What's coming, what's going, and what's going on in the travel world


Speedy Security Clear Registered Traveler, the biometric security program that is being tested at Orlando International Airport, will be ready to expand to 30 to 40 major U.S. airports by April. Travelers who register for Clear submit fingerprints and iris scans in exchange for expedited passage through security.

Swan Song Though Song, Delta's popular low-cost carrier, will stop taking reservations in May, its best amenities (leather seats, satellite television, on-demand videos) will live on in retrofitted Delta planes. More than 50 Delta aircraft will be converted. Don't expect to see flight attendants wearing Song's Kate Spade uniforms, however; new ones are being designed by Richard Tyler.

Room Rates At press time, the average U.S. hotel room rate for 2005 was expected to hit a record high—$90.70, according to Price- waterhouseCoopers. This figure is projected to reach $95.30 for 2006.

Coming Clean The EPA has finally struck a deal with 24 domestic airlines, including American, Continental, and Northwest, to improve the quality of airplane drinking water. The carriers have pledged to monitor their water and disinfect water systems routinely. For updates on an airline's progress, e-mail airlinedrinkingwater@epa.gov.

Taking Care of Business British Airways is launching a major revamp of its business class—the second in five years. The airline will pour $174 million into Club World; all long-haul flights are due for the makeover starting in mid 2006.

Better Booking Hotels.com's new design allows users to view 360-degree photos of properties, compare hotels side by side, and read reviews from past guests. And should you have a pressing question about the town you're traveling to, you can call a hotels.com city specialist at 800/246-8357. Collectively, these operators are trained to be experts on 400 cities worldwide.

Sleeping in the Sky This year, passengers in American Airlines' business class will be able to stretch out 180 degrees—almost. The carrier will be one of the first domestic airlines to install "lie-flat" seats, which, while technically level, will be pitched at an eight-degree angle. The rollout will happen throughout 2006 on all Boeing 767-300's and 777's.