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Airline Fees Can Make Fare Jump 50%

CNN |  That airfare you booked because it looked like a great deal can actually end up costing you 50 percent more because of extra airline fees, a watchdog group has found.

The Consumer Travel Alliance analyzed the base fares and extra charges for nine major airlines on four popular domestic routes.

It found that a traveler requesting extra legroom and checking two bags would have to pay an average of 54 percent more than the base price of the ticket shown on a popular online travel site at time of purchase.

For a family trying to book a trip, the fees can mean hundreds of dollars in unanticipated expenses, said Charles Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance.

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Opening: SPRING-time in Paris

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Daniel Rose’s excellent Paris adventure has all the ingredients of the best-selling expat tale it may someday become: smart kid from Chicago thinks he might be an art dealer or maybe an architect, studies classical Greek in Santa Fe, winds up in Europe, becomes a cooking school rebel and a clandestine cook, spends time in Italy and Japan, gets kicked out of a three-star kitchen, cooks for royalty, finds the internship of a lifetime in Brittany, opens a restaurant in Paris to instant acclaim, becomes the hardest table in town to book, gets dumped by his wife, closes the restaurant at the peak of its popularity, finds true love and— fast forward to this week—opens a new rendition of Spring. It’s the most anticipated opening of the year—and it shows all the signs of enjoying similar success.

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Airline Complaints? The D.O.T. Wants to Hear from You

The Washington Post |  Tell the government what you think of its proposed new passenger rights rules. You can do it right now, thanks to a new project called Regulation Room.

There's a lot to comment about. The rules cover everything from tarmac delays to peanuts. If adopted, they could change the way Americans fly more than any single regulation since the airline industry was deregulated in 1978.

Administrative rulemaking, for those of you who snoozed through your civics class, is the process by which agencies adopt regulations that have the force of law. In this case, it's the Department of Transportation making the rules. The agency is at a critical step during which the traveling public vets these important regulations.

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Ryanair: A Stand-Up Airline—Run by A Bunch of Fruitcakes

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The British media are all atwitter about the supposed plans by Ryanair to install vertical seats—that is, standing-room-only seats—in the last 10 rows of its Boeing 737-800s. Price of airfare in one of those seats? Just 4 pounds sterling (about U.S.$6). And how, you ask, can they afford to do this? Why, by charging you to use the toilet.

Wait a minute… Didn’t they already float (and later flush) the idea of a loo fee only to be publicly remonstrated, humiliated, and pilloried? Yeah, kinda—except that Ryanair doesn’t know the meaning of the word humiliation. On the other hand, it seems not to know the meaning of a lot of words, like “safety,” “concern for our passengers,” and “common sense.”

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Virgin America "World's Best" Sale: Today Only!

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We just revealed our annual World's Best Awards this morning, and we're happy to see that our winners are already celebrating! Virgin America, which was voted Best Domestic Airline for the third year in a row, is throwing a "Three-Peat" sale today. Fares start as low as $33, but hurry, because the sale ends at 5 P.M. PDT this evening.

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Solar Plane Completes Historic 24-Hour Flight

MSNBC (AP) |  PAYERNE, Switzerland — An experimental solar-powered plane landed safely Thursday after completing its first 24-hour test flight, proving that the aircraft can collect enough energy from the sun during the day to stay aloft all night.

Pilot Andre Borschberg eased the Solar Impulse onto the runway at Payerne airfield about 30 miles southwest of the Swiss capital Bern at exactly 9 a.m. (3 a.m. EDT) Thursday.

Helpers rushed to stabilize the pioneering plane as it touched down, ensuring that its massive 207-foot wingspan didn't scrape the ground and topple the craft.

The record feat completes seven years of planning and brings the Swiss-led project one step closer to its goal of circling the globe using only energy from the sun.


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India Opens Massive Airport Terminal

New Delhi, India (CNN) — A massive new terminal at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport is being touted as a testament to India's economic prowess.

The sprawling five million square foot building was officially opened Saturday by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.

Complete with imported granite floors, huge white columns fitted with expensive speakers, 63 elevators, 95 immigration counters and a state of the art security and baggage system, Terminal 3 is also home to India's first transit hotel.

Officials say the new nine-level hub will be able to handle 34 million passengers per year, making it one of the biggest in the world.

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State Department To Hike Passport, Visa Fees

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Business Travel News
|  The U.S. State Department on July 13 will raise the price for visas, passports and other consular services—some by more than $300—to reflect what the department determined is the true cost to provide such services.

For an adult passport, the State Department will begin charging $110—$35 more than the current price—plus a $25 execution fee, which is not retained by the department. Meanwhile, the cost for some visas will jump by even greater amount. For example, an employment-based immigrant visa will cost $720 under the new pricing scheme, compared with the previous $355. (Photo credit: Lyndsey Matthews)

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FDA Report Reveals Airline Food Could Pose Health Threat

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USA Today
|  Many meals served to passengers on major airlines are prepared in unsanitary and unsafe conditions that could lead to illness, government documents examined by USA TODAY show.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors have cited numerous catering facilities that prepare airline food for suspected health and sanitation violations following inspections of their kitchens this year and last, according to inspection reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The inspections were at U.S. facilities of two of the world's biggest airline caterers, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, and another large caterer, Flying Food Group. The three caterers operate 91 kitchens that provide more than 100 million meals annually to U.S. and foreign airlines at U.S. airports. They provide meals for nearly all big airlines, including Delta, American, United, US Airways and Continental. (Photo credit: iStock)

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Senate Confirms John Pistole as Head of TSA

Washington (CNN) | The Senate confirmed Deputy FBI Director John Pistole as head of the Transportation Security Administration on Friday, ending a lengthy search process in which two previous nominees withdrew from consideration.

Pistole's nomination was approved by unanimous consent.

Pistole received praise for his law enforcement experience from both Democrats and Republicans during the confirmation process. His hearings were instead dominated by politically polarizing labor issues—specifically whether airport screeners should be allowed to unionize. The controversy had resulted in a GOP senator—Jim DeMint of South Carolina—placing a hold on an earlier TSA nominee.

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