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"The Rubber Duck" Makes U.S. Debut in Pittsburgh

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Move over penguins, there’s a new bird in Steel Town.

Currently floating down the Allegheny River is a 40-foot-tall (and 30-foot-wide) inflatable yellow duck. An art installation that simply goes by “The Rubber Duck,” created by Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman.

Since its launch in 2007, the giant duck has swum the shores of Amsterdam, Belgium, Osaka, Sydney, São Paulo and most recently, Hong Kong.

The international sensation has debuted stateside as part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. The festival is a four-week long series of dance, music, theater, performance and visual arts, presented by international artists making their U.S. debuts.

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Five Things We Love About the New Kindle Paperwhite

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The one gadget I can no longer travel without? My e-reader. But now that I’ve seen the new generation of Kindle Paperwhites, I’m thinking it might be time to upgrade what I’m putting in my carry-on. Here, the three things I’m digging most about Amazon’s latest release.

Page Flip: The only thing I miss about the paper book experience is the ability to flip back to earlier chapters. The new Paperwhite lets you pull up a slider that lets you scan through any novel—improving on their previous X-Ray feature that simply found previous mentions of common characters or concepts.

Integration with Goodreads:This isn’t out just yet, but soon, Kindle users will get to share book recommendations with friends on this innovative social media network.

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JFK Anniversary: Welcome to ConspiracyCon?

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Will “The 50th”—as organizers call Dallas’ upcoming observance of the JFK assassination, 50 years ago this November—be a somber remembrance of a dark day in American history, or another chapter in the city’s long wrestling match with conspiracy theorists?

On paper, the scheduled ceremony has plenty of dignity: according to recent reports, the Dallas Symphony will perform on the morning of the 22nd at Dealey Plaza, where Kennedy was shot, followed by readings from the president’s speeches (by Presidential biographer David McCullough), a military flyover and a performance by the U.S. Naval Academy’s Glee Club. Area museums, such as the Sixth Floor Museum (in Dealey Plaza) and the Dallas Museum of Art, will be doing thoughtful exhibits.

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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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Book Your Tickets Now for New York City Wine & Food Festival

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The feeding frenzy known as the New York City Wine & Food Festival is just days away. You name a culinary superstar, and chances are good he or she will be there: Daniel Boulud, David Chang, Alex Atala, April Bloomfield—the list goes on. (Even Whoopi Goldberg is making an appearance at a chicken-themed evening.)

While many of the big-ticket items are already sold out—including Martha Stewart’s cake-decorating class and a dinner with Eleven Madison Park’s Daniel Humm and Will Guidara—there are still plenty of ways to get a taste of what the fifth anniversary event has to offer.

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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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Department of Silver Linings: U.S. Passport Offices Remain Open Despite Government Shutdown

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After watching the federal government grind to an ignominious halt last night over the budget impasse, you could be forgiven for wanting to get out of town—as in, leave the country—for a while.

Fortunately, although national parks and monuments are now closed and thousands of FAA aviation safety inspectors have been furloughed (shudder), U.S. passport offices remain open and processing applications. If you’re traveling within the next two weeks and need to get a rush passport, you can still schedule an appointment at your nearest passport agency. Just call ahead to make sure that office isn’t located in a federal building. If it is, you may be out of luck.

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 credit: Blue Jean Images / Alamy

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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Dogfish Head Brewery Opens Delaware Hotel

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Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, based in the tiny town of Milton, Delaware, is now venturing into the travel world. In late spring 2014, these brew masters plan to open Dogfish Inn in downtown Lewes, at what is currently the Vesuvio Motel. The 16-room motel, which sits halfway between Dogfish’s brewpub and distillery in Rehoboth Beach and their production brewery in Milton, will serve as a warm welcome to visiting beer-lovers. Locals are buzzed about the opening as well—with no pub or restaurant on-site, nearby venues will be providing snack-relief.

Designers from Studio Tack in Brooklyn and Lighthouse Construction in Magnolia, DE will renovate the space, which promises to bring some laid-back “Dogfish vibes” to the beach town. Sound too chill? Pedal down the Breakwater Trail to reach the brewpub for a taste of those famed IPA’s—and opt for a taxi ride on the way back.

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

Photo courtesy of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Committee Urges the FAA Reconsider Electronic Device Prohibitions

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An advisory committee is recommending that the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) ease its restrictions on electronic devices below 10,000 feet, finding current rules pointlessly prohibitive. The council's 28 members hail from the aviation industry and within the FAA.

Flyers today must shut down their phones, tablets, e-readers, and other gadgets to prevent interference with the plane's equipment during takeoffs and landings. Anyone who refuses to do so may be kicked off the plane, a la Alec Baldwin.

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