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Despite warnings, today's day-before-Thanksgiving mix of horrible weather and equally unpleasant crowding at airports hasn't been so bad. The expected snow only dropped inches versus feet on the east coast, and the FlightAware Misery Map lists 490 delays and 12 cancellations (as of 10am EST), whereas it lit up with over 1,600 cancellations during a blizzard back in January.
Still, there will be travelers inconvenienced whether it's the fault of the weather, airline scheduling, or relatives conspiring to keep you home longer over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Aside from following your airlines on social media and keeping up with travel waivers, what else can be done? For one, there are things you can buy at the airport to make your wait a little more comfortable. Or make the best of a delay by using the airport for their entertainment zone it is.
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It has begun.
With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, airlines are already issuing winter storm travel waivers for tomorrow, Wednesday November 26. You can blame Winter Storm Cato on the Northeast for any travel interruptions, but the Midwest is due to experience snow and high winds as well.
Get ahead of the weather by taking advantage of these proactive waivers to alter your plans:
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The Weather Channel's headline of "Wind, Snow, East Coast Storm May Frustrate Fliers and Drivers" isn't what travelers want to read before heading out for a stressful holiday trip. And yet that's exactly what much of the United States will do this week for the Thanksgiving holiday.
To prevent entering the five emotional stages of a flight delay, and keep your cool so you reach your destination as close to on-time as possible, take our tried and true airport survival tips to heart:
The TSA is making its annual "please don't make holiday travel more miserable than it already is" push, in which the agency begs travelers not to bring obviously prohibited items into checkpoints for at least the next few months. TSA officials try something like this every year, and it usually more or less completely fails. The problem isn't with the airport security organization, for once. The kind of person who tries to bring chemical-soaked sparklers on board an airplane - real example - just isn't the sort of person who reads TSA-related press releases. Or any press releases, really.
And yet here we are. This year the agency tried to get attention by throwing together a press event at just a single airport, gathering reporters for a show-and-tell at JFK. That's not a terrible idea as far as PR goes, because local reporters always need stories and this way things are easy for them. You give them a press kit, you issue a statement, and everyone is done in time for happy hour. We're not sure it'll actually make a difference, in the sense that we're pretty sure it won't make a difference. But it was a mildly entertaining show, and so you might as well know it happened.
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On Friday, Nov. 21, Graceland will hold a holiday lighting ceremony that would make Elvis proud.
The event will include everything from a Santa in a red jumpsuit to a life-size nativity scene that is part of the Presley family's traditional Christmas décor. All of the night's festivities will be hosted by John Stamos, who will be joined by patients from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis. Stamos is also the voice of the new Graceland iPad Tour.
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The scene over in New York...
We’re still firmly in November, but no one can prevent the merriment and madness that is the holiday season. While every effort should be made to check out a Christmas Market over in Europe—check out what we have to say—there’s similar fun to be had here at home. So make some time on the calendar, put off that shopping list, and make your way to some of the best holiday markets across the nifty fifty:
The Union Square Holiday Market in New York kicks off on November 20, and this year the holiday fun runs through December 24—just note they’re closed on Thanksgiving. Local artisans are on hand to sell everything from jewelry and cuff links to foodie treasures like oils and vinegars. More than a million people check it out each and every year, so maybe make it a million and one during 2014.
Where better to celebrate the season than Bethlehem, and thankfully there’s one conveniently located around an hour outside of Philadelphia. The town’s market might be one of the most authentic you can find here at home, but of course there are traditions and treats that make it all its own. You do need tickets to enjoy the market—like $8 or so—as things run between November 20 and December 21. If we can’t make it this year please do enjoy some kettle corn, strudel, and hot chocolate for us.
It's apparently time for the annual deluge of articles explaining why you should kill yourself instead of traveling through an airport this Thanksgiving. We faithfully catalog these things every year in our Thanksgiving travel category, alongside holiday travel ideas for people who will not be passing through airports (and thus are not better off lighting themselves on fire). Let's get started, shall we?
Published a few hours ago by the Associated Press: "Get Ready for Crowded Airports This Thanksgiving." The article runs down numbers from a just-published study by the trade group Airlines for America.
24.6 million people are going to try to make their way through airports in the week and a half around Thanksgiving. That's one and a half percent more than last year. Analysts predict that 2.6 million of those people will try to board U.S. airlines just on the Sunday immediately after Thanksgiving.
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Above: Heidelberg castle, with the market and ice skating rink in a Platz below
Christkindlmarkt, Weihnachtsmarkt or Marché de Noëlwhatever the name, the game's the same. European Christmas Markets are several weeks of seeing cities at their best, festively decorated and with tasty seasonal specialties on offer. Travelers used to seeing Europe in summer are in for a shock, and perhaps a change of season preference, once the charm of winter takes hold of the historic city centers and the hot mulled wine is poured.
With so much magic in store across the continent, it can be difficult to chose just one or two cities for your winter market visit. Luckily we've narrowed it down, highlighting the most beloved markets for the 2014 holiday season, in the countries with the most tradition behind the events:
Vienna. Just think of the city for a second and launch into daydreams of sumptuous cakes devoured in plush cafes, and evenings spent at the theater or opera, hobnobbing with the literati.
While Vienna indeed offers all that and more, there's just one big problem: for about two weeks Vienna is kind of a dud.
Learn from our mistakes, and avoid the first two weeks of November, any/every year. Here's why:
If you missed your early bird opportunity to score tickets to the National Christmas Tree Lighting we’re sorry; however, we have another ticket lottery to enter for a shot at another seasonal celebration.
Over in Salt Lake City the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been doing their thing for well over 150 years, and from what we hear every Christmas they put on a hell of a show—we just think they’d probably use a different adjective.
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We’re sorry to do this to you, as we certainly recognize that it’s only the middle of October; however, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas and all the associated holiday happenings. That’s especially the case if you’re looking to visit Washington, DC to take in the annual tree lighting—‘cause now’s the time to register for a chance to grab some tickets.
The folks over at the National Park Service are planning to fire up the lights for the first time during the 92nd annual National Christmas Tree Lighting over at President's Park. The seasonal shindig will take place this year on Thursday, December 4, beginning at 5pm.
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What is the "official" start of the holiday season? While Christmas craziness is full swing come Thanksgiving, the real "spirit of the season" begins when NYC says it does, namely with the opening of the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink. You can thank all the live morning shows broadcast around the Big Apple for that influence.
TodayOctober 13is the rink's opening day for the 2014-2015 winter season, and the landmark celebrated the occasion with an on-ice performance by ice dancing Olympics gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White before allowing the general public to strap on skates.