Snow plow in the city (Photo: IndexOpen)

Winter storm Luna is disrupting flights in the midwestern and northeastern United States today. According to FlightStats, more than 700 flights have been canceled so far. And as is usually the case when big storms snarl travel, many airlines are waiving change fees for those in affected areas.

The busy New York-region is experiencing the brunt of delays and cancellations, with 177 flights canceled at Newark Liberty and 153 flights canceled at LaGuardia as of this afternoon, reports FlightStats. Dozens of flights have also been canceled in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Chicago airports. As the storm continues to move through and airports struggle to correct their schedules, travelers should expect to see further delays and cancellations at airports in the Midwest and Northeast this evening....read more»

(Photo: SmarterTravel Staff)

What Is It: Tieks ballet flats are foldable shoes for women.

Price and Where to Buy: The shoes start at $165 on the Tieks website.

Pros: Tieks are the higher-end version of CitySlips. They've already been reviewed by just about every travel blogger with feet. (Google "Tieks review." You'll see.) So we decided to throw some new information out there and review Tieks' Vegan Collection. They're the cheaper, more creature-friendly style of the popular Tieks....read more»

Costa Rica: Arenal Volcano (Photo: iStockphoto/Martin Harrison)

Enter the Land O' Lakes Coffee Lovers sweepstakes by April 7 for a chance to win the grand prize: a six-day trip to Costa Rica for two, including air, accommodations at an all-inclusive resort for five nights, and $1,000 spending money.

To receive one sweepstakes entry, enter the UPC code found on the website, provide your contact information, fill out a short questionnaire, and press "submit." Time required to enter: under one minute....read more»

Man with laptop on beach (Photo: IndexOpen)

For the second time in recent months, Delta's collection and use of its customers' data is coming under scrutiny.

In December, the State of California lodged a complaint against Delta for collecting personal information via its Fly Delta mobile app without notifying users that it was doing so.

The latest kerfuffle began last week with a FlyerTalk thread, "Delta and new DL.com Profiles a Lot About You," begun by BallardFlyer on January 24....read more»

TSA Agent Searching Bag (Photo: Carolina K. Smith, M.D. /Shutterstock.com)

A disturbing report from the Washington Times Communities blog claims that TSA agents are receiving training on how to react to a potential mass shooting incident at an airport checkpoint—and that the training basically tells the workers to "save themselves."

To be fair, TSA agents are not police officers, and they do not carry firearms on the job. The blog states that, "It is unclear whether the TSA is conducting the reported mass shooting scenario training at airports around the nation or only at the airport where our source, a veteran of the TSA, is assigned. The TSA source claims with obvious concern that his own life, along with the lives of other unarmed TSA personnel, would be in grave danger were an airport checkpoint shooting to unfold."

The blog also quoted their TSA source as saying, "Every day when I arrive for work, I look for an escape route in case someone opens fire ... We have been told to save ourselves."

Do you believe this blog and their anonymous source's claims about TSA training? Tell us why or why not in the comments.

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Money: Freefalling Cash (Photo: Shutterstock/aslysun)

David Bakke writes about smart shopping, travel, and money management on the blog, Money Crashers Personal Finance.

Whether you're a seasoned international traveler or are taking your first trip abroad, it can be quite easy to let the costs spiral out of control. And if you're on a tight personal budget, you may feel discouraged from ever planning a trip at all. However, international travel, even though more expensive than domestic travel, doesn't have to cost a fortune....read more»

Travel brochures (Photo: IndexOpen)

If it's a good deal (or a notably bad one) from an airline, hotel, or car-rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly....read more»

Gadget: Luggage Scale (Photo: Eat Smart Products)

What Is it: The EatSmart Precision Voyager Luggage Scale.

Price and Where to Buy: $19.95 at Amazon and EatSmart's website.

Pros: This luggage scale is small and light enough to bring on the road with you—it's only 5.5 ounces. The Voyager is also extremely easy to use and read. Simply clip the scale on your suitcase's handle and lift. The scale will then beep and automatically display the weight on the digital screen, which you can set to either pounds or kilograms. It seems like it would be tough to lift heavy bags with a scale, but the Voyager is designed to allow you to lift with two hands, so it's fairly easy—plus, you don't have to lift it far off the ground. We also love that the Voyager comes with the battery included.

Cons: The scale maxes out at 110 pounds, so if you're packing heavier than that, you're out of luck. (But probably out of luck with many airlines' weight allowances as well...)...read more»

Traveler walking in the rain (Photo: IndexOpen)

As a former airline and hotel marketer and a current commentator on the travel-rewards scene, loyalty programs have been a big part of my life for 30 years.

Based on the amount of feedback I receive from readers, and the amount of emotion fueling that feedback, it's easy to assume that rewards programs remain a central focus of other consumers as well.

But, realistically, I know that I'm dealing with a statistically insignificant sliver of the universe of consumers. We could be just a bubble in the ocean, a tiny minority with a perverse passion for marketing esoterica.

So whenever I come upon a study or survey of consumer engagement with loyalty programs from a trusted source, I give the results my undivided attention....read more»

Photo: PhotoDisc

In what could be a body blow to Boeing's reputation and sales of its flagship airliner, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today reported that its investigation into the cause of a battery fire onboard a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston's Logan airport is far from complete. (A PDF of the NTSB's report is here.)

Although the lithium-ion batteries are the focus of attention, it has yet to be established if the batteries themselves are at fault, or whether the problem lies with one of the many subsystems that monitor and charge the batteries.

In its coverage of today's NTSB briefing, the New York Times quoted an agency official as follows: "There are multiple systems to prevent against a battery event like this. Those systems did not work as intended. We need to understand why." And understanding why is just the first step in developing a fix for the problem and getting the grounded Dreamliners back in the air....read more»

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