Travelers gearing up for the July 4 weekend will face tighter airport security and changes to Turkish cruise itineraries following Tuesday’s terrorist attacks at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport.
U.S. travel to and from the airport, the third busiest in Europe, has resumed in time for the weekend, when a record 43 million Americans are expected to travel for the holiday, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
The U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning to Turkey on Monday due to “increased threats of terrorist groups,” and urged U.S. citizens to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border.
At least 41 people were killed after three suicide bombers attacked the airport this week. In January, a suicide bombing killed a dozen tourists. Another suicide bomber attack at a busy Istanbul shopping center in March killed four.
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Istanbul, Turkey’s second largest city, is in the northwestern region near Bulgaria.
The Canadian government has encouraged travelers to “exercise a high degree of caution” and avoid travel near borders with Syria and Iraq, in the southeastern region area of the country. The United Kingdom issued similar advisories.
Whether you’re traveling to Turkey or within the U.S., here is what you need to know:
Security at South Florida airports was heightened Wednesday with increased police officer presence. Regular security procedures remain in place, according to spokesmen for Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Both airports said security lines should not be impacted by additional security. Passengers heading out of the country should leave at least 2 1/2 hours before flight time at Miami International and two hours for domestic flights, advise airport officials. Fort Lauderdale advises arriving two hours before domestic flights and three house before international flights.
Miami has the longest wait times at passport re-entry check points of the country’s busiest airports.
Passengers should also expect long lines. At Miami, the wait at security lines is typically 10 to 20 minutes. At Fort Lauderdale, the wait is usually less than 20 minutes, according to an airport spokesman.
When returning to the U.S. from your trip abroad, wear comfy shoes. According to a report by travel comparison site MileCards, Miami has the longest wait times at passport re-entry check points of the country’s busiest airports, with an average wait of 27 minutes over the last year. The typical maximum wait time is 55 minutes.
Fort Lauderdale’s average wait is 20 minutes this month, up 25 percent from June last year. Nationwide, says MileCards, checkpoint waits are up 3 percent over last year.
Travel to Turkey
Daily direct flights from Miami to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines have resumed. Cruise lines are considering adjustments to popular summer Mediterranean itineraries.
Turkish Airlines advised passengers booked on flights to or from Istanbul between June 28 and July 5 that it will issue refunds; requests are due by July 31.
Doral-based Carnival Corporation’s Princess Cruises, Cunard Line and Holland America Line are currently evaluating Istanbul stops scheduled for mid-July to August, said spokesman Roger Frizzell. Princess Cruises, which is set to stop in Istanbul next week with its 3,600-passenger Royal Princess, has not yet said if it will move to another port.
Carnival Cruise Line ia also assessing a stop on July 17 to Kusadasi, Turkey, about 350 miles south of Istanbul, Frizzell said.
A Saturday sailing from Istanbul planned for Carnival Corp. luxury line Seabourn will leave from Athens instead, the cruise line said. Four other departures from Istanbul between July 30 and Oct. 22 currently are slated to depart as scheduled.
Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises is canceling all upcoming Istanbul stops on its Celebrity Cruises line and replacing them with a stop in Athens, Greece, instead, said Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for the parent company.
The seven sailings affected: July 9, July 16, Aug. 29 and Sept. 16 on the Celebrity Equinox and Oct. 10, Oct. 21 and Nov. 14 on the Celebrity Constellation.
Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises is canceling all upcoming Istanbul stops on its Celebrity Cruises line and replacing them with a stop in Athens, Greece.
Following the January attacks, many lines limited port calls in Turkey.
Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings canceled all 2016 Turkey stops on its three brands, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises early this year. In May, the cruise line extended that suspension to all 2017 sailings as well, said spokeswoman Vanessa Picariello.
That same month, luxury line Crystal Cruises re-routed planned stops to Istanbul and Kusadasi aboard the Crystal Symphony on April 24 and May 1 with various Greek ports. Turkish ports of call originally planned for the line’s new luxury yacht, the Crystal Esprit, in April and November were also eliminated.
Travel insurance can help
Most travel insurance plans include coverage in the event of a terrorist attack, said John Cook, president of travel insurance comparison site QuoteWright. Typically, attacks within 30 days prior to a city on an insured itinerary trigger a provision allowing travelers to cancel and receive a full refund.
If an attack occurs after travel begins, plans typically refund the remainder of the trip, including scheduled tours, and pay for airfare to return home. Additional expenses, such as hotel bookings, incurred due to flight delays are also generally covered, Cook said.
I would hate to see people deferred from travel because that achieves a certain degree of success for the terrorists.
John Cook, president of travel insurance comparison site QuoteWright
Travelers should exercise caution when traveling to the Middle East, he said, but also be aware of what is covered by their travel insurance before booking a trip.
“If people have trips, they have to analyze their own level of risk tolerance if they are going to Turkey,” Cook said. “I would hate to see people deferred from travel because that achieves a certain degree of success for the terrorists.”