Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2001

EXTRA - Travelers play waiting game as airlines grounded in terror’s wake

September 11, 2001


With all U.S. air travel grounded today in the wake of plane crashes into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Lawrence travel agents are advising their customers to sit tight, wait by the phone and keep in touch with your travel professional.

Answers will come.

"That's the only thing you can tell people," said Walt Houk, president of Travellers Inc., 831 Mass. "If you've got to travel within the next three or four days, check with the person who made your travel arrangements.

"We'll just hold everybody's hands through this."

The lack of available flights and concern about the disaster also prompted the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America to cancel this week's scheduled 75th anniversary celebration in Lawrence and the Kansas City area.

More than 500 people from across the country and around the world were expected to coverage on the area, some arriving as early as today, said Jeff Bollig, a GCSAA spokesman.

"In light of the fact that this is to be a celebratory event we decided it would not be appropriate at this time," Bollig said.

At Lawrence-based Maupintour, officials were busy tracking the whereabouts of the "several hundreds" customers participating in about 15 escorted tours, both home and abroad.

Tour managers are staying in touch with officials in Lawrence, as all domestic airlines have been grounded. Officials are monitoring foreign airports.

"Safety is our chief concern," said Carol Snyder, a Maupintour spokesperson.

As for long-term effects on travel, both Houk and Snyder acknowledged that air disasters whether accidental or intentional tended to depress demand for travel soon after the event. But business usually rebounds.

Houk noted that air-travel safety actually improves following a hijacking or other terrorist event, because of all the attention from regulators, law-enforcement officials and others.

"Security is so tight it's the safest time in the world to travel," Houk said.

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