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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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Carry Your Stuff in the Plastic Bags that Navy Divers Trust

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Wouldn’t you feel better if you carried your valuables in the same waterproof storage bags that Navy divers use instead of plastic bags engineered to transport a soft sandwich? aLOKSAK, may look like a Ziploc bag, but these heavy-duty, puncture-resistant containers have a heat tolerance of 170 degrees and are certified dry at 60 meters, even after two weeks underwater. Plus, it’ll keep sand and saltwater out of your cellphone or Kindle while you use them.

Available in eleven sizes (from 5” x 4” to 32” x 16”) and in multi-packs from $4.99 at REI and Amazon.com. (Photo courtesy of LOKSAK)

Ann Shields is Online Senior Editor at TravelandLeisure.com.

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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Video: Dance Party at Rio's Airport

Here it is: your moment of Monday travel zen. Never mind that this video, which takes place at Aeroporto do Galeão in Rio de Janeiro, is a marketing ploy by TAP Airlines. Just enjoy. Air travel? This much fun? Maybe someday...

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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Best Weather Tools for Travelers

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Sick of winter yet? New York City just experienced its snowiest January on record, and Chicago is currently digging itself out from yesterday’s Groundhog’s Day blizzard, which was the third worst snowstorm to ever hit the city.

In a season like this, weather dictates how people travel. Weather Underground, home to the world's largest historical weather database, just re-launched its website Wunderground.com yesterday, which caused weather geeks around the world to rejoice. It's built several great travel tools, drawing info from their massive database to help you stay one step ahead of the weather while planning your next trip. Here are my favorites:

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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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Vacationist: Italy + California

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What makes Vacationist stand apart from other sites? It delivers T+L-quality hotels at prices that can’t be beat. Case in point: the list of hotels on sale now, which includes Il Salviatino, a 15th-century estate that was featured on the 2010 It List, T+L’s compendium of the biggest hotel openings of the year. And you won’t want to miss the Langham Huntington (one of this year’s T+L 500 hotels) for 20% off the standard rate. Looking for deals at more award-winning T+L hotels? Click here now.

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Holograms Debut at British Airports

London’s Luton and Manchester airports officially have received a Trekkie–approved makeover. Starting today, passengers approaching the security check-in sections of the airports will welcomed, and given instructions, by holograms. Well, sort of. They’re not holograms in the traditional sense, they’re close (and cool) enough. Large sheets of glass are cut into the shape of people, with images of attendants Holly and Graham—get it??—projected onto them.

The idea is not to replace airport security staff with holograms, but to “help them to do their job even better, by communicating compellingly and consistently,” according to Glyn Jones, managing director of London Luton Airport.

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Trapped in Chicago? Kimpton Snow Deal from $99/Night

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If you’re stuck in the Windy City on account of the predicted 18” of snow (or if you’re avoiding being stuck somewhere not as cozy as a hotel), the Chicago-area Kimpton properties, the Hotel Allegro, Hotel Burnham, Hotel Monaco, and Hotel Palomar just announced a $99 “Stranded in the City” rate that is in effect from Tuesday through Friday.  Just use the booking code 'COLD' when you’re booking a room online or over the phone.

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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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TSA Shuts Door on Private Airport Screening

Washington (CNN) | A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was "neutral" on the program.

TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.

Though little known, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors who wear TSA-like uniforms, meet TSA standards and work under TSA oversight. Among the airports that have "opted out" of government screening are San Francisco and Kansas City.

The push to "opt out" gained attention in December amid the fury over the TSA's enhanced pat downs, which some travelers called intrusive.

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LHW Announces (Great) New Club Benefits

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Membership has its rewards. If you're a regular reader of Carry On, you're well familiar with the exclusive hotel offers from Vacationist, an invitation-only joint venture between Travel + Leisure and Luxury Link offering reduced stays at fabulous properties for up to 60 percent off.

But T+L is hardly alone in offering the special treatment to travelers. Leading Hotels of the World, which represents 430 independent luxury hotels, just announced its "Ultimate Benefits Program."

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Last Call for Submissions: Winter Travel Photo Contest

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Last Call! The deadline to enter submissions in our Winter Travel Photo Contest is approaching quickly.

There are nearly 500 images already contending for a chance to win a Booq Mamba Large Messenger/Laptop Bag and publication in Travel + Leisure. For your chance to win, submit your photos here, by this coming Monday, January 31.

If you live in the Northeastern United States, get outdoors to capture the aftermath of this week's snowstorm. Or, look to other submissions for inspiration, like The Artic Explorer (above), which one of our community members shot outside of Tromso, Norway.

Snap to it!

Lyndsey Matthews is an online editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

The Donald to Reopen Tavern on the Green?

201101-b-donaldjpgNew York Post |  The Donald wants to reopen The Tavern to make boatloads of Green again.

Real-estate mogul Donald Trump last night said he will ask the city to grant him the right to run the now-closed, landmark Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park--vowing to restore it to gustatory glory with a $20 million redevelopment investment.

Trump's revelation came after he reached a deal yesterday with the union that represents Tavern's former employees.

He said it would give the union a five-year contract and between 400 to 500 jobs at the city-owned building.

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V-Day Hotel Getaways From Maine to Marrakesh

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Hotels realize that there is no single recipe for romance (though you might conclude that if there were one, chocolate-dipped strawberries and Champagne would be at the top of the ingredient list).   While some guests may swoon at the sight of a petal-strewn bed, others may dismiss it as hackneyed. 

Here’s a selection of ten Valentine’s Day packages that may strike your fancy: from no-holds-barred extravaganzas to simpler intimate breaks.   Find the recipe that works for you.

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10 Dirtiest Hotels in Europe Exposed

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It's time again for what easily ranks as one of TripAdvisor.com's most talked-about annual lists: Dirty Hotels. Who doesn't want the dirt on where stay in Europe—and where to avoid?

eTurbo News |  The list of Europe's ten dirtiest hotels was released today.

The list of shame is dominated by just three destinations, with London, Amsterdam and Turkey's Aegean coast collectively responsible for Europe's ten dirtiest hotels. The two Turkish hotels top the list, followed by four properties each in London and Amsterdam.

"Despite the average overall rating for a property on TripAdvisor rising to four out of five, it is clear that a minority of hotels are still not delivering the minimum standard of experience travellers deserve, especially in relation to cleanliness" comments Emma O'Boyle, TripAdvisor spokesperson. (Photo by iStock)

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Vacationist: Costa Rica + Thailand + San Diego

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As we type, fluffy snow is falling on the streets of New York City—it's no wonder we editors are highlighting special offers from three warm-weather hotels this week! Read on for more on a beachfront hideaway in Costa Rica (pictured right), a palm-strewn resort on a Thai island, and a West Coast seaside retreat tucked amid meandering lagoons.

Not a member of Vacationist? Join here.

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Hopeful Sign: The Return of Japan Airlines' Beloved Logo

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Starbucks' recent logo change to a more minimalistic design is just the latest outburst of an unfortunate trend that has caused the demise of too many strong, recognizable logos, including many in the travel industry. In recent years we've seen Holiday Inn lose its charmingly clunky script logo in favor a cartoonish letter H against a field of lime green. Effect? Meh. Hertz dropped its familiar shadow and added a background of yellow, lots and lots of yellow. Expedia eliminated its funky old airplane and replaced it with shimmering bands of light that make one pause and think, "Is that supposed to be an airplane?" And Hotels.com killed off bag-totting Benny the Bellhop because...because...who the heck knows? Personally, I miss Benny.

But at least one travel company has seen the error of its ways.

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Foursquare’s Most Popular Places for 2010

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Foursquare, a social media tool that encourages users to “check-in” at venues, realized a phenomenal 3,400% growth last year, with 381 million check-ins worldwide.  The company just released a fun infographic that reveals the most popular places in 2010, according to its members’ updates.

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Le Flâneur: Paris in Stop-Motion

Late last night, while browsing through my Google Reader instead of sleeping, I happened on this short, breathtaking video on one of my favorite travel blogs, Prêt à Voyager.

Le Flâneur is the creation of American University of Paris student Luke Shepard, who made this video by stitching together a series of still photographs to create a dreamy stop-motion-like view of Paris. It makes me want to board a CDG-bound plane right now.

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Lyndsey Matthews is an online editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Video courtesy of Luke Shepard

Trend Alert: Hotels Implementing the Latest Tech Devices

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I was discussing with my colleagues earlier today my relative inability to unplug myself from the world, no matter where I am. So it’s fitting that, shortly after this discussion, I received an e-mail from the Lanesborough in London, telling me about their newest guest service: the installation of Mac minis in each of the hotel’s 95 guestrooms. (Which, when you think about it, is an interesting contrast: the sleek, stylish white devices surrounded by the Georgian-style décor of the hotel.)

This additional resource lets guests access more/better TV and movie choices, as well as a place to plug in their own personal iPods, iPhones, and iPads—even personal digital cameras and jump drives, if need be. (Not to mention, access to the Internet and programs standard on any new Mac, like iLife.)

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For Travelers: Google's eBookshop

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Imagine if your everyday hardcover book came with rules about where you could read it. Sounds crazy, but in the digital world we hardly bat an eye about similar restrictions. For instance, iBooks titles must be read on Apple devices.

For e-bookworms who love the platform, but could do without the Apple pits, Google just debuted the largest multi-platform cyber-bookshop, Google eBooks, with over 3 million titles (most of which are free). What sets the site apart—and has charmed several top travel publishers—is its quest for open access. Reading materials aren’t tied to a device; they’re stowed in the digital cloud. So, users enjoy limitless storage, as well as compatibility with more than 85 devices, including the Android, Sony Reader, and iPad.

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French Mansion Opens as Museum After 100-Year Lockdown

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Though I’d be lying if I claimed to be an avid history buff, I am absolutely enamored with exploring old structures, browsing through authentic, antique/ancient artifacts, and feeling as though I'm traveling to another time, even if for just a few moments. And now, thanks to the efforts of the local authorities in the town of Moulins—about 190 miles south of Paris—I now feel compelled to travel to central France for just such an opportunity.

After about 100 years of sitting locked up, untouched by the outside world, a townhouse built in the late 1800s is open to the public, after a $4.7 million dollar restoration.

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Attention Cat Lovers: Don't Book the Fourth Floor

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The New Yorker Hotel in Midtown Manhattan considers itself a pet-friendly property, but management is kicking it up a notch to coincide with the canine Oscars: the annual Westminster Dog Show. The hound-happy hotel's fourth floor will be transformed into a puppy paradise February 10–14. Guests will pay an additional $50 per pooch for access to doggie treadmills, a grooming station, and "a specially designed potty area," which I am pretty sure is just for the dogs, not the owners. A highlight of the hotel's Bowser weekend will be the Big City Little Dog Fashion Show and Cocktail Party on February 11 ($25), which is great if you like to get tipsy and watch poodles parade around in booties and berets.


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Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Jog A Dog.

InterContinental Covers Guests' Airline Baggage Fees

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Nobody likes checked luggage fees, but let’s face it: they’re a part of air travel now. So if you’re one of those people who, like myself, find it difficult to restrict your vacation packing to the size of a carry-on, you just have to accept the fees as part of the price to pay for getting away. (And yes, I know what you're thinking. I work in travel. I should be able to rock the carry-on. In theory, I do know how. In practice, well...that's another story.)

However, if you book with any of the 4,500 InterContinental Hotel Group’s properties scattered across the world any time from now through April 30, 2011, the company will reimburse guests up to $100 per stay for their roundtrip baggage fees. For rebate details, take a look at the official IHG page.

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Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis.

Photo © iStock.

Want to Study at Oxford? No Problem!

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School’s out for the summer…unless you’re one of the many who would love to fulfill that fantasy of attending the prestigious Oxford University, in Christ Church, England. But before you start worrying about SAT scores and GPAs, I should tell you: the historic university is opening up its doors (and classrooms) to anyone who applies.

Thanks to a program called The Oxford Experience, anyone ready, willing, and able to pay for a weeklong course can do just that. (And without having to suffer through those pesky final exams!)

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Vacationist: Charleston + London + Belize

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Dear Vacationist,

In our opinion the only thing better than daydreaming about escaping the winter doldrums this time of year, is actually planning a trip—and of course, shaking off cabin fever in an exciting new locale. Good thing this week's featured hotel destinations offer something for everyone—history and charm in Charleston, big city sophistication in London, and a tropical escape in Ambergris Caye, Belize. Read on for details.

Not a member? Join here.

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Contest Watch: Costa Rican Family Adventure, More!

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After Snowmagedon 2011 ravaged 49 of the 50 states this month, the time is right to live it up away from icy driveways and slushy sidewalks. Whether you’re in the mood for a seductive escape to Thailand, Las Vegas, or New York or an energetic romp in Costa Rica or Utah, this T+L Contest Watch has you covered.

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Best New E-Readers From CES 2011

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We all know about the iPad and Kindle. Whether on the TV, the side of a bus, or a billboard, you can hardly turn a corner nowadays without seeing an ad for the game-changing devices. They’re everywhere. And while I’m certainly not anti-iPad/Kindle (I absolutely love them), I think it’s important for any traveler to know about and consider all available options.

That being said, there were a truckload of tablets revealed at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (more than 80!), so I wanted to share a few that I’m most excited about:

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