from everyone. “Graded exposure” practices, like practicing new experiences in advance, can be helpful. Additionally, you may opt for a shorter trip if it’s your first time traveling with your child with autism.

The shared experiences of a family vacation offer a unique bonding opportunity. Additionally, parents need their own time to relax and take a break from the challenges of everyday life.

10 Common Obstacles and Solutions for Traveling with Someone who has Autism

Autism Problem: Leaving home and a familiar environment
Solution: Create a countdown calendar, so your child is not surprised when it is time to depart. Discuss the plans for your trip with your child in detail, so they know what to expect. Share pictures and other information with them about where you are going, where you are staying and how you are getting there. It is important for someone with autism to have a sense of familiarity.

Autism Problem: Change in routine
Solution: Identify parts of your child’s regular routine that you can continue, like eating the same breakfast foods or staying on the same nighttime schedule. Discuss some new parts of the routine that might be introduced while traveling so your child is prepared and can participate in planning the new routine.

Autism Problem: Overstimulation
Solution: Avoid an overpacked vacation schedule. Include time for breaks, especially if you are in an area with high sensory stimulation that may be difficult for some with autism. Don’t try to introduce too many new things in one day to a child with a developmental disability, as it may cause sensory overload. Give them a chance to appreciate one or two activities per day without feeling like they are bombarded with new things. Try to avoid activities or places that are very crowded or loud if possible.

Autism Problem: Unexpected plan changes
Solution: Sticking to the plan is important when managing your child’s expectations. Make reservations in advance to help prepare those expectations as much as possible. Try to avoid too many activities that depend on things like the weather. Again, avoid packing your schedule with too many activities as this can be overwhelming for someone with autism.

Autism Problem: Disappointment
Solution: Make backup plans for your scheduled activities and discuss those with your child in advance. Use language like “might” or “hope to” so that there has been some preparation if bad weather causes a change.

Autism Problem: Keeping track of your child
Solution: Consider placing an ID tag on your child’s bag or shoelace that includes information about autism. In case you get separated, they will have your contact information on them. Discuss in advance what to do if you get separated, so your child knows what to do to get back to you.

Autism Problem: Emergency situations
Solution: In case you encounter an emergency while on your trip, bring a physician’s letter and any other medical documents that may help a new care provider understand your child’s needs. Research the areas you will be traveling to and see what care facilities are nearby if something should happen.

Autism Problem: Behavior perceptions
Solution: Be open and honest about your child’s needs when traveling, which can make employees and other travelers much more accommodating.

Autism Problem: Noisy lodging or restaurants
Solution: Rent a vacation house instead of a hotel room to help control noise and cook your own food. If you are at a hotel, call the hotel in advance to explain your child’s needs and ask for a room at the end of the hall and away from elevators.

Autism Problem: Considering a future trip
Solution: Help your family prepare for future vacations by logging what went well and what could be changed to work better next time. Ask your child what they enjoyed about past trips and what presented challenges for them.

Pre-Trip

Planning ahead can remove a lot of travel stress for everyone.

Packing

Taking the right items with you can make a world of difference. Here are some travel essentials that could help your child manage sensory issues while traveling

  • Familiar snacks and foods: If your child has sensory issues when it comes to food textures, bring your own snacks and foods to make sure they have something they can comfortably eat.
  • Weighted blanket: Talk to your child’s care provider or occupational therapist to see if a weighted blanket could lessen anxiety, especially on an airplane.
  • Noise reduction headphones: Traveling can be loud. Noise reduction headphones could help lessen a child’s sensory overload, especially on a crowded airplane or a loud car trip.
  • Entertainment: Choose items that match your child’s needs, such as play dough, fidget toys and coloring books.
  • Change of clothes: Ensure your child remains comfortable with clean clothes in case of an accident or lost luggage.
  • Familiar toys or portable activities: Be sure to bring along your child’s favorite toys or activities that are portable so they have something familiar to engage with during the trip, which can help lessen anxiety.

Planning

Give your child ample time to prepare for the trip by frequently talking about what will happen. Preparation can help them better adjust to a change in routine, which is often a challenge for individuals with autism.

Use social stories to help people with autism visualize what will change when you go on a trip. Also, give your child the opportunity to ask questions about the trip. Get them to repeat back the plan to ensure they truly understand what to expect.

For instance, you may create a social story about standing in line at the airport. You can also talk about the timeline of events, so they know what to expect and when. With autism, it can be difficult to be flexible, so it is important to provide positive reinforcement when they exhibit flexibility in a situation. Parents need to regularly have these conversations with their autistic child in the days and weeks leading up to the trip. Frequent conversations about the trip will give you the chance to address any anxieties they may have so you can work together to create a plan to lessen their stress.

Car safety is also critical. During this pre-trip stage, make sure to check that your auto insurance policy is up to date. Finding the best car insurance can significantly reduce stress on a road trip, especially if your child has autism. Reviewing your auto policy before a trip may also give you a chance to explore other options and get the cheapest car insurance to fit your coverage needs.

Dealing with new people and places

Whether you’re visiting family or friends you have not seen in a while or are concerned about large crowds, it is essential to prepare your child for these new experiences and people.

Introduce your child to the new destination with photos and videos to give them the chance to visualize where they will be. If possible, consider taking a field trip to practice in advance. Perhaps you can visit the airport ahead of time or use a public rest stop before your trip.

Also, talk about any friends or family you will visit to help your child feel more comfortable, especially if you are staying in someone else’s house. Explain your relationship with the people you are visiting and even consider scheduling a video conference for your child to meet them ahead of time.

Car

Here are some specific strategies you can execute to make a car ride easier for your child with autism.

Establishing Boundaries

Start by identifying potential triggers in the car that could make the person with autism uncomfortable. Many sensory overload issues may be magnified in such a small space. Figure out the maximum volume for music and even genres that may soothe or agitate your child. Let your child help create a playlist before you head out. Scents can also disrupt their comfort level, whether it’s an air freshener or fragrant food in the car, so make sure you plan for foods and snacks that aren’t too smelly.

It is also helpful to provide a timetable for the person with autism so they know what to expect. Create a schedule for food and restroom stops, as well as your estimated arrival time. Give verbal and visual cues, like a map with stops marked or a timer counting down to the next rest area. If you need to break up the trip, make a reservation at a hotel along the way, so you don’t have to search for available rooms on the go.

Also, remember to help them prepare for schedule changes that are out of your control. If you hit heavy traffic that will slow you down, communicate those changes to your child and adjust your timer and map.

Stops

Stopping at restaurants and bathrooms is an integral part of the trip for anyone, especially for individuals with autism. Taking a few minutes of quiet time offers a mental break, especially on a road trip where the chance of overstimulation is high. Make each stop as relaxing as possible by going to familiar places, such as a fast-food chain that looks similar no matter where you are. Offer everyone in the car a chance to walk around and stretch. Research rest stops or areas where you might like to stop before you head out to find more peaceful places, and share photos of those places with your child in advance.

Also, remember that nutrition is an important component of a successful trip. Research shows that nutrition issues can amplify problematic behaviors. So you must plan to ensure your child receives the proper nutrition through food and potentially supplements if recommended by your medical professional.

Ride Entertainment

Bringing familiar entertainment can help make the car ride easier for a child with autism, as well as the arrival to a new environment. Here are some ideas for a smooth road trip.

  • Use a car organizer: This helps keep all of the child’s items within arm’s reach.
  • Make activity bags: Fill a bag with ball mazes, lap books or small puzzles to keep your child busy. If taking a long car ride, split up the items into multiple bags to spread out over the trip.
  • Bring headphones: Relaxing music or stories can soothe a child and reduce noise triggers in the car.
  • Preload a tablet: Download your child’s favorite games (and some new ones) to keep them occupied without WiFi on the road.
  • Brainstorm family games: Every road trip needs some type of group game, such as I Spy, bingo or the license plate game. Practice with your child ahead of time if you plan to play a new game.

Plane

Experiencing a plane ride for the first time can be overwhelming. Here are some tips for managing each part of the process.

Airport

The airport can be a noisy, crowded and confusing place, and you are often not in control of where you will sit or how long you must wait in line. Use social stories ahead of your trip to help your child prepare. You can even practice together what it will be like to go through TSA. Show videos and practice together.

According to the TSA, travelers with autism can be screened with a companion. Arrive early and talk to the TSA officer in advance to figure out the best way to get your child through security. Expedite the process by filling out a TSA notification card, which quickly communicates your child’s condition.

Also, take advantage of any available resources your airport offers. For example, Pittsburgh International Airport has a sensory room called Presley’s Place. It has a recreation of an airplane cabin to help prepare your child, soundproof spaces with privacy, and calming activities.

Plane

Start by making sure you can choose seats together. Some budget airlines require an extra fee for this service. If financially possible, pay the fee so you can sit with your child. Also, be prepared to help your child with new sensory experiences. Your doctor can recommend over-the-counter medications or other remedies for motion sickness. Bring candy or gum for your child to chew to avoid ear popping during take-off and landing.

In-flight entertainment is also important. Choose things to keep them busy and will fit in your carry-on bag. Coloring books, calming music with headphones and downloaded games or shows can keep your kid busy and as calm as possible. A favorite blanket can also help, especially since airplanes can be chilly. Remember to pack snacks, so you don’t have to deal with sensory issues with whatever airline provides. Try to chat with the flight attendants when you get on the plane to let them know about any special needs and introduce them to your children before taking off.

Additional Tips for People with Autism

Here are a few extra tips to help make your family’s airplane experience as smooth as possible.

  • Avoid traveling on the busiest days of the week: Weekdays and early morning flights are typically the quietest, but you can also call the airline to book your flight and ask them the best days and times to fly.
  • Visit the airport in advance: Check if your airport has a tour program or create your own (at least up to the TSA checkpoint).
  • Simplify security screening: Help your child with autism breeze through the TSA checkpoint by wearing slip-on shoes and layers that do not have complicated zippers or buttons. Consider applying for TSA Precheck if you are eligible to minimize the wait time and make security a bit easier.
  • Create trip rules: Explain rules in advance, like keeping their seatbelt on or wearing a face mask. Offer appropriate rewards for positive behavior.
  • Schedule breaks: Let your child know when to expect snack and bathroom breaks.

The bottom line

Travel may look different when a family member has autism, but that does not mean it is off the table. Think about your child’s specific needs and tailor solutions to help them as much as possible. It is important to talk to your child in advance and encourage questions and communication.

Create a checklist ahead of time to ensure you have everything your family needs, including medications, the right snacks and other items to make your child more comfortable. It takes extra time and effort, but your entire family can benefit from a new experience with lasting memories together.

Written by Lauren Ward, Insurance Contributor

Edited by Maggie Kempken, Insurance Editor

Hoyt’s Safety Measures and Coronavirus Cleaning Tips

As more cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are reported in the U.S., Hoyt Livery is providing measures to help protect our clients and employees from the spread of this and other illnesses. Plus, coronavirus cleaning tips from the CDC.

Here’s what Hoyt is doing:

  • We thoroughly clean all interior surfaces of our vehicles with disinfectant wipes after each ride, as well as clean all employee work surfaces daily.
  • Our employees know not to report to work if they are feeling unwell and are instructed to seek medical attention.
  • We have also decided to temporarily remove all printed reading materials, beverages and snacks from our vehicles to prevent cross contact.

Thank you for understanding these precautionary measures and know that we are committed to keeping our vehicles as germ-free as possible and in pristine condition, inside and out.

Your health and safety are of utmost importance to us, and we thank you for your business!

Advice on cleaning for coronavirus

What can you do to help reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus and other illnesses? Here are general recommendations for routine cleaning and disinfection of households.

  • Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc. with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface, following label instructions.
  • Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
  • Wash your clothes and towels more frequently using the hot water setting when possible. Use your dishwasher on the sanitize setting to wash not just your dishes, flatware and cups, but other household items like sponges and hairbrushes.

  • Household members should follow home care guidance when interacting with persons with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 and their isolation rooms/bathrooms.
  • In the bedroom/bathroom dedicated for an ill person, consider reducing cleaning frequency to as-needed (e.g., soiled items and surfaces) to avoid unnecessary contact with the ill person.
  • An ill person should stay in a specific room and away from other people in their home, as much as possible, following home care guidance. The caregiver can provide personal cleaning supplies for an ill person’s room and bathroom, unless the room is occupied by a child or another person for whom such supplies would not be appropriate.
  • These supplies include tissues, paper towels, cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants. If a separate bathroom is not available, the bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected after each use by an ill person. If this is not possible, the caregiver should wait as long as practical after use by an ill person to clean and disinfect the high-touch surfaces.

Coronavirus Concerns: Should You Still Travel?

The COVID-19 illness caused by a new coronavirus has millions of Americans questioning whether it’s wise, or even safe, to travel, especially by air. To help you make an informed decision, an infectious disease expert has created a checklist to help you decide whether to go ahead with your trip or cancel it.

Information courtesy of Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter for U.S. News & World Report.

Know your risk

Regarding risk assessment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on their website (as of March 11) that, “For most people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. There is not widespread circulation in most communities in the United States.”

So, for most people with healthy immune systems, infection appears to result in mild symptoms—similar to a cold or flu. However, infection appears to be most severe, and occasionally fatal, for the frail elderly or those with chronic health issues or compromised immune systems.

Should you travel Q&A

Dr. Susan Wootton, an infectious disease pediatrician at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, has developed this nine-point checklist to help you decide whether your trip is a go or a no.

If your answer matches the response in parentheses to each question, move on to the next question. If not, you may need to rethink your travel plans.

  • Are the travelers healthy? (Yes.)
  • Have the travelers received flu shots? (Yes.)
  • Do any of the travelers or anyone the travelers have had contact with have any underlying high-risk conditions for the virus, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? (No.)
  • Are any travel restrictions for your destination listed on the CDC or U.S. Department of State websites? (No.)
  • Is the trip a cruise (which Wootton advises against)? (No.)
  • Are there any major events after the trip that would cause problems if you and your fellow travelers were quarantined for a period of time? (No.)
  • Would anxiety during travel ruin the trip for you? (No.)
  • Are you reasonably able to take common preventative measures — such as washing hands and keeping hands away from the face — during travel? (Yes.)
  • Would your regret be manageable if you or a family member caught COVID-19? (Yes.)

If you’ve gone through and answered this checklist, your trip may still be a go. If this is the case, Dr. Luis Ostrosky, professor of infectious diseases at UT Health, offers these tips to help keep yourself healthy while traveling:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds—wash to the “Happy Birthday” song twice to ensure germs are washed away.
  • Carry and use a hand sanitizing gel with at least 60% alcohol as a backup when hand-washing isn’t available.
  • If you fly on a plane or take public transit, wipe down your seat, armrests, tray table, air vents, etc. with Clorox disinfecting wipes or similar.
  • Don’t touch your face. This is a tough one, because people do this without realizing it many times an hour, around 90 times a day. Try to be aware and avoid this habit.
  • If you don’t have to touch that doorknob, railing or countertop, don’t, or use your arm or other body part instead. Like the cold and flu virus, coronavirus can be coughed or sneezed onto surfaces.
  • Don’t bother wearing a face mask in public unless you have symptoms and want to help reduce spreading something yourself. According to the CDC, in everyday scenarios, face masks aren’t effective in cutting down your risk of infection, and might even raise the odds as people touch their face to readjust the mask. Also, buying up face masks reduces the supply available for medical professionals, possibly putting them at risk. So, only wear a mask if you are already sick, to prevent spread to others.
  • Keep yourself informed, preferably by reputable sources such as the CDC’s travel notices, the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisories, and the World Health Organization’s situation reports.
  • In addition to wiping down your airline or train seat, it is recommended that upon checking into your hotel room, wipe down the doorknobs, light switches, handles, coffee pot, tv remote, desk, toilet, faucet, sink, etc.  with disinfectant wipes. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.

For more information, see the CDC’s coronavirus website.

Source: U.S. News & World Report

Laguardia Terminal Upgrades Continue

Delta Air Lines new Terminal C is opening at LaGuardia Airport (LGA), part of an $8 billion renovation that’s pushing the entire airport closer to Grand Central Parkway.

“We had to do it—we are better than what LaGuardia is,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the recent opening celebration, referencing former US Vice President Joe Biden’s 2015 description of LGA as a third-world country.

As a result of both Biden’s brutal honesty and Cuomo’s vision, LGA—known for its threadbare atmosphere, constant delays, never-ending construction and all-round inefficiency—is undergoing a $8 billion overhaul.

First phase of Delta overhaul

The Delta concourse, more than two years in the making, is the first phase of the airline’s new $3.9 billion terminal at the airport. What began in August 2017 is slated to be finished by 2026, according to Ryan Marzullo, the airline’s managing director of corporate real estate in New York. In all, says Marzullo, the project includes four concourses connected to a headhouse, the central part of the terminal where passengers check in and go through security.

Delta is spending around $3.3 billion for the redesign, while the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is contributing a large amount as well—about $600 million.

Remake of Terminals C and D

The terminal is only one part of a massive renovation that’s pushing the entire airport closer to Grand Central Parkway. Delta is just one phase of the renovation, and not the first one either. That designation belongs to United’s new concourse B, which opened in December 2018.

The seven-gate concourse sits on the water on the eastern side of LaGuardia and boasts dramatic views of Citi Field, home of the Mets. But the new concourse has more amenities than pretty panoramas, including a nursing room and a relief room for dogs, who are increasingly popular travel companions.

In addition, all of the seats at the spacious gate areas are equipped with electrical outlets, an essential item for the modern traveler. A given at most major airports around the world, for LGA, it’s a noteworthy advancement.

Also, there’s dining.

To up LaGuardia’s dining offerings, Delta has teamed with the airport hospitality group OTG, its current partner in Terminal C and D, on five concepts including beloved New York cult brands Birch Coffee, H&H Bagels and Juice Press.

Chef Mark Iacano of Brooklyn’s legendary pizza joint Lucali, consulted on Rossi Pizzeria, a Neopolitan-style pizza spot. New Yorkers not keen on waiting hours to get a table at Lucali can queue up at Rossi for a similar taste and decidedly less hassle.

Chefs Jess Shadbolt and Clare de Boer of Soho’s King Restaurant consulted on Flatiron Tavern & Provisions’ menu of burgers, fish and chops.

“I’m encouraged to see the old terminals finally being replaced,” says Larry Studdiford, the founder of Studdiford Technical Solutions, an airport security and baggage systems consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia. “It’s time to upgrade the facilities with amenities and operational technologies that meet the demands of record growth in passenger numbers.”

LaGuardia’s upgrades continue to cause delays at any time of the day because Port Authority can decide to setup blockades to prevent vehicles from entering the arrival area. If you’re traveling from LaGuardia with Hoyt Livery, to help alleviate this situation, please communicate with your driver upon receiving a message and if you don’t hear anything to please reach out to dispatch. Learn more.

Source: cnn.com

JFK Installs Facial Recognition for Boarding

In true sci-fi style, you’ll be able to use your face to board a plane. In other words, passengers will have access to ticketless boarding by using facial scanning.

In early October, a biometric self-boarding gate was installed at Lufthansa’s Terminal 1 gate at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport’s (JFK). Here are the details, courtesy of the New York Post.

Lufthansa has deployed the paperless, high-tech boarding process, which uses facial recognition technology to verify travelers with a photo capture, at its largest U.S. gateway at the Queens airport. Air France, Japan Airlines and Norwegian Airlines are expected to follow suit at the terminal, officials said.

The technology firm Vision Box has partnered with Customs and Border Protection on facial screening or “biometric boarding” technology, which officials say is faster and more secure, but has privacy advocates expressing concerns.

How it works

The digital boarding process validates the eligibility of a traveler without having to present a passport or boarding pass. When a passenger approaches a self-boarding gate, a biometric-enabled camera integrated in the gate captures the passenger’s facial image. That image is then securely sent to US Customs’ Traveler Verification Service, which “conducts a matching process with the stored digital facial token captured at the initial immigration process or from the US passport,” according to Vision-Box.

Within seconds, the system reconciles the passenger identity and his or her eligibility to enter the flight. The positive match of both verifications triggers the eGate doors to open and the passenger can board the airplane.

It’s not the first time biometric boarding has been used at JFK Airport. Last year, JetBlue rolled out its first biometric self-boarding gate for customers flying to select international destinations at JFK Airport’s Terminal 5. A slew of US airports already offers biometric boarding.

“It’s become crucial for airports and airlines to adopt biometric capabilities along the processes which require interaction with the traveler, therefore enhancing and scaling operational capacity for growing quicker within their existing footprint,” said Miguel Leitmann, the CEO and founder of Vision-Box, which brought the new boarding method to Terminal 1 through a partnership with US Customs and Border Protection and Terminal One Group Association.

New technology raises questions

Experts from the American Civil Liberties Union say that despite the technology starting to roll out at more airports nationwide, many questions remain unanswered.

“How is this information going to be collected? How long will it be retained? Will it be used in other ways and shared with federal agencies like the FBI?” said Neema Singh Guliani, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU.

Customs and Border Protection officials say that the biometric data of U.S. travelers is not stored for long periods of time.

Connected aircraft coming soon

The new technology comes amidst the news that Airbus is experimenting with a new “connected” airplane that would track everything people do on a plane, including how often passengers use the bathroom. Executives think this is the cabin of the future, full of sensors that collect data on the on-board habits of its passengers.

In early September, Airbus commenced in-flight trials of IoT (Internet of Things) connected cabin technologies on board an A350-900 Flight Lab aircraft. In doing so, Airbus becomes the first aircraft manufacturer to undertake such flight-testing of actual connected cabin innovations. The platform, known as the Airspace Connected Experience, was unveiled at APEX Expo last year. While it has yet to be introduced to real passengers, the technology will usher in a new personalized experience for passengers, in particular this covers pre- and remote ordering of preferred meals, booking of private bin space, setting of individual seat positions as well as a tailor-made inflight entertainment (IFE) offer.

The goal is to gather data on passenger behavior and consumption on board, information that could save airlines money and relieve pain points on board for passengers such as the mad scramble for overhead bin space and lavatory queues.

Source: New York Post

Air Travelers: Get Ready for Real ID October 2020

Newsflash: If you travel by air, beginning October 1, 2020, you will need a Real ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of ID, such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to fly within the U.S.

Here’s what you need to know, courtesy of TSA and Travel Weekly.

What is Real ID?

Real ID is the new federal requirement for state-issued driver licenses and non-driver IDs to help prevent fraudulent identification. You are not required to get a REAL ID. However, starting October 1, 2020, if you typically use your driver license or non-driver ID (instead of a passport or other form of ID) to fly within the U.S. you probably want a REAL ID. Otherwise you will need to use a valid U.S. passport or another federally approved form of identification. A standard state driver’s license can still be used for driving.

The Real ID Act passed in 2005 (in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks) that set new and higher minimum-security standards for the driver’s licenses and identification cards that will be accepted at airports, other federally regulated facilities and nuclear power plants.

State-issued Real ID driver’s licenses and identification cards meet increased security standards established by the Real ID Act of 2005. The law establishes what data states must have before issuing a license. It also lays out what technology must be encoded in the IDs and what data must be printed on the IDs.

There has been some debate and pushback from some states over the impact of Real ID, which has created confusion and delayed the official rollout of the act’s enforcement, but October 1, 2020, is now considered the firm date for enforcement at commercial airports.

Starting October 1, 2020, travelers who don’t have Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses or a state-issued enhanced driver’s license can use other acceptable forms of identification such as a passport or U.S. military identification to fly within the United States.

What to do now

Take a look at your driver’s license. If your driver’s license doesn’t have a star in the upper corner of the card, then your license is not Real ID compliant. And if you’re planning to take a domestic commercial flight any time after October 1, 2020, you’ll need to take action, make some decisions or wait for your state to get its act together.

You can decide if you are comfortable flying domestically with your passport (if you have one; only about 40 percent of Americans do) or with one of the other forms of approved identification on the TSA’s list.

“The main pushback on REAL ID is that it’s too Big Brother,” said Jeff Price, an aviation security expert with Leading Edge Strategies. “It’s a move to make everyone in the U.S. have identification, which tends to upset those who enjoy life off the grid or don’t like any more government intrusion into their lives than what is necessary.”

However, nearly every state has come into compliance. “And there haven’t been the big brother/illegal shakedown issues that some people predicted,” he said.

How to get a Real ID

The Department of Homeland Security has been phasing in enforcement of the Real ID Act in an effort to give states time to become compliant with the rules and to begin issuing enhanced driver’s licenses and ID cards in time for the October 1, 2020 deadline.

Most states are currently in compliance — including Connecticut and New York — with the Real ID Act and are able to issue upgraded licenses and IDs. The DHS website has a map with the status of all the states.

Three states (Oregon, Oklahoma, and New Jersey), plus American Samoa have been granted extensions with varying deadlines for meeting the rules. (Some had until August 1, 2019, while others have until October 10, 2019).

What this means

If your current driver’s license or ID card is from a compliant state, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will accept it at airports until September 30, 2020. Starting October 1, 2020, though, licenses and IDs from these states will need to bear a star or special symbol that shows it has been upgraded to conform to the new minimum-security standards.

If your current license is from one of the three states that has been given an extension, then it’s good until the date the extension expires. After that, if the state isn’t given another extension, is it possible the TSA will require an additional or alternate form of ID (i.e., a passport) between the extension expiration date and September 30, 2020.

Come Oct. 1, 2020, though, licenses from these extension states will also need to have the star or symbol that shows it has been upgraded to meet the new minimum-security standards.

The TSA has begun verbally advising travelers who use identification that’s not Real ID-compliant that they’ll not be able to use it to fly beginning October 1, 2020.

“Real ID implementation is a little more than a year away — now is the time to prepare,” said TSA acting deputy administrator Patricia Cogswell in a statement. Since April, TSA has displayed signs at airports to remind travelers about the Real ID requirements.

Source: Travel Weekly

JFK Airport Number One in Amenities, Recent Survey

Best-in-the-nation amenities helped New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport achieve a better-than-average ranking in a new study of the nation’s 50 busiest airports.

Here are the interesting results of the study, courtesy of airportnews.com.

John F. Kennedy International Airport earned the surprising score in a new study by The Points Guy, a resource for travel news. JFK’s No. 1 ranking in amenities helped place it No. 22 overall among the nation’s 50 busiest airports. Other studies have routinely judged JFK among the worst among major U.S. airports, with nearby LaGuardia Airport typically ranked lower if not last.

The study took 34 factors into account, including commute time, flight delays and cancellations, ride-hailing prices, restaurants, lounges and security wait times.

Offsetting JFK’s high finish in amenities was its long commute time (No. 49) and third-worst record for on-time flights. The three local airports accounted for the bottom three rankings in both commute time and flight delays, largely because of congested airspace and roadways and no one-seat train ride to Manhattan.

Newark Liberty International Airport had the nation’s worst commute time and on-time flight record, though it did finish fourth in amenities, pushing its overall ranking to 34th out of 50.

LaGuardia’s ranking (No. 45) was dragged down by its third-worst commute time and second-worst on-time flight record. It was No. 12 in amenities. Major construction is underway at the Flushing airport, and an AirTrain link to Willets Point is in the works, although that multibillion-dollar project is not expected to shorten the trip to Manhattan much.

A spokesman for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports, said in a statement, “With an unprecedented $30 billion committed to transform our region’s airports into true 21st-century gateways—and a relentless focus on improving the customer experience—we’re committed to taking the region’s airports from the back of the pack to world-class.”

Among the 50 U.S. airports with the highest passenger volume, San Diego International Airport was ranked best overall, followed by airports in Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), Atlanta and Sacramento.

Chicago-Midway was judged the worst overall, followed by airports in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Detroit.

Source: AirportNews.com

How will hotel rates change in 2020?

Modest Hotel Rate Increases in 2020: American Express Global Business Travel

Business travelers won’t see a big jump in hotel rate increases globally in 2020, according to a Hotel Monitor 2020 report, published by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT). Here are the key findings, courtesy of writer Janeen Christoff and travelpulse.com.

The recent study found that a global boom in hotel construction has led to an increase in supply of hotels, at the same time that international trade tensions are dampening demand from travelers, restricting the ability for hotels to raise their rates.

“Despite signs that the global economy is facing challenges, the number of people traveling for business and leisure continues to grow,” says Joakim Johansson, Vice President, Global Business Consulting at GBT. “But, in most cities, a full hotel development pipeline means this sustained level of demand will not feed into big rate rises.”

Other emerging hotel trends—more tech, less formal

The Hotel Monitor 2020 also identified several key trends with hotels. Most importantly, technology’s ability to drive change within the hotel experience.

Johansson said: “For several years, GBT has been charting the rise of the modern business traveler, who wants a more informal, flexible and digitally smart environment to work and rest. Hotel providers, both big global groups and more local chains, are responding to this need with new hotel formats or serviced apartments. Hotels need to be ready to accommodate this emerging traveler preference.

In addition to tech advancements, shared working spaces and a less formal environment are driving the transformation of traditional business hotels with a focus on lifestyle enhancements.

U.S. hotel rates will remain flat while Canada predicted to rise

Flat occupancy rates and a full pipeline of room construction is driving competition and limiting the ability to raise rates.

Canada’s relatively strong economic performance and slowing capacity growth could lead to rate increases. Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto will see the biggest increase in room rates (5 percent, 4 percent, 4 percent respectively), according to the Hotel Monitor 2020 while guest room rates in New York are expected to decrease by 3 percent.

Hotels in Europe, Middle East and Africa

The Hotel Monitor found that, in Europe, there will be a small increase in price. Uncertainties about Brexit and low growth in Europe’s main business centers as well as the global economic outlook will likely take a toll on demand.

Hotel development in the region is also at a record high with Germany leading the way and the U.K. following closely behind. London will see a further 10,000 new rooms open in 2019 and 2020.

Concerns about political and economic uncertainty have negatively impacted business travel in Central and Latin America, says the Hotel Monitor 2020. However, prices are expected to rise as demand continues to outpace growth. Hotel construction has decreased 25 percent year over year.

In the Middle East and Africa, a hotel construction boom across the Middle East, but largely focused on the United Arab Emirates, means supply will outstrip demand and lead to forecasted falls of as much as 10 percent in Doha and 8 percent in Riyadh.

The hospitality industry is growing rapidly across the Asia Pacific, with thousands of additional beds in key cities every year. Despite a capacity increase, rates are still expected to rise between 4 and 5 percent.

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Source: TravelPulse.com

Hotels Ranked: The Best and Worst in the U.S.

If you travel often, you’ll want to know how America’s hotels ranked in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) on the best and worst hotel brands for 2019.

Here are the results, courtesy of Clark.com.

Customers less satisfied than a year ago

The ACSI Travel Report is based on interviews with more than 12,000 customers who were chosen at random and contacted via email from April 2018 to March 2019. Hotels were rated on a scale of 0 to 100.

Hilton and Marriott hotel brands still lead the way, but the study found that hotel guests are overall less satisfied than they were a year ago.

The ACSI report found that hotels are slipping in multiple aspects of customer service: making reservations, check in, staff courtesy, room quality, website/call center satisfaction, and more.

Loyalty programs, hotel amenities (pool, business center), and food service are the lowest rated parts of the guest experience.

And resolving guests’ complaints is more important than ever before, according to the ACSI. Many hotels are now using social media to quickly resolve issues that customers share online.

Results and rankings

Brand: Parent Type ACSI
Ranking
JW Marriott Marriott Luxury 84
Embassy Suites Hilton Upper Upscale 83
Fairfield Inn
& Suites
Marriott Upper Midscale 83
Hilton Garden Inn Hilton Upscale 82
Marriott Hilton Marriott Upper Scale 81
Crowne Plaza
Hotels & Resorts
InterContinental Upscale 81
Courtyard Marriott Upscale 81
Best Western
Premier
Best Western Upscale 81
Holiday Inn
Express
InterContinental Upper Midscale 80
Hampton Hilton Upper Midscale 79
Hilton Hotels
& Resorts
Hilton Upper Upscale 79
AC Hotels Marriott Upscale 79
Residence Inn Marriott Upscale 79
Hyatt Regency Hyatt Upper Upscale 79
Double Tree Hilton Upscale 78
Best Western Best Western Midscale 77
Best Western
Plus
Best Western Upper Midscale 77
Sheraton Marriott Upper Upscale 77
Hyatt Place Hyatt Upscale 77
Wyndham Hotels
& Resorts
Wyndham Upscale 76
Comfort Inn,
Comfort Suites
Choice Upper Midscale 76
Westin Marriott Upper Upscale 76
Holiday Inn InterContinental Upper Midscale 75
La Quinta Inns
& Suites
La Quinta
(Wyndham)
Midscale 74
Quality Choice Upper Midscale 73
Baymont Wyndham Midscale 72
Ramada Wyndham Midscale 71
Days Inn Wyndham Economy 68
Econo Lodge Choice Economy 67
Super 8 Wyndham Economy 65
Motel 6 G6 Hospitality Economy 63
Source: Clark.com

Workers Stressed Out from Saying Yes, Says Survey

More than half of American workers are stressed out by too much work, according to VitalSmarts, a leadership training company, and reported in a February USA Today article. Here’s how to effectively say “no” at work.

What the survey says

Out of 1,353 workers surveyed, three out of five (60 percent) said they have already committed to more work than they can handle. Another 20 percent said they’re at capacity and have no room to take on any new tasks. Of those who are currently overcommitted, one-third said they always have more work than they can handle, while two-thirds said they’re usually like that.

Why is this happening? Survey respondents generally had the best of intentions, even if some of the reasons they listed contributed to their own problems:

  • Want to be helpful, accommodating, and polite (73 percent)
  • Like to fix problems, even when they aren’t theirs (56 percent)
  • Unsure about workplace rules and when they can say no (39 percent)
  • Stuck with bosses who make unreasonable demands (38 percent)

Why not say “no?”

Sometimes workers don’t want to turn down a request from their boss or from a coworker. In other cases, they don’t want to say no because the opportunity is appealing, even if they don’t have time for it.

In some cases – such as having a bad boss – there’s not much you can do other than taking the issue to human resources. The top two reasons, however, are factors within your control, and the ability to say no can be learned.

That’s what leads to stress. If you don’t say no, you can end up with more work on your plate than you can handle. “Without a system designed to capture and organize incoming tasks and the skills to negotiate commitments, you’re bound to find yourself victim of an impossible to-do list,” David Maxfield, co-creator of Getting Things Done Training at VitalSmarts, said in a press release. “Unless and until you take control of this system, you’ll continue to frantically spin your wheels and still only make a dent in that ever-growing list of commitments.”

How to take charge

Being overcommitted can impact more than your job. It can take a toll on your physical health and mental well-being. Over half of those who said they were overcommitted reported that they’re moderately stressed, while 35 percent said they’re highly stressed, and 9 percent said they’re very highly stressed. In addition, 52 percent worried about letting people down, while 46 percent felt overwhelmed.

Improving your work situation involves being proactive. You have to both correct your own habits and work with your boss or bosses to dig out from the situation.

The first step is truly getting organized and understanding what’s on your plate and how long it will take to finish it. If your own agreeableness or inability to say no caused the problem, you might want to work a marathon week to get as much done as you can (or dig out completely if that’s possible) – and then start being more disciplined about saying no.

If you can’t catch up by putting in extra hours or your problems are largely due to management, then you have to speak up. You need to have all of your supporting materials – a list of what’s in your workload and how long each task will take – to lay out to your manager that you simply can’t catch up.

Ideally, your boss will work with you to parcel out tasks elsewhere or to knock things off your list. If that happens, you need to work actively to make sure the same situation does not happen again. That means being willing to say no and actively communicating to your boss when you see the situation recurring.

Source: USA Today