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Virgin America's New Video Puts a Spin on In-Flight Safety

Virgin America's added a little twist to their in-flight safety video. Grooving nuns, rapping kids, and auto-tuning robots guide you through the airline's safety regulations. This won't be the last dance, either. Virgin America has already posted a casting call on Instagram for future video stars. And if you can't get down with the funk, Virgin America's offer—20% off flights for today only—is sure to make you jump. Simply use the promo code "GETDOWN" upon checkout.

Maria Pedone
Maria Pedone is on the digital team at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.

ZÜCA's New Kid-Friendly Carry-On Lets Tykes Take a Seat

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I've always struggled to find a great carry-on—sturdy but not too heavy, functional but not ugly. But finding one to fit my kids' ever-expanding pile of provisions has proven even harder. It's got to be light enough to catch up with a 4-year-old, somewhat attractive, and seriously stain-water-slobber resistant. The new Mini-Carry All by California-based ZÜCA might be just right. Besides the adorable designs, a washable interior, and snack pouch, it has a cozy, built-in seat. This last tricked-out feature is what sold me. How many times have you begged your kid to get up off the airport floor and ended up with a loudly protesting forty-pound carry-on? I'm hoping this won't be the case on our next trip.

Clara Sedlak


Clara Sedlak is a mother of two and Special Projects Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @csedlak1.

Photo courtesy of ZÜCA

New Emirates-Virgin America Partnership Allows Frequent Fliers to Earn Miles

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In a boon for frequent fliers on two of this year's World's Best Award-winning airlines, Emirates and Virgin America announced yesterday that members of their loyalty programs can now earn and redeem points and miles on either airline.

Virgin America connects many U.S. destinations to its L.A. and San Francisco hubs, while Emirates serves 135 destinations across the globe, mostly with stopovers in its hub, Dubai. It's expanding fast, too, with new flights between Dubai and Boston, and Brisbane and Manila, as well as between New York's JFK to Milan—the first transatlantic Emirates flight —and the first not to stop in Dubai.

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Orbitz’s New Loyalty Program Puts the Focus on Instant Gratification

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There’s a new currency in the travel industry, and it’s called the Orbuck. Today, Orbitz launches its long-in-the-works Orbitz Rewards, a loyalty program that’s smart, transparent, and a hell of a business move for the popular OTA.

Here’s how it works: Book any flight on orbitz.com, and you’ll immediately be rewarded with at least 1 percent cash back (in Orbuck form); hotel bookings will yield at least 3 percent in returns. Book on the mobile app, and you’ll get bonus Orbucks—each Orbuck translates to a dollar off any future booking. Book a special deal, and you might net even more. The Orbucks show up in your account as soon as your transaction goes through, meaning you don’t have to wait to rack up tens of thousands of points before they’re redeemable. On the contrary: the cash you get back from a flight booking can be immediately applied when you book the hotel fifteen minutes later.

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Low-Cost Airline to Fly from New York to London: Less than $250, One Way

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Remember when you could fly round-trip to London for less than $600? Nope? Faded from memory already? Recalling the good old days, Norway’s low-cost carrier Norwegian recently announced that it is launching service between London Gatwick and New York (JFK), Los Angeles, and Fort Lauderdale airports beginning next summer. The airline’s new 787 Dreamliners will fly the transatlantic routes starting July 2014. Norwegian is introducing these routes with special fares that are as low as $240, one way, from New York, and $321, one way, from Los Angeles. The introductory fares are being snapped up quickly, but we still found round trip tickets from New York for as little as $590 in August. See you at the pub?

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA

JetBlue's Family Pooling Program Lets You Combine Airline Miles

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Every year, I make it a point to ditch the loves of my life—and husband—to escape for a long-weekend with my college friends. Last year, it was Tulum. “How much was your flight here?” l remember asking them. “Oh we used points.” Again??? I never seem to have enough to get me anywhere—but with JetBlue’s new Family Pooling plan, I could do some serious damage this year. Under the new program, families and small groups can share their True Blue points in a group account. The definition of family here is pretty loose, which is why this is actually REAL news. It can consist of up to two adults and up to five children under the age of 21. That can include family members, same sex partners or a couple of friends. No doubt, I’ll be flying gratis to Vieques this spring.

Clara Sedlak


Clara Sedlak is a mother of two and Special Projects Editor at
Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @csedlak1.

Photo courtesy of JetBlue Airways

Betty White Talks In-Flight Safety in Air New Zealand's Latest Video

Air New Zealand, known for their offbeat in-flight safety videos, has released a new four-minute reel, featuring actress Betty White. The latest video depicts the former star of The Golden Girls at the fictional Second Wind Retirement Resort, where she instructs a lot chess-playing residents to “listen up” as her “cousin’s grandson” (a.k.a. an Air New Zealand flight attendant) reminds seniors of the usual on-board precautions (fastening seatbelts; pulling down oxygen masks).

“We had a lot of fun on set and I think we’ve shown that it doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s important to live life to the full,” says White.

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Delta Pays for Automated Passport Machines at JFK

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Delta Air Lines, fed up with long lines its passengers face when arriving at Customs in New York City's JFK airport, is footing the bill to install automated passport machines.

Lines at the airport are the worst in the country, averaging over 90 minutes during peak hours, and nearing five hours on some occasions. Automated machines can shed 40 percent off of waiting times to clear customs, and at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport—the only U.S. airport to already have such machines—interview times with Customs officers have been halved to 30 seconds.

Delta views the new automated machines as a step in the right direction, says spokesperson Leslie Scott. She hopes the airline's contribution—whose price is undisclosed—will spur increased staffing, especially at peak times for international arrivals.

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The Future of Business Class: JetBlue’s New Mint Experience

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The airline that gained popularity with egalitarianism and blue chips just announced its first premium cabins, debuting on transcontinental flights starting on June 15. But don’t call this Business Class. In JetBlue parlance, these seats are known as Mint.
 
Travelers will be able to experience Mint on JetBlue’s new Airbus 321s flying from New York’s JFK to LAX next summer, and later, to SFO. Each aircraft features 16 lie-flat seats, including a handful of private suites that have sliding doors for total seclusion.
 
“Think about it as elegance with a small e,” JetBlue CEO David Barger said as he revealed the new cabins, along with their signature His and Hers amenity kits curated by Birchbox, seasonal tapas menu from New York City’s hip restaurant Saxon + Parole, and unpremium pricing.

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Emirates Debuts First Transatlantic Flight

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Beginning today, Oct. 1, Emirates Airlines launches a new route: JFK-Milan. Why is this big news? Because the expanding UAE-based airline will offer the only first-class service between the two popular cities. And, it's the first flight of the airline’s that does not touch down in Dubai before flying on to other gateways.

We expect Emirates’ first transatlantic service to be a big boon for business and leisure travelers, and are already imagining the crush of Louis Vuitton suitcases during Milan and NYC’s Fashion Weeks.

Departure and arrival schedules are timed to sync with flights going to and from feeder markets, especially those on JetBlue (US) and easyJet (Europe).

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