2 million Floridians to hit the road this Memorial Day

Better wrap up your plans and plan to head out early: More than 2 million Floridians — roughly 10 percent of the state’s population — are expected to travel this Memorial Day weekend.

AAA said Wednesday that projection is the highest in 12 years for Florida. And coupled with a record tourism pace in the Sunshine State, 31 million visitors in just the first quarter, it would represent a massive movement of population in a short period of time.

So, expect crowded highways, airports and beaches. But it’s also good news for Florida’s tourism economy, which is on a torrid pace to exceed 120 million visitors in 2017.

Across the country, lots of other people will also be on the move for what is the traditional start to the summer vacation season.

Low gas prices plus a long-weekend equals an estimated 39.3 million Americans traveling this Memorial Day weekend, AAA also estimated.

The automotive and travel group’s projection would mean equate to to 1 million more Americans traveling than during Memorial Day 2016.

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “So far in 2017, travel bookings with AAA in Florida are up 17 percent, compared to the same period last year. Higher confidence, rising wages, and recent gas price declines have bolstered consumer spending, leaving many Americans with more money to spend on travel this Memorial Day.”

Airplane bathrooms could get a lot easier to get in and out of

Think airplane bathrooms are tough to get in and out of? Imagine being in a wheelchair.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a plan to make bathrooms on single-aisle aircraft — used for most domestic U.S. flights and many shorter international trips — more accessible.

And we’ve all been there: trying to get in and out of the lavatory while you’re mid-flight can be a struggle, even for the most able-bodied.

(Photo by Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images)

The DOT’s ACCESS Advisory Committee — which includes airline representatives, people with disabilities and flight attendants — also is proposing a rule that would require airlines to offer entertainment for people who are blind and deaf. Airlines would need to offer some in-flight TV shows and movies that would be captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing passengers, along with audio described entertainment for people who are blind.

» RELATED: U.S. government considers allowing phone calls on flights

“It is unfair to expect individuals with limited mobility to refrain from using the restroom when they fly on single aisle aircraft, particularly since single aisle aircraft are increasingly used for longer flights,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. “It is also unfair for passengers who are deaf or blind not to be able to enjoy the same entertainment that is available to other passengers. I’m pleased that all involved parties are working together towards our common goal of universal access to the air transportation system. We are committed to is

suing a rulemaking to implement this agreement.”

The plan combines short-term and long-term fixes, the DOT said. In the short-term, airlines would have to make bathrooms more accessible or increase the size of the restrooms within three years after the final rule takes effect. Plus, the committee said the DOT needs to set better safety and maneuverability standards for the wheelchairs used on airplanes.

In the long-term, the DOT will propose a rule that airlines must offer on sinlge-aisle airplanes with more than 125 passenger seats an accessible bathroom similar to what’s offered not on twin-aisle aircraft.

The DOT is expected to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking based on this agreement in July.

 

 

 

 

TSA: ‘Escalating problem’ with guns at airport security checkpoints

People really need to check their bags before they try to go through airport security.

That’s the message from the Transportation Security Administration, as a spokeswoman for the agency said there is an “escalating problem with guns being brought to the checkpoints across the country.”

A look at some of the firearms recently found by the TSA at airport security checkpoints. (TSA photo)
A look at some of the firearms recently found by the TSA at airport security checkpoints. (TSA photo)

At Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, 12 guns have been found at checkpoints so far this year, after 16 were found in all of last year, TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said.

Agents also continue to find items including knives, hand grenades — both real and replica — and ammunition, Koshetz said.

Four stun guns have been found this year at PBIA, she added.

The TSA documents all of the firearms and other banned weapons it finds at checkpoints on its blog. Last week, the TSA found 70 firearms in carry-on bags, including one at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and two at Miami International Airport. Of the total firearms found, 61 were loaded and 25 had a round chambered, according to the TSA’s blog. In the two weeks before that, agents found a total of 164 firearms in travelers’ carry-on baggage.

If the TSA finds a gun in your carry-on, it doesn’t just cause you a headache. Koshetz said agents have to stop the entire line, delaying everyone behind you.

Check out the TSA’s blog for more information on what you can and can’t bring on an airplane.