February 2009

Most jet aircraft these days come with winglets, the fins attached at the end of the wing, that improves fuel efficiency and reduces wake vortices. Now, Boeing and Airbus are developing winglets that change shape mid-flight. This can result in a quieter, more fuel-efficient trip.

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Ryanair, the European budget carrier that leads the world in finding new ways to charge people, is taking that philosophy to new heights, or rather, new decibels. They will allow, even encourage, cell phone use in flight — for a price.

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Kay Pratt’s rental car gets a ticket when she stays in a San Francisco hotel. Problem is, the car was under the care of the property’s valet services. Now she wants the $85 ticket refunded, but the hotel is stringing her along. Is she stuck with the ticket?

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When the economic crisis first hit our radar screens last autumn, predictions for the future of travel were bleak. Airlines started cutting capacity, car rental companies began corporate bargaining and hotels began girding for the worst. And Priceline began licking its chops.

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Charlie LeochaAfter taking a closer look at the Amtrak funding in the Obama stimulus bill, don’t expect any big passenger service changes soon. This money is going right into maintenance of the current system. It is not too sexy, but its necessary.

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Many of your fellow passengers and guests are “twittering” — sending out 140-character bursts of observations, comments and opinion through the microblogging site Twitter — and in the last few weeks, the conversation has become pretty interesting.

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Fly to a ski destination with only carry-on luggage? Friends are incredulous when I tell them I’ve flown to Marble Mountain, Newfoundland (powder, baby!), Whistler, British Columbia (Oympic dreams), and Salt Lake City, Utah (powder and Olympic dreams) with only a roll-aboard and my boots. Here’s how I do it.

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The Presidential election is over, well, until the 2012 primary campaign starts probably this December. And the Grammys and Oscars have been awarded. Now it’s time for the Freddies.

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Despite a boom in tourism, Venice, is having trouble maintaining its historic buildings. So what’s a city to do? Find a sponsor.

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AirAsia, Southeast Asia’s top budget carrier, is giving away 100,000 “free” tickets to Thailand to support the nation’s tourist industry that was badly impacted last year when the Bangkok airport was closed because of political demonstrations.

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