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Find Flights for Less on Momondo.com

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Have you heard of Momondo.com yet? I’m always scouting for affordable flights, like every savvy traveler these days, and recently came across this Copenhagen-based aggregator (U.S. searches make up one-third of its market).

Whenever I encounter a site like this, I’m skeptical—how can this site really be better than the rest?—but it’s hard to argue with Momondo’s credentials. It claims to search more than 750 airfare sources (U.S. competitor Kayak covers roughly half that), including low-cost carriers, consolidators, aggregators, fledgling and major airlines. And when traveler advocate Arthur Frommer tested the top American agreegators—including Kayak, SideStep, and FareChase—only to find that the European Momondo consistently found fares that were 20 to 40 percent less.

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Airport Body Scanners Raise Radiation Exposure, Committee Says

Bloomberg News |   Air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings and governments must explain any decision to expose the public to higher levels of cancer-causing radiation, an inter-agency report said.

Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning, even though the radiation dose from body scanners is “extremely small,” said the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety report, which is restricted to the agencies concerned and not meant for public circulation. The group includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization.



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Dr. Ruth Launches "Date Nights D.C."

Washington, D.C. is getting a different kind of stimulus package this month—one spearheaded by the newly-appointed Secretary of Love and Relationships, Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The famous love doctor (inspired by the Obama’s “date nights”) has wasted no time in making her priorities clear, by launching “Date Nights D.C.,” a program that offers tons of deals during the month of February at D.C. hotels, restaurants, museums and more. Here are some highlights:

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Finally, TSA-Friendly Beauty Products!

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OK, OK, we're a bit giddy over 3floz.com the genius new high-end beauty site (it launched today)—and for good reason. Founded by friends, co-workers, and longtime travel companions, Kate and Alexi (below), it only sells products that are TSA acceptable (small enough to carry-on in those transparent little plastic baggies we frequent travelers hold so dear).

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UK Barring Air Travelers Who Refuse Full Body Scans

Daily Mail |  Air passengers who refuse to submit to controversial full body scans will be barred from boarding their flights.
The technology—which has been strongly condemned by civil liberties campaigners—began operating at Heathrow and Manchester airports yesterday. Birmingham will follow suit later this month before the anti-terror devices are rolled out nationally....
Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said: 'In the immediate future, only a small proportion of airline passengers will be selected for scanning.

'If a passenger is selected for scanning and declines, they will not be permitted to fly.'


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Southwest’s No-Bag-Fee Strategy

201002-b-bryan-correirajpgTravel Weekly |  While airlines continue to rack up even more revenue by charging higher checked-baggage fees, Southwest remains resolved to let bags fly free, saying it has enabled the carrier to capture market share from its competitors.

And a recent report analyzing the baggage-fee bonanza suggests that while Southwest might be forgoing hundreds of millions of dollars in immediate cash, the low-cost carrier’s strategy promises to pay off in the long run as fed-up passengers make the switch to avoid paying the extra baggage charges. (Read more.)

In other Southwest Airlines news, the Chicago Tribute reports the carrier is adding WiFi to its fleet:

Southwest Airlines finally has decided to wire its Boeing 737 fleet for wireless Internet service after dabbling with the concept for two years.

The big question: Will the discounter offer its Wi-Fi service for peanuts?

Texas-based Southwest said Friday that it plans to begin outfitting its aircraft to handle Row 44 Inc.'s satellite-based broadband service by the second quarter.

Southwest initially will install equipment on about 15 aircraft per month and gradually increase that rate to 25 planes per month. It estimates that Wi-Fi will be available on the more than 540 planes in its fleet by early 2012.

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Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines

States to Get High-Speed Rail Funds

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BloombergCalifornia will get $2.3 billion and Florida $1.3 billion to help build high-speed passenger-train service, the biggest winners among 31 states sharing $8 billion in rail grants from the U.S. economic stimulus package.

President Barack Obama will be in Tampa today at an event to announce the awards, most of which will go toward developing or laying the groundwork for 13 new high-speed rail corridors across the country, the administration said in a statement...

“There’s no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains,” Obama said yesterday in his State of the Union speech, citing Florida’s rail development. “There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation’s goods, services and information.”

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Air France to Charge Obese Travelers for Two Seats

Telegraph |  From next month seriously overweight flyers will be asked to pay for two seats, or not be allowed on board for “safety reasons”, the airline announced yesterday.

“People who arrive at the check-in desk and are deemed too large to fit into a single seat will be asked to pay for and use a second seat,” said Monique Matze, an Air France spokesman.

“They will be charged 75 per cent of the cost of the second seat, which is the full price excluding tax and surcharges, on top of the full price for the first.

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Geared for Winter

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On a recent journey to Iceland, I discovered 66° North. Named for the island’s Arctic latitude, this rugged outdoor clothing line is a favorite of Icelandic explorers, mountain guides and the Olympic ski team, competing in the 2010 Winter Games at Vancouver next month. While climbing around glaciers, riding horses in the highlands, and fishing on a long-line day boat off the Westfjords, I wore a black weatherproof Esja parka ($456). My first hoodie! So what if I looked like Kenny from "South Park"?

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Designing a Better Boarding Pass

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Back in mid-December, Tyler Thompson,  creative director at New York web-hosting site, SquareSpace, took a Delta flight from New York’s JFK airport to Seattle, on which he apparently didn’t have adequate reading material.  Thompson cast a professional eye at his boarding pass and found it lacking not only visual punch, but also clarity of information.

In-flight, Thompson sketched out a few different ways to better communicate the pertinent information, and then back at his computer he created some mock-ups.  Next, he opened up the redesign project to the design community through a web site: Boarding Pass/Fail.  What has transpired since the site went live in early January is an entertaining public conversation  about everything wrong with this small, disposable necessity of air travel. Here’s hoping the airline industry takes notice.

On my wish list for Thompson and his fellow designers to tackle next?  The ground transportation signage at JFK airport, please.  Any travel-related  designs you love to hate?

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

Photo Credit: Tyler Thompson

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