Restaurant Table - Up close of silverware (Photo: iStockphoto/mbbirdy)

Every major U.S. airline program has a dining-miles component, allowing program members to earn miles at thousands of participating restaurants when paying with a credit card registered with the program.

Starting today, members of Virgin America's Elevate program can earn points when dining at restaurants that participate in the MOGL network.

There are currently 2,000 restaurants in the MOGL network, all in California (San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Ventura, San Francisco). According to a company representative, MOGL plans to expand to 20 cities across the country within the next 18 months....read more»

Montreal skyline from the Old Port (Photo: Tourisme Montreal, Stephan Poulin)

Is anybody surprised that VIA Rail Canada is running yet another half-off sale? The last ticketing date is January 28, for travel through June 15.

The basics haven’t changed: It’s good for both economy and business class, with no advance purchase. As before, these sale fares are 50 percent off whatever seasonal fares are in effect when you travel; other discounts do not apply, and seats are limited. The sample one-way fares remain: $C69 Montreal-Toronto in coach, $C117 in business class....read more»

Delta's BusinessElite cabin (Photo: Delta Air Lines photography)

When Delta announced its new-for-2014 policies governing elite qualification, it added fuel to the ongoing speculation that Delta is in the process of developing a revenue-based program that, like those of Southwest and JetBlue, will reward travelers according to how much they spend rather than how far they fly.

During Tuesday's quarterly earnings conference call for financial analysts, Delta president Ed Bastian made some impromptu comments that give further credence to that speculation.

Referring to SkyMiles, AP reports that Bastian said that Delta plans to shift the program "to drive the type of customer behavior that we would like to encourage." He elaborated as follows:

"I think before we didn't discern between a customer that was a high-yielding customer versus a low-yielding customer. I think that as we continue to evolve those programs we'll be continuing to favor the higher-yielding customers over the lower-yielding customers."

That is exactly what a revenue-based program would do, by linking earnings to airfare and pricing awards according to the cost of comparable paid tickets....read more»

Machu Picchu, Peru (Photo: Adalberto Rios Szalay/Sexto Sol)

The Reader Mailbag is a periodic feature of Today in Travel in which we answer questions about stories published by SmarterTravel. Want to weigh in? Leave a comment below!

So what, exactly, is a tourist trap, and what makes such a place worthwhile or a waste of time? Those are the questions at the heart of the conversation we've been having with readers over the past few weeks in the wake of two stories about tourist traps that have generated quite a bit of buzz, both positive and negative.

On Monday, we published a story called 10 Tourist Traps We Secretly Love (penned by yours truly). We thought it would be a nice counterpoint to another recent article, 10 Most Overrated Tourist Traps (and What to See Instead). Here are a few comments that sum up the negative response to our stories:

  • "What a shame to call these places tourist traps. Madame Toussaud is a tourist trap. Las Vegas is a gigantic tourist trap. But Versailles? The Colosseum? Machu Picchu? Come on!" —J.S.
  • "I betcha I'm not the only one who wouldn't ever use the term 'tourist trap' to describe the great natural and cultural wonders of the world. To me a 'tourist trap' is typically a hyped-up, probably man-made experience that's more about good marketing than anything else." —S.M.
  • "How can you call the Grand Canyon a tourist trap?" —B.F.

...read more»

Mostar, Bosnia (Photo: Bojan Fatur, iStockPhoto.com)

Smart budget travel isn't just about saving money—it's about maximizing your experience. Let me stoke your travel dreams by sharing some of my favorite European experiences from 30 years of crisscrossing the Continent.

In Dublin, be the only tourist among 50,000 cheering fans at a hurling match—that uniquely Irish game that's as rough-and-tumble as airborne hockey (with no injury time-outs). Matches are held most Saturday or Sunday afternoons in summer at Dublin's Croke Park Stadium. Choose a county to support, buy something colorful to wear or wave, scream yourself hoarse, and you'll be a temporary local. ...read more»

Luggage: Open Bag in Closet (Photo: Shutterstock/Africa Studio)

Packing mishaps range from merely inconvienient (heading to the Caribbean without your favorite swimsuit) to downright disastrous (finding you've left the country without your wallet or medication) but most are preventable.

To help you arrive with everything you need, we've created this ultimate packing list for your checked bag, complete with suggestions of items to separate out into a carry-on. Print it out, then customize it for your trip by crossing out list items that don't apply to you and adding any new ones that do....read more»

American Airlines aircraft tail (Photo: American Airlines)

American's new logo and livery are getting plenty of attention and commentary, much of it negative.

Here are some recent comments from the initial coverage:

  • They should spend the money on customer experience rather than on rebranding. Plus, it is really ugly. (Corey)
  • ...read more»

American plane taxiing down the runway (Photo:  Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport)

Last week's announcement by American Airlines touting its modernization is typical of the message the airlines send us these days. The announcement was pure hype: a video clip, keyed to the new paint job the line is adopting, had the line's CEO claiming that the new paint job outside the plane reflects the great product American has inside the plane. Sadly, like so much in the airline business, clever hype obscures harsh reality.

I'm not sure why, but airline executives get really excited about their line's paint scheme or, as they call it, "livery," and they make a big deal of any change. They pay big bucks to a "prestige" design company, which delivers a layout that's usually different from the old one—and usually no more compelling. I'm reminded of the case many years ago when Western Airlines hired a famous (and expensive) designer to produce a new paint scheme that, when unveiled, turned out to be a look-alike for the logo Winnebago had used on its RVs for years. ...read more»

Arequipa Market, Peru (Photo: Laura Elise Yates)

Guest blogger Laura Elise lives in Peru and writes for SA Luxury Expeditions, a specialized travel company that plans and operates private Peru tour packages.

Though many travelers equate Peru with Machu Picchu, there's much more to this Andean country than ruins and mountains (although those are indeed worth a visit). Peru is a country where history mixes with modernity and the language of the Incas is still spoken in villages throughout the countryside. For those looking to experience the vibrant culture of Peru, here are several activities that will take you off the beaten tourist track and into the heart of Peruvian culture....read more»

Hotel: Concierge Bell (Photo: Shutterstock/Levent Konuk)

When Priority Club announced that it would be putting in place a new award-pricing scheme based on categories rather than hotel brands, the natural question was whether the new award chart would amount to a price increase.

The new award prices were published on the Priority Club website on January 18. So, are they higher, lower, or the same?

The answer: It depends. And it's not easy to tell.

According to Priority Club, award prices were raised for 30 percent of the hotels and lowered for another 30 percent.

Does that mean the pluses offset the minuses, resulting in no net change?

Not at all. A two-category increase here is not mitigated by a one-category decrease there. And vice versa....read more»

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