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TSA Announces Hike in Security Fees

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As if airfare wasn’t expensive enough already, the TSA has just announced an increase in the federal Sept. 11 security fee—its first since the administration was founded in 2002. Effective on tickets purchased on or after July 21, the new fees are more than double the current ones.

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Expedia Refreshes Loyalty Program

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With airlines devaluing their loyalty programs left and right, the door is wide open for OTAs to benefit—and we’ve certainly seen them try. Orbitz has recently introduced a rewards system (enhanced by their credit card) that offers instant cash back on every purchase—as much as ten percent on certain purchases. Hotels.com offers a free night for every ten you book. And now Expediais jumping back into the game, with a refreshed loyalty program that aims to compete. But does it? Here are the basics you need to know.

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Carnival Cruise Lines to Ban Balcony Smoking

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The "fun ships" are becoming healthier too: Carnival Cruise Lines announced this week that, starting October 9th, it will ban smoking on stateroom balconies, joining an ever growing fleet of companies restricting where guests can light up.

Cigarettes will still be permitted in designated areas—such as certain nightclubs, casino areas, and several outdoor decks.  Why the new restriction? According to Carnival’s official statement, the shift comes in response to the “preferences of a majority of our guests.” It also brings Carnival in line with its sister companies Cunard and P&O, which updated their policies last August. Other brands owned by the Carnival Corporation, such as Seabourn and Holland America, still permit balcony smoking.

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How to Rent Camera Lenses Before Your Next Trip

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A new travel tech discovery we are digging? Borrowlenses.com. The site, which is owned by Shutterfly, offers cameras, lenses, and a broad range of photography accessories for week-long rentals. The idea solves an age-old travelers’ dilemma without the typically-requisite financial commitment—if we had a nickel for every time a T+L editor has canvassed the office for pro-grade photo gear before heading off on a safari or transatlantic adventure, we’d be made.  Here, lenses that retail for well over a thousand bucks can be rented for as little as $20. For instance, a $1,395 Carl Zeiss wide angle lens (great for landscapes) runs $65 for a week, while a $6,749 Nikon 200-400mm f/4G lens (for sports and wildlife shots) costs $271 to rent. Travel packages bundle a few essentials and a tripod for $131, and most camera brands are supported. Time to sharpen those photo skills.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of BorrowLenses

Robot Parks Cars for Travelers at German Airport

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Leave it to the efficient Germans: Düsseldorf Airport now uses a robot to park cars, rather than have travelers search for a spot on their own.

Ray, as the new robot is called, picks up vehicles from six drop-off "transfer boxes" near the terminal before leaving the cars in one of 249 parking spots available through the program—the first of its kind in the world.

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Daily Transporter: Seattle Smarts

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Seattle, the second-most literate U.S. city in 2014, is also very literary: its Queen Anne neighborhood hosts 21 ‘Little Free Libraries’—boxes built by neighbors for book-sharing—and is hosting a competition for best LFL designs under $150.

Seattle in America’s Best Comic Book Shops

Editor’s Picks: Seattle
Best Mexican Restaurants in the U.S.
America’s Coolest Bowling Alleys
America’s Strangest People

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Daily Transporter: Scotland the Red

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While less than 2% of the world’s population has red hair, 13% of Scotland’s citizens are redheads, with the highest density of gingers clustered in and around Edinburgh.

See Edinburgh Castle in Beautiful Castles Around the World

Editor’s Picks: Edinburgh
It List: The Best New Hotels 2014
World’s Coolest Underground Wonders
Best Places to Spot UFOs

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

British Airways Tests ‘Happiness Blanket’ to Measure In-Flight Relaxation

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British Airways knows the importance of a “good flight’s sleep,” which is why they began testing its ‘Happiness Blanket’ on passengers last week. Volunteers on board the BA189 Dreamliner service from Heathrow to New York were among the first to try out the hi-tech throw woven with neurosensors and fiber optics to monitor a user’s relaxation patterns.

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New TSA Regulations Target Dead Electronics

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Traveling abroad? Be sure to keep your gadgets fully charged. A new mandate by the Transportation Security Administration is asking airport security to pay special attention to travelers’ electronics, following reports of terrorist threats involving explosives concealed in phone look-alikes. While Apple and Samsung phones were specifically called out on the TSA’s memo, any electronics that can hold a charge—laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.—are being screened. Those that don’t turn on will be confiscated, and their owners will be subject to further investigation.

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Is Washington D.C. The Most Walkable City In the U.S.?

A recent study by the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University ranked the 30 most-walkable U.S. cities—and our nation's capital, Washington D.C. is ranked no. 1.

This challenges the results of a Travel + Leisure survey: last year, travelers ranked Portland, Oregon the friendliest city for pedestrians and public transportation in our America's Favorite Cities survey.

So, which city do you think is the best for walking? Tell us in our 2014 America's Best Places survey, live now.

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