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American Airline's OneWorld Alliance Scores Big in Latin America

American Airlines loyalists and US Airways frequent fliers who were disappointed to hear that the merged carrier would stick to AA's OneWorld alliance rather than join up with the larger Star Alliance, have reason to celebrate today. In a big coup for OneWorld, South America's airline conglomerate LANTAM Airlines Group (a combination of Brazil's TAM Airlines and Chile's excellent LAN Airlines) announced that it will become a fully committed member of the alliance during second quarter of 2014.

What might that mean? For one thing, getting to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will be easier than ever for American Airlines fliers.

Trip Doctor: Paris's Best Walking Tours

Paris Walking Tours

Black Paris Tours: Explore places made famous by notable African Americans such as Josephine Baker. From $91.

Paris Muse: Art historians and educators lead excursions to museums including the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou. From $91.

Paris Walks: Centuries-old local lore brings the city to life on itineraries such as “Paris During the Occupation.” From $16.

Amy Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.

 

Photo by James Merrell

Breaking Cruise News: Lindblad Buys Orion Expeditions

cruise

Cruisers with yen for the exotic can do so in high style.

U.S.-based Lindblad Expeditions has purchased Australia-based Orion Expeditions, known for its luxury service to remote destinations including Borneo, Papua New Guinea and Australia's Kimberly region. The Orion ship will join the Lindblad fleet in March 2014.

"Following two straight years of record revenues, it was the natural progression for company growth," Sven Lindblad, President and Founder of Lindblad Expeditions, said in a release.

Award-winning Lindblad is known for its small-ship expeditions run in partnership with The National Geographic Society. Orion's single ship, the 102-passenger Orion, will take on The National Geographic brand. Itinerary details haven't yet been released, but a Lindblad spokesperson said the Borneo and Kimberly sailings will continue into 2014.

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Trip Doctor: About Those New TSA Rules...

airplane packing

Dear TSA,

We are so happy to hear that you'll be easing packing restrictions for travelers. Really, we are. But golf clubs, baseball bats, and pocket knives? What an odd place to start. Did you think these were less risky to travel with than, say, the three ounces of blueberry jam you stole—I mean, confiscated—from me on my way home from Maine last summer? Or the life-threatening snow globe souvenir my colleague bought for her daughter in Colorado? How about that full-sized tube of toothpaste—or better yet, the water bottle I brought from home for my six-hour flight? Couldn't you see your way to un-banning those before knives, bats, and clubs?

And as tons of news outlets are making clear, flight attendants are with us—they're not terribly thrilled at the prospect of knives on board, and we certainly can't fault them.

We'd love to know what you were thinking, even if our golfer friends are excited by the prospect of carrying their gear aboard. We'd also like that blueberry jam back.

Signed,

The Trip Doctor Team

See also: Snakes (Almost) on a Plane and Pack This: TSA-Friendly Toiletries.

Photo by iStockphoto

Trip Doctor: Rome's Best Walking Tours

Rome Walking Tours

Context Travel: The company has walking tours in 21 European cities, plus a robust collection of 50 itineraries in Rome. Outings are led by master’s- and Ph.D.-level scholars in such disciplines as archaeology and urban planning. From $75.

Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome: Food writer Minchilli leads market tours in Campo de’ Fiori and Testaccio; sample local delicacies along the way. From $195.

Amy Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.

 

Photo by David Leventi

Trip Doctor: Madrid's Best Walking Tours

Madrid Walking Tours

Wellington Society of Madrid: Join one of the dozen walks offered by Stephen Drake-Jones, a history professor and longtime resident. You’ll get his lively perspective on topics including Hemingway’s Madrid (past clients include the writer’s niece, Hilary), the Hapsburgs, the Prado and Modern Arts museums, and the curiosities and anecdotes of old Madrid, with stops at historic taverns. From $76.

Amy Send your dilemmas to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @afarles on Twitter.


Photo by David Nicholas

New Website Saves on Airfare By Choosing Your Destination For You

Getgoing.com

Getgoing.com, a new website that officially launches on March 6, promises to save leisure travelers up to 40 percent on airfare. How do they know you're really a leisure traveler? Simple. You choose two different destinations in the same region of the world (for example, Vienna and Geneva, or Costa Rica and Panama) and enter your travel dates. Then provide your billing information to complete your reservation. The Get Going team randomly chooses one of your two options. The "surprise" is supposed to be part of the website's charm. The savings is the other part.

The website covers hundreds of cities in more than 50 countries. Here are some airfares from New York I found on getgoing.com and the lowest comparable fares on Kayak: Milan, $568 ($635 on Kayak); Istanbul, $577 ($705 on Kayak); Las Vegas, $247 ($338 on Kayak); Beijing, $815 ($1,020 on Kayak). I didn't find any 40% discounts, and the flights on getgoing.com may be different from those on Kayak, but in every example I tried, getgoing.com had the lowest fare.

And now for the drawbacks: Getgoing.com is the wrong choice if you are a business traveler who needs to be in Los Angeles on Monday morning or you're traveling to a family reunion in Glasgow, because you may not get your preferred destination. You won't know which airline you'll be flying or the location of your stop-over airports (if any) until you complete your purchase. Even more important: your tickets are completely nonrefundable and changes are not allowed, even if you're willing to pay a penalty fee. You can, however, buy cancel-for-any-reason trip insurance at a cost roughly equal to 10% of the airfare.

For free-and-easy travelers who choose their destinations using a blindfold, a dart, and a map taped to the wall, getgoing.com could be a useful booking tool. But for the rest of us, maybe not.

2012-hs-mark-orwolljpgMark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter.


Image courtesy of Getgoing.com

The Doctor Recommends: Stories and Articles From All Over

Here are a few recent travel stories that piqued the interest of T+L's news team.

Be careful where you shake, folks. USA Today reports that the FAA is looking into possible safety violations after a group Colorado College students lead a Harlem Shake on a recent Frontier Airlines flight. (Amy Farley)

United has launched an official investigation of the crew that threw Live and Let's Fly blogger Matthew Klint off the plane for snapping photos of his business class cabin. Klint's takeaway? The seven words you shouldn't use on an airplane. (Nikki Ekstein)

Farecompare founder Rick Seaney has great advice for people traveling in a group (including families): save money by searching for airfare one person at a time. We’d explain here, but best to just go straight to his brilliant USA Today column. (AF)

Oh, the people you'll meet. Novelist Nathaniel Rich finds himself sharing intimacies, aspirations, and a little bit of heartbreak with his fellow passengers on a two-day journey from New Orleans to Los Angeles on the Sunset Limited train in this weekend's New York Times Magazine. (AF)

What's more lonely than being in a strange hotel in a strange city all by yourself? Being without your beloved $8 M&Ms. In an essay in The Atlantic, journalist David Samuels laments the demise of the hotel mini bar. (AF)

Best Golf Shoes for Travel

golf shoes

Q: I am hoping to play golf on an upcoming business trip, but hate packing my bulky golf shoes. Any tips? —Joe English, via e-mail

A: You could stash them with your clubs, but I’ve got a better idea: Ecco just released a new water-resistant golf shoe (pictured; $190) that can be worn with jeans for a casual dinner as well as on the green (don’t just take our word for it—Fred Couples wore them throughout the 2012 PGA tour). If you’re headed to a rainy locale, also consider the three-layer nylon golf jacket by RLX Golf. It folds into a tiny, easy-to-stow bundle.

Packing is rarely easy—we're here to help. Send your question to tripdoctor@aexp.com.

Photo by John Lawton

Packing Tips for a South Africa Vacation

Packing Tips for South Africa Vacation: Solumbra safari shirt

Q: I’m going to South Africa next month. I’ll need safari gear for a week at Sabi Sand Reserve and clothes for several days in Cape Town. What will work in each location? —Mary Catherine Blake, Sandy Springs, Ga.

A: It’s best to limit your color palette to neutrals (an especially good idea on game drives, where bright reds and jarring prints can provoke wildlife). Solumbra’s safari shirt (pictured; $80) has sun-protective qualities and wicks moisture away from your skin. For Cape Town, where daytime highs hover around 80 degrees in January, try this lightweight top from Lemlem ($200). It’s made of handwoven (and tissue-thin) Ethiopian cotton, with a pattern derived from local textiles. For a night out, A.L.C.’s peach-colored silk georgette dress ($645) is easy and chic. Lastly, Coolibar’s wide-brimmed crushable canvas hat ($45), rated UPF 50+, will keep you cool in both the city and the countryside.

Mimi LombardoPacking is rarely easy—we’re here to help. Send your question to tripdoctor@aexp.com.

 

Photo by John Lawton

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