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Photo: Southwest Airlines

For most of its 44-year history, Southwest was a domestic-only carrier.

It was only in July that the carrier pushed beyond U.S. borders, with flights to Mexico and the Caribbean.

On September 12, Southwest further expanded the scope of its network with the announcement of service from Baltimore/Washington International airport to San Jose, Costa Rica, beginning on March 7, 2015 (subject to government approval).

Looking north, South has recently signaled its interest in flying to Canada, a more likely prospect given the airline's purchase of longer-range B737-800 jets.

Earlier this year, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly alluded to a list of 50 new destinations under consideration by the airline's planning department, half of which he expected to see launched within three years. How many of those will be outside the country remains to be seen. ... read more»

SlapIt (Photo: Nite Ize)

What Is it: The SlapLit LED Slap Wrap, a slap bracelet type item with an LED illuminating function to keep you visible in the dark.

Price and Where to Buy: At the time of publication, the SlapLit was on sale on Amazon for $10.51. Also available on Nite Ize's website for $11.99.

... read more»

Peak foliage is entirely dependent on the weather. Ideal conditions for seeing beautiful foliage vary from year to year, so there's no way to pinpoint in advance the prime days to see the changing leaves. In many places, though, state tourism boards, local bloggers, and park rangers keep close tabs on local foliage conditions. If you know where to look, you can get up-to-the-minute information on exactly when and where to see the most vivid fall landscapes. ... read more»

Coach seating in 737 (Photo: Bert Van Wijk/iStockphoto)

Whose side is Airbus on? The aircraft manufacturer has come down on both sides of the passenger-comfort debate, dissing the industry-standard coach seats as "crusher seats," and then filing a patent application for what may be the most congested coach-class seating configuration ever conceived.

Are they trying to rescue coach customers, or kill them with claustrophobia? The company's latest patent application, US 8814266 B2, leaves us with more questions than answers.

Innocuously, the application references a "Headrest for a passenger seat for an aircraft." If that conjures images of a traditional headrest, dismiss them. Instead, imagine a space helmet that almost completely covers the flyer's head, with a clear visor in front of the eyes for visibility. Think Rocket Man. ... read more»

If Mother Nature permits, skiers can take advantage of uncrowded resorts and discounted lift tickets in November and December (before Christmas). For example, at <a href="http://vail.snow.com" target="_blank">Vail Resorts</a> in Colorado, a three-day lift ticket costs $171 for skiing in mid-November, but the same pass jumps in price by nearly $100 starting December 23. To link to the official websites of U.S. ski resorts, search the directory on <a href="http://www.goski.com/usa_index.html" target="_blank">GoSki</a>. 

(Photo: Chris McLennan, Vail Resorts)

Yes, it's likely still hot where you live, but it's not too early to start thinking about your winter vacation plans. Presumably, you'll find acceptable snow and facilities in most developed ski centers. So you obviously want to select your destination on the basis of some combination of the total destination experience, the extent of ski and other winter activity options, accessibility, and the cost at options available to you.

If you're looking for the "best," regardless of other factors, TripAdvisor posts its list of the 26 best skiing vacations in the U.S. and Canada. The top seven areas and 19 of the rest are in the West. Here are the rankings: Banff, Alberta; Lake Tahoe, California; Whistler, British Columbia; Park City, Utah; Vail, Colorado; Alyeska, Alaska; Breckenridge, Colorado; Lake Placid, New York; Aspen, Colorado; North Conway, New Hampshire; Durango, Colorado; Stowe, Vermont; Mammoth Lakes, California; Big Bear, California; Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Mont Tremblant, Quebec; Taos, New Mexico; Juneau, Alaska; Killington, Vermont; Telluride, Colorado; Teton Village, Wyoming; Big Sky, Montana; Crested Butte, Colorado; Olympic Valley, California; Snowbird, Utah; and Sun Valley, Idaho. ... read more»

(Photo: Topnotch Resort)

Red maple or hemlock?

The trees in the northern Vermont forest look a lot different when you're looking at them from 75 feet above the ground, through branches that anchor zip lines—as long as 1,000 feet—on a zip-line canopy tour.

"Our mission is to educate and inspire and help families connect with nature," says Michael Smith, the managing partner of ArborTrek in Jeffersonville, Vermont, near Stowe, who has built zip-line courses around the world. Let's not forget the chance for a shared adventure: eight zips, two rappels (40 feet) and crossing two bridges 35 feet off the ground. That and the running commentary on the flora and fauna have made this a top-ranked zip line in the country and worth the $99.95 tab, say guests who were back for second and third times. ... read more»

(Photo: Caroline Morse)

Only about 80 miles outside of Boston, the quintessential neighboring New England towns of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport make a great day trip for city-dwellers looking for an escape. Think: honesty payment systems, miles of beaches, and maybe even a former President sighting or two. Summer's end is a great time to explore the two towns. Here are our picks for where to go, what to eat, and where to sleep.

See

Stretch your legs after the drive by taking a long stroll on the Parson's Way Shore Walk, a path that meanders along the coast, with competing views of the ocean and the mega mansions dotting the shore. The path is 4.8 miles round-trip. ... read more»

Allegiant Air aircraft (Photo: Allegiant Air)

Allegiant Air will be a big factor in air travel the rest of this year and next. It will add new routes, and even if it won't fly to your home airport, some other line might, following Allegiant's business model. Although next summer is a long way off, some of the developments already announced may have a big impact on your travel plans for 2015.

Allegiant has been a consistent profit leader, using a business model not many other lines have mastered. Stated simply, its model is "nowhere to somewhere." That means connecting small-city airports—those with insufficient traffic to interest traditional lines—with blockbuster vacation destinations, usually only two or three times a week, and selling hotel packages along with the air links. Right now, its blockbuster destinations include four in Florida, four in California, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach and Phoenix. Allegiant has (in my view) pretty much run out of feasible "nowheres," but it still has lots of room to grow: ... read more»

Are you feeling lucky? Take a spin on our quiz about Las Vegas. Unlike in Sin City, you won't lose any money (sorry, you won't win any, either.) Also, unlike the city's "what happens here, stays here" motto, we want you to share your quiz results online, so be sure to post your results on Facebook and Twitter.

... read more»

Virgin America seating (Photo: Virgin America)

Virgin America this week is touting its new-for-fall inflight menus, together with a reminder that the airline was deemed "Best Domestic Airline for Food" in Travel + Leisure's 2014 World's Best Awards.

To be sure, the offerings in first class look downright restaurant-worthy, although the portions seem a bit on the skimpy side. Consider the roasted chicken with artichokes: "Sumac herb marinated chicken breast that is roasted with the skin-on and served with marinated gigante beans, seared artichokes, roasted radish mix and caramelized fennel with sherry chicken jus. The dish is then garnished with a salsa rustica of charred tomatoes, onions, poblano peppers, capers and anchovies."

If that doesn't get you salivating, you should have your taste buds examined. ... read more»

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