Advertisement
Technology: Stacked iPhones (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphotos)

Planning or daydreaming about a trip to Europe? Download these apps for a smooth vacation!

Rick Steves' Europe

It's like having a miniature travel guru in your pocket! Available guides for Europe are as broad as Ancient Rome to as detailed as an Orsay Museum tour. Zoom in on interactive maps, tap restaurants/sights to see hours and cost, or even listen to an audio tour from Rick Steves. Best of all, once downloaded, you don't need to connect to Internet or your phone's network, so you won't rack up international roaming charges. Price: $3.99, Available on Apple

Measures

How much does this souvenir cost in US dollars? And what's that temperature in Fahrenheit? You'll have all the answers at your fingertips with the Measures unit and currency conversion app. Use the calculators or fun spinning wheel to easily convert hundreds of world currencies and units into what you're used to. Price: $0.99, Available on Apple

VisitEurope

The official travel apps of Europe are all in one place at Europe's National Tourism Organizations. Download free apps for Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Monaco, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, UK, and Austria. All the free apps are worth a download, but Austria's wins for the best name—Pistes in Your Pocket! We also love Holland's Layer App, an augmented reality app that uses your camera feed to display information about what's around you. Price: Free, Platform availability varies by country...read more»

Southwest: Refueling Plane (Photo: Southwest Airlines/Stephen M. Keller)

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Southwest's new 737-800 plane has a seat pitch of 31 inches. According to a Southwest spokesperson, the seat pitch is 32 inches.

Southwest is adding its first Boeing 737-800 to its fleet, a larger aircraft that carries 30 percent more passengers than its current crop of Boeing 737-300s, according to a press release issued by the airline.

The new Boeing 737-800 has Southwest's latest Evolve Interior, which, as we previously reported, features smaller seats than what passengers are used to seeing on the carrier; the -800 will be an exception, however. Seat pitch on the larger crafts will be 32 inches. But on the rest of Southwest's fleet, seat pitch will shrink by one or two inches compared to what it was before—from 32 or 33 inches down to 31—when the aircrafts are retrofitted with Evolve starting this month.

Evolve also features more overhead bin space (an emerging trend in the industry) plus Wi-Fi, which costs $5. (Some Southwest planes already offer in-flight Wi-Fi for $5.)...read more»

Katniss with Arrow (Photo: Murray Close)

Hungry for more Hunger Games? If you've read the books and seen the movie, it's time to experience the games in real life—minus all the child-killing and starvation.

The movie was filmed in North Carolina, and now the state is looking to cash in on its Capitol (and other districts) settings. The state's tourism board website offers a wealth of information on the movie's filming locations. Take a long weekend and do the self-guided Hunger Games four-day itinerary outlined on the website.

You can tour everywhere from the Capitol (Charlotte) to District 12 (Hildebrad and Shelby), plus see where the cast and crew hung out during filming (Asheville). Take note, though, that one of the main filming locations (the spot-on Henry River Mill Village, which doubled as the Mellark family bakery and the Everdeens' home) is on private property, so you'll have to settle for a drive-by photo opp. Don't have four days? There's also a handy checklist which will take you from a Moonshine distillery (which Haymitch would have frequented) to a Survival School at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

...read more»

TSA: Screening (Photo: Thinkstock/Creatas)

The TSA is always in the news these days, and usually not for the right reasons. You might say the controversial agency has an image problem. Or is that an imaging problem? Either way, the coverage has mostly been one-sided, so we decided to speak with a former TSA security officer to find out what it's like on the other side of the screening process.

The former Transportation Security Officer (TSO), who agreed to talk with us on the condition of anonymity, worked at a major U.S. airport until being injured on the job. Get the scoop on misbehaving passengers, what to do if you want a pat-down, and what we should be doing to make the skies safer....read more»

American tail fin with airport in background (Photo: Clark County Department of Aviation)

 "US Airways executives were tight-lipped about the airline's ongoing evaluation of a potential bid for bankrupt American, but suggested no decision is imminent." That's the lead from a story in USA Today. Note the "tight-lipped," "potential bid," and "no decision" parts. In effect, US Airways executives answered questions but didn't say anything they hadn't said before. They simply confirmed that the long-rumored acquisition move between US Airways and American remains on hold. Here are some key holding pattern points:

  • American, in bankruptcy, is in a weak and vulnerable condition, but still has a formidable market position, fleet, and—especially—lots of important international routes.
  • US Airways is in sound enough financial condition to pull off a "minnow swallows whale" acquisition just as America West previously did with US Airways....read more»
Travel brochures (Photo: IndexOpen)

Following is our regular summary of the best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car-rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly.

Redeem Virgin America Points for Overseas Flights

Members of Virgin America's Elevate program can now redeem their points for award flights on Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.

The new award options are welcome, but the associated fees can be prohibitive. ...read more»

Travelers packing up convertible

Last month, Club Carlson added three new car-rental companies to the program's partner roster: National Car Rental, Alamo, and Enterprise, all owned by Enterprise Holdings.

The normal earning rate is 300 points per day, plus discounts of up to 25 percent on rentals from Alamo and National, and 5 percent from Enterprise. Club Carlson members will earn 1,500 Gold Points per day through June 15 when renting from Alamo and National.

While the 1,500-points-per-day rate offered during the launch promotion is attractive, the normal 300-points-per-day rate is a decidedly modest one, unless it's for a longer-term rental....read more»

Men: Urinating (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

This week, Brits didn't do anything to fight the hooligan stereotype, flyers got stuck in Alaska for two days, and an airport is getting a new name.

  • Brits in Chester, England, are not helping to combat the stereotype of the drunk English hooligan. Gadling reports that medieval buildings in the town are being ruined by drunks relieving themselves on them. The timber buildings are built over Roman ruins and offer many spaces hidden from the public eye that might look appealing to a drunk in need of a bathroom. Unfortunately, the building's materials are being worn away by the frequent cleanings required—the police caught 250 people peeing in public last year.
  • Republicans probably want to avoid flying into Little Rock, now that it's going to be renamed Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. The Little Rock Municipal Airport commission voted unanimously to change the moniker, but as the Arkansas News reports, the FAA will have to approve the switch....read more»
Portugal: Alentejo, Evora - Temple of Diana (Photo: Thinkstock/Hemera)

History, excellent food and wine, and possibly the world's creepiest church await you in Evora. Often overlooked for Lisbon, Evora should be added to every Portugal itinerary. The UNESCO World Heritage museum-city dates back to the 15th century, when Portuguese kings resided there.

For a good dose of ghosts, be sure to visit the Saint Francis Church and the Chapel of Bones, which is completely covered with (you guessed it) bones. A morbid sign at the entrance translates to, "We, the bones that are here, await yours."

Head back out into the daylight where many less creepy cathedrals, museums, and Renaissance-style architecture await. Don't miss the archeological site of the Cromlech of the Almendres, nicknamed the "Portuguese Stonehenge." ...read more»

Photo: Virgin Atlantic

Within the past few days, members of Virgin America's Elevate program received an email with the subject line, "Your points have gone global."

Translation: Elevate members can redeem their points for award flights on Virgin Atlantic (from March 19) and Virgin Australia (from March 22).

So far, so good. The Elevate program has been sorely in need of a wider range of award options....read more»

Please enable JavaScript to properly view and use this web site.