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Airlines Roll Back Fare Hike as FAA Taxes are Reinstated

USA Today |  Airlines are rolling back the fare hikes they added following the partial shutdown of the Federal Administration on July 22. The move comes as previously suspended federal taxes are again being applied to airline tickets.

Since July 22, the FAA shutdown prompted some federal taxes to be removed from the cost of airline tickets. However, most major U.S. airlines opted to raise fares instead of passing that "tax holiday" on to consumers.

But, with the FAA impasses resolved—at least for now—the taxes are again being applied to tickets.

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Should You Pay for Wi-Fi? Airports Explore Tiered Service

USA Today |  For years, one of the top if not the top amenity on many road warriors' wish lists has been free Wi-Fi at the airport. Slowly but surely, it's happening.

Take a look at the USATODAY.com Airport Guides, airport websites, and various commercial and user-generated Wi-Fi directories. You'll see there are now hundreds of U.S. airports offering travelers complimentary wireless Internet access.

San Francisco? Free. Orlando? Free. Seattle, St. Louis and San Jose? Free, free, free. Washington's Dulles and National airports? As of April, 2011, free as well.

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New Study: What U.S. City is No. 1 for Bed Bug Infestations?

USA TodayNew York, for the second year in a row, according to a study just released by pest-control giant Terminix. Not really a surprise, since NYC is a populous metropolis with well-publicized infestations everywhere from apartment buildings to businesses such as department stores, magazine offices, even Lincoln Center.

Terminix reports an increase in bed bug infestations in most states during the past year, in part because consumers are more aware and on the lookout for the tiny pests, Terminix entymologist Paul Curtis told me.

The company's list of most bed bug-plagued cities, based on customer complaints validated by Terminix and infestations discovered during pest calls:

1. New York
2. Cincinnati
3. Detroit

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Delta, SkyTeam Announce Deep Capacity Cuts

USA Today |  The busy summer travel season is not even upon us yet and Delta Air Lines and its major SkyTeam partners—Air France, KLM and Alitalia—announced trans-Atlantic capacity cuts today for this fall.

Capacity will decline by 7% to 9% over the same time period in 2010, according to these airlines, which operate with antitrust immunity in the trans-Atlantic market, allowing them to legally coordinate schedules and collude on prices.

The airlines say that the capacity cuts are due to "fluctuations in seasonal demand," but it is also likely that the airline industry is bracing for a decline in international travel after the usually busy summer vacation season due to the inflated price of oil, which has been hovering in the $100 per barrel range for some time.

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Is a 'Euro Vegas' in the Cards?

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USA Today |  It will be if Sheldon Adelson, best known as the man behind The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas, has his way. His Las Vegas Sands corporation also has holdings in Macau and Singapore, which have become Asian gaming meccas.

Now, Adelson is eyeing Spain. According to the Agence France-Presse wire service, the mogul is betting on establishing a "Euro Vegas."

He told the Foreign Correspondents Association in Singapore that Las Vegas Sands is talking to officials from Barcelona and Madrid to establish a strip of casinos.

Photo Courtesy of The Venetian

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Delta to Add "Economy Comfort" Seats

USA TodayDelta Air Lines will add a premium economy section to its international flights, charging non-elite fliers between $80 to $160 each way for "Economy Comfort" seats that come with extra legroom and more recline.

Delta and SkyTeam frequent-fliers at the Platinum and Diamond level can book the seats at no extra charge, while Gold-level frequent-fliers will have access to the seats at a 50% discount. Silver members can purchase the seats for a 25% discount.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says "passengers will get seats with up to four inches of extra legroom, beyond the roughly 31 inches of pitch in international economy. They also will get 50% more recline than regular international economy seats. Passengers in the new section … also will be able to board early and get free alcoholic beverages during the flight."

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JFK Airport Eyes Boutique Hotel for Iconic TWA Terminal


201102-b-twajpgUSA Today / Wall Street Journal |  The iconic, former TWA airline terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport could be reopened as a luxury boutique hotel, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The airport's operator is looking for developers who could tackle the famous modernist structure, designed by Eero Saarinen. The curved, winged terminal opened in 1962 at the old Idlewild Airport and closed in 2001 after American Airlines bought TWA.

Boutique hotels usually offer guests something unique, and in this case, it would be the striking structure.

"There are few buildings designed for airports that have resonated with the public as much as this one," Frank Sanchis, an advisor at the Municipal Art Society of New York, told the paper.

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New Hotel Openings in US Dwindle

201102-b-hotel-istockjpgUSA Today |  Who doesn't love a splashy, new hotel opening?

Travelers love to stay in them, the press loves to write about them - and owners love to celebrate them.

"New hotel development is very sexy. They get a lot of press," Nicholas Clayton, president of the Viceroy Hotel Group, noted during the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in San Diego last week.

Yet, despite all the excitement - and the uptick in travel this year, we'll see fewer new hotels open their doors in the USA this year compared past years, a new forecast shows. (Photo by iStock)

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New Flight Limits Over Grand Canyon

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USA Today
|  In an attempt to restore natural peace and quiet to the Grand Canyon, the National Park Service has proposed limits on "flight-seeing" and other aircraft over the canyon.

The proposal raises height limits for aircraft flying over the area, suggests no-fly zones and calls for phasing in quieter aircraft.

Air tours currently carry about 400,000 passengers annually over the canyon. And while "they play an important role in visitor enjoyment … without more thoughtful management, air-tour flights can interfere with the enjoyment of visitors on the ground," the park service said in a statement. (Photo by Lenny Konieczski)

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Airlines and Travel Sites Tussle Over Booking Flights

2010-b-american-airlinesjpgUSA Today |  A fight between a major U.S. airline and some Web-based travel companies is having a ripple effect in the travel industry, as players take sides in a battle that could ultimately affect how fliers shop for tickets and find the best fares.

More than 125 of the nation's biggest travel organizations and agencies, including online travel giant Expedia, have formed a coalition that is taking aim at a new booking system, preferred by American Airlines, that challenges the way most major airlines make their fares available to the public.

American says that its new, direct link will better inform travelers of services it offers for a fee, such as priority boarding, and also pare the airline's costs. But the newly formed Open Allies for Airfare Transparency and other critics argue that bypassing the systems that pool fare information from multiple airlines will make it harder for the public to find the best deals, or even the best routes, to their destinations. (Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

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