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Rear of Airplane Landing at Sunset (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

This week, most U.S. airlines report their financial results for the first three months of 2014. And for the most part, the results thus far have been impressive, in spite of the negative effects of a stretch of unusually inclement winter weather, and high fuel prices.

American—which has its hands full implementing its merger with US Airways—managed a profit of $480 million, a record for the quarter.

Southwest's $152 million profit was also a record.

Delta beat its previous-year's performance by $7 million, with a $213 million profit for the first quarter of 2014.

JetBlue was disproportionately affected by the storms in the Northeast but still managed to turn a profit of $4 million.

United, on the other hand, lost a staggering $609 million for the quarter. So what's the problem?...read more»

Swiss aircraft close up (Photo: Swiss)

If you have allergies, you may want to consider booking with Swiss Airlines the next time you fly—the carrier is turning their planes into allergy-friendly vessels, starting May 1. According to NBC News, Swiss International Airline has received the world's first "allergy-friendly" airline certification from the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation....read more»

JetBlue Airplane in Sunset (Photo: JetBlue Airlines)

Earlier this week, JetBlue's pilots made a move that could have lasting repercussions for the airline, and for its customers. They voted to join the Air Line Pilots Association union.

The pilots are the first JetBlue workers group to unionize, but the initiative's success could well lead to the unionization of other employees.

In general, when employees vote to unionize, it signals some degree of tension or animosity between labor and management. After all, if workers feel their best interests are being fairly and fully addressed by a company's management, there would be no need to have a union represent them....read more»

HISY (Photo: SmarterTravel Staff)

What Is it: The HISY, a remote control for your smartphone's camera.

Price and Where to Buy: $23.52 on Amazon or $24.99 for the remote and stand, also on Amazon....read more»

Welcome to Upright Position, SmarterTravel's regular series in which Features Editor Caroline Costello discusses emotional and controversial travel topics. Got a question? Please send questions or comments about travel etiquette to editor@smartertravel.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Does anyone have the right to tell a fellow passenger to keep his eyeballs to himself?

This question is at the heart of privacy concerns among device-wielding plane passengers. Either you believe that what's playing on your screen is for your eyes only, or you're aware that shoulder-surfing passengers can spy your movies, magazines, and games.

Some of the folks who land in the former group are, to some degree, in denial, and have been known to view inappropriate materials in the close quarters of airplane cabins. There have been many reports of porn watching on planes, which, sadly, doesn't surprise me very much. I haven't seen any salacious content flashing on fellow flyers' screens myself, but I spoke to someone who has....read more»

Instagram Selfie Contest (Photo: SmarterTravel)

Even before selfies were called selfies, the act of taking a self-portrait in front of a famous sight was a favorite traveler pastime. To honor the proud tradition, we're asking you to submit your best travel selfies on Instagram for the chance to win a special prize from Magellan's. May the best selfie win!...read more»

Caboodle Weekender (Photo: Caboodle)

What Is it: The Weekender from Caboodles, a case that holds your cosmetics and toiletries while traveling.

Price and Where to Buy: Around $30, available at Walmart stores. (Not currently available online.) ...read more»

Ace Hotel Lobby, Los Angeles (Photo: Spencer Lowell)

According to Conde Nast Traveler, 33 noteworthy new hotels debuted in 2014.

...read more»

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

The loyalty programs of the online travel agencies (OTAs)—Hotels.com Welcome Rewards, Orbitz Rewards, Expedia Rewards)—haven't gotten much traction with frequent travelers.

Late to the game? Sub-par value? Too much competition from airline, hotel, and credit-card programs?

For whatever reasons, the OTA programs have been viewed more as afterthoughts than as primary (or even secondary) rewards programs by most travelers.

In a bid to establish itself as the frontrunner among the OTA programs, and as a worthy contender among airline and hotel programs, Orbitz this week introduced a credit card linked to its Rewards program. The Orbitz Rewards Visa card rewards travelers with Orbucks, which can be used to book hotel stays through Orbitz. ...read more»

Woman waiting for plane to depart (Photo: Index Open)

How satisfied are travelers with the airlines?

Not very, according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), an independent benchmarking service developed at the University of Michigan. The findings were based on surveys completed by 70,000 consumers, and depict satisfaction levels with more than 230 companies in 43 industries.

As a group, U.S. airlines scored 69 points on a 100-point satisfaction scale, unchanged from last year. To put that score into perspective, "only subscription TV, Internet service and social media sites have lower levels of customer satisfaction in ACSI." So, of the 43 industries benchmarked for customer satisfaction, the airlines ranked 40th, behind 39 other industries. Not quite at the bottom, but close....read more»

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