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easyJet Unveils Infrared Ash Detectors

Chicago Tribune (AP) |  Low-cost airline easyJet PLC unveiled plans Friday to test infrared technology's ability to detect volcanic ash clouds and urged other airlines to help map the ash risk across Europe's skies.

The company said the devices—which are placed on an aircraft's tail fin and can detect ash clouds within 60 miles (100 kilometers)—are the first of their kind, calling them "essentially a weather radar for ash."

The airline is spending 1 million pounds ($1.46 million) developing and testing the technology with aircraft manufacturer Airbus and hopes to roll out the devices in a dozen planes by the end of the year. The devices aim to prevent a repeat of the five-day shutdown of European airspace in April caused by an erupting Icelandic volcano that affected 10 million passengers worldwide.

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Airlines to Cough Up More to Bumped Passengers

CBS/AP | Giving up your airline seat may become a little less painful.

Federal officials are expected to announce this week a plan to raise the maximum amount that airlines must pay passengers who get bumped off an oversold flight, currently at $400 or $800 depending on how long a trip is delayed.

Bumpings rose in three of the past four years and jumped 10 percent to 762,422 in 2009, the highest total since 2002. They soared 17 percent in this year's first quarter.

The potential inconvenience is greater now, too. Airlines have cut back on flights and planes are more crowded, so bumped passengers could wait hours or even days to find alternate arrangements.

"It might not be hours, but days before you get to where you're going," Pauline Frommer, creator of Pauline Frommer Guidebooks, told CBS News correspondent White Johnson. "There simply aren't enough airplane seats out there for the number of people who want to fly."

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Grass Roots Revival: Saving Louisiana's Wetland

201006-b-oil-tshirtjpg"When oil washes ashore on a beach, you can always clean up the sand or truck in more," says George Barisich of the United Commercial Fisherman's Association, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of Louisiana's fishing industry. "But it's impossible to extract from the mud in our marshes." When oil from the BP rig explosion seeps into the wetlands along the Gulf Coast, it can kill the roots of fragile marsh grasses that literally bind together a natural floodwater barrier that has already been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, people are wearing their environmental conscience on their sleeves. You can order a "Protect Our Coast" T-shirt from Dirty Coast or donate XXL to America's Wetland.

Shane Mitchell is a special correspondent for Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Shane Mitchell.

2010 Hurricane Season Begins Today

The Sun Sentinel |  They are nature's most powerful storms, able to wrench off roofs, blow out windows, rip down trees and otherwise ravage a large metropolitan area.

Major hurricanes—Categories 3, 4 and 5—produce sustained winds from 110 mph to as much as 185 mph and can generate storm surges more than 20 feet above normal tide levels.

With the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season starting today, experts say there is a significant chance one or more of these monsters will strike the U.S. coast over the next six months. The reason: It could be an extremely active year with up to 14 hurricanes, seven major, forecasters said.

"In general, more active seasons have more landfalling hurricanes.Therefore, the odds of a major hurricane making U.S. landfall increases," said Phil Klotzbach, the Colorado State University climatologist who develops seasonal outlooks with William Gray.

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Oil and Water: How to Help Louisiana's Fishermen

john-beshjpg Let's put it this way: oil and water don't mix. Especially when it impacts the livelihood of fishermen still struggling to make a comeback after Hurricane Katrina devastated the fragile wetlands of Southeast Louisiana. Oil from the BP rig explosion has started to wash ashore in the Mississippi Delta, leaving the men and women of St. Bernard Parish high-and-dry. These are the hard-working people who traditionally harvest the crab, shrimp, oysters and redfish that land on the plate at New Orleans restaurants such as August, owned by chef John Besh (pictured). "Life in the extreme Southeast revolves around the water," says the Louisiana native. "This culture dates back 300 years. When I saw the oil rig collapse, it just crushed me. I can always source seafood elsewhere but it's the local shrimpers and fishermen who are affected most by this spill."

Along with 90210 actress AnnaLynne McCord, Besh donates to the St. Bernard Project, which supports fishermen and their families in the greater New Orleans community.

Here's how you can help too. Donate to www.stbernardproject.org.

Shane Mitchell is a special correspondent for Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Shane Mitchell.

Vacationist: Nevis and Stowe, VT

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Looking to save a few dollars on your next vacation? (Really though, who isn't?) As we announced in this blog last week, Travel + Leisure has teamed up with Luxury Link to create the exclusive, by-invite-only vacationist. The site offers members tremendous value on top hotels from around the world.

Today, two new sales started:

Montpelier Plantation in St. John's Parish, Nevis: From $160/night (50% off)
Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont: From $149/night (35% off)

These two sales—which are available for about seven more days—are accompanied by Las Brisas Ixtapa in Mexico. Available for about four more days, rates for this hotel start at a whopping $88/night (23% off).

As these sales end, more will be coming in, so if you haven't already, be sure to request an invitation to become a vacationist, and keep checking back for the trip that best suits you!

Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor at Travel + Leisure.

Image courtesy of vacationist.

Are You a Vacationist?



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Unless you live in a box (or worse, don’t have an Internet connection), you already know that private sale websites are the hottest thing du jour.

In case you hadn’t heard, Travel + Leisure has joined the party and teamed up with Luxury Link to form vacationist, a new by-invitation site offering great values on stays at some of the world’s most stylish and luxurious hotels.

Since its official launch last month, flash sales have included such fabulous properties as The Mark in New York City and Mauna Kua Beach Hotel in Hawaii.

vacationist-logo_medgifHere’s just a sampling of what’s available right now:

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Taste of London Tickets On Sale

The Festival, which runs June 17th-20th in Regent’s Park, is in its seventh year and is more than a food market. It’s more of a pop-up restaurant festival for London’s top chefs to put twists on their standard routines. Names as diverse as The Grill at the Dorchester and Quo Vadis, St. John and Sake No Hana, York & Albany and Tho Randall will all be setting up shop. If you’re in town, it’s a great thing to do for half a day to see celeb chefs at work—and sample their creations. Visit Taste of London website for more info.

Maria Shollenbarger is Travel + Leisure's London stringer.

When Two Airlines Tie the Knot

New York Times |  As soon as Continental and United announced their proposed merger, news media outlets began reporting on how the union might affect travelers—less competition and higher fares being the primary concerns.

But some airline experts see those worries as overblown. First, the two airlines had effectively moved in together before deciding to get married, aligning their flights through a code-share partnership and linking their frequent-flier programs, so they were more partners than rivals even before the merger was announced. More important, most analysts believe that airfares are likely to increase regardless of whether these carriers tie the knot.

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Florida Keys Tar Balls NOT from BP Oil Spill

CNN News |  Tar balls found on Florida Keys beaches Monday and Tuesday are not from a massive oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, the Coast Guard said Wednesday.

"A sampling of tar balls discovered on beaches at Fort Zachary State Park, Fla., Smathers Beach in Key West, Big Pine Key, Fla., and Loggerhead Key in the Dry Tortugas National Park, Fla., were flown by a Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon jet based in Miami, Fla., to New London, Conn., Tuesday for testing and analysis," a Coast Guard statement said.

"The results of those tests conclusively show that the tar balls collected from Florida Keys beaches do not match the type of oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico," the statement said. "The source of the tar balls remains unknown at this time."

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