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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.

Frequent Flyer Programs to Get Fed Scrutiny

Alan Grayson -- a frustrated frequent flyer, and a member of the House of Representatives -- has requested a DOT review of the airlines' mileage programs. About time!

Will Inflight Phone Calls Soon Be Banned? ... read more»

(Photo: Capitol Building via Shutterstock)

Florida resident Alan Grayson has accrued a whopping 10 million frequent-flyer miles. And like many mileage-collectors, he's hopping mad about the airlines' continual devaluation of their loyalty programs, and their callous disregard for his best interests as a program member.

Unlike most dissatisfied frequent travelers, however, Grayson is in a position to translate his frustration into federal regulation. He's a member of the House of Representatives (D-FL), and in that capacity he has formally requested that the Department of Transportation conduct an audit of the airlines' frequent flyer program policies and practices. ... read more»

A lawsuit alleges that Yelp tried to extort ad payments in exchange for better reviews. The court's response: So what? ... read more»

Cell phone in hand (Photo: Index Open)

The debate over inflight cellphone calls has been largely eclipsed by the debate regarding reclining seats and the Knee Defender. But unlike the seating issue, which is likely to fester indefinitely, the question of inflight calls may soon be resolved.

Flight attendants have voiced their opposition to allowing inflight cell calls. Several airlines have vowed to unilaterally ban the calls. The Department of Transportation is in the process of formulating a notice of proposed rulemaking that would be the first step in banning inflight cell calls outright. The notice will be published in December, followed by a period during which public comments are solicited and considered.

And a no-call bill has been introduced in Congress. ... read more»

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

Recent breaches of the customer databases of such mainstream businesses as Home Depot and Target naturally raise questions about the security of consumers' frequent-traveler accounts. Is your personal information safe?

Although such breaches seem to be rare, it's a safe bet that there's more activity in this area than program operators let on. And it's a global problem, as the following incident illustrates.

According to the Japan Times, hackers have stolen the personal records of as many as 750,000 members of Japan Airlines' loyalty program, JAL Mileage Bank. The airline's computers were found to be infected with a virus that had been sending customer information to an unauthorized server in Hong Kong for more than a month. ... read more»

#PassengerShaming is trending and we're totally OK with that. For the good of flyers everywhere, the Passenger Shaming Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts are taking to the social media sphere to put unruly, unmannered, and uncivilized airline passengers on blast for their bad behavior. We're talking about things like PDA on a plane, bare feet on a plane, shirtlessness on a plane, and everything in between. ... read more»

Judging by the explosion of social media posts about fall, you're excited for the season. How will you make this the best autumn ever? By taking our quiz to find out where you should go to see fall foliage this year! Don't forget to share your results on Facebook and Twitter.

... read more»

Airport: Checking in at Ticket Counter (Photo: Thinkstock/Ryan McVay)

It's a fact of loyalty-program life: The schemes' networks of earning and redemption partners are in constant flux. Today, airline A and hotel B are best marketing buddies, participating in each other's programs and bundling their services into attractively priced packages; tomorrow, all bets are off.

Staying abreast of the latest partner comings and goings -- who's with whom -- has become a crucial part of getting the most value from travel rewards programs.

The latest loyalty-program change to be announced affects the relationship between the world's largest airline and one of the smallest. Effective November 1, American and El Al will no longer be mileage-program partners. That means that AAdvantage members will no longer be able to earn miles or book award travel on El Al flights after October 31. ... read more»

Imagine getting on a flight without having to buy GoToobs, quart-size baggies, or solid deodorant in advance. This pre-aughts memory may soon be a reality.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the TSA is working on nixing its ban on bottles of liquid greater than 3.4-ounces on flights. Appearing before the Tribune Editorial Board, TSA Administrator John Pistole said the restriction will be eased, starting with pre-cleared PreCheck travels. Pistole said the agency will eventually totally lift its large-size liquids restrictions. No word on whether "eventually" means this decade or this lifetime. No timeline has been offered. ... read more»

Ski Touring in the French Alps (Photo: Stephen Meese/iStockPhoto.com)

Maybe the leaves haven't turned yet, but this is a good time to start thinking about locking in some good-deal prices on your ski lift tickets for the coming winter. Lots of ski areas and passes offer "early bird" discounts and promotions, but they're available to buy only through late September or mid-October.

The first place to start is with the official website of your favorite ski destination. Winter prices are already posted for most of the big resorts, including quite a few early-purchase deals. But also check out the several larger online ticket sellers and regional passes. ... read more»

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