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<h2>Seattle, Washington</h2>
Copy Editor Carl Unger was pleasantly surprised by <a href="http://www.visitseattle.org/" target="_blank">Seattle's</a> cheap eats and glorious weather last May. "It turned out to be an amazing walking city, which you wouldn't expect because it has a reputation for bad weather," he says "We walked and walked all over, finding tons of great places to eat for cheap, including the Crumpet Shop, Hattie's Hat, Bimbo's Bitchin Burrito Kitchen, <a href="http://www.ddir.com/"target="_blank">Dick's Drive-In</a>, and <a href="http://www.beechershandmadecheese.com/"target="_blank">Beecher's Handmade Cheese</a>. We also made use of the endless produce at <a href="http://www.pikeplacemarket.org"target="_blank">Pike Place Market</a> and took picnics. We spent four very enjoyable days there and really didn't spend too much money."

To search for flights and compare prices to Seattle, use our <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/compare-prices/flights/?arrival_city=SEA">price-comparison tool</a>.

(Photo: Carl Unger)

Delta's incursions into Seattle, home base and main hub for Alaska Airlines, have been a hot topic in recent travel news, as the two airlines have duked it out, tit for tat, with bonus miles, elite status, and new routes.

But there was at least the glimmer of possibility of a rapprochement between the two airlines and former marketing partners, if Delta were to ease up on its mobilization efforts at Seattle and call for a cease fire. There was, after all, a line in the sand that Delta so far had not crossed. For all its growing importance to Delta, Seattle had not yet attained the status of a hub....read more»

Man reaching for suitcase on baggage carousal (Photo: Index Open)

Travelers are increasingly engaged with rewards credit cards, which offer more flexibility than traditional airline schemes....read more»

(Photo: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

If your spring and summer travel plans include a big city, presumably you don't need or even want a rented car, and you probably don't want to pay for taxis everywhere you go. So check the transit options. Fortunately, transit systems in many big cities offer a variety of all-day and multiday transit passes that allow you to use buses, light rail, subway, and even suburban railroads without having to pony up a separate fare every time you want a ride. Many cities offer senior deals, although you may have to obtain special senior ID. Here's a rundown of the options available in 10 of the top domestic destination cities. In most cases, the qualifying age for seniors is 65; a Medicare card is accepted as senior ID for fare payment or senior ID card. ...read more»

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

An increasing number of U.S. banks is issuing credit cards with embedded chips that require a signature, making them compatible with the security systems used in many areas of the world, especially Western Europe. Cards with chips generally provide stronger data security than those with the familiar magnetic stripe. (U.S. cards retain the magnetic stripe, however, for use where sellers do not yet have chip capability.)

But chip implementation by U.S. banks is not the same as in many other countries, most notably in Europe. There, implementation is in the form of chip and PIN, meaning that you enter a PIN into a portable scanner to verify your transaction. U.S. cards use a chip and sign system that requires you to provide your signature, as you do with a stripe card. When you present your card, the reader on the scanner notes, "signature required."...read more»

Photo: PhotoDisc

Have the airlines become too arrogant about steadily increasing their fees? Some prominent consumer advocates are starting to think so. Specifically, they believe that some fees, although nominally "optional," have become so high as to exceed any standard of reasonability and have reached the level of consumer abuse.

Ticket-fee changes—especially Delta's international fee up to $400, along with fees almost as high on other lines—appear to be the proximate targets. Although domestic fares and fees, including ticket change fees, have long been fully deregulated, the Department of Transportation (DOT) still has statutory authority over fees on international tickets. Specifically, existing legislation calls for international fees to be "reasonable." Industry mavens say the true cost of a ticket change is something less than $50, and that $400 therefore doesn't come even close to meeting the "reasonable" standard. Last year, the DOT refused to act on a consumer activist's formal complaint about international fees, so the road to change would be for someone to petition a court to require that the DOT enforce the existing law. ...read more»

Sinti Memorial, Berlin, Germany (Photo: Rick Steves)

While Germany sits in the driver's seat of Europe's economy, it doesn't take a cultural backseat either. Here are a few of the latest developments for 2014.

In Berlin, a multiyear renovation project continues at Museum Island, filled with some of the city's most impressive museums. Beginning in the fall and continuing until 2019, the star of the Greek antiquities collection in the Pergamon Museum—the Pergamon Altar—will be closed to visitors. The museum's north wing (formerly home to other Classical antiquities) is already closed. In the meantime, some Classical Greek artifacts can be seen at the nearby Altes Museum. In other Museum Island news, reserved timed-entry tickets are no longer required at the Pergamon and Neues museums. ...read more»

Miles & Points (Photo: Shutterstock)

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.

Lufthansa to Spin Off Mileage Program

Lufthansa yesterday confirmed rumors that it was planning to spin off its Miles & More frequent-flyer program. Other program spin offs haven't been welcomed by frequent flyers. ...read more»

Planes taking off behind pink sky (Photo: Index Open)

Enter the CheapOair "APP-solute Getaway" sweepstakes by June 31 for a chance to win 50 domestic U.S. flight vouchers. There are also monthly prize drawings for vacation trips....read more»

Lufthansa aircraft close up (Photo: Lufthansa)

Lufthansa confirmed long-simmering rumors that it was planning to spin off its Miles & More frequent-flyer program.

According to the airline's press release, "The Miles & More bonus programme is to be even more successful in its own company and will become more attractive for customers through additional programme partners. Revenue and profit should grow at a constant level in the coming years."

The move must be approved by Lufthansa's shareholders, who will vote on the matter at the company's annual meeting on April 29....read more»

(Photo: Traveler via Shutterstock)

The airlines have been on an investment tear lately, spending millions on upgrades to their business- and first-class cabins.

For those travelers who won't have an opportunity to sample the wide range of new business-class products, TheDesignAir, a website focused on all things design-related for airlines, has compiled its list of the top-10 international business classes, as follows:...read more»

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