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"Generous Chocolate Upgrader" Rewards Fliers in Worst Seats with Candy

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Unhappy with your 43B seat assignment? Consider a stopover in Copenhagen or Stockholm, where Anthon Berg Generous Chocolate Upgrader kiosks dole out treats for passengers flying with the worst seats, as rated by website SeatGuru.com.

Travelers simply scan their boarding passes—with the help of an Anthon Berg “stewardesses”—and, voila, the stewardess will give them a "chocolate upgrade." Someone in a middle seat near the bathrooms at the rear of the plane, for example, will walk away with an eye mask, a neck pillow, and a large bar of chocolate. Anyone with an aisle seat towards the front, on the other hand, will receive only a small chocolate sample.

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Virgin America's New Video Puts a Spin on In-Flight Safety

Virgin America's added a little twist to their in-flight safety video. Grooving nuns, rapping kids, and auto-tuning robots guide you through the airline's safety regulations. This won't be the last dance, either. Virgin America has already posted a casting call on Instagram for future video stars. And if you can't get down with the funk, Virgin America's offer—20% off flights for today only—is sure to make you jump. Simply use the promo code "GETDOWN" upon checkout.

Maria Pedone
Maria Pedone is on the digital team at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.

If a Museum's Admission is "Recommended," Must I Pay it?

Metropolitan Museum of Art

A: According to Harold Holzer, senior vice president for public affairs at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (where the suggested admission is $25), the institution’s pay-as-you-wish policy is in line with its mission to remain fully accessible to the public. So if your income is limited, or you’re just planning to run in quickly to see a single painting, you should not feel obligated to pay the full amount. Holzer does point out, however, that it costs roughly $50 per visitor to run the enormous museum. It’s worth keeping in mind how much you value an institution—and how much it relies on you to continue operating—as you consider what amount you’d like to pay.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Photo © Sylvain Sonnet/Corbis

Are Dress Shoes With Jeans Acceptable at Most Restaurants?

fancy restaurant

A: Though casualization has largely taken hold worldwide, there are still some restaurants where jackets (if not ties) are required. Avoid jeans at places with two or more Michelin stars, even if no dress code is listed. And don’t forget about the emphasis on smart in “smart casual,” particularly in fashion-forward cities such as Paris and Milan.

4 of 6: The number of New York Times four-star restaurants in New York City that require jackets.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Photo by iStockphoto

KAYAK Expands Abroad & Releases Holiday Travel Guide

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KAYAK recently announced that it will be expanding its travel search site to eight new markets in the coming weeks. Having already launched in Australia and the Netherlands, the Priceline-owned company also plans to set up in Belgium, Ireland, Mexico, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore.

Back in the US, KAYAK continues to help us find great deals on airfare and hotels—especially useful as the holiday season sneaks up. The site released their Holiday When to Book & Travel Guide, which breaks down travel tips by each holiday—and warns against waiting to book. According to KAYAK's guide, which is based on millions of queries conducted on the site last year, the cheapest flights can be found between September and mid-October. After mid-October, airfare prices skyrocket 17% for Thanksgiving, 51% for Christmas, and 25% for New Year’s Eve. These numbers hold true for domestic flights—unfortunately, international fares saw no low period during the season.

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New Emirates-Virgin America Partnership Allows Frequent Fliers to Earn Miles

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In a boon for frequent fliers on two of this year's World's Best Award-winning airlines, Emirates and Virgin America announced yesterday that members of their loyalty programs can now earn and redeem points and miles on either airline.

Virgin America connects many U.S. destinations to its L.A. and San Francisco hubs, while Emirates serves 135 destinations across the globe, mostly with stopovers in its hub, Dubai. It's expanding fast, too, with new flights between Dubai and Boston, and Brisbane and Manila, as well as between New York's JFK to Milan—the first transatlantic Emirates flight —and the first not to stop in Dubai.

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The New iPad Air: The Best New Tablet for Travelers?

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Yesterday may as well have been declared unofficial tablet day: Microsoft unveiled its new Surface 2 (whose main selling point is an improved kickstand for better stability on your lap), Nokia released its long-rumored tablet debut (a sleek 10-incher running Windows RT), and Apple announced a completely redesigned iPad: the iPad Air. While the other two focus on productivity, with built in Office Suite and attachable keyboards, Apple outrightly balked at its competitors for being “confused” in their attempts to merge tablet and laptop.

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Now You Can Use American Express Rewards Points to Pay for Taxi Rides

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Travelers and locals can now use their American Express Rewards Points to pay for taxi rides in New York City.

As of today, American Express is letting cardholders use their rewards to pay for NYC cab fares in real time, at the end of their ride. Not only does it open the door to use smaller point balances efficiently—it’s the first time that cardholders (with any kind of plastic) can pay with rewards currency at the point of purchase. Amex loyalists who opt to pay for a NYC cab ride with credit card will automatically see their points balance upon swiping—they’ll then be given the choice to pay with, say, 2107 points for a $21.07 taxi fare. Not in NYC? Fret not: we’re inclined to believe that instant points payment might become the name of the game as banks re-examine the often-frustrating process of cashing out rewards.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of American Express

Best Companies for Traveling Solo

traveling solo

Q: Can you recommend any companies that are good for solo travelers? —Carolyn Hall, Chicago, Ill.

A: A couple of months ago, after my daughter had passed through the dependent stage of infancy, I started to get the itch to take a big trip. The problem, my husband and I realized, was that one of us was going to have to stay home to take care of our kids. (With two of them under the age of four, it’s not a job that’s easily outsourced.) I would be traveling solo.

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Orbitz’s New Loyalty Program Puts the Focus on Instant Gratification

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There’s a new currency in the travel industry, and it’s called the Orbuck. Today, Orbitz launches its long-in-the-works Orbitz Rewards, a loyalty program that’s smart, transparent, and a hell of a business move for the popular OTA.

Here’s how it works: Book any flight on orbitz.com, and you’ll immediately be rewarded with at least 1 percent cash back (in Orbuck form); hotel bookings will yield at least 3 percent in returns. Book on the mobile app, and you’ll get bonus Orbucks—each Orbuck translates to a dollar off any future booking. Book a special deal, and you might net even more. The Orbucks show up in your account as soon as your transaction goes through, meaning you don’t have to wait to rack up tens of thousands of points before they’re redeemable. On the contrary: the cash you get back from a flight booking can be immediately applied when you book the hotel fifteen minutes later.

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