Finding the best spot to gather with family or friends all over the map
By guest blogger Jacquelin Carnegie
When planning family reunions or get-togethers with friends, the first question is, "Where should we go?" Destinations factor heavily into travel planning.
When group travel is short in duration such as a 3-day weekend or 4-day stint, it is wise to minimize travel time and maximize time together. Soaring gas prices also contribute to a need for creative travel.
The best way to achieve maximizing time together and saving on flying time is to fly into a "hub" or "focus" city. A hub is a central airport through which multiple flights are routed—they vary according to airline. Airlines also have focus cities—a large number of non-stop flights are routed into these destinations. These focus cities tend to be major coastal cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and New York. Hub and focus cities are usually in or near large cities with plenty of entertainment options and activities—perfect for weekend getaways. Same applies to hub railway cities in Europe and elsewhere.
I recently organized a mini meet-up for a few writer friends coming from Colorado, Chicago, Argentina and New York. We figured out that Miami was the easiest, most convenient place for all of us to fly into because there were non-stop flights into Miami from everyone's origination cities.
Major Airline U.S. Hubs
Hubs: Dallas-Ft. Worth, Chicago and Miami
Focus Cities: New York (with its 3 major airports), Los Angeles (LAX), Boston, St. Louis, San Francisco and Washington Dulles
Delta Air Lines
Hubs: Atlanta, Cincinnati and Salt Lake City
Focus Cities: New York (JFK), Boston, Los Angeles and Orlando
Hubs: Chicago, Denver, Washington Dulles
Focus Cities: all West Coast cities
(If the Delta and Northwest merger goes through, travelers may benefit from a larger route network. This might be true internationally. Delta has extensive operations in Europe as Northwest does in Asia. It remains to be seen if domestic options will improve.)
In Europe, hub/focus cities include: London, Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Rome, Milan and Zurich. And, the new "Open Skies" agreement should expand the offerings.
Travelers wanting to fly non-stop nationally or internationally will benefit from the recent "Open Skies" agreement. For decades, rules restricted trans-Atlantic air travel. Since April 2008, any European airline can now fly from any European airport to any point in the U.S.; all U.S. airline carriers will now be able to fly from any American city to any European city.
The high cost of fuel is throwing a wrench into the good news, but hopefully, as a result, fares could eventually drop and direct flight choices should increase.
Freak weather conditions and delays can occur anytime, any place. But when you’re traveling non-stop, you can eliminate the worry over missed connections. Less time spent at airports and in transit equates to more time spent with family and friends.
Jacquelin Carnegie is a Contributing Travel Editor to Accent magazine. For the past 15 years, she has covered international travel destinations for both consumer and business publications.