Follow these five simple rules for flying over the holidays and the world will be the better for it....read more»

Flamenco Dancer, Spain (Photo: Rick Steves)

Sevilla, the capital of Spain's southern Andalucia region, is as soulful a place as I've ever been. It's a wonderful-to-be-alive kind of town, buzzing with festivals, heat, color, guitars, and castanets.

The gateway to the New World in the 16th century, Sevilla boomed during Spain's Golden Age. The explorers Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, and Ferdinand Magellan sailed from its great river harbor, discovering abundant sources of gold, silver, cocoa, and tobacco. For a time, these New World riches turned Sevilla into Spain's largest and wealthiest city. ...read more»

Airport: Stressed Man Checking In

Delta and United have recently devalued their frequent-flyer programs for travel starting next spring. United's changes are effective in February. Delta, for some reason, decided to make two changes, one effective February 1 and another effective June 1. Cutting off the puppy dog's tail an inch at a time rather than all at once? American and US Airways, presumably preoccupied with the merger, haven't responded yet, but you can almost certainly expect some changes. ...read more»

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

Kayak published some additional holiday travel guidance, again based on mining its extensive airfare- and hotel-cost data:

  • Airfares to Las Vegas during the mid-December "dead zone" are as much as 61 percent below peak fares. The lowest-cost day is December 11, but fares are good until just before the start of the Christmas vacation period. Hotel rates are also really good during this period—but watch out for the "resort fee" scam that makes the featured rates look a lot lower than they really are....read more»
Air: Plane Flying in Foul Weather (Photo: iStockphoto/byllwill)

As of yesterday, American Airlines had canceled almost 500 flights as heavy winter weather descended on its main hub at Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW). The storm is forecast to move eastward over the next few days, raising the possibility of heavy Thanksgiving weekend cancellations at such busy easterly hubs as Atlanta and Charlotte. So far, no other big airline has announced similar cancellations; what the other airlines do depends on how the storm progresses. ...read more»

Air: Pilots in Cockpit (Photo: Shutterstock/Tatiana Popova)

After numerous incidents of pilots and air traffic controllers falling asleep while on the job, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced a new policy that will require overweight pilots and controllers to undergo testing for obstructive sleep apnea, reports CNN....read more»

Bonnieux, France (Photo: Steve Smith)

Coming from a picnicking, backpacker-travel heritage, it's taken me decades to recognize the value of a fine meal. Now I can enthusiastically embrace a long, drawn-out "splurge meal" as a wonderful investment in time and money.

Nowhere is this more true than in France. French cuisine is sightseeing for your taste buds. You're not just paying for the food—it's a three-hour joyride for the senses—as rich as visiting an art gallery and as stimulating as a good massage. ...read more»

CitySlips Ear Muffs (Photo: CitySlips)

What Is it: CitySlips Tech Earmuffs, earmuffs that double as headphones....read more»

United: Docked Planes (Photo: Shutterstock/Songquan Deng)

In a bid to curry favor with the financial community, United today unveiled a plan to cut costs by $2 billion annually, and increase ancillary revenue by $700 million.

The plan may bring smiles to the faces of United's stockholders and others with a stake in the airline's profitability. But United's customers should be worried.

Although the plan makes only vague references to actual tactics—"reducing fuel consumption, increasing productivity, reducing sourcing costs, improving maintenance processes and inventory procedures, and optimizing distribution methods"—it's hard to imagine making such significant cuts in costs without cutting back on services to its customers....read more»

(Photo:Karl Baron via flickr/CC Attribution)

While going through the airport for that Thanksgiving flight, you might find yourself directed toward the expedited-security lane—even if you haven't enrolled in a Trusted Traveler program or signed up for PreCheck. Call it an early Christmas gift from your friends at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Quietly, the TSA has begun to randomly offer PreCheck to select travelers on a per-flight basis. Last month, the New York Times reported that the TSA has increased its efforts to prescreen passengers before they even arrive at the airport. The TSA is combing private and government databases, which may include anything from property records to frequent-flyer accounts, to evaluate individuals in advance. According to the Times, a spokesperson from the TSA said that the agency's goal is "to identify low-risk travelers for lighter screening at airport security checkpoints, adapting methods similar to those used to flag suspicious people entering the United States."...read more»

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