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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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Airlines Get the Gold Mine, Passengers Get the Shaft, in FAA Fiasco

If the government stopped collecting sales taxes, you'd expect prices to drop accordingly, right? Wrong way, Corrigan—at least when it comes to the airline industry. Last Friday, Congress failed to meet a deadline to fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which meant airlines were no longer authorized to collect a 7.5% federal excise tax and a minimum $3.50 segment tax that are built into published airfares. Instead of decreasing their airfares by an equivalent amount, most major airlines simply raised their fares in equal measure, giving the false impression that airfares remained the same. But some travelers who bought their tickets before Friday, when the tax was still included, are arguing they deserve a refund. And the chances of that happening are…?

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Digital Travel News: Resources for the Road

hotel room

1. Innovative book publisher Taschen is going digital with a new series of iPad apps. Among the first up: Yes Is More ($9.99), a comic book-cum-architectural manifesto from the Danish design group BIG.

2. Concerned about health on the road? The iMedjet app (free; iPhone/iPad; Android) stores health records, key contacts, and instructions on what to do in case of different medical emergencies.

3. For an insider’s experience of London, book a room with onefinestay.com (picture, above). The villa-rental agency specializes in posh pads (fancy an ambassador’s residence in Mayfair?) that come with concierge service.

4. Finally, a digital photo frame with a sense of style: the sleek, Android-based DIA Parrot by Nodesign ($500; parrot.com), which uses LCD panels to illuminate and enhance your pictures.

For more of our travel tech picks, see Best Travel Gadgets 2011.

Photo courtesy of onefinestay.com

Highest and Lowest Tourist Tax Burdened Cities in US

eTurbo News |  A list of the top five 2011 U.S. cities with the lowest and highest tourism taxes is out, showing cost differences in as much as 56% on average, according to an annual study by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation.

Listed as the five lowest tax burdened cities out of 50 destinations, three Florida cities topped the list with Fort Lauderdale in first, Fort Myers in second, and West Palm Beach in third.

All are in both general sales tax and travel-related services such as car rental, hotel and meals.
Following in fourth was Detroit, and Portland, Oregon, in fifth.

The five highest-tax imposing cities on travelers….

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DOT Will Delay Some New Passenger Rights Rules

The Department of Transportation announced yesterday that it will delay several new air passenger rights until January 24. The rules were approved in April and were to go into effect beginning August 23. The announcement came after criticism from numerous airline organizations who said their members would need more time to implement the changes. Several airlines complained specifically about a new "full-fare advertising" rule that would require airfares to include all mandatory taxes and fees. That particular rule would have gone into effect in October.

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