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House Passes Aviation Safety Bill

MSNBC / Associated Press — The House voted Wednesday to toughen regulations on pilot training, qualifications and work schedules, a response to a fatal crash in upstate New York in February and other accidents involving regional airlines.

The bill, which was approved 409-11, would require all pilots that fly for a passenger-carrying airline to have an Air Transport Pilot certificate, effectively raising the number of flying hours an entry-level airline pilot must have from the current 250 hours to 1,500 hours.

The bill allows the FAA to credit course work at specific flight training schools toward the requirements for receiving an Air Transport certificate. The schools had expressed concern that would-be pilots would skip the schooling to concentrate on accumulating flying time.

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Opening: Eco-Friendly InterContinental Times Square

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Yesterday Times Square welcomed the InterContinental to the neighborhood. On the corner of 44th Street and 8th Avenue, this is the newest hotel to be built from the ground up in Manhattan in the past eight years. The eco-friendly hotel, which had a "vine-cutting" ceremony at the grand opening ceremony, is currently seeking silver LEED certification, and if granted, it will be the largest new-build hotel on the East Coast to attain this environmental badge of honor due to green initiatives such as low-flow toilets, local and recycled construction materials, and two green roofs on the seventh and second floors.

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Domestic Airfares on the Rise

USA Today / Associated Press |  If you think airfares have been rising, it's not your imagination.

Figures just released from the government, while a bit dated, show that airline prices in the first three months of this year rose nearly 5% from a year earlier. And that doesn't include baggage fees and other extras that airlines charge.

But if you take a step back, air travel still looks like a bargain. Average fares are 25% lower than they were in 1999 after adjusting them for inflation, the government says.

The numbers were contained in a report issued Wednesday by the Transportation Department. The average domestic fare in the first quarter of 2010 rose to $328. Since 2001, the average price for the first quarter was higher only once — in 2008, when it hit $333.

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Continental Tests 'Self-Boarding' at Houston Airport

USA Today |  Boarding a plane without an agent to inspect or take your pass has arrived in the USA.

Continental Airlines has confirmed it's testing the procedure at a gate at its hub in Houston Intercontinental. It's the first experiment at what's called "self-boarding" in the U.S.

In self-boarding, passengers — much like customers of the New York City subway—swipe their boarding passes at a kiosk reader at the gate. That opens a turnstile or door to the jet-bridge. Although an agent isn't there to take the pass, one is typically present to handle problems and other customer service tasks.

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Annoyances Mount Over the Body Scanner

New York Times |  You may think of this as the summer of the heat wave. I prefer to think of it as the summer of the body scanner.

Transportation Security Administration buys these machines and installs them at more and more airport checkpoints, a lot of travelers are having their initial encounters with them. And while I hear from large numbers of readers who hate the idea, it’s becoming increasingly clear that body scanners will soon be a standard part of the air travel experience.

Today, 142 body scanners are in use at 41 airports, and the security administration says it will have more than 450 installed by the end of the year.

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Strict New Regulations Set for Cruise Ships

201007-b-cruiseillojpgTravel Agent Central |  A new U.S. bill aimed at increasing safety on cruise ships is set to become law. The Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act will require cruise lines to install peepholes on cabin doors, ensure rails are no lower than 42 inches and provide passengers with information on how to report crimes. The law means business: non-compliance can result in denial of entry into U.S. ports, civil penalties up to $50,000 per violation and criminal penalties up to $250,000 and/or one year’s imprisonment. (Image credit: Ryan Heshka)

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Huffington Post Launches Travel Site

The Huffington Post, the popular news site, today launched HuffPost Travel, their first travel section. HuffPost Travel will provide both practical information (hot deals, travel tips, hotel reviews) and inspirational blog posts from people like designer Kimberly Ovitz, chef Mario Batali, and hotelier Andre Balasz. The Huffington Post's active community will also be encouraged to contribute their travel tips, photos, and reviews.

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, said, "Some of my happiest - and most enriching - moments have come through travel: my first trip out of Athens when I was 11 (to Paris); my first trip to America when I was 16; traveling around India at 17, riding third-class, but getting a first-class education."

Even though HuffPost Travel just launched today, the site already has a wealth of content including video travel tips (Jet Lag Do's And Dont's), photo posts and polls (The 8 Sexiest Subway Systems In The World), and news stories (Charging Bison FLIPS Yellowstone Tourist). If the Huffington Post's lively online community is any indicator of what's to come, the travel section should soon have a great deal of reader feedback and advice for travelers to discover.

Lyndsey Matthews is the online editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Soup For You!

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Despite the 87-degree heat today, a line stretched around the corner of 55th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan this afternoon. These people weren't waiting for ice cream, or something to combat this muggy mid-July day. They were waiting for soup.

Hot Soup!?! Yet this wasn't just any soup from any ol' bodega. These people were waiting for soup at the grand re-opening of the original location of The Soup Man (immortalized in the Seinfeld episode "The Soup Nazi") which had been shuttered for six years.

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Paris Cracks Down on Pied-à-Terre Rentals

201006-b-paris-1jpgNew York Times (PARIS) — Many people buy a pied-à-terre in Paris to use for a few weeks a year and to rent the rest of the time. Most of them don’t realize, however, that they are breaking the law. Now, the city government is trying to address the problem with a more direct approach to enforcement.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoë ordered an agency last year to warn property owners that renting out residential apartments for less than a year at a time violated French law. The move was intended to address the lack of affordable housing in the city center. Those who ignored the warning, he said, would be prosecuted. (...)

But the rental industry in this most-visited city in the world is concerned and, as more owners slowly become aware of the issue, confusion is growing. A few have pulled their properties off the market, others have deleted addresses or other identifying details from Internet listings. And dozens of rental agencies have banded together to try to save their lucrative business.

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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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