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Air: Passenger-Filled Cabin (Photo: Shutterstock/dundanim)

The new early boarding option will be available beginning 45 minutes prior to the flight departure time....read more»

Couple Walking in Aspen (Photo: Jeremy Swanson)

Enter the Food & Wine "Classic in Aspen" sweepstakes by January 31 for a chance to win the grand prize: a four-day trip for two to Aspen, including air, hotel, and passes to the Food & Wine Classic event.

To enter, provide your email address and zip code on the sweepstakes landing page and press "Submit." Time required to enter: under 15 seconds.

Note that by entering the sweepstakes, you are agreeing to receive the thrice-weekly newsletter, The Dish. If it's not of interest, you can unsubscribe at any time.

The Fine Print

  • Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the United States, including the District of Columbia, who are at least 21 years of age at the time of entry.
  • Approximate Retail Value ("ARV") of the grand prize: $4,999.
  • ...read more»

Security: Body Scanner Screen (Photo: Shutterstock/Dikiiy)

Airport security is getting somewhat less creepy. By June 2013, TSA agents will no longer have access to images of passengers' naked bodies.

On Friday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pledged to remove invasive Rapiscan body scanners from airports. According to the TSA Blog, because the Rapiscan scanners lack required software that protects passengers' privacy, the 174 backscatter units will be phased out—at Rapiscan's expense—by June 1.

The scanners, which capture pictures of passengers' bodies without clothing, lack privacy software that obscures graphic images of people. The software is called Automated Target Recognition (ATR), and it transforms clear snapshots of near-naked passengers into unrecognizable cartoon-like outlines, similar to stick figures. ...read more»

Photo: Delta Air Lines

For some time, my colleague Tim Winship and I have been warning about future tightening of frequent-flyer programs. Specifically, we've noted that airlines would like to tie benefits more to what you pay for your ticket than how many miles you log. Delta seems to be spearheading the effort, and although no big competitor has followed yet, you can expect "me, too" responses fairly quickly.

Delta's latest move is to tighten qualifications for elite status. Now, in addition to just miles, you have to meet spending thresholds for coveted elite status: Starting in 2025, first-level silver status will require $2,500 in spending annually, along with the previous 25,000 miles or 30 segments of actual flying; gold will require $5,000 in spending/50,000 miles/60 segments; platinum will require $7,500 in spending/75,000 miles/100 segments; diamond will require $12,500 in spending/125,000 miles/140 segments. Delta will waive the dollar requirement if you charge $25,000 a year to a Delta credit card....read more»

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo: Wikipedia via CC Attribution)

Talk about the best birthday present ever.

You've got to think that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be smiling down as we, on the same day, celebrate his birth and the second inauguration of Barack Obama, our first African-American president.

Ask your kids if they think Dr. King could have ever imagined this day when he gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, in front of 200,000 civil rights supporters, he resolutely called for an end to racism in the United States.

"I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character," Dr. King said. "I have a dream today!" ...read more»

Globe Passport Plane Ticket (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and 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.

Delta Moves To Revenue Scheme with Elite Changes

Delta this week announced changes to its elite program that are consistent with an eventual switch to a revenue-based loyalty program, like those of Southwest and JetBlue. ...read more»

Hunting for airfare that costs less than the down payment on your car? Let someone else do the looking. Fare-alert platforms, which send email notices when ticket prices plunge, are an excellent way to procure the cheapest possible airfare for your itinerary. Signing up for fare alerts saves time and effort. And since most sites employ advanced technology to monitor routes and prices, this option is most likely more effective than doing a search yourself.

Below are some of the biggest and best sites that offer fare alerts, with a brief description of what each site has to offer....read more»

Product: Ultimate Upright (Photo: Delsey)

What Is it: The Delsey Helium Ultimate 25 inch Expandable Spinner Trolley suitcase....read more»

Delta aircraft on the ground and taking off (Photo: Delta)

It has long been speculated that at least some major airlines, principally Delta and US Airways, were preparing to follow the lead of Southwest and JetBlue in switching from traditional miles- or segment-based loyalty programs to a revenue-based program model that awards points according to the price of purchased tickets, and prices awards according to the market price of comparable paid tickets.

Delta yesterday announced changes to its elite program that are consistent with such a move, although there's still no official confirmation that a wholesale change is forthcoming....read more»

(Photo: American Airlines)

American published images of its new corporate logo and aircraft livery, designed to symbolize the airline's reboot after more than a year in bankruptcy.

The new logo brings together stylized versions of the airline's traditional eagle, star, and "A" (for American).

Because most of the new planes due to be delivered to American in the coming months and years are made of lightweight composite materials that must be painted, the new livery features aircraft bodies painted "silver mica," maintaining the unpainted silver bird look that has become so identified with American's fleet. The tail section is defined by horizontal bands of red and blue. And "American" is painted prominently in blue across the planes' fore sections....read more»

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