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Luggage on the belt (Photo: Index Open)

We guess "go big or go home" was the motto of two bold smugglers who were recently arrested in Thailand. The suspects were caught with over 10 percent of the entire world's population of ploughshare tortoises at the airport....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.

New PointBreaks Awards for 5,000 Points Per Night

IHG Rewards Club (formerly Priority Club Rewards) has just released its list of PointBreaks hotels available for booking for just 5,000 points per night through June. ...read more»

Airport: Stressed Man Checking In

United chief Jeff Smisek is bullish on the airline industry.

In his presentation to the Chamber of Commerce's Aviation Summit, he enthused that, "for the first time, I have hope for this business. And when I say hope for this business, I mean transforming this from an airline into a business." A profitable business, that is.

Smisek was referring to the fact that, as famously pointed out by Warren Buffet, in the history of commercial air travel, airlines have lost more money than they've made....read more»

Young African-American Soldier on Crutches (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

Here's a nice change from our usual negative TSA stories: The TSA has begun letting injured military members go through expedited security screenings at airports. ...read more»

Dog in a Suitcase with Hat (Photo: iStockphoto/MoniqueRodriguez)

I know lots of travelers who like to have their pet dog or cat with them, even on vacations, and dog-show entrants sometimes need to move their animals quickly. But a recent report exposes the danger in shipping a pet by air: It claims that animal deaths are a lot more frequent than government records indicate.

A story posted on the NBC Bay Area website claims that more than 300 animals have died, have been injured, or have been lost by airlines over a period of six years. Moreover, says the story, the government figures apply to pet misfortunes only when the pet is shipped as checked baggage by an owner who is on the flight: If not, the animal counts as ordinary cargo and misfortunes are not counted....read more»

Businessmen Talking on Cell Phones (Photo: Blend Images/Shutterstock.com)

Ever wonder how your trips and points stack up against those of other frequent travelers?

Starwood published a year-end wrap-up featuring a variety of "biggest" and "most" accomplishments recorded by members of its Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program.

Naturally, the data points are cherry-picked with an eye toward promoting the program's earning and redemption opportunities. They're still illuminating....read more»

Woman: Shocked, Looking at iPad (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

The TSA was left red-faced (literally) after an incident at Newark Airport. The NY Post reports that TSA agent Chris Yves Dabel found a can of pepper spray at a security checkpoint in Newark Airport.

Dabel reportedly began playing with the canister (he told Port Authority cops that he "found the canister on the floor and thought it was a laser pointer"). ...read more»

(Photo: Plane Passengers via Shutterstock)

The Department of Transportation's (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics released its report on last year's airline traffic yesterday. While the results may hearten airlines and other travel-service providers, travelers themselves will find little cause for celebration.

First, the facts:

  • U.S. airlines carried 736.6 million passengers in 2012, an increase of 0.8 percent over the previous year.
  • Domestic passenger traffic was up 0.6 percent from 2011, to 642.2 million passengers.
  • ...read more»

Riddarfjarden, Stockholm, Sweden (Photo: David Buffington)

Norwegian, one of Europe's larger low-fare airlines, plans to fly nonstop from New York to Scandinavia starting May 30. The airline will operate three round-trips to Oslo and Stockholm, and connections to lots of European cities through those hubs.

Initial prices justify the carrier's "low fare" claim: I found a New York-to-Oslo round-trip ticket in regular economy, July 11-25, for $1,248; compare this with minimum rates on Kayak and Expedia of $1,434 nonstop or $1,091 with one stop on Icelandair. But the same trip in premium economy, at $1,780, is actually $84 higher than on SAS. Keep in mind that you could see lots of fare changes between now and July....read more»

Hotel: Two Beds One Headboard (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

Although you might think that wine blather has the highest percentage of B.S. in various media, hotel blather is mounting a stiff challenge. Yes, this is a rant, and not my usual focus. But every once in a while I get to rant a bit. And the focus of a recent press release about a new hotel in Las Vegas seemed particularly outrageous. Among the statements:

"never before seen Las Vegas experience creating an intimate urban resort"

"redefine the boutique hotel experience"

"ultimate in VIP treatment and unique social experiences"...read more»

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