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What We’re Reading: The Best Way to See Fall Foliage on a Budget

Autumn escapes in New England are heavenly—yet often high priced. So we’ve unearthed tips for soaking up the season’s scenery on a budget. Get the scoop on cheap fall getaways, plus discover more hot travel stories in our weekly round-up of intriguing reads.

See Fall Foliage on a Budget

I hate the term “leef-peeping.” It sounds creepy, as if the prying eyes of autumn travelers violate tree privacy. The New York Times only uses the phrase once in its story on seeing fiery foliage for less this season, which is good! Even better (and more importantly), the piece includes some useful money-saving tips for travelers heading to peak leaf-viewing destinations in New England.

Strategies for the budget-minded including taking advantage of mid-week specials and grabbing discounted packages. Find a list of deals gathered by The Times here. And for more fall bargains, read our Top Five Off-Peak Destinations for Fall 2012.

Justice Served, Christopher Elliott Style

This week, a flyer wrote to consumer advocate Christopher Elliott with a complaint: Haijun Shan was forced to gate check a carry-on bag on a US Airways domestic flight, but when he got his luggage back, his camera was missing. He filed a report with the airline. But US Airways clams it’s not liable for loss under its contract of carriage.

Elliott responds empathetically, yet admits that when this happens, the victim’s case is typically hopeless. Usually, there’s nothing the aggrieved flyer can do about his stolen property. Said Elliott, “I mediated a similar case with US Airways years ago, and it got me into all kinds of trouble. A flight attendant had also forcibly gate-checked a bag that contained valuables, which were then pilfered. The airline refused to replace them, citing its contract. Eventually, the airline compensated the passenger, but only after a public and very messy fight with yours truly.”

This tale also has a happy ending. Elliott got in touch with US Airways on behalf of Shan—and the airline agreed to cover the cost of the camera. The story, however, serves as a reminder to those of us who may not have a big-name consumer advocate on call. If you must gate check your bag, remove anything of value before the flight attendant takes it away.

Airport Security of the Future

According to a post in Budget Travel’s blog, This Just In, a California company has developed iris-scanning technology that could one day be utilized by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to allow for lightning-fast airport security checkpoints. The eye scanners can identify people from eight feet away in just two seconds, which is faster and farther than any similar technology around. The high-tech scanners are already in use in Qatar.

Reports Budget Travel, “Of course, this kind of technology, known as biometric scanning, raises questions about privacy and concerns about the possibility of identify theft. For the technology to be implemented at airports, passengers would have to agree to have their irises entered into a database.”

Convenience has a price. What’s your take? Would you allow your irises to be scanned if it meant you could zip through the security lane faster?

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