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Travel Watch | March 2006

Up In Smoke

Yet another national rail network has instituted a smoking ban: Swiss Federal Railways. Switzerland, the eighth European country to forbid passengers to light up on trains, also prohibits smoking in railway stations, except in designated areas. France, where TGV's have been smoke-free since 2004, will extend its ban to all French trains later this year.

TWA Terminal Takes Off

JetBlue's $875 million addition to Eero Saarinen's 1962 TWA terminal at JFK will include a common area designed by architect David Rockwell. The 635,000-square-foot facility, called Terminal 5, will adjoin the landmark structure. When it's completed, in 2009, JetBlue's terminal will have 26 gates—allowing the low-fare carrier to operate up to 250 flights a day.

Handheld Zagat

The latest software for BlackBerry addicts?Zagat to Go (mobile.zagat.com or www.handmark.com; $24.95 per year)—a searchable electronic library containing the complete collection of current Zagat restaurant, nightlife, and movie guides for more than 70 cities. Subscribers receive frequent updates and can download street maps and directions.

Cut In Line

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises have a new service that allows guests to check into connecting flights while still on board ship. For a small fee ($10 to $20), cruise passengers arriving in many North American ports may check their baggage and receive boarding passes for their flight—as long as it's on the last day of their cruise. At press time, the service was available at ports in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, San Diego, San Juan, Seattle, and Vancouver.

Disaster Tourism

Despite the morbid subject matter, Gray Line New Orleans's Hurricane Katrina—America's Greatest Catastrophe! tour (www.graylineneworleans.com) was selling out when it debuted in December. According to the company's Web site, the tour was created "to accurately inform visitors" about "this cataclysmic event." The three-hour expedition takes travelers past the devastation and to one of the man-made levees that was breached. Gray Line will donate $3 of the $35 fee to your choice among four nonprofit organizations now working to rebuild the region.

Passport Control

After much controversy, the United States begins issuing biometric passports this month. A chip embedded in the document's inside cover will store personal data and a digital photo, but this information will be protected by both an anti-skimming shield and encoded-communication technology.

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