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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. ... read more»

Hotel: Key Handed to Guest (Photo: Shutterstock/.shock)

With a network of seven brands (Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn, Country Inns & Suites) and around 1,400 individual properties in operation or under development, Carlson Hotels is bigger than Hyatt but smaller than Hilton or Marriott. As hotel chains go, it's mid-pack, size-wise.

That's still big, and the announcement this week that Carlson will be acquired by the Beijing-based HNA Tourism Group left many Carlson customers wondering and worried, particularly regarding the future of the Club Carlson loyalty program and the status of their points. ... read more»

(Photo: Thinkstock/Stockbyte)

Wyndham's current systemwide promotion—$100 in Wyndham Rewards gift cards after two qualifying stays through September 6—is a dud, riddled as it is with hurdles and restrictions. But its just-announced mobile-app bonus offer is a winner.

Offer Details

Between April 27 and July 31, Wyndham Rewards members can earn 5,000 bonus points for each of up to two stays booked using the Visa Checkout app for payment. ... read more»

Virgin America seating (Photo: Virgin America)

Most companies, on the verge of being acquired by a larger organization, would be content to sit back and let operations continue on autopilot through the merger process. In case anyone needed reminding, however, Virgin America is not most companies.

Even as Virgin America's days are numbered, pending its acquisition and absorption by Alaska Airlines, the airline continues to nudge its Elevate loyalty program in a more customer-friendly direction. Here are the latest changes, announced yesterday in an email to program members: ... read more»

Woman: Excited at Laptop (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

Of all the many grievances air travelers harbor against the airlines, perhaps ticket prices shouldn't be among them.

According to the DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics' latest airfare survey, inflation-adjusted prices for domestic airfare reached their lowest point since 2010 in the 4th quarter of 2015 (the latest available data).

The average domestic airfare decreased to $363 in the fourth quarter of 2015, down 8.3 percent from $396 in the fourth quarter of 2014, falling to the lowest level since 2010, adjusted for inflation. ... read more»

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Buying loyalty points or miles is normally a dicey deal: a profit windfall for the hotel or airline selling the points, but subpar value for the traveler buying them.

There are exceptions, however, when limited-time promotions boost the value of the purchased points and shift the value proposition in the buyer's favor. Hilton's 100 percent bonus on purchased HHonors points may be one of them.

Offer Details

Through June 3, HHonors members will receive a 100 percent bonus when purchasing HHonors points. ... read more»

As announced in September, <a href="http://amzn.to/1OTdPMk" target="_blank">Amazon Prime members</a> can now enjoy access to already-free movies and <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/blogs/today-in-travel/amazon-just-changed-in-flight-entertainment-for-the-better.html?id=25225863" target="_blank">TV shows offline</a>, which now gives you a seemingly infinite library of entertainment for your next flight. Overwhelmed? We've explored <a href="http://amzn.to/1OTdXLE" target="_blank">Amazon's library</a> and created suggestions of TV shows by genre; so, if you're sick of inflight entertainment or need a new show to binge watch, take a look at what we're watching. 

All shows featured are downloadable with an <a href="http://amzn.to/1OTdPMk" target="_blank">Amazon Prime</a> membership via the Amazon Prime app on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/amazon-video/id545519333?mt=8" target="_blank">iOS devices</a>, fire phone and tablets, and Android phones and tablets. Not an Amazon Prime member? <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DBYBNEE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00DBYBNEE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=smartrav-20&amp;linkId=Z7HKSKWLRLC334G4" target="_blank">Sign up for a free 30-day trial</a> just before your next vacation or long-haul flight to enjoy the benefits.

<em>All shows featured are available for offline download as of November 2015.</em>

<strong>Like this story?</strong> Join the 1 million other travelers who read our <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/sub/join.html" target="_blank">free newsletter</a>. It's full of our best tips, trip ideas, and travel deals. <a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/sub/join.html" target="_blank">Subscribe here today</a>!

<small>(Photo: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-324808919/stock-photo-interior-of-the-passenger-airplane.html?src=sumaXklcX4VDIoYYXrBL_w-5-4" target="_blank">Interior of Plane with TVs</a> via Shutterstock)</small>

How satisfied are travelers with the airlines?

The latest edition of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, an independent benchmarking service developed at the University of Michigan, was released today. And the results were a rare bit of good news for flyers.

Airlines have long been one of the lowest-scoring industries in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), but the last four years have been among its best. Customer satisfaction with airlines is up 4.3% to 72, matching its peak from 1994.

Note, however, that the airlines' 72 score is on a scale of 100, on which the hotels as a group scored 74 points, and Internet travel services scored 79. So while the trend is a positive one, the airlines still lag other areas of the travel universe. ... read more»

<strong>Take a Walking Tour</strong>

One of the more affordable modes of transportation is using your own two feet, and walking is one of the best ways to learn about a destination. Plus, many cities offer a wide range of tours&mdash;both independent and guided&mdash;on a slew of different subjects, including history, ghost tales, food and drink, shopping, and sightseeing. And you don't need to know a soul to have a good time.

Start planning by visiting the city's convention and visitor bureau's website, which typically offers free maps, guides, itineraries, and suggestions for walking tours. The visitor's center is also a great place to stop by in person to get tips on where to go to find the type of tour that interests you. Many historical societies provide free guided tours to acquaint visitors with the city's past, so check their offerings as well.

The number of walking tours in a destination like New York City is overwhelming, and you would run your feet raw if you tried to go on even a quarter of them. However, this fierce competition means lower prices and a greater range of subjects to choose from. For instance, you can take a 90-minute <a href="http://www.unionsquarenyc.org/walk.html" target="_blank">Union Square: Crossroads of New York</a> free walking tour and a three-and-a-half-hour <a href="http://www.walkingnyctours.com/descriptions.php" target="_blank">Manhattan Melting Pot Eating Tour</a> for $40, all in the same day.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Vitaly Sokolovskiy)

IHG Rewards this week released its latest list of PointBreaks hotels that are available for booking for just 5,000 points per night.

Offer Details

Beginning on April 25, IHG Rewards members can book award nights for 5,000 points at 141 participating hotels, for stays through July 31, 2016.

The new list includes 93 hotels in the U.S., 18 in the rest of the Americas, 21 in Europe, six in Asia, and three in Oceania, Africa, and the Middle East. ... read more»

Golfball on Tee (Photo: Thinkstock/Thomas Northcut)

Enter the Golf Advisor "Great Scot Getaway" sweepstakes by May 22, 2016, for a chance to win the grand prize: a seven-night trip to Scotland for four, including air, hotel, golf rounds at five clubs (including St. Andrews), rental car, and $1,000 spending money.

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

No cash, no tip, no hassle... When you arrive at your destination, just hop out—we'll automatically charge the credit card on file. And there's no need to tip.

That's front and center on Uber's website. And it pretty neatly sums up the company's value proposition, which has captured the hearts and minds of millions of customers worldwide and made Uber the undisputed market leader in the rideshare space. But that promise is about to get tweaked, in a way that will leave many Uber riders confused and unsettled. ... read more»