MSNBC.com Travel | Squeezed between travel providers on one side and meta-search sites on the other, it seems online travel agencies (OTAs) have one ace in the hole: Consumers still like using them.
That’s the upshot of a new American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report released on Tuesday. Focusing on Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity, the report rated overall satisfaction with the sites at 78 on a 100-point scale last year, matching the record high set the year before.
“A score of 78 is good,” said Larry Freed, CEO and president at ForeSee, which helps produce the Index. “We consider 80 the threshold for a great performing site and they’re bumping up right against it.”
While the aggregate score was unchanged, individual results showed more fluctuation. After nine years in the top spot, Expedia slipped 3 percent, from 79 points to 77, losing its crown to Travelocity, which climbed from 77 to 79.
Associated Press | In one room, a ghastly photo wall of bloody, uncensored images showcases the mob's greatest hits.
In another, visitors are taught to load a revolver. And for when a gun just won't do, an oddball collection of household items — a shovel, a hammer, a baseball bat and an icepick — show the creative side of some of America's most notorious killers.
On the 83rd anniversary of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Sin City honored one of its earliest relationships with the grand opening of a museum dedicated to the mobsters that made this desert town. There are tommy guns, money stacks and a bullet-riddled brick wall from the 1929 massacre that saw Al Capone seize control of the Chicago mob.
Associated Press | After more than two decades of drilling in Antarctica, Russian scientists have reached the surface of a gigantic freshwater lake hidden under miles of ice for some 20 million years—a lake that may hold life from the distant past and clues to the search for life on other planets.
Reaching Lake Vostok is a major discovery avidly anticipated by scientists around the world hoping that it may allow a glimpse into microbial life forms, not visible to the naked eye, that existed before the Ice Age. (...)
"It's like exploring another planet, except this one is ours," Columbia University glaciologist Robin Bell told The Associated Press by email. (...) "There is no other place on Earth that has been in isolation for more than 20 million years," said Lev Savatyugin, a researcher with the AARI. "It's a meeting with the unknown."
The Guardian | Italy, like most of Europe, is experiencing icy temperatures, with the Venice lagoon freezing over for the first time in more than 20 years. Check out this quick video of the ice sheaths:
Associated Press | U.S. citizenship is priceless to some, worthless to others. But now the State Department has a dollar figure: U.S. citizenship is worth $450. (...)
It's also getting more expensive if you want to keep your U.S. citizenship and need a passport to prove it. The application fee for a passport is jumping by 27 percent, from $55 to $70 with a 100 percent increase, from $20 to $40, in the passport security surcharge.
In addition to the increase in the application fee, the department will now charge $82 - up from nothing - to add new pages to a U.S. passport. It says the fee is needed to offset the cost of the pages, the time spent affixing the pages into the passport book, endorsing the passport and performing a quality-control check.
Travel Weekly | UBS Investment Research analyst Robin Farley noted Jan. 24 that cruise fares have held steady or slightly increased since the start of the year, despite the crash of the Costa Concordia.
UBS had forecasted that prices would take a hit as a result of the accident.
“Although we expected that a strong start to Wave season would likely be derailed by the accident in Italy, said Farley, ticket prices appear to be up as much as 1% since the start of the year, according to the UBS Cruise Data Tracker.
It’s often described as the Olympics of the Food World. Entering its 26th edition in 2013, the Bocuse D’Or—a biennial competition started by one of the fathers of French cooking, Paul Bocuse, that brings together the best chefs in a country, and then the world—is one of the great culinary honors.
This year, the top toque award at the U.S.A. competition went to Chef Richard Rosendale The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. On Sunday, at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Rosendale—who’s one of only 66 Master Chefs in the country—dazzled the judges’ taste buds with a version of D'Artagnan Winter Chicken Preparations. It's hard not get hungry reading Chef Rosendale's description:
BBC News | Spain's fourth-largest airline Spanair has collapsed, leaving more than 20,000 passengers stranded across Europe and Africa.
The Barcelona-based firm stopped operating on Friday and more than 200 flights were abruptly cancelled.
The Spanish government is taking legal action and said Spanair could be fined 9m euros (£7.6m; $11.9m) over the collapse.
In 2010, Spanair reported an operating loss of 115m euros.
T+L's international editor Mark Orwoll comments on the Department of Transportation's new rules on air travel.
New air travel rules go into effect this week. T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed outlines what you need to know.