Wildfires blacken Southern California travel

Raging wildfires in California spanning Los Angeles to San Diego Counties have burned nearly 500,000 acres and have seriously disrupted life for many Southern California residents and travelers. Although air traffic has not been seriously affected and most major tourist sites have not been unharmed, travel by road, particularly around San Diego, has been hampered, some attractions are closed, and poor air quality throughout the region has caused authorities to warn against spending too much time outdoors.

While there have been no reports of major disruption in air travel, many airlines are waiving change fees for travelers flying to, from, or through southern California airports who wish to alter their travel plans. Normally, most airlines charge $100 for flight changes. Alaska, American, Continental, Delta, JetBlue, US Airways, and United have all announced waivers. Most are allowing changes for travel plans scheduled through at least October 29, although passengers must rebook and travel within a set time frame in order to be eligible. Details are listed on the airlines' websites.

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The San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau is reporting that while downtown San Diego is not threatened by the fires, several major attractions including the San Diego Wild Animal Park, SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Cabrillo National Monument are closed. It's also recommending that visitors call hotels to confirm reservations. On its website, the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau claims that wild fires are no longer a danger to its important visitor sites.

Whatever the case, if you're planning to visit Southern California soon it's a good idea to call your hotel, and check the websites of your airline and any major attractions you plan to see for the latest updates.

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