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Cockpit (Photo: Index Open)

Are fatigued pilots putting passengers lives in danger? A shocking report released by The Civil Aviation Authority disclosed two incidents in which pilots fell asleep mid-flight—while they were the only ones flying the plane.

The Telegraph reports that one first officer dozed off after the flight's captain left to use the bathroom—when the captain returned, he could not reach the first officer through the radio, and after using a code to get back inside the cockpit, allegedly found the first officer passed out over the controls.

In a second, similar incident, a pilot returning from a break had to shake awake his co-pilot. The identity of the pilots were not revealed, due to data protection laws....read more»

Hotel: Two Beds One Headboard (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

Here's the deal: Check out possible hotel prices however you prefer, book a refundable reservation at what looks like the best option, post that option on BackBid.com, and wait to see if either your original hotel or another one "bids" a lower price for the same time. If BackBid gets you a better deal, take it, but if BackBid doesn't generate a good offer, stick with your original—after all, you haven't lost anything. You can post a proposed trip even if you haven't already made a reservation. That's the operating model for Montreal-based BackBid, one of the newer approaches to "opaque" hotel pricing.

Not all hotels sell through opaque outlets, but those outlets that do see a big advantage: Opaque outlets allow a hotel to cut its rates selectively without openly advertising their cuts. That means they can "protect" their official pricing while still dealing with a few price-sensitive customers they know they aren't likely to attract at list prices.

BackBid's main advantage is that you know the hotel making a cut-price offer and don't have to accept it unless you like it. Instead, you can stick with whatever you considered to be your best available deal. But BackBid also has some drawbacks:...read more»

Train in a Paris Station (Photo: iStockphoto/Perry Kroll)

Even though the Eurail rail pass idea has been a constant in European travel for more than 50 years, the details keep evolving. The latest addition is Turkey, which will be added to the Eurail Global and Eurail Select pass lineup starting on the first of the year. The Global option is the current version of the original "valid on all participating systems" concept, and the addition of Turkey raises the total number of countries to 24. The Global option is available in two versions: "continuous," covering 15 days to three months of consecutive-day travel starting any time during the three-month period, and "flexible," providing 10 or 15 travel days over a two-month period. Select passes cover three to five adjacent countries, with a wide range of dates. The Select option covers almost all possible combinations of three, four, or five adjacent countries, with flexible versions for a range of traveling days. ...read more»

A hurricane from above (Photo: Index Open)

Fee waivers for Hurricane Sandy vary slightly, but all offer affected travelers some rebooking options....read more»

China: Great Wall of China (Photo: iStockphoto/Xin Zhu)

Enter Marriott Vacation Club Marriott Vacation Club International's Dream. Escape. Indulge. sweepstakes for a chance to win the grand prize: a choice of one tour package for two (options include China, Australia, and Italy) with enough United frequent flyer miles to cover business-class air, and a $2,500 Visa gift card.

There are also monthly runner-up prizes consisting of more modest tour packages, 50,000 United miles, and $500 gift cards.

To enter, provide the requested information (name, address, email) on the sweepstakes landing page, and press "submit."

Time required to enter: under 30 seconds....read more»

Airport security check sign (Photo: iStockPhoto.com/Stephen Finn)

Aiming to skip the long check-in counter lines, many airline passengers these days print their boarding passes ahead of time. Unfortunately, this technology could pose a security threat.

Flyers who are part of the TSA's PreCheck program are eligible to get lighter and faster screenings at certain airports. This means they sometimes get perks like leaving their shoes on, keeping their 3-1-1 liquids inside carry-ons, and going through separate security lanes....read more»

Photo: South Florida Water Management District

Thousands of international and domestic flights have been canceled ahead of Hurricane Sandy, leaving millions of flyers to cope with upended travel plans as the storm heads toward land.

According to the latest update from FlightAware, more than 6,800 flights have been canceled for Sunday and Monday. Most inbound and departing flights in D.C.-area airports have been canceled for today. Additionally, all flights in and out of Philadelphia International Airport today have been suspended. Dozens of other airports in the northeastern U.S. are seeing large numbers of cancellations and delays; check your airport website for more information.

The storm has deeply impacted worldwide travel, as flyers with plans to head to the northeastern United States have been left stranded across the globe. The Huffington Posts reports that "Delays rippled across the U.S., affecting travelers in cities such as San Francisco to Chicago, and disruptions spread to Europe and Asia, where airlines canceled or delayed flights to New York and Washington from cities that are major travel hubs including London, Paris, Tokyo,  and Hong Kong."...read more»

Dinner bill (Photo: IndexOpen)

We wax nostalgic in this week's round-up of travel stories, with a look at a vintage airport menu from 1941.

What Airport Food Was Like in 1941

We love reading about the golden age of air travel, so naturally, we wanted to share this post from Budget Travel, which highlights a vintage airport menu made available by the New York Public Library's archive. According to the menu, for a mere 45 cents (seven bucks when adjusted for inflation), you could get a veal lunch with sides of veggies, fruit, and Jello at the La Guardia Coffee Shop. Sure beats the $7 soggy sandwich at your terminal grab-and-go these days. Now if only the 1940s had Wi-Fi....read more»

Globe Passport Plane Ticket (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

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.

Earn Triple Points for All JetBlue Flights

Through November 15, JetBlue TrueBlue members can earn triple points on all JetBlue flights. Southwest and AirTran have similar offers in place. ...read more»

Airport -  Busy check-in area (Photo: San Francisco International Airport)

You might remember when the Department of Transportation (DOT) enacted new airfare advertising rules early this year. The regulations, which went into effect in January, require airlines to include all mandatory government taxes and fees in advertised prices of plane tickets. So now, the price you see on airline websites or online travel agencies (OTAs) is the price you pay.

But are the DOT's new advertising rules enough? According to a report on Travel Weekly, the consumer committee that advises the DOT has recommended further consumer protections. The committee wants OTAs to "disclose the fact that they do not offer for sale all airlines' tickets, if that is the case, and that additional airlines may serve the route being searched."

The committee, though, did not ask that ancillary charges—optional costs for extras like priority boarding and premium seats—be featured prominently during the booking process on OTAs to help consumers compare costs; the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) had previously recommend this. ...read more»

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