Boston and nearby cities went into full security mode after bombs went off, but trains and planes were only briefly stopped. Uncertainty is the biggest thing keeping travelers away at the moment.
Airlines are waiving penalty charges for passengers who wish to change their flights to Boston following the Boston Marathon bombings.
Boston Logan International Airport is open, and flights are operating as normal, but British Airways, Delta and American have announced two or three days’ grace for passengers booked on flights to and from the city.
British Airways, which operates up to four flights a day to the city, is allowing both outbound and inbound passengers to change the date of their flight or use the money to buy another flight up to and including Thursday 18 April.
Delta Air Lines has also issued a waiver to allow passengers to adjust travel plans until 17 April, and to rebook flights no later than 20 April. American Airlines, which stopped flying from the UK to Boston a few weeks ago, is allowing passengers on internal flights within the US to change their booking to a later date (16-20 April) or receive a refund of American Airlines vouchers.
However, Virgin Atlantic said its normal £50 penalty charge will apply to passengers booked on its London-Boston flight today (16 April) who do not want to fly. Passengers affected by its Boston-London flight on 15 April, which was delayed by 24 hours, can claim a refund or rebook if they don’t want to travel out of Boston today. The airline said it has received no cancellation requests.
Tour operator DialAFlight, which sent 2,500 passengers to Boston in 2012, said it has contacted every client whose travel has been affected. “We are also going through every airline policy regarding refunds or alterations to their routes, and are actively contacting airlines who have yet to release a policy to find out what can be done for our clients.”
Hotels are also open as usual. Starwood Hotels has increased security measures at its hotels in Boston, New York and Washington. The group’s Westin Copley Place and Sheraton Boston hotels are near the finish line of the Boston Marathon but were not damaged by the explosions, contrary to early reports. In a statement Starwood said: “Both hotels are providing support to authorities as well as runners, area workers and others in addition to guests. With the marathon closed at mile 26, many runners were directed to the Sheraton nearby and the hotel was providing water, towels and other assistance.”
The Fairmont Copley Plaza, two blocks away from the Marathon finish line, is open but only allowing registered guests and staff into the hotel, and has heightened security checks.
In Boston, the area around Copley Square has been cordoned off, but the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism said: “Other than this area we expect the city to be open. We anticipate the city will be back to business as usual as soon as is possible.”
The Foreign Office is advising visitors to “exercise vigilance and caution, monitoring local media and following the advice of local authorities”. Additional information can be obtained through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. The police have also set up an emergency hotline for friends and relatives: +1 617 635 4500.
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Photo Credit: SWAT officers patrol the Copley Square area after explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston. Neil Hamburg / Reuters