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JetBlue's New Mint Class: A Behind-The-Scenes Tour

Curious about JetBlue's new premium Mint experience? The carrier's first foray into business class-style service debuts on June 15, serving cross-country routes between New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles for as little as $599 one way. Watch this video for a behind-the-scenes look at what to expect.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

How To Get a Free Camera (Or Running Shoes) Tomorrow

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If you own a DSLR and are in New York City, you may be eligible for a free camera upgrade. Tomorrow, Samsung is hosting #DITCHtheDSLR Day, a pop-up event dedicated to their lineup of mirrorless models--and why they're just as powerful as their bulkier counterparts. Head to Times Square between noon and 6pm to take their top-of-the-line NX30 SMART Camera for a spin (with the help of professional photographers, there to take you on photo walks and offer their best shooting tips). If you like what you see, you can trade in your old DSLR and get an NX30--for free. (That's a $999 camera, for those of you keeping track.) But get there early and bring any kit lenses or batteries that came with your dinosaur, as only a limited quantity will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Foursquare Launches New App Swarm For Global Networking

foursquare_appjpgYesterday Foursquare pushed its new app, Swarm, to the iTunes and Google Play stores, revealing to the world what it had been teasing for weeks: a tool to help you connect with friends globally, in a way that’s more socially-driven than the Foursquare we’ve long known and loved. Swarm differs from Foursquare by focusing on interactions, and not solitary check-ins or points, which were hardly being used in the competitive, socially-charged way that had once been intended.

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Marriott's New PlusPoints Will Turn Your Tweets into Loyalty Points

201405-hd-marriott-pluspoints-socialjpgSocial media engagement has become increasingly valuable to hotel brands and travel companies—look no further than our own SMITTY Award winners—but today, Marriott is becoming the first company to place a real dollar value on customers’ tweets, check-ins, and likes. With PlusPoints, a new feature of the brand’s much loved rewards program, visitors who download the Marriott Rewards app and synch their social media accounts will now see their points balances increase with every digital interaction—up to 2,000 points each month. Says Rich Toohey, VP of Marriott Rewards, “It’s a way to provide immediate gratification for our members, who happy to be very active on social media channels.” Immediate is right: most interactions (geo-tagged Instagram pics; Facebook comments; check-ins and tweets) will yield an automatic deposited of 25 points to your Marriott Rewards account, while one-time activities, such as liking a property page on Facebook, will boost your balance by 250 points.

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Four New Apps Make Google Glass a Traveler's Best Friend

201405-hd-google-glass-for-traveljpgPop up notifications about your flight status. Instant visual translations. Directions to your hotel within seconds of your asking. Google Glass has been targeting travelers for months, with an arsenal of tools that intend to get you looking away from your smart phone and around at world. Today, the company is making a bigger push than ever into the travel space, with the release of three new apps that any jetsetter will no doubt recognize—TripIt, Foursquare, and OpenTable—plus a smart re-release of the exploration tool, Field Trip, which now lets you ask for sightseeing suggestions based on its eclectic catalogue of local sites and venues.

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Lyft Introduces New Premium Cab-on-Call Service

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There’s a new ride in town, though you may recognize it by its signature facial hair. Lyft Plus, a new premium offering by Uber’s quirky, mustachioed competitor, is now piloting service in San Francisco before rolling out to all of its 60 cities coast to coast. As the name would suggest, the new model offers a more souped-up cab-on-call experience--while there’s nary a Mercedes-Benz in sight, the premium experience features custom-outfitted Ford Explorers, each decked out with custom under-car LED lights, 20-inch sport wheels, quilted leather seats for six, and (our favorite) Spotify Premium access. It’s less expensive that Uber Black by about a 20% margin, and roughly twice the cost of a regular Lyft ride, running $3.00 a mile or fifty cents a minute. As for the token mustache found on all of Lyft’s regular cars? You’ll find it affixed onto the grille in brushed steel—trés classy.
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Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Lyft

AirBnB Introduces Last-Minute Booking

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AirBnB is taking a page out of the HotelTonight handbook today, opening their network of apartment rentals to the last-minute market. But unlike every other booking tool for spontaneous travelers, this one’s not focused on markdowns. Says an AirBnB spokesperson, the new feature responds to a “lifestyle shift” among travelers, who are more willing than ever to plan getaways on the fly. But it’s also thanks to an increasing number of AirBnB listings featuring “instant booking,” a one-click checkout system that requires no back-and-forth messaging between the traveler and host (the company says they’re up to 90,000 such listings, from just 30,000 last year).

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Google Adds Time Machine to Maps

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Here's how I'll be spending much of this upcoming weekend: enjoying some quality armchair (time) travel courtesy of Google Maps' new Time Machine feature. Launched this week, it captures the evolution of places as they have been documented by Google's street view team—now celebrating their seventh year in action.

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Orbitz Launches New Credit Card To Rival Most Travel Cards

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The battle of the OTAs is heating up—first there was a wave of loyalty programs, and now, they’re each outdoing one another when it comes to credit cards. The latest move comes from Orbitz, whose fee-free Visa-backed card was announced earlier this week as a direct challenge to Expedia’s Citi cards. Our verdict? The Orbitz Rewards Visa is about a good a travel card as you can get. Read on for details.

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Hack My Trip's Hotel Loyalty Comparison Charts

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You could spend an entire month doing nothing but comparing hotel loyalty programs and still not be sure you know which is best—but that’s why it never hurts to turn to the pros. And while we make the topic a professional obsession around here, there are a few specialists out there that even we revere. Among them: Scott Mackenzie of Hack My Trip, who just recently released these incredible tables that break down all that hotel loyalty programs have to offer. It’s one of the most comprehensive, thoughtfully analyzed resources we’ve seen to date, so take it from us: this one is worth bookmarking.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.


Image courtesy of Scott Mackenzie

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