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Base of Eiffel Tower, Paris, France (Photo: Rick Steves)

Stretch your legs on lie-flat business-class seats, arranged in two by two rows. Turn on your seat's massage function and enjoy a glass of Champaign as you browse a preloaded Samsung Galaxy Pro tablet. This is the travel experience on La Compagnie, a new airline that operates five weekly flights between Newark Liberty and Charles de Gaulle.

The best part: Ticket prices are wonderfully affordable. For a limited time, you can grab last-minute winter tickets on the all-business-class carrier for $1,400 round-trip. ... read more»

Woman: Frustrated, Clenched Fists (Photo: Shutterstock/Johan Larson)

If you have miles in the programs of American or United, this would be a good time to check your account balance and confirm that all your miles are intact.

In the past few weeks, hackers have used others' usernames and passwords to access AAdvantage and MileagePlus accounts and fraudulently redeem miles for award travel. It's unclear how the users' credentials were obtained.

According to an Associated Press story, around 10,000 AAdvantage accounts were breached. For United, the numbers were much smaller, in the dozens. ... read more»

Airport -  Crowded check-in area (Photo: Houston Airport System)

I'm a sucker for surveys that purport to reveal the best of this, the worst of that. If a thousand savvy consumers agree that the Panasonic X-2000 Ear and Nose Hair Trimmer is the best in class, who am I to argue? It's the powerful principle underlying crowd sourcing: More input yields better output. That's the theory, at least. And it generally proves sound in practice.

It was with that mindset that I found myself perusing Business Traveler's "Best in Business Travel Awards." Here's how the publication tees up the awards:

The readers of Business Traveler are world-class experts in the business of business travel. You understand when you're on the road, you're there because your business thrives on travel—and so you constantly stay on the lookout for hottest spots, the coolest trends, the very best ways to make that travel experience more efficient, more productive and, of course, more pleasurable. ... read more»

TSA: Screening (Photo: Thinkstock/Creatas)

International travelers this year can expect to see some reductions in the usual red tape and general hassles. Some important gains are already in place, and others are coming.

Preclearance: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced last year that, "Beginning in 2015, the United States intends to enter into negotiations in order to expand air preclearance operations to new locations." That's great news for U.S. travelers who like to visit foreign countries—and to come back to the U.S. with minimum hassle. The basic idea is simple: Instead of going through U.S. formalities on arrival, CBP places agents and facilities at foreign airports (where you typically have to arrive early and wait around anyhow), so that when you arrive back in the U.S., you're treated as a domestic arrival, without any processing at all. ... read more»

Car Rental Sign (Photo: iStockphoto/doram)

"Don't buy the rental company's grossly overpriced collision damage waiver (CDW); instead, rely on the coverage you get for no extra cost through your credit card." For decades, that's been the mantra of most travel writers. It's still the best overall approach for most travelers—but not for all, and not always. Yes, almost all American Express, Diners Club, and Visa cards still cover damage to a rental car, as do many MasterCard and Discover cards, but sometimes you either don't want to—or can't—rely on your credit card's coverage. ... read more»

VT: Woodstock, Suicide Six Ski (Photo: Caroline Morse)

Head north (toward colder weather) in the winter—are you crazy? Not if you're heading to Woodstock, Vermont, a quaint New England town that gets even better in the winter, when a dusting of snow makes everything look magical and the skiing is fabulous. Located less than 2.5 hours from Boston, Woodstock makes for a great weekend getaway, no matter the temperature.

Reserve one of the 142 rooms at the Woodstock Inn, which is more resort than small bed and breakfast. Don't be in too much of a rush to get to Woodstock Inn though, if you're journeying up from Boston—there are plenty of reasons to stop along the drive up. Quechee Gorge, nicknamed "Vermont's Little Grand Canyon," makes for a scenic photo stop, as does the nearby classic covered bridge. ... read more»

<h2>April: Critters and Adventure in the Galapagos </h2>

 Travelers have been intrigued with the Galapagos Islands ever since Darwin reported back on his revolutionary findings. April is an ideal time to visit, as the rainy season tapers to its close, the albatross arrive for their nesting season, and sea lion pups are born. Turtles also are in the throes of their mating season, so you may see a few on the prowl. Additionally, the ocean is a bit steadier than other times of year, so adventurers prone to motion sickness may find this month especially appealing. To plan your Galapagos trip, visit the <a href="http://www.ecuadortouristboard.com/regions/galapagos/galapagos.html"target="_blank">Galapagos tourism website</a>, part of the Ecuador Tourism Board. 

 (Photo: iStockphoto/Morten Elm)

Enter the PetSmart "Amazing Aquatics" sweepstakes by March 1, 2015, for a chance to win the grand prize: a seven-night National Geographic Expedition cruise for four (two cabins) to the Galapagos aboard the National Geographic Endeavour, including air and pre- and post-cruise hotel accommodations.

To enter, provide the requested information (name, email, etc.) on the sweepstakes landing page and press "Submit." Done! Time required to participate: less than 30 seconds. ... 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.

New Starwood Promotion: Double Points, Plus Bonus

Between January 5 and April 15, Starwood Preferred Guest members can earn double points for the second and subsequent nights, plus 1,000 bonus points after every five nights.

$908 for an Uber Taxi Ride..?

Here's how a combination of Uber's New Year's eve surge pricing and a miscommunicated address resulted in a $908 taxi fare. ... read more»

Young Woman Boarding Airplane with Luggage (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Do you have an upcoming flight on your schedule? Try this: Google "flight status" while logged in to a Google account. A bunch of useful information, including seat, terminal, and gate details; any delay or cancellation information; confirmation number; past flights; and relevant emails will pop up at the top of the search results. Reddit user jasenlee highlighted this useful little travel hack: "It's pretty simple and of course this seems exactly what something Google would do but I love it because I'm no longer looking through tons of emails to find a confirmation number, record locator, etc. to find my flight status."

... read more»
(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

First there was the baby. Then came the car seat. And the stroller. And the travel crib. And dozens of other necessities associated with traveling with the very young. Now, maybe you're one of those magic parents who can travel with nothing more than a single diaper and a smug expression, but for most families with babies and young toddlers, the packing and the lugging are the most dreaded parts of any vacation.

But head to the right place and you can leave most of the gear at home. A surprising number of family-friendly hotels and resorts understand that starting your vacation as the human equivalent of a shopaholic's pack mule is no way to kick things off.

These are places that do so much more than roll a rusty crib into the corner of your room. At resorts that cater specifically to families, you'll be surprised at the gear available to any guest savvy enough to ask for it. Here's a peek at what you can find at four ultra-family-friendly resorts around the country. ... read more»

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