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.

Surprise, the Airports with the Most Guns Are ...

The list of the top 10 airports where you're most likely to cross paths with the country's would-be flying gunslingers includes some surprises....read more»

Oahu (Photo: Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau)

Enter the Hilton Great Getaway Giveaway sweepstakes by August 4 for a chance to win one of four grand prizes, as determined by participants' votes, including trips for two to Thailand, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Orlando, New York, or Napa Valley. All packages include air and hotel for two, a $500 HHonors gift card, and up to $2,300 spending money.

To participate, vote for your favorite travel package, provide the requested contact information on the sweepstakes website, and press "enter." Time required to enter: less than 30 seconds. ...read more»

Security: TSA Handing Bag to Female Traveler (Photo: Thinkstock/Creatas)

"Gun!"

Not exactly what you want to hear when you're halfway through the airport security scanner, wondering if the TSA agent noticed that your sock has a hole in its toe.

Gun alerts are rare, of course. Most self-respecting terrorists are too canny to consider smuggling a firearm on board. And travelers with no hidden agenda know that waving a .357 Magnum around isn't likely to get them an upgrade.

But flyers—mostly the clueless and the forgetful, it turns out—do indeed try to clear security with guns in their carry-ons. And they do it more at some airports than at others.

According to a report by the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative at Northwestern University, last year the TSA confiscated 1,525 guns at airport checkpoints. Of those, 85 percent were loaded; and chillingly, 26 percent had a cartridge in the chamber....read more»

Photo: American Airlines

At yesterday's Senate Subcommittee on Aviation, US Airways' Doug Parker and American's Gary Kennedy made their case for the American-US Airways merger, reiterating their contention that, basically, bigger is better for all concerned:

A broader airline network is better for passengers because it gives them more choices, a wider variety of services, and more competition on more routes. The network is able to provide these choices and services because it aggregates demand that independently cannot support profitable service, but collectively can do so. Adding more origins and destinations to hubs has an exponential effect on the number of possible routings served by a network, the number of passengers that can be served, and the ways that they can be served.

More choice and more competition. Sounds good, right?...read more»

Money: Stacking Coins (Photo: Shutterstock/Ferenc Cegledi)

First Delta and now United have quietly added a "minimum qualifying dollars" ticket-price requirement for achieving various levels of elite status in each airline's frequent-flyer program.

The basic math is simple: To reach each level, you have to fly a specified number of miles—25,000 for the first level—and spend at least $2,500 on tickets. Obviously, that works out to an average of 10 cents a mile. Higher elite levels on either airline keep to the 10-cents-a-mile formula.

The basic idea is simple: Too many travelers are earning elite status, with the result that too many elites are chasing too few of those precious upgrades. The airlines don't want frequent leisure travelers to pile up status by flying on a lot of cheap tickets—or, even worse, to have business travelers take advantage of low-fare deals. These new dollar limits are established to avoid such "problems."...read more»

Jetsetter App (Photo: Jetsetter)

We like to start our mornings by drooling over the gorgeous hotels featured in the Jetsetter daily e-mails, so we were thrilled when our parent company, TripAdvisor, acquired the upscale booking site earlier this year....read more»

Blu Kicks (Photo: Blu Kicks)

What Is It: Blu Kicks, slip-on shoes for men and women.

Price and Where to Buy: $58 on the Blu Kicks' website.

Pros: The first time I tested these, I walked two miles—and didn't get a single blister! The Blu Kicks' are comfortable from the get-go, with no breaking in required. They come with cushy, removable, textured insoles, which prevent your feet and legs from becoming fatigued like they can in normal flats. The shoes can get wet without damage, dry, fast, and are machine washable (and dry-able). The bottoms are non-slip and non-marking, so these can easily go from the boat deck, to the city streets, to the boardwalk. These shoes are so stylish—I got the Panama Stripe design, and received tons of compliments. Bonus: $1 from every pair of Blu Kicks sold goes to an ocean-protecting charity....read more»

(Photo: jikatu via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike)

In the future, flyers will speed through check-in and airport security with the tap of a smartphone. The technology exists. And the next step—the process of implementation at U.S. airports—has already begun.

Yesterday, SITA, a multinational company (owned in part by major airlines) that develops services and technology for airlines and airports around the world, announced the launch of a seven-year partnership with Miami International Airport. The deal could bring self-service boarding kiosks and other pioneering technology to the Florida hub.

Airlines have already been testing do-it-yourself boarding at select gates in a handful of U.S. airports. Additionally, self-boarding is in use extensively at airports in Europe and Asia. The technology hasn't quite gotten its footing in the U.S., though. But Miami International will be the first hub in America to test SITA AirportConnect Open, the platform that provides self-boarding at gates, throughout the whole airport.  ...read more»

Plane Flying Under Rainbow (Photo: Thinkstock/Hemera)

Skytrax has been conducting its World Airline Survey since 1999. For 2013, the survey results covered more than 200 airlines, with respondents representing more than 100 different nationalities. The company boasts that it uses sophisticated data-weighting algorithms to compensate for different sample sizes, and has fraud-detection mechanisms in place to maintain the results' legitimacy. And the research is not funded by any of the ranked companies.

In other words, as surveys of the world's airlines go, this is arguably the gold standard....read more»

Woman Frustrated at Laptop (Photo: iStockphoto/Brent Holland)

Effective immediately—and with no advance notice—United has increased the fees non-elite MileagePlus members will pay to change an award booking or cancel an award booking and have the miles redeposited into a MileagePlus account.

...read more»

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