Sonoma/Napa Hospitality Businesses Coming Back On-Line, But Traffic Is Heavy.

Hilton Hotel, Santa Rosa
The remains of the Signorello Estate winery.

A number of wineries and hospitality sites received damage from the wildfires that swept through Northern California’s Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties in early October. Although nearly all have resumed regular business, traffic remains well above normal volumes and drive times in many areas are severely affected.

The flames have died down and many of the fire crews from far away locales have begun returning home, but many important roadways remain closed.

Additionally, service vehicles and work crews tasked with cleaning up debris and restoring services are on roadways to the affected areas. It is not uncommon to see commute-hour like congestion in the middle of the day on Highway 101 in Sonoma. Further north on Highway 29 in Napa, the closure of the Silverado Trail and Mark West Springs Road have created delays of over 90 minutes getting to parts of St. Helena and Calistoga.

Travelers should call the hospitality sites they plan to visit to ensure their continuing availability and also to ask for advice on drive time estimates.

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Last Minute SFO Gotcha: Arrival Gate Delays!

Your plane that’s bound for San Francisco’s International Airport takes off on time and then lands at SFO on time. You have an hour and half before before your dinner meeting in San Francisco.

Everything looks good for you and then the pilot comes on the P.A. and says that there will be a little delay to get to the gate. Just 15 minutes. Well, that can still work. But then, after 15 minutes goes by the pilot again says that it will be another 15 minutes before the plane can pull to the gate. Now you are getting a little nervous. When the third postponement is announced, your blood pressure rises and now you will be late for your meet-up. This may be an uncommon occurrence for you, but arrival gate delays are an increasingly common occurrence at SFO.

As the San Francisco Bay Area’s business community has grown from the influence of the web and related technologies, its principal airport, San Francisco International has become congested with planes. Passengers arriving at SFO have oftentimes seen delays from 10 minutes to nearly an hour while waiting for a gate to become available.

SFO is a significant hub for United Airlines and sometimes their flights must wait for long periods for a gate to become available. Other domestic flights like Delta and the merged Alaska/Virgin America suffer from not enough parking places for passengers to disembark.

SFO’s international terminal, completed 17 years ago is frequently a source of anxiety for travelers from afar. It is not uncommon for international flights to wait 30 minutes to over an hour to be able to pull up to the terminal.

In one domestic flight case, a plane from Southern California was diverted to San Jose, 40 miles south of San Francisco because of fuel shortage. Not because the plane did not have enough fuel for the 7 extra minutes to make it to SFO, but not enough fuel to land and idle until a gate was available. After waiting at San Jose airport for nearly 20 minutes, the airline decided to let passengers off if they wanted because there was no solid prediction of when they would arrive at the gate in San Francisco. One passenger took a taxi all the way from San Jose airport to Marin County, nearly 70 miles away and a taxi bill of well over $300.00

Transportation greeters, family members and others can see that a flight has landed and wait at luggage carousels to meet their party but are mystified as the minutes go by with no passengers showing up.

In one of the most extraordinary cases, in May of this year (2017), when SFO was undergoing runway repairs in addition to a shortage of gates, a plane in Los Angeles pushed back from the departing gate and taxied to a holding spot. The plane waited there for 2 and a half hours, finally ran short of fuel and had to go back to the terminal to be re-fueled! It finally took off, arriving at SFO 4 hours later than scheduled.

Here is the new Terminal 1, part of construction to be completed by 2024.

SFO is currently underway with construction of a new Terminal 1 with expanded gate capacity.  The old terminal has been torn down and the loss of those gates only makes the matter worse until it is completed in 7 years.  More on this airport upgrade in a later post.

Many airlines, needing to add flights to the Bay Area are now routing them to Oakland International and the recently expanded San Jose International airport. Both of which currently have more available gates and time slots. More on this too on a later posting.

Pilots also seem to be the ones surprised and unable to estimate how long the delay will be. Passengers frequently get an optimistic prediction about wait times from the cockpit right after landing but then a few minutes later, the crew is on the P.A. announcing further delays. It certainly makes it hard for a business traveler to accurately relay their situation to greeters, co-workers and meeting planners.

So……
Passengers and travel managers: Be wary of scheduling meetings and events close to scheduled arrival times
.

 

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Oakland Airport launches first direct flights to the U.K. – San Jose Mercury News

Oakland Airport launches first direct flights to the U.K.By Annie Sciacca asciacca@bayareanewsgroup.comPOSTED:   05/12/2016 12:43:41 PM PDT | UPDATED:   40 MIN. AGOOAKLAND — As Oakland ramps up its tourism industry, its latest international flight will be the first nonstop connection to the United Kingdom.Starting Thursday, Oakland International Airport offers nonstop flights to Gatwick on Norwegian.The flights will operate with Norwegian’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft three days per week, making it the airline’s third European route out of Oakland. In 2014, Norwegian launched direct service to Stockholm, Sweden, and to Oslo, Norway. With the new route to London, Norwegian now offers more routes from California to Europe than any other airline, according to a statement from the airport.”In as little as three years, we’ve launched three transatlantic routes from Oakland International Airport, and we see great potential for future growth from the Bay Area,” said Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos in a statement. “The Oakland routes are some of Norwegian’s best performing transatlantic routes.”The new flights come as Oakland International Airport has been gearing up as an international gateway.The connection to Gatwick marks the ninth international flight service at the airport, which, in addition to the Norwegian flights, offers service to Portugal’s Azores islands, and to five cities in Mexico.Advertisement”This is a significant development for travelers on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Bryant Francis, the Port of Oakland’s director of aviation, in a statement. “Norwegian has made a very smart move connecting two globally leading metropolitan areas in a way that is convenient and affordable. Now, nearly 4 million East Bay residents are able to travel to this top European destination using the airport closest to their homes and businesses while enjoying award-winning service at very attractive prices.”Fares for the flights between Oakland and London start at $299 one way.The international flight expansion is likely to continue. The airport is working on a $35 million expansion to its international terminal that will double its international flight capacity, said John Albrecht, aviation marketing manager for the Port of Oakland. That expansion is likely to be complete by next summer.There is also the ongoing $150 million renovation of Terminal 1, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.The East Bay has emerged as a destination for leisure travel, thanks to the efforts of its various visitors bureaus, but the Bay Area’s successful business climate has also prompted strong business travel numbers all over the region. That trend is particularly strong in Oakland.Thanks to companies moving over from San Francisco’s expensive office market, and local Oakland businesses expanding, the business community in Oakland is attracting more attention — and business travelers — than ever. That is expected to increase when tech giant Uber next year brings more than 2,000 employees to Uptown Station, the seven-story building at 1955 Broadway that the company purchased last year.Oakland’s hot restaurant scene is also a big cultural draw, and something that its marketing bureau, Visit Oakland, has worked hard to promote.The work seems to be paying off. Alameda County saw $3.89 billion in traveler spending in 2015, a 4.9 percent increase over the previous year.Contact Annie Sciacca at 925-943-8073. Follow her at Twitter.com/AnnieSciacca.

Source: Oakland Airport launches first direct flights to the U.K. – San Jose Mercury News