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.

Merger Trial Start Date Set: November 25

A federal judge has set November 25 as the start date for the trial pitting the Justice department against would-be merger partners, American and US Airways....read more»

Photo: iStockphoto

A much-needed element of certainty has been injected in the contentious legal wrangling between the Department of Justice and would-be merger partners, American and US Airways.

The judge who will oversee the trial adjudicating the DOJ suit to halt the American-US Airways merger has set a tentative start date for the proceedings of November 25.

Referring to the DOJ's proposal that the trial begin in March 2014, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said, "March 3, I think, is too far off. It needs to be a tighter, expedited schedule." Her decision and implied reasoning validate the arguments of the American-US Airways legal team, which had pushed for a November 12 start date....read more»

Traveler Holding Sign (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

Travelocity—long viewed as one of the "big three" online travel agencies (OTAs) along with Expedia and Orbitz—has apparently thrown in the towel as an independent operation. According to reports, the company has entered an agreement with arch-competitor Expedia: The two sites will work together and Expedia will provide some back-end technology. At least for now, the Travelocity brand will remain active, but what you get will be Expedia in drag.

The landscape of giant OTAs seems to be changing. Priceline has morphed into a full-product OTA, not confined to its original opaque "name your price" model. So far, however, Orbitz seems to remain independent, along with many smaller niche players....read more»

Hotel: Twin Beds (Photo: Shutterstock/gnohz)

Although bedbugs are hard to eliminate, they're easy to avoid—if you know how. A new (or, at least, new to me) website, The Bedbug Registry, maps some 12,000 hotels in the U.S. and Canada where bedbugs have been reported. Findings are based on about 20,000 reports submitted by individual travelers, which the site posts along with, in some cases, information regarding what the hotel did about the problem.

My only beef with the website is its somewhat cumbersome mapping interface. Still, it's a great resource: It's free and voluntary, so travelers can check out the bedbug action where they're planning to go with little trouble....read more»

La Fresh Travel Lite Wipes (Photo: La Fresh)

Can this line of wipes beat the 3-1-1 rule?...read more»

American jet parked at the gate (Photo: iStockPhoto/Hal Bergman)

The Justice department on Tuesday filed a motion with the District Court for the District of Columbia requesting that the trial date to adjudicate the DOJ's suit seeking to block the American-US Airways merger be set for March 3, 2014.

The original DOJ proposal was for a February 2014 trial date, but the judge assigned to the case had already committed to another case beginning in mid-January and expected to last up to eight weeks....read more»

Photo: iStockphoto

Although it's now ancient history—and a plotline American executives would rather be forgotten—it's worth remembering that before US Airways chief Doug Parker bulled his way into the conversation, American insisted loudly and often that its post-merger future was as a stand-alone carrier.

Fast-forward to today, and American is equally vociferous in its embrace of the opposite position. Now the airline proclaims that it can't compete against the likes of Delta and United unless it merges with US Airways....read more»

Woman: Waiting, Sitting on Red Suitcase (Photo: Shutterstock/SFC)

This week, the travel blogosphere was abuzz with news that American had—overnight and with no advance notice—begun collecting fuel surcharges for AAdvantage award tickets issued for travel on other airlines. And indeed, there were screenshots of AAdvantage award bookings showing fuel surcharges where none had previously existed.

Here's American's official statement on the matter:...read more»

Clear Registered Traveler Sign at Orlando Airport (Photo: flickr.com)

I'm always on the lookout for ways to make travel easier, faster, or better. So when I saw a discounted trial membership for CLEAR (on a group-sale site), I snapped it up, eager to test out the system and see if it was for me, without having to invest too much money up front.

CLEAR is a biometrics-based pre-clearance system that allows passengers to skip the line at airport security and get straight to the screening. So far, only six U.S. airports have CLEARlanes, but because my home airport (San Francisco International) is one of them, I thought it was worth checking out.

I found the possibility of shorter airport wait times intriguing, but the reality ended up being far more compelling than I expected....read more»

Product: Cabeau Evolution Pillow, Blue Display (Photo: Cabeau)

Can a travel pillow be comfortable and compact?...read more»

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