Singapore skyline (Photo: Index Open)

Enter the Travel Channel's "Singapore" sweepstakes by November 30 for a chance to win a six-night trip for two to Singapore, including air, hotel, river cruise, and dinner.

Receive one entry by submitting the online registration form, and a second entry by correctly answering the follow-up trivia question....read more»

Airport departure screen (Photo: Index Open)

Flying over the Thanksgiving holiday is rarely a treat, thanks to long security lines and packed flights. This year, storms around some of the nation's major airports threaten to add delays into the mix, according to Ben Mutzabaugh at the Today in the Sky blog.

As of the time of this post (Tuesday afternoon), flights heading to O'Hare, LaGuardia, Newark International, and Philadelphia International are being delayed at their departure points. Delays at these busy airports can affect you even if you're not traveling through the stormy area, as hub cities experiencing problems create a ripple effect on outlying airports....read more»

Dubai Indoor Skiing (Photo: flickr/Curtis Palmer)

Do you dream of visiting Dubai but want to avoid the heat and sunburns? Ever wanted to go skiing in the middle of a 100-degree summer afternoon? Head to Ski Dubai Snow Park, one of the most surreal places on the planet. This 22,500-square-meter snow park is completely indoors and open year-round.

Ski or snowboard down 400-meter runs, do tricks on the quarter pipe, ride the ski lift, sled down hills, race around the bobsledding track, or throw snowballs in the "snowball throwing gallery." You'll never have to worry about the weather being too bad for sledding or there not being enough snow for skiing here, although you may want to worry about the environmental impact this place has on the earth....read more»

Airport: Woman Next to Airport Security Sign (Photo: Thinkstock/Creatas)

There's only one thing standing between you and your holiday trip: the airport, complete with long lines and complicated screening procedures. But a little advance preparation can go a long way in helping you get through all that pre-flight rigmarole with minimum fuss. A walk in the park it's not, but with these 10 tips, you can at least make it confidently through security and get to the gate on time....read more»

Piggy Bank Smashed by a Hammer (Photo: iStockPhoto/Amanda Rohde)

Brett Snyder of The Cranky Flier blog recently wrote for CNN about some possible changes in the airline taxes and fees landscape worth keeping on your radar, especially if your primary airport is a smaller one.

Here's the quick overview: Two new tax changes are under consideration right now. The first is a bump in that $2.50 per flight segment security fee you see on all airfares. The plan is to increase it to a flat $5 each way (doing away with the flight segment detail).

Part two of the plan tacks on a $100 fee on all airline departures (flights)....read more»

Credit Card: Internet Shopping (Photo: iStockphoto/MorePixels)

One of the glaring gaps in Southwest's Rapid Rewards program has been a mileage mall—a network of online retailers that award points for purchases. Such malls have long been a fixture of the larger airline programs, and of the hotel programs as well.

Last week, just in time for the Christmas shopping frenzy, Southwest remedied that deficiency with the addition of Rapid Rewards Shopping, a collection of more than 700 online merchants that award Rapid Rewards points.

The mall is powered by Cartera Commerce, the e-commerce company that is the behind-the-scenes operator of similar miles-for-shopping applications integrated into the loyalty programs of American, Delta, and United, as well as InterContinental Hotels Group's Priority Club Rewards program.

As can be said of any of the airlines' mileage malls, Southwest's features an extensive roster of Internet merchants covering scores of product categories. With so many options, Rapid Rewards members should be able to earn points for just about anything that can be bought online.

A very brief sampling of the participating retailers: Avon, Barnes & Noble, Eddie Bauer, Dell, FAO Schwarz, Harry & David, HP.com, Kmart.com, Lands' End, Lowe's, Nordstrom, Office Max, Sears, Sony, Staples, Target, Toys 'R' Us, Walmart.com....read more»

Continental aircraft front (Photo: Continental)

Surprising hardly anybody, Continental announced that it had started adding "Economy Plus" seating to its fleet prior to the full merger with United. Economy Plus provides an extra four to five inches of legroom in economy, with seats available at no extra charge to travelers on full-fare economy tickets and to those at exalted frequent flyer levels (available for an extra fee to ordinary mortals). The process just started; it will probably be completed sometime in 2012.

This shouldn't surprise anyone. From the beginning, United has maintained that Economy Plus has been a winner with customers and presumably has the numbers to prove it. Also, JetBlue and Frontier already offer similar programs, and Delta recently decided to do its own version. ...read more»

Photo: Index Open

If you don't know by now that you shouldn't trust unexpected emails, especially those that promise you something for FREE!!!, then I can't help you. But just in case you're tempted, here's the word on some familiar email scams making the rounds again in new guises.

Delta customers, particularly SkyMiles members, should pay attention to this advisory. The phisher baits the hook with what purports to be an email notification that the receipt for tickets you supposedly purchased is attached to the email. Well, if you haven't bought tickets, don't let curiousity get the better of you. Do what Delta says: Don't click on the attachment. If you do, you're basically saying, "Hello, virus, come on in." The Delta advisory makes it clear the airline isn't the source for these emails, and even recommends changing your SkyMiles PIN and keeping an eye your account. 

A quick check of the American, United, JetBlue, and Southwest websites didn't turn up similar advisories yet. But those are obviously familiar names in air travel, and phishers like their lures big and shiny. 

Speaking of Southwest, my email inbox contained a message from "Southwest_Promotions" that wanted me to "Please Confirm your Tickets ..." ...read more»

Australia: Coober Pedy (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

Check out the Australian Outback from a different perspective—underground! In Coober Pedy, over half the town lives below the surface, and a number of hotels, churches, museums, and attractions are underground as well. It makes sense, as this scorching town saves on air conditioning in the summer (and heating in the winter) by building in the cool earth away from the sun.

The town's main industry is opal mining, and a few places even let you try your luck at "noodling" (digging for opals), so come here for a chance to strike it rich and build your very own underground mansion. Cooper Pedy is pretty isolated from other towns, so it's a really interesting, authentic Outback experience....read more»

Rick Steves London Taxi (Photo: Dominic Bonuccelli)

When people ask me about the scariest situation I've ever been in, I think back to a taxi ride I took to the Moscow airport in the early '90s. A no-neck guy who looked like a classic Russian mafia thug picked me up in a beat-up old car and drove for an hour down puddle-filled alleys and past derelict apartments buildings. All I could think about were those movie scenes where the good guy is taken down to the river bank to be shot. Instead, the no-neck pulled up to the airport, shook my hand, and said, "Have a good fly."

Many Americans are wired to assume that taxi drivers in other countries are up to no good. And I've always said that if you're going to get ripped off in Europe, it'll probably be by a cabbie. But I've also found that most drivers are honest. Sure, scams happen. But with the right tips and a watchful eye, you'll get where you want to go without being taken for a ride.

Dishonest cabbies often lurk at airports, train stations, and tourist sights ready to take advantage of tired travelers. At Prague's main train station, cabbies at the "official" stand are a gang of no-good thieves who charge arriving tourists five times the regular rate. If you don't want to worry about getting conned the minute you arrive at a new destination, hop on public transportation. At Prague, opt for the Metro instead of a taxi. Recently, I took a speedy train from Rome's airport to the train station downtown, then caught a bus to my hotel. It took me less than an hour to get from the airport to my hotel and cost 31 euros for the train fare and a handy week-long transit pass. A taxi alone would have cost 50 euros.

...read more»
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