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CBS Early Show: New Federal Rules to Protect Airline Passengers

Starting this week air passengers will be well compensated for a flight delay. Want to know more? Travel + Leisure's international editor, Mark Orwoll, spells out the new airline passenger rules.

 

Watch Out for Dropping Airfares

Smaller carriers have upped competition with major airlines this summer, introducing new routes into large hubs. Virgin America is starting flights into Chicago O’Hare (a hub for both United and American), Frontier is adding service out of Denver, and JetBlue is now flying into Anchorage. Generally, when smaller carriers introduce discount flights, major airlines slash their prices on that route out of competition, to make it as painful as possible for the other airline. (When JetBlue started service in May between Newark and Boston, Continental dropped its fares to as low as $49 one-way.) For the average flier, this can also mean mileage bonuses and more options and capacity, as well as lower-priced tickets.

Alexander Basek is a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure.

Gift for Traveling Wine Lovers

inflatable wine carrier

Waiting for a flight home for Christmas once, I ran into a blowhard I knew from college who announced that the only present he was bringing his parents was a bottle of extraordinarily good wine.  He dropped and broke the bottle of red on the linoleum at LaGuardia before we’d boarded the plane.  Blowhard frat boy or not, I felt bad for the guy.

I was reminded of this tragic holiday vignette when I heard about VinniBag, an inflatable bag that cushions your wine bottle (or bottle of olive oil or Vermont maple syrup or vintage McCoy vase) from the sharp, hard, pointy things of the world.   The smart bags are reusable, deflate easily to slip in your luggage, and make an unbreakable and practical gift for Mummy and Pater.

Vinnibag is available for $28 from local retailers, Vinnibag.com, or on Amazon.

Photo courtesy of Ellessco.

Ann Shields is an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Radiation-Free Full-Body Scanners

BBC Travel's Passport Blog |  As controversy simmers surrounding the levels of radiation used in full body scanners, a small company based in the United Kingdom has developed a machine that emits no radiation at all.

Last year, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began installing two types of full body scanners at airport security checkpoints across the country. L3’s Provision millimetre wave scanners beam radio waves through clothing to detect potentially dangerous objects hidden by terrorists. Rapiscan backscatter scanners use low-dose x-rays to do the same.

While both companies and the TSA say the radiation emitted by these machines is at safe levels, the scientific community has not reached a strong consensus either way....

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Airlines Roll Back Fare Hike as FAA Taxes are Reinstated

USA Today |  Airlines are rolling back the fare hikes they added following the partial shutdown of the Federal Administration on July 22. The move comes as previously suspended federal taxes are again being applied to airline tickets.

Since July 22, the FAA shutdown prompted some federal taxes to be removed from the cost of airline tickets. However, most major U.S. airlines opted to raise fares instead of passing that "tax holiday" on to consumers.

But, with the FAA impasses resolved—at least for now—the taxes are again being applied to tickets.

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TODAY Show: Best Travel Apps + Websites

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Features Director Nilou Motamed dishes on the best travel apps and websites right now. Check out Travel + Leisure's top must-know resources for the connected traveler.

Air Travel Tax Refund Procedure Still Fuzzy

CNN |  If you're traveling by air this month, there's a good chance the government owes you money.

Don't believe me? You can thank Congress and its inability to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. Here's how you can get your money back, though be prepared to wait a little while for things to settle.

Congress periodically has to renew the authorization of the FAA to do a variety of things, and one of those things is collecting taxes on air travel. As with everything in Washington, the left and the right all try to sneak in politically charged riders that prevent the FAA reauthorization from moving forward to fund important projects such as the NextGen air traffic control overhaul.

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Top Italian Food Guide Apps

Elizabeth Minchilli

Who She Is: Though she’s been known for years as a writer of books about Italian interiors, Elizabeth Minchilli’s greatest passion is food—an interest that blossomed after her family moved from St. Louis to Rome when she was 12. “By the time I was 14, I was cooking for the whole family,” recalls the writer, who, in addition to writing for Food & Wine, posts daily about Italian cuisine and travel on her blog.

Her Big Idea: “I’ve always had my own list of restaurants to recommend to friends when they come to town,” Minchilli explains. “People kept saying, ‘You should do an app.’” Earlier this year, she did just that, with the launch of Eat Rome and Eat Florence ($2.99 each; iTunes). Both are searchable, GPS-enabled apps with Minchilli’s picks and reviews for the best places to eat, drink, and shop for food in each city, complete with downloadable maps for offline viewing (to avoid costly roaming charges).

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Minchilli

Hotel Towels Tagged with Traceable Microchips?

201107-b-towels-istockjpgDailyMail Online |  The days of hotel guests helping themselves to towels and robes when they check out could be a thing of the past as high tech gets in to the linen.

One company has come up with a way of adding miniature tags in the expensive materials which were costing hotel managements a fortune to constantly replace.

It has long been assumed, wrongly in most cases, that the smart towelling robes and plush fluffy towels were fair game for guests looking to save some cash at home. But now beware—they may come with an electronic leash as more and more hotels are turning to new radio frequency chips to keep track of their inventory.

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Travelers Vulnerable to Hacking of Information

Passport Blog, BBC Travel |  Frequent travellers rely on mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices to stay in touch and take care of business on the road, away from the safety and security of their offices. But reliance on these personal devices potentially exposes sensitive corporate or personal information to the world.

In light of the voicemail hacking scandal stewing in the United Kingdom this summer, have you ever wondered how easy it might be for someone to hack in to your mobile phone voice mail?

Turns out it’s frighteningly easy. In many cases, all a perpetrator needs is your mobile phone number and a cheap or free “spoofing” service widely available online. (Just google “caller ID spoofing” to learn specifics.)

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