Top Ten Travel Stories of 2008

At best, it was a year in which travelers excitedly cooked up trips to the Olympics in Beijing and the inauguration in Washington, D.C. At worst, it was a year when tourists were confronted with devastating terror attacks in Mumbai's most lavish hotspots and hotels.

It was also a year in which a struggling economy made a significant dent on peoples' travel and transportation habits. Whether boarding a plane, driving down the highway or waiting on a subway platform, travelers saw clear signs of recession.

ABC News took a look back at the year's top ten travel stories and got a sense of what lies ahead in 2009.

"With fuel prices what they are today, things are looking fairly hopeful," John Meenan, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Air Transport Association told ABC News in late November. "But the economy of course, raises some serious questions about what we will experience next year."

#1: Travelers Pay Steep Fees to Fly



In 2008, the true price of an airline ticket became far higher than the price travelers thought they were paying online. By the time people boarded their flights with a major carrier, they had suddenly forked over an extra $15 to check a bag, $25 to check a second, and in some cases, $5 to $100-plus for prime seats with an ample amount of legroom. Travelers flying US Airways even paid extra for a soda and those flying Jet Blue paid a price for a pillow.

Charging customers for services they'd come to expect for free was the airline's way of doing all they could to stay in business as fuel prices rose. Even when those prices came down, however, fees remained high.

"We want to be in a position to invest in new jobs and creating the kinds of economic stimulus that the economy needs," Meenan said. "The only way we can do that is by making money."

#2: The Search For Missing Adventurer Steve Fossett



A lingering question remained on the minds of adventurers worldwide throughout the majority of 2008: Where in the world was Steve Fossett? He had swum the English Channel, competed in the Iditarod and flown around the world solo in a balloon, but suddenly the adventurer disappeared. Fossett was last seen alive Sept. 3, 2007, when he took off from a Nevada airport in a small plane. Extensive searches for his plane turned up empty and Fossett was declared dead in February 2008.

Then in early October, a hiker named Preston Morrow unexpectedly solved the mystery. Morrow was exploring California's Sierra Nevada mountains near Mammoth Lakes when he spotted something strange in a pile of dirt and pine needles. "Out of the corner of my eye I caught some cards, some white cards, and some money," Morrow said. "So I got closer and it was hundred-dollar bills."

The discovery of Fossett's pilot's license led investigators to the remains of his plane and shortly thereafter, to the remains of the man himself.

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