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It's Real: Richard Branson Ice Cubes

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We couldn't believe until we saw it. But it's real: Virgin Atlantic molded the likeness of the company's president, Richard Branson, into its ice cubes. Passengers in the airline's new upper-class cabin can look forward to "drinking with" Sir Richard starting later this month.

Lyndsey MatthewsLyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure.


Photo courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

TODAY Show Video: When to Book the Best Airfare

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Travel + Leisure's features director Nilou Motamed shares her tips for the best times to book airfares.

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Choose Your Seatmate Via Facebook and LinkedIn

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Dutch airline KLM has recently launched Meet & Seat, a program that ensures that you’ll probably LIKE your seatmate, even before takeoff.

Meet & Seat allows passengers with reservations to view the social media profiles of other passengers who’ve already selected their seats and who have opted to share their Facebook or LinkedIn info. The service is not yet available on every KLM flight.

I can think of few instances in which I would employ Meet & Seat: Say, if Viggo Mortensen were flying coach and decided to identify himself via Facebook. Not likely, right? I guess I will continue to use airplane time to read novels and trashy magazines and not chat with my seatmate until the landing gear has been engaged.

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Image courtesy of KLM.

Virgin Atlantic Introduces New $160 Million Upper Class Cabin

Travel Pulse  |  Virgin Atlantic Airways has introduced a new Upper Class cabin that is part of its £100 million redesign of the Upper Class product. Virgin has created a new website that has a virtual tour of the new cabin. The site links to more than 40 YouTube videos that feature the new cabin.

The new cabin features an eight-foot-long bar billed as the longest in the sky...

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US Airways Makes Move to Take Over American

MoneyWatch | US Airways (LCC) has filed an 8K with the SEC to begin the process of a takeover of American Airlines, which is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

According to the SEC, Form 8-K is the 'current report' companies file with the SEC to announce major events that must be disclosed to shareholders.

American Airlines has said it wants to emerge from bankruptcy as a standalone carrier. American Airlines parent AMR, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Nov. 29, 2011, is trying to slash its annual labor costs by $1.25 billion and emerge from court supervision. Next week, the struggling airline will try to convince a bankruptcy judge to let it void existing union contracts and impose new ones to secure those spending cuts.

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Mauiva Takes Cruising to the Skies

201204-b-mauiva-aircruisejpgEver heard of an "Air Cruise"? Neither had we. But that’s the MO behind Mauiva, a budding travel company that launched last June with an out-of-the-box idea: bringing the cruise concept out the sea and into the sky. And why not? Taking to the skies means less time in transit, more time to explore, and luxury bragging rights to spare (travelers fly by private plane, and spend nights at four-star hotels along the way). After a quiet—but successful—launch with itineraries on the East and West Coasts, Mauiva is announcing today that it's making waves along one of the most traditional cruise routes—the Caribbean.

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ENDING SATURDAY: Vote to Win a $10,000 Dream Trip!

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Saturday is the last day to vote in the 2012 World’s Best Awards Survey!

All respondents will be entered to win a $10,000 dream trip, among other trip prizes.

Go to TLWorldsBest.com and tell us which hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines, airlines, travel companies, and destinations you love most. We’ll feature your favorite places in the August 2012 issue of Travel + Leisure.

Hurry! Voting closes at midnight on March 31st. Cast your vote now! 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The 2012 World’s Best Awards Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia age 18 or older. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Sweepstakes, visit TLWorldsBest.com. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on 12/01/11 and ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 03/31/12. Sponsor: American Express Publishing Corporation.

Briana Fasone is a digital editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

FAA Reconsiders Takeoff, Landing Policy On E-Readers, Other Devices

PaidContent.org  Welcome news from Nick Bilton: the FAA finally is revisiting the policy that keeps Kindles, iPads and the like turned off during takeoffs and landing.

The FAA told Bilton it will take a “fresh look” at whether some devices can be used safely and how a policy could be framed. Smartphones aren’t included in the review.

The current personal electronics rule dating back to 2006 (described in this FAA circular) canceled one that banned use of personal electronics and shifted responsibility completely to the operators.

It allows airlines to offer fliers the use of certain devices but only if the airline can prove each allowed device won’t interfere with the plane’s performance. As Bilton and the FAA point out, that hasn’t happened.

Why haven’t the airlines stepped up? To challenge the policy, each one has to test each device on each kind of plane it operates. (...)

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Brits Abuzz Over British Airways Pop-Up

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It’s pop-up galore these days, but this one caught our eye: From Apr. 4–17, British Airways will host FlightBA2012 in Shoreditch. The event is a culmination of last year’s airline-sponsored search to find three “Great Britons,” rising stars from different creative fields. Their mentors? Celeb chef Heston Blumenthal, YBA Tracey Emin, and actor/writer/director Richard E. Grant.

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Boeing Promises to Speed Up Construction of New 787 Dreamliners

USA Today Travel  |  Boeing has inspected five 787 Dreamliners for a flaw in the fuselage that the company recently discovered, the new head of the 787 program said Monday. Reuters reported that the company remains on schedule to build 10 planes per month by the end of next year.

The company is inspecting the first 55 787s built before it discovered the problem and will make any necessary repairs, Larry Loftis said before a groundbreaking ceremony for a new delivery center, according to Reuters.

The 787 is a more fuel-efficient plane. So far airlines have ordered about 870 of them, Reuters reported. But the plane is about three years behind its original schedule.

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