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Boeing: Space Tourism Flights Possible by 2015

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USA Today | Boeing says it's ready to jump into the space-tourism market, announcing on Wednesday that will enter into a partnership to sell seats on rocket trips to the International Space Station.

"Now Boeing just has to build a spaceship," The Associated Press writes.

Boeing's just-announced partnership is with the space-tourism company Space Adventures. The Washington Post explains, saying the agreement is for the companies "to establish a space taxi system that will launch its passengers into low Earth orbit. Boeing has been developing a capsule and has years of experience building rockets, while Space Adventures has organized seven trips to the space station aboard the Russian spacecraft Soyuz. The obstacles remain high, but the two companies say they think they can begin their service by the end of 2015." Photo Credit: iStock

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Bundle Up! Luxe Resort Adopts "Lodge-ical" Pricing

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Phil Anderson, general manager of the Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, New York, is swimming against the travel-industry current, but he thinks it's the right direction to go. While many airlines, hotels, and cruise lines are increasingly "unbundling" their prices by adding numerous surcharges and fees so they can advertise an artificially low base price, Anderson has recently implemented a new pricing policy that is nearly unheard-of: the price you're quoted is the price you pay.

"It's counter-intuitive compared to what everyone else seems to be doing," Anderson told me, "but if a guest thinks he's getting a rate of four hundred and fifty dollars, why should his total be five hundred and thirty-one? Why nickel-and-dime people?"

So in an experiment this past summer, Anderson began quoting all-in-one rates that include the room, the resort fee, state tax, and occupancy tax....

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Capri, Geneva, NY Most Expensive for Hotels as Prices Rise

201009-b-capri-3jpgReutersCapri, Geneva and New York top the list for the most expensive hotel rooms, according to a global survey that showed hotel rates rising for the first time in three years as the global economy picks up.

Hotel provider Hotels.com's bi-annual hotel price index, released on Tuesday, found that although average hotel room rates are at low levels seen six years ago, there are hints of a recovery. (...)

Overall, prices rose about 2 percent in the second quarter of 2010 from a year ago, the first increase since the end of 2007, as business travelers and tourists started packing their bags again and heading out. (Photo courtesy of Capri Tourism)

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Contest Watch: $100K for a Year Off, Maui Vaca, Australia, More

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With school in session and the autumn holidays just around the corner, this month’s Contest Watch is all about escaping obligation. Ikea wants you to take a whole year off to pursue philanthropic work, but for those just looking to avoid a mother-in-law, Turks + Caicos has a better alternative to Thanksgiving dinner—the islands' Conch Festival!

So start entering—before you get seated at the kid’s table.

Ikea’s Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest
Now – November 8th
The Swedish furniture company is giving one winner the opportunity to take a year off to pursue their passions (volunteering, starting a non-profit)—a prize worth $100,000. Entrants must submit their proposal to www.thelifeimprovementproject.com. Five finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges, and announced on December 13, 2010. The winner will be determined by public vote, and announced on January 31, 2011. The winner is not required to take a leave of absence from work but, come on, why wouldn’t you?

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Airfares from U.S. to Europe Much Higher than Vice Versa

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USA Today |  Americans flying to Europe this fall may pay hundreds of dollars more than their counterparts traveling the opposite way over the Atlantic.

Round-trip fares from several U.S. cities to European hot spots like Paris, London and Amsterdam are up to 66% higher than the price for trips originating overseas, says Tom Parsons, founder of Bestfares.com, who scouted fares from the last week of October through March 31.

"Between the same cities, (for the) same seats, same days of week ... one country gets an advantage over the other," says Parsons, who found similar pricing at most of the major carriers including Continental, Delta and United, as well as international airlines such as KLM. "Because we're Americans, we pay more." Photo credit: Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic.

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News Stories We Never Finished Reading

From the Telegraph, United Kingdom:

"Ryanair has won a court case against the Spanish 'screen scraping' website Atrapalo, but has been ordered to stop using the term 'bastards' to describe the company."

Is Your Pilot Too Tired To Fly?

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FAA rules on pilot fatigue have changed little since the heyday of the DC-3, despite the increased strains on pilots due to terrorism, advanced technology, and the greater potential for jet lag when crossing multiple time zones in a relatively short period. In his Fast Lane blog this morning, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said his department would propose new rules today requiring that pilots have an opportunity for at least nine hours of rest before a flight (an hour longer than current rules), at least 30 consecutive hours off duty every week (a 25 percent increase), and new weekly and monthly duty limits.

Expect some backlash from the airline industry.

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State Department Issues Worldwide Travel Alert Over Planned Florida Qu'ran Burnings

The U.S. State Department has just issued a worldwide travel alert based on the planned burning of Qurans by a Florida-based fringe religious group on Saturday, September 11, the ninth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. The Qu'ran is the holy book of Islam. The planned anti-Islam event by Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, has already resulted in violent demonstrations in Afghanistan and Indonesia. "We urge you to pay attention to local reaction to the situation, and to avoid areas where demonstrations may take place," said the State Department.

Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is also the international editor of Travel + Leisure.

Ferran Adria: Cuisine Can’t Travel, So People Must

201009-b-bulli-3jpgYesterday morning, at I had the pleasure of meeting Spain’s most celebrated chef, Ferran Adrià. Since I’ll probably never get the chance to eat at El Bulli—his widely adored Catalunya restaurant-turned-culinary-institute, (which now no longer accepts reservations, though they were near impossible to get even when it did)—I consider it an accomplishment just to shake the man’s hand. Though, alas, I suspect that his was not the hand that prepared the cookies and Starbuck’s coffee on offer during the break...

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ACLU Sues Feds To Stop Border Searches of Non-Suspicious Laptops

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The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government's right to search the contents of laptop computers at border crossings when the owner is not suspected of criminal activity. According to the ACLU, more than 6,500 electronic devices were seized and their contents examined at U.S. border crossings between October 8, 2008, and June 2, 2010. Nearly half of those seizures were made against American citizens.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old graduate student who holds dual U.S. and French citizenship. Returning to his New York home by train from Montreal, Abidor was interrogated and detained by U.S. border guards. His laptop computer was taken from him; when it was finally returned 11 days later, according to the lawsuit, there was evidence that authorities had searched his personal files, including online chats with his girlfriend. No charges were ever leveled.

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