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Passport: in Hand (Photo: Shutterstock/infinity21)

Several decades ago, a high-powered Madison Avenue ad man I know was heading to an important client meeting in Frankfurt. He had a reservation for a flight on Lufthansa, but when he got to JFK, he realized that his passport had just expired. Being a resourceful sort, he found a pencil, ducked into a handyman's room, and—very carefully—altered the expiration date. Maybe he was able to change a three to an eight, or something, but whatever the particulars, he got on the flight. Needless to say, that wouldn't work today with machine-readable documents and it wasn't a very good idea even then. ...read more»

Traveler walking in the rain (Photo: IndexOpen)

Changes to hotel programs' award prices are a fact of travel life.

Price increases inevitably outpace price decreases, resulting in an overall devaluation of members' banked points.

Grumbling ensues, but most travelers stop short of ditching the offending program because, well, all the programs are devaluing their points so there's little to be gained by switching.

The changes announced this week by Hilton may be of a different order, however. They could result in significant numbers of HHonors members not just bemoaning the higher prices but rethinking their loyalty altogether....read more»

American Airlines aircraft front (Photo: American Airlines)

Although some potential barriers remain—mainly getting the necessary financial and legal barriers—nobody seriously expects that American Airlines and US Airways will not complete their merger. Although the hard part of actually combining the two disparate lines remains, everyone in the industry would be hugely surprised if the deal doesn't get the required approvals and proceed.

Just because it will happen, however, doesn't mean it should happen. Sure, those on the industry side of the airline business are virtually unanimous in claiming the merger will benefit everybody. Most analysts on the buyer side, on the other hand, are generally against: Just about all the consumer/user advocates I know, from "Consumer Traveler" Charlie Leocha to the Business Travel Coalition's Kevin Mitchell, oppose the merger. Some, in fact, if invited, may testify against it in regulatory congressional hearings—I certainly would. Why are we concerned? I would suggest four main problems. ...read more»

Credit Card: People Passing Card (Photo: iStockphoto/Marcus Clackson)

The latest study from industry consulting company IdeaWorks focuses on a particularly convoluted corner of the loyalty program landscape, travel-rewards credit cards.

Specifically, the study compares the value delivered by the co-branded cards linked to the programs of the five largest U.S. carriers (American, Delta, Southwest, United, US Airways) to the independent travel-rewards cards offered by the bank issuers (American express Blue Sky Preferred, Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard, Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa or MasterCard, Citi ThankYou Premier Visa). Conspicuously missing from the study are significant rewards cards such as Membership Rewards-linked cards from American Express and the Venture card from Capital One....read more»

People: Crying Baby (Photo: Shutterstock/Felix Mizioznikov)

Ever been frustrated by a crying baby on a flight? Hopefully you didn't take out your anger by actually hitting it, like one passenger allegedly did earlier this month....read more»

Woman: On Bed with Laptop (Photo: Thinkstock/Wavebreak Media)

Enter the Hilton Hotels Million Point Giveaway sweepstakes by April 22 for a chance to win one of three grand prizes of one million Hilton HHonors points each.

To enter, provide your HHonors membership username and word, and press "submit." Time required to enter: under 30 seconds.

Additional entries may be obtained by completing stays at the Tropicana Las Vegas hotel....read more»

Plane Flying Under Rainbow (Photo: Thinkstock/Hemera)

It's no secret that American CEO and chairman Tom Horton was no great fan of the merger scenario proposed by his counterpart at US Airways, Doug Parker, in the early days of American's bankruptcy.

Thanks but no thanks, he said publicly. And word was his behind-the-scenes responses to US Airways' overtures were far more forceful and decidedly less diplomatic.

Horton's rage can only have intensified as Parker pressed his case with the media and cut deals with American's unions and creditors.

Fast-forward to a Texas news conference on February 14. Tom Horton and Doug Parker are announcing what has come to seem inevitable: The two airlines will indeed merge. Or, more accurately, US Airways is taking over American....read more»

Dry Dudz (Photo: Dry Dudz)

What Is it: DryDudz, a quick-drying swimsuit that converts from shorts, to a mid-rise boy-short, to a low-rise brief.

Price and Where to Buy: Hybrid board-short: $65; Bikini Top: $25;  Men's Board-shorts: $75. Available online at DryDudz.com....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.

Hyatt's New Promotion: 'More Possibilities'

Between March 1 and May 31, Hyatt Gold Passport members can earn 3,000 bonus points after every three nights, up to a maximum of 45,000 bonus points after 45 nights.

American-US Air Merger: Winners and Losers

American and US Airways confirmed details of their proposed merger. Among the likely losers: consumers, who will pay more and have less choice....read more»

Air: Aerial View from Airplane with Clouds (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

Yesterday evening, the boards of American and US Airways both voted as expected to approve a merger of the two airlines.

And this morning, details of the proposed merger were confirmed during a joint American-US Airways press conference.

The press conference was, in effect, a celebration of US Airways chief Doug Parker's dogged quest to take over a much larger company. Against considerable odds, he succeeded and Goliath is now David's bitch.

As behooves a celebration, everything about the merger was cast in a rosy light, lauding the supposed benefits for all concerned....read more»

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