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Kobe vs. Messi Make a Hilarious Comeback in Turkish Airlines' Latest Video

Turkish Airlines loves taking the stage for viral videos. Last year, its commercial featuring Kobe Bryant trying to outdo Barcelona soccer player Lionel Messi scored big on YouTube (over 106 million page views and counting). The hilarious campaign also earned them a T+L SMITTY award for Best Overall Use of Social Media in the global airline category.

Now, Turkish Airlines is attempting to recreate the magic with their latest video, once again featuring Bryant and Messi in a face-off, quite literally. In “The Selfie Shootout” the two athletes send pictures of themselves while traveling the globe (walking the Great Wall of China; scuba diving in the Maldives) to one another—the takeaway being that Turkish Airlines can help “widen your world.” With a video this funny, we can’t disagree.

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

How to Maximize Your Miles and Points

Maximize Your Miles and Points

Frequent-flier miles and hotel points are perks of life on the road—currencies that are supposed to make it all worthwhile. A string of stays at cookie-cutter convention hotels and side-of-the-road motels adds up to a free tropical family vacation at a jaw-dropping resort.

That’s the promise, at least.

Most frequent travelers know the ins and outs of these programs well. Some people even become obsessed with their mileage balance. But even the best pro can learn something new. Here are my favorite tips for some of the more obscure ways to earn and redeem miles. Feel free to add your own in the comments section below.

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How to Survive a Flight Delay

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How do you travel better? We asked a team of experts in a recent Twitter Chat for their rules of the road, which we’re revealing in a series of blog posts. With Christmas being one of the biggest travel days of the year, we wanted to know the first thing our panel does when their flight’s delayed (don’t worry, it won’t happen to you!).

Our T+L Trip Doctor (@TLTripDoctor) is responsible by checking @flightstats to see options for getting on another flight. Well, at least she starts out that way…

In the end, there was an overwhelming consensus by our panelists and chat participants. Digital and Brand Marketer, Melanie Nayer (@chic_travel) and T+L’s Rich Beattie (@richbeattie), Brooke Porter (@brookeporter1), Peter Frank (@pfrank1), and Shane Mitchell (@shanegoesforth) all seem to agree—find the nearest bar!

Follow @travlandleisure on Twitter and #TL_Chat for more expert tips.

Gabrielle Blitz is associate social media editor at Travel + Leisure

Hemingway Bar Takes to the Skies With the Ritz Paris and Air France

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Guests of the Hotel Ritz Paris are still waiting to enjoy a drink at the renovated Hemingway Bar—a two-year plus makeover is scheduled to last until the end of 2014. But a unique partnership with Air France is giving impatient fans of the watering hole something to look forward to. “Bar Hemingway in the Sky,” will feature head bartender of Hemingway, Colin Field, pouring his signature cocktails at 30,000 feet. Field’s first airborne drink was concocted this November 19th between Paris and New York, and a schedule for the New Year is soon to follow. Destinations will include major hubs across Asia (Hong Kong; Shanghai; Seoul; Singapore), Europe (Moscow) and South America (Sao Paulo). Of course, this high-end poison comes with a price: only those seated in La Première or Business Class will be able to sip on Field’s creations—but we wouldn’t expect anything less of the Hemingway’s infamous crowd.

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

Photo courtesy of Ritz Paris

American Airlines' Plusgrade Program Lets Fliers Bid on Upgrades

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How much would you pay to upgrade on your next flight? That’s what American Airlines is finding out, now that they’ve launched their trial Plusgrade program.

“It’s simple,” their website promises. Six days before a flight, travelers can check to see if an upgrade is available (currently, the test is only being conducted in 13 undisclosed markets). If there’s a seat open in the next-highest class, flyers are encouraged to name their price.

If accepted, the upgrade will include priority check-in, boarding, and baggage, and complimentary food and beverage service.

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JetBlue’s Super Fast Wi-Fi Arrives at Last… For Free!

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Finally, the day that travel-obsessives have been waiting for is here: JetBlue’s new in-flight Wi-Fi, the product of endless chatter for months on end, is finally making its debut. This morning, a beta version of Fly-Fi (Simply Surf, as they’re calling it) was made available on three inaugural flights, indicating a slow launch for the carrier.

Morgan Johnston, JetBlue’s manager of corporate communication, says the airline will be bringing connectivity to five planes by end of year, and 140 more throughout 2014. But compensating for the slow roll out is super-fast service, thanks to a unique high-speed satellite that’s unrivalled among other airlines. An extra perk? Simply Surf will be free for the first six months, with an intention to make complimentary service available on an ongoing basis.

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Skyscanner Launches Soccer Flight Finder for 2014 World Cup

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Skyscanner already helps travelers compare flight prices for the best deals, but they’ll be focusing on the sports-crazed in 2014. Just as soccer fans around the globe are gearing up for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Skyscanner has launched their Soccer Flight Finder. The search engine compares outbound flights from each of the 32 participating countries to Brazil, as well as internal flights so that fans can follow their team directly to the field. Simply select which of the eight groups your team is placed in, and Skyscanner lets you search for free across web and mobile devices, in 30 different languages. Hotel and car rental comparisons let spectators further plan their visit to Latin America's largest country—all the more reason to stand and cheer (or shout) during the high-energy tournament.

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

Photo credit: Skyscanner

Global Entry: How to Make the Most of It

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If you fly three or four times a year and don’t have Global Entry, you’re crazy.

I know that’s a bold statement—and I have no way of actually judging your mental capacities—but give me a moment to explain why it’s an essential tool for any traveler, even those staying within the country.

Global Entry is a Customs and Border Protection program that, after a background check, allows travelers to skip lines at immigration and customs, using a kiosk to quickly reenter the country. The online application process takes a bit of time, and a subsequent in-person interview is required.

Once complete, though, you’ll not only laugh at long immigration lines but also race through airport security. That’s because the TSA considers Global Entry members “trusted travelers” and automatically includes them in the affiliated PreCheck program. And entry into that program is priceless.

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American + US Airways Merger Is Official: Say Hello To The World’s Largest Airline

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It’s been almost a year since travel behemoths American Airlines and US Airways first announced their plan to merge into the world’s largest airline. This morning, after months of negotiations and several concessions from both parties, the market finally opened with AAL shares on NASDAQ, representing the financial future of the new, officially approved American Airlines Group, Inc.

The $11 billion dollar deal salvaged a struggling American Airlines from bankruptcy, but required both airlines to surrender major gate slots across the country—more than one hundred total—at hubs that include Washington's Reagan and New York's LaGuardia airports.

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How Far in Advance Should You Book Airline Tickets?

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Wondering when you should book your flights for 2014? Finding the lowest fares means hitting the booking window at just the right time. We asked KAYAK to crunch the numbers for airfares around the world. Here's a look.

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

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