Airport: TSA Agent (Photo: Thinkstock/Creatas)

Ever wonder what kind of training TSA agents receive? NJ.com takes readers inside a training session, and what happens there may surprise you. ...read more»

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

As the drumbeat portending a US Airways-American merger get ever louder, the attention has shifted from if or when the two airlines will become one to who will lead the new company.

It matters.

The two companies have vastly different corporate cultures, different business strategies, different values, different relationships with their customers.

Inevitably, the new American (assuming that's the surviving name) will either be more like the current American or more like the current US Airways. And which of those models is ascendant largely depends on whether the American or the US Airways management team ends up in control of the new company.

As the company in bankruptcy, American is the weaker of the two companies, which should give US Airways the upper hand when it comes to negotiating the merged companies' future management structure....read more»

American jet parked at the gate (Photo: iStockPhoto/Hal Bergman)

On Saturday, an American Airlines crew made a disturbing discovery during a routine maintenance check at Kennedy Airport. The seats on a Boeing 757 had been installed improperly and would have blocked the plane's emergency exits in the event of an evacuation.

According to a New York Post report, the problem traces back to early December when maintenance was performed on the plane's interior by TIMCO Aviation Services Inc. in North Carolina.

TIMCO, it turns out, is the same company already under investigation for its part in failing to properly secure seats on American B757s in October. That incident led to seats sliding around the cabin and resulted in three emergency landings (although no evacuations) and the cancellation of hundreds of flights....read more»

Idaho: McCall (Photo: Alex Watson)

Alex Watson is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing about personal finance and does his best to take his own advice. When he's not writing, he enjoys reading the classics and keeping his box turtle, Sparky, company. He currently writes for cash for gold buyer GoldMax USA.com.

Idaho is an American state in the Pacific Northwest that is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the world. With stimulating activities year round and proximity to major travel hubs, Idaho represents a travel destination for anyone frequenting the western United States. North America is overflowing with possible activities, and the boot-shaped state bordering Canada is hardly an exception. Even better, the offerings in Idaho come at a fraction of the cost compared to many other destinations, making the location even more desirable for those on a tight budget. Below I list prime spots in The Gem State that will keep money in your pocket and add memories to your photo album....read more»

The Swifts, Portland, OR (Photo: Chase Clark)

Who: Julianne Lowell, 27, and partner, 30 

Where I Went: Portland, OR

When: September 2012

High Points: Swift Lounge/The Swifts

When you arrive in Portland, first thing's first: It's imperative to grab a cold beer at one of the city's many neighborhood bars. We started off our visit with a few rounds and a late dinner at Swift Lounge, which serves some of the best bar snacks around. Let's just say: I could eat a bowl of their crispy Brussels sprouts, sautéed in olive oil then roasted with toasty garlic, every single day.

...read more»
Grumpy Old Man on Computer (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

Someone's been encouraging online critics to get better service than you. Here's why that's totally not cool....read more»

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner (Photo: Boeing Image)

All eyes are on Boeing this morning as the aerospace giant reports its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings and, perhaps, comments on its progress in identifying and fixing the problems that have grounded all 50 copies of its marquee product, the 787 Dreamliner.

The company reported revenue for the period of $22.3 billion, and $81.7 billion for the full year. Both were record highs for the company. Profit for the year: $3.9 billion.

But looking ahead, the specter of those grounded Dreamliners loomed large. Boeing's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney didn't mince words: "Our first order of business for 2013 is to resolve the battery issue on the 787 and return the airplanes safely to service with our customers."...read more»

Laptop keyboard (Photo: Index Open)

Last week, I reported on the recent findings from CheapAir about how far in advance you're likely to find the lowest airfares. The overall answer: Seven weeks. But the question has another shorter-term dimension: predictions about whether any fare you find is likely to go up or down during the following week.

The newest player in this game is Kayak, the big online fare and rate aggregator, which just introduced a new feature. For a flight search, you log on, enter the usual itinerary details, and the site returns not only the usual array of fares, airlines, and schedules, but also a "price trend" arrow with a forecast about what will happen to fares over the next week. On January 17, I started a test, checking fares that day and again a week later, on January 24. The sample test results: ...read more»

(Photo: Plane via Shutterstock)

Some travel stories seem designed more to generate heat rather than inform consumers. Two in particular have been a bit over the top.

Last week, we were treated to a flood of stories about Southwest charging $40 to board early. Well, yes, you pay $40 to move up when you're at the gate. But if you know you'll want to move to an earlier group, you can do that in advance for a modest $10. Just opt for Early Bird check-in when you buy your ticket.

Early boarding on Southwest provides several advantages. Because Southwest doesn't assign seats in advance, early boarding means you're more likely to avoid getting stuck in a middle seat. If you're traveling as a couple, you'll have a better chance at sitting together. And you'll have early access to the overhead baggage bin before it fills completely....read more»

Southwest 737 jet approaching runway (Photo: iStockPhoto/Lowell Sannes)

SmarterTravel's Airfare Q&A is a periodic feature of the Today in Travel blog in which our airfare reporter Patricia Magaña answers reader questions on topics related to flights and fares. Got a question for Pati? Leave a comment below.

Dear Pati,

I know Southwest purchased AirTran back in 2011. Can you tell me when their merger will be final and if it means that Southwest will take over AirTran's routes? Also, which airline's bag-fee policy will they adopt?

—Dune Bug

Dear Dune Bug,

Though AirTran Airways became a wholly owned subsidiary of Southwest in May 2011, it wasn't until March 2012 that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted the two carriers approval to operate as a single airline. And it wasn't until that time that AirTran began to demonstrate transformative customer-facing effects. ...read more»

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