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Delta aircraft on the ground and taking off (Photo: Delta)

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Delta is testing out a new voluntary bumping process in which passengers "bid" for compensation.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "If a flight is overbooked, travelers checking in at an airport kiosk or online see a screen asking them if they'd like to submit a bid for the value of a travel voucher they would take to be bumped. Customers enter a dollar amount. Delta makes clear that it accepts lower bids first."

Traditionally, airlines simply offer vouchers in specific amounts, and will increase those amounts if no one volunteers. Delta's approach, which appears to be the first of its kind, seems designed to push voucher amounts in the other direction. Outbidding the competition, in this sense, means bidding lower, not higher. Or so Delta hopes....read more»

Airplane Past Empty Seats (Photo: iStockphoto/Shane Kato)

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USA Today's Ben Mutzabaugh reports the final tally of cancellations related to this week's winter storm—which cut an icy, snowy path from the Southeast through New England—could approach 10,000. "Initial estimates show that individual airports reported roughly 2,000 flights canceled Monday followed by another 4,000 on Tuesday," Mutzabaugh wrote, "and, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to imagine the cumulative three-day total topping 10,000 by the end of today, once more numbers come in."

Atlanta alone accounts for thousands of those cancellations. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, "After canceling 1,800 flights on Tuesday, Delta said it called off more than 1,200 flights on Wednesday in Atlanta and the Northeast, but returned to a regular schedule in Atlanta later in the day." AirTran canceled all Atlanta operations on Monday, and cancellations lingered into Tuesday and Wednesday....read more»

Tripadvisor-Fees Estimator (Image: Tripadvisor)

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TripAdvisor, our sister site, unveiled a new set of features on its flight search today—airline reviews and a fees estimator—that give travelers more information about a fare before they book.

The airline reviews function as one would expect. Users can rate airlines on a number of factors—value, punctuality, baggage handling, and seat comfort, to name a few—and those ratings are combined into an overall score. Users are asked if they would recommend the airline, and can write short reviews as well. Users searching for flights can get a quick sense of the airline's overall score by mousing over the logo in the search results....read more»

Airplane Being De-Iced (Photo: iStockphoto/Richard Goerg)

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In Europe, travelers stranded by bad weather are entitled to monetary compensation for their troubles, to the tune of hundreds of dollars and, sometimes, paid meals and hotel rooms. These rules don't always apply to weather-related cancellations, but they can, and often do.

Should similar rules be put in place here in the U.S.? That's what USA Today's Gary Stoller is wondering. "From Chicago to New York to Atlanta," Stoller writes, "thousands have been left stranded at snowbound airports or hunkered down in hotels, sometimes for days, having to pay hundreds of dollars more than they'd planned for food and lodging while awaiting booking on another flight to get to their destinations." If this were Europe, he says, those expenses could be covered. Instead, passengers get their refund and often nothing else....read more»

Versailles Reflection (Photo: Thinkstock/Ingram Publishing)

An easy day trip from Paris, the Palace of Versailles is one of France's finest attractions. The palace had humble beginnings—it was built for Louis XIII in the 1630s as a hunting lodge, but eventually grew into a massive complex. The palace features 2,300 rooms, plus intricate, sprawling gardens. The 800 hectares of gardens are one of the main highlights of Versailles, so the best time to visit is in late spring or early fall, during the Grandes Eaux, when the palace puts on a show by setting the garden fountains to music. Almost everything is in full bloom then, too.

Inside, the palace can be almost overwhelming, as there is so much to see. From the Hall of Mirrors (which holds 357 mirrors to showcase the monarchy's wealth) to the gold-gilded Queen's Grand Apartment, everything is the epitome of excess. But it sure is fun to look at, especially if you love shiny things. (Or history.)

...read more»
Delta jets on runway (Photo: Salt Lake City Department of Airports/Michael Schoenfeld)

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Delta has cut ties with four more OTAs—CheapAir, Vegas.com, AirGorilla, and Globester—after dropping three other OTAs late last year. The airline is in the midst of a purge of sorts, as it seeks to shed a number of OTAs in the hopes of creating a more exclusive sales approach.

When Delta jettisoned CheapOAir, Bookit.com, and OneTravel just before Christmas, the airline said it wanted to model its sales approach after Apple. "We look at it very much like an Apple store versus Best Buy," said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive VP of network planning. "You can buy components or Apple products at both. Your experience in an Apple store is obviously quite different than it is at a Best Buy store."...read more»

Photo: Index Open

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November 2010 was the second straight month with zero three-hour tarmac delays, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT). In a statement, the agency said, "This past October and November were the only months with no tarmac delays of more than three hours by the reporting carriers since the Department began collecting more comprehensive tarmac delay data in October 2008."

As always, however, the real concern is flight cancellations, and what effect, if any, the DOT's tarmac delay policy has on cancellation rates....read more»

Photo: American Airlines

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In two separate actions, American Airlines has sued Sabre for violating its agreement with the airline and taken out a restraining order preventing Sabre from suppressing American fares in its display.

A judge has already granted the restraining order, meaning Sabre must stop biasing against American fares in travel agent queries. In a statement, American said, "The Court’s order prohibits Sabre from continuing its recently announced practice of intentionally making it difficult for American’s agents and customers from finding and purchasing American services in the Sabre global distribution system.  American intends to vigorously pursue its litigation against Sabre, including seeking damages for other violations of our agreements."

For consumers, this means travel agents using Sabre's GDS will once again have unblocked access to American's fares. The move should have little impact on online fare shopping....read more»

<strong>Hint</strong>: Once considered a failure, this place is now a World Heritage Site.

If you guessed Parc Guell in Barcelona, you're right!

Originally designed as a garden city on the estate of Eusebi Guell, Parc Guell was a real estate failure because only two houses of the initial 60 homes planned were completed. However, the unusual and creative artwork of Antoni Gaudi found throughout the grounds is one of the main reasons the park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. Gaudi lived in one of the two homes for nearly 20 years while working on the area, and the building today is a museum dedicated to the artist. 

The nearest major airport is in Barcelona. 

(Photo: iStockphoto/Giorgio Magini)

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If you've been to Spain, then you know Spaniards like to smoke. So it should come as something of a surprise next time you visit and notice that all the smoke is gone. That's because Spanish lawmakers voted late last year to ban smoking in almost all public places; the law took effect last week.

According to the BBC, the new law bans smoking in restaurants, bars, offices, shops, schools, hospitals, and on public transport. Businesses occupying more than 100 square meters (a bit over 1,000 square feet) have eight months to construct smoking sections, if they so choose....read more»

Airplane on runway (Photo: C. Borland/PhotoLink)

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) today issued guidance for airlines and ticket sellers about codeshare disclosure requirements.

"When passengers buy an airline ticket, they have the right to know which airline will be operating their flight," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "For years we’ve required airlines to inform consumers about code-sharing arrangements, and we’ll be monitoring the industry closely to make sure they comply with the provisions of the new legislation."

The DOT said rules have been in place requiring airlines to disclose this information, but new legislation issued in August 2010 has "clarified" those rules....read more»

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