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(Photo: Lufthansa)

Lufthansa is the latest major holdout to join the group of giant airlines offering premium-economy class. All newly delivered 747-8s incorporate the new cabin, with initial routes linking Frankfurt with Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington. The airline will start offering premium economy on its A380s and A340s next spring, with installation completed by the end of next year. Lufthansa's product will closely resemble that of Air France.

Lufthansa's announcement suggests an overall update of premium economy. The basic idea is simple: The gap between economy class and business class has become immense over the last decade, in both product quality and cost. Here's how: ... read more»

<strong>Barbados</strong>

Often considered an expensive destination, Barbados can easily accommodate those on a more modest budget. Visit art galleries and craft shows, eat fish and pawpaws, tour sugar mills and rum distilleries, or take a free guided Sunday hike. With 3,000 annual hours of sunlight and temperatures that never stray far from the 80s, you're sure to have plenty of time to kick back on the beach.

<strong>Why It's a Good Value</strong>

<a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/airfare/search/provider.php?provider=jetblue" target="_blank">JetBlue</a>, <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/airfare/search/provider.php?provider=american">American</a>, <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/airfare/search/provider.php?provider=delta|song">Delta</a>, and <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/airfare/search/provider.php?provider=usairways">US Airways</a> offer service to Barbados; flights from Canada to Barbados are available from <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/airfare/search/provider.php?provider=aircanada">Air Canada</a> and West Jet. Getting around the island is easy with reliable taxi and bus service.

For inexpensive accommodations try <a href="http://www.peachandquiet.com/" target="_blank">Peach and Quiet</a>, <a href="http://www.sweetfieldmanor.com/" target="_blank">Sweetfield Manor</a>, and <a href="http://www.seaubarbados.com/" target="_blank">Sea-U Guest House</a>. Note that U.S. dollars are accepted island-wide at a set exchange rate of $1 to $1.98 Barbados dollars; shoppers benefit from tax-free purchases. If you're looking for an immediate getaway, <a href="http://www.aavacations.com/specials/crb1002-barbados-fly-free.asp" target="_blank">American Airlines Vacations</a> is offering a free companion airfare with the purchase of a four-night package through March 31. Book using promotional code "BGI50" and travel through May 31.

<strong>Best Beaches</strong>

You'll want to go swimming here, where water temperatures hover between 70 and 80 degrees, but with all 60 beaches open to the public, it might be hard to decide where to kick back and relax. The west coast has calm waters, while the east coast offers wind and waves perfect for surfing. The south features great snorkeling, and those looking for pink sands can find them in the southeast.

Reader <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/community/?user_id=19703be16e533025b7dbb3a3449750f0-39efad9db3" target="_blank">zingara</a> suggests two beaches: Enterprise and Miami. "First thing in the morning, around 5:00 a.m. many people gather for their first 'sea bath.' There's nothing like watching the sun rise while swimming, floating, and communing with other like souls ... Enterprise [is] the calmer of the two. Both beaches are located within walking distance of Oistins and are on the bus route."

(Photo: iStockphoto/Karen Low Phillips)

Enter the Food & Wine "Experience Barbados" sweepstakes by November 15, 2014, for a chance to win the grand prize: a three-night trip for two to Barbados, including air, hotel, and some meals.

To enter, provide the requested contact information 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.

Is Your Hotel Blocking Your Internet Access?

So, is your hotel blocking your access to a WiFi hotspot? It's not likely. But as a settlement reached last week between the FCC and Marriott shows, it's possible.

Delta Eliminates Upgrades on Cheapest Fares

From February 1, 2015, elite members of Delta's SkyMiles program will no longer be entitled to space-available upgrades when traveling on Basic Economy (booking class E) fares. ... read more»

Woman: Anxious, Looking at Laptop (Photo: Shutterstock/O Driscoll Imaging)

With minimum spend levels in place, elite status in Delta's SkyMiles program will already cost you. Next year, it will cost you even more.

Currently, elite status is awarded on the basis of elite-qualifying miles or segments, plus elite-qualifying spend (Medallion-qualifying dollars, or MQDs, in Delta-speak).

To earn elite status in 2016, the mileage and segment thresholds will remain the same. But the minimum-spend levels will rise ... read more»

(Photo: AvidSport)

What is it: The AvidSport, a watch that tracks your fitness and syncs with your smartphone.

Price and Where to Buy: The watch is priced on a sliding scale from $99-$169 (early buyers on Kickstarter will receive the better price) at Kickstarter.com.

Pros:

  • Uses Bluetooth 4.0 to sync the watch to your phone
  • Can be used to track fitness, including steps walked, time spent working out, and calories burned. Use GPS to track your running path and review it on Google Maps. You can also set workout goals and compete with other users.
  • Has a golf mode that works with over 30,000 courses worldwide
  • Alerts you to incoming phone calls, texts, emails and social media notifications
  • Watch can remotely trigger the camera on your smartphone
  • Watch can call your smartphone if you lose it
  • Can be used to control your phone's music
  • AvidSport's look can be customized—change the strap color or display design easily
  • Battery lasts up to four days when using with Bluetooth on

 

Cons: For people with smaller wrists, the watch felt bulky and heavy. (The AvidSport is 1.67" high x 1.48" wide and 0.48" deep. It weighs 1.95 ounces.) ... read more»

Hotel: Keycard and Hotel Room (Photo: Shutterstock/Sven Hoppe)

By the end of this month, guests at 29 Marriott hotels will be able to charge their cellphones, laptops, or tablets wirelessly in the hotels' lobbies.

The charging is provided by KS Portable Qi transmitters, which can simultaneously charge up to six mobile devices. Although the wireless charge is delivered without the need for wires or cables, the device must be placed in close proximity to the transmitter to receive the charge. ... read more»

(Photo: REI)

What Is it: The REI Northway Versa Dress, with included scarf that converts to four different looks.

Price and Where to Buy: At the time of publication, the dress was available on REI's website at a sale price of $61.93. (Originally $89.50).

... read more»

Hotels are so boring and impersonal. Why not book a vacation rental for your next trip? Think beyond the hotel room and find out which type of vacation home you should rent.

... read more»

Woman: Shocked, Looking at iPad (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

So, is your hotel blocking your access to a WiFi hotspot?

It's not likely. But as a settlement reached last week between the FCC and Marriott shows, it's possible. ... read more»

Photo: Delta Air Lines

The devaluation of Delta's SkyMiles program continues.

Yesterday, it was the company's plan to discontinue its round-the-world awards. Today, it's the announcement that it will eliminate domestic upgrades for elite SkyMiles members on its cheapest fares. ... read more»

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