- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Travelers, hesitant to take to the unfriendly skies, are canceling trips, meetings and vacations after the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York City last Tuesday.

Travelers are backing out of plans to travel any time soon, whether for business or leisure, on both domestic and international flights.

"People are apprehensive about flying," said Jim Tittsworth, vice president of operations at Golden Travel Service, which has made 170 refunds in two days. The agency, located in the District, typically processes 15 to 20 refunds a week.

While some of those refunds are for clients who were out traveling last week and needed to get different flights back home, a large portion of those refunds — more than half — were cancellations.

"My larger concern is that the phones aren't ringing like they were before," said Mr. Tittsworth, whose agency had about 1/3 the number of phone calls yesterday than usual.

AAA Mid-Atlantic usually receives a couple hundred Internet requests for travel information on a Monday. However, yesterday about 1/3 the normal requests came in.

"It shows that leisure travel seems to be the last thing on people's minds," said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Justin McNaull.

Businesses are also paralyzed.

McCormick & Co. has suspended all business travel until Sept. 30. At that time, the situation will be re-evaluated, said Mac Barrett, a spokesman for the Hunt Valley, Md.-based spice manufacturing giant.

"With so much attention focused on safety right now, we want to do our part to reassure our personnel that their welfare and safety is first and foremost," Mr. Barrett said.

Several other businesses have put a ban on travel either through the end of this month or even indefinitely, said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of Business Travel Coalition, an advocacy group for business travelers.

Other companies are not pressuring their employees to travel if they aren't comfortable doing so, Mr. Mitchell said.

In a Business Travel Coalition survey of businesses on Sept. 11, 88 percent expected their employees will "unilaterally cut back on travel in the coming weeks."

"I wouldn't be surprised if there's one new booking for every four cancellations," Mr. Mitchell said.

International travel is also taking a hit.

Amadeus, a global reservations system in Madrid said its airline bookings from Sept. 11 to Sept. 14 were down 28 percent over the like period last year.

The North American market showed a decline of 74 percent in the same time, largely because the airlines were grounded during a majority of that time. However, the rest of the world's reservations decreased by an average of 19 percent.

Some travelers were still making reservations yesterday.

OneTravel.com has had many cancellations for trips within the next few weeks, but the online reservation company did have some new bookings yesterday, said spokeswoman Susan Jefferson.

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