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Same-sex couple claim Southwest discriminated during boarding

A Florida same-sex couple claim Southwest Airlines refused to let them board with their three children and a grandparent as a family.

Grant Morse says the family was rebuffed at the family boarding area at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York Saturday, The Associated Press reported. Morse said a Southwest Airlines gate agent told them that they were not a family, even though Morse told the agent that Morse and his husband, Sam Ballachino, are legally married. 

>> Read more trending stories

Morse said the family was forced to wait while other families were allowed to board, then the airline told them they'd saved four seats in the back of the plane, not enough for the family to sit together. Morse claimed that Ballachino's 83-year-old grandmother was placed in an emergency exit row seat.

Southwest defended its actions in a statement, saying that both parents were invited to board with their children but the third adult was not eligible to board under the airline's family boarding policy.

Memorial Day 2017: Travelers will hit highest level since 2005

If you plan to travel Memorial Day weekend, expect a lot of company.

A whole lot.

AAA said more than 39.3 million people are planning a holiday trip at least 50 miles from home - the most since 2005 and a 2.7 percent increase over last year.

Of those, travelers, 34.6 million - or 88.1 percent - will drive to their destination.

“We think it’s because of the increase in wages,” said Garrett Townsend, public affairs director for Georgia. “People are feeling more comfortable about spending money.”

Adding to that confidence, he said, are gas prices. 

>> Read more trending news

“While gas prices are certainly not as low as last year, they are much lower than they were in 2015,” he said. Even if they creep up “I don’t think it’s going to increase enough for people to change their plans.”

Here’s the bad news: airfares, car rental rates and mid-range hotels will probably cost you more this year.

Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 9 percent higher this Memorial Day, with an average round trip ticket landing at $181, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.

Need a room? Plan to dig deeper.  The average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel will cost roughly $215, or 18 percent more than 2016.

The top U.S. destination is Orlando.

AAA expects to help more than 330,000 motorists during the holiday weekend, with the main reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues.

Gigantic indoor water park in Georgia on track to open in spring 2018

By next spring, amusement park lovers will have a new attraction to visit.

Great Wolf Lodge Georgia, which will include a 456-room hotel, is on target to open in 2018. Officials say it’s too early to given an exact opening date.

"Our guests would probably say that the highlight at any Great Wolf Lodge would be the indoor water park, and for Great Wolf Lodge Georgia, we’re building a massive, nearly 100,000-square foot indoor water park,” said  Jason Lasecki, a spokesman for Great Wolf Resorts. 

Related:

Riders help beat bad guys at new DC Comics ride at Six Flags

Great Wolf announces new LaGrange project

Several “new experiences” are currently in development and officials hope to share more details in the fall.

The LaGrange park will be the 16th in the company’s portfolio.

Features include Fort Mackenzie, a multi-level interactive water fort treehouse with a massive tipping water bucket; a huge wave pool and several zero depth entry pools.

The water park is only available to guests at the hotel.

The resort will also offer  several onsite dining options including Barnwood, the brand’s unique full service restaurant and Hungry as a Wolf  handcrafted pizza and pasta.

United to Texas national guardsman returning from Afghanistan: Pay up for bag

A national guardsman on his way home to Kyle, Texas, after a 21-month deployment in Afghanistan said United Airlines made him pay $200 to check a bag because it was too heavy to qualify for the airline’s free military baggage policy.

“I was told point blank that I’d have to pay $200 for the overage or find another bag to siphon stuff off with,” First Lieutenant John Rader, who was preparing to board a flight in El Paso Monday night when the incident happened, told FOX 7 Austin. “Well, I didn’t have another bag, so I was caught in a bind.”

>> Read more trending news 

United’s policy states that U.S. military and their dependents traveling on official business receive waived service charges for up to five checked bags at 70 pounds each. Because Rader’s bag, which contained items including a Kevlar vest, helmets and boots, was over 70 pounds, he said he was given no choice but to pay the fee.

“In the past, airlines have been very flexible to soldiers, whether its upgrading us in our seating arrangements, helping us with numerous bags we travel with often. This is the first time and an isolated case in my history where it’s actually occurred. It became upsetting when all you want to do is get home and you have a $200 charge thrown on top,” Rader told FOX 7.

Military baggage policies differ depending on the airline. Southwest offers active duty military an exemption from its two-bag limit and free baggage up to 100 pounds, while Delta allows two free bags up to 50 pounds for active duty military traveling on personal business.

A United representative said the airline has reached out to Rader in hopes of remedying the situation.

It hasn’t been a great year for the airline. In March, United received widespread criticism for barring two teens from their flight because they were wearing leggings. And in April, video footage of a man being forcibly removed from a flight made national headlines.

Read more about Rader’s experience here.

JetBlue CEO addresses birthday cake incident in which family was kicked off flight

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes went on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday and addressed an incident on his airline’s incident that made headlines, in which a family was kicked off a flight after a dispute that started with a birthday cake.

>> Previous: A family says that they were kicked off an airplane over a birthday cake, but JetBlue is telling a different story

Here’s the video that was shared showing part of the incident:

And here is Hayes explaining what happened:

According to Hayes:

“What happened here was a customer stored two items. One was a cake, another was a bag, in a part of the airplane reserved for safety equipment, and we train our crew that those lockers have to be kept only for safety equipment.

“And the family concerned ignored repeated requests to move it. Our crew even moved it at one point for them, and they moved it back, and then they ... made some sort of allegations against the crew, and it got to a point where the captain felt, balancing the interests of all the other customers on the airplane and the crew, the right thing to do was to ask that family to leave the airplane.

“It was not about the birthday cake.”

Hayes’ explanation echoes a statement that JetBlue released on the incident. “(The customer) refused multiple requests from the crew to remove the items … became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew, and made false accusations about a crew member’s fitness to fly,” the statement read.

>> Read more trending news 

It contradicts the family’s side of the story, as told by Cameron Burke, one of the passengers who was asked to leave the airplane.

“A flight attendant nicely asked me to remove the cake from that compartment, so I moved it to another one,” Burke told the New York Daily News. “She then asked me to move it to underneath the seat in front of me. I did.”

At that point, he said, another flight attendant showed up and started to scold the first attendant.

“You know, you could see the gestures, then she was pointing to her, ‘Did you tell him he couldn’t put anything in the overhead compartment?'” Burke told WABC-TV.

Burke said he decided to intervene.

“I had approached them, and I said everything was fine,” he said. “And she said, ‘Sir, this does not involve you.’

“She said I was being non-compliant,” Burke told the New York Daily News. “I said, ‘Miss, have you been drinking?’ Because her behavior was irrational, and she stormed off.”

Burke and his family were kicked off the plane shortly afterward.

Burke told WABC-TV that he didn’t yell or curse during the incident.

10 ways to save money on a trip to the beach

Temperatures are warming up, and the sand and surf are calling.

>> Read more trending news

A day at the beach is a great and inexpensive summer activity, but costs can creep up if you’re not careful.

Here are some tips on keeping your summer beach costs down:

1. Carpool

If you can easily drive to a beach, you know that it’s hard to find parking spots there. Both private and public beaches can charge an outrageous amount to park.

If you have four people going to the beach and parking is $20 a car, why take two separate cars? Carpool and split the cost among everyone.

>> Related: 10 inexpensive places to get away from it all

2. Bring your own food

There are usually plenty of food trucks, food carts and seaside restaurants around beaches, but the food can be overpriced.

One of the best ways to save money when you visit the beach is to bring a cooler of your own food. Prepare some sandwiches, throw in some fruit or other snacks, drinks, a bag of ice, and you’re good to go.

3. Buy food away from the beach

If you are going to bring your own food to the beach, consider buying groceries outside the beach town. Food prices tend to be almost double in high tourist areas because local markets know they can jack up the prices and people will pay.

4. Stay cheap

Consider booking a room in a motel or renting out someone’s summer house. You might not have a beautiful room, but there’s a good chance you’ll be paying significantly less, and the purpose of visiting the beach is to be outside, not in your room all day.

>> Related: 7 things more hotels are giving away for free

It’s also a great time to consider camping in areas where that’s acceptable. Get a tent and fall asleep to the sound of the waves.

5. Get a non-waterfront hotel

If you want to stay in a hotel, renting a room in a hotel that is not on the waterfront will save you money. Hotels close to the beach tend to be more expensive than hotels that are farther away from the beach, but sometimes the distance is no more than a few blocks and easily walkable.

6. Find free activities

While it might be tempting to rent jet skis or go scuba diving, those costs can climb quickly. Think about what you can do on a lower budget. For example, get some cheap snorkeling gear and explore the waters that way, instead of spending money on a scuba excursion.

7. Avoid beachfront stores

Beachfront stores are filled with touristy junk -- poorly made knickknacks that will fall apart and beach equipment that is overpriced. For example, you might find beach umbrellas there for twice the amount you’d find miles away.

Buy your towels, chairs, bags and umbrellas before you go on vacation or at a non-beach-related store away from the hotels and beaches.

>> Related: 7 things you should never buy at the airport

8. Budget

This is a basic need for any vacation, but it’s easy to look at a few days at the beach and think you won’t spend much money. You’ll probably be right, but there are other things on which you might spend your money, such as food, entertainment or souvenirs. Going on vacation without a set budget can easily cause you to spend more money than you intended.

9. Go during the offseason

Offseason is a relative term for a beach vacation. Offseason on Cape Cod is much different than it is in Florida.

Offseasons are generally from September to November or late February to early May. You’ll find that hotels and flights are cheaper and they’ll be less hassle while you’re visiting the beach and other attractions.

10. Transportation

Many large, popular beaches are near many different amenities and attractions. You might want to see what type of public transportation is available or if you’ll need to rent a car. If there is a decent public transportation system, take advantage of it instead of renting a car.

Better yet, if everything you need is nearby, walk everywhere.

If you’re planning day activities, your hotel might also have free shuttle services.

>> Related: Adult summer camp with alcohol, no counselors, debuting in new cities this year

Owners of giant rabbit that died on United Airlines flight threaten lawsuit

United Airlines suffered another problematic PR situation Monday, with the threat of a lawsuit surrounding the death of a giant rabbit who died onboard a flight last month.

The 3-foot-long rabbit named Simon — who was en route from his breeder in London to his new owners in Iowa — was found dead in his crate after the plane stopped in Chicago.

>> Giant 3-foot rabbit found dead on United Airlines flight

According to ABC News, although the airline apparently reached an agreement with the breeder on Monday, the would-be owners, a group of Des Moines-area businessmen who had bought Simon and intended to display him at this summer’s Iowa State Fair, are threatening legal action. Simon had been expected to grow to as much as 40 pounds, which would have made him the world’s largest rabbitCBS News reported.

The would-be owners are not only upset about his death but also are questioning why he was cremated so quickly.

>> Read more trending news

Their attorney, Guy Cook, said they are "requesting that United Airlines re-evaluate its policies with respect to the transportation of pets and ask that they take responsibility for this incident," ABC News reported.

United spokesman Charles Hobart said the airline is reviewing a letter from the owners' attorneys and "takes its responsibilities in transporting pets seriously," ABC News reported.

Read more here.

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Mom thanks flight attendant who helped soothe fussy baby during flight

A mother is thanking a flight attendant for helping to soothe her 4-month-old baby when “all hell broke loose” on a flight.

>> Watch the news report here

Whitney Poyntz was traveling with her husband and daughter to Calgary, Alberta, from Palm Springs, California, on the WestJet airline. Everything was going smoothly until her daughter, Kennedi, started to cry.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“Once the captain came on the intercom it woke her up, which is obviously no one’s fault,” Poyntz wrote on WestJet’s Facebook page. “About 30 minutes later, all hell broke loose.”

>> Read more trending news

Poyntz said her fellow passengers were clearly not happy.

A flight attendant named Ashley approached her and offered to help. She walked baby Kennedi up and down the aisle until she stopped crying.

“I was amazed someone wanted to help like that,” Poyntz told ABC News.

Neighbors complain after Disney World tests fireworks show late into night

Disney World and fireworks go hand in hand, and the Wishes show at Magic Kingdom is something that visitors and neighbors, such as Lynda Salerno, know well.

>> Read more trending news 

“It’s part of Disney. That’s why I moved here, to be part of it,” she said.

But late Tuesday night, the booms went on and on, all the way into Wednesday morning.

“Yeah, you know, it’s kind of crazy. First you hear the ‘pow, pow, pow,' then you know it’s the fireworks,” said Charles Loachmin.

>> READ: Disney World fireworks show causing brush fires despite burn ban, union says

Warning signs were posted at the parks and pamphlets were distributed to let guests know that a new fireworks show would be tested from 11:45 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Residents in the area said it went even later into the morning.

Some took to social media to share their annoyance, including one post that read: “Somebody needs to teach the rat how to tell time. It’s 1:30 now.”

Disney’s website shows that the new show will be called “Happily Ever After.”

Loachmin said he normally loves seeing the shows from his backyard, but this time, the timing was too much.

“During the nighttime, especially early that morning, it’s kind of crazy,” he said. 

American Airlines to decrease legroom for passengers

A ticket for an American Airlines flight will soon afford passengers less leg space on planes. 

>> Read more trending news

According to CNN, the airline will decrease space between seat rows in economy class by 2 inches.

The move is meant to allow for more seats per plane and will affect the airline’s new Boeing 737 Max jetliners, CNN reported.

The space will decrease from 31 inches to 29 inches on three rows of the airplanes. It will decrease to 30 inches in the rest of planes’ main economy cabins. 

>> Related: American Airlines first officer dies after collapsing on flight

Low-cost airlines like Spirit and Frontier offer the least amount of legroom at 28 inches. 

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have pitch spaces -- the distance between seats -- averaging between 30 and 31 inches, while JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines have between 31 and 33 inches, according to CNN.

A source also told CNN that bathrooms on American Airlines’ new 737 Max jets will be smaller. 

>> Related: WATCH: American Airlines flight attendant confronts mother with stroller

An American Airlines spokesman said the airline will order 100 737 Max jets and plans to begin flying the first planes domestically later this year. Rollout of the planes will continue into the next few years.

Read more at CNN.

>> Related: American Airlines flight diverted to Florida airport after passenger spills soda

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