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New Flights to the CaribbeanTiming, as they say, is everything. It’s true of romance, successfully poaching eggs and, of course, booking travel. That’s why it’s important to know that it’s currently shoulder season in the Caribbean. The interim period between peak winter and low summer travel months, shoulder season is the perfect time to visit the region without counting dollars or dodging crowds.

Better still, a number of major carriers are celebrating new routes to hot Caribbean locales with killer fares. From unstoppable rates to Colombia’s sexy seaside city, to the first-ever direct flights to Martinique, here are the season’s best new ways to save. Read more

American AirlinesAmerican Airlines has revealed details of the cabin interiors for some of the 460 new planes currently on order, and boy do they look snazzy. It seems AA is finally on track to catch up with the rest of the U.S. domestic carriers with seatback entertainment screens in every seat, in-flight Wi-Fi fleetwide, and power outlets and USB ports at every seat.

The new fleet will also feature more Main Cabin Extra seating – with extra legroom and priority boarding – which American began introducing earlier this year. In a first for domestic carriers, jets flying AA’s transcontinental routes will allow for three classes of seating and lie-flat seats in Business and First Classes. The new planes are set to roll out starting next summer.

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New United flights to CaribbeanWith temperatures soaring across most of the country, it’s hard for some of us to think about baking in the Caribbean sun. However, cold weather will be here before you know it, and with it a slew of new flights from the East Coast and Midwest to take advantage of tropical destinations.

Booking now for new JetBlue service from D.C. to San Juan (daily) and JFK to Samana, Dominican Republic (twice weekly) will score you big savings. Launching August 23, one-way fares on the San Juan route will be as low as $129 for travel through November 14 if you book by July 13; this will be the only non-stop flight between the U.S. capital and the Puerto Rican capital. Similarly, book by this Friday to secure one-way fares to Samana starting at $169 for flights from the November 14 launch date through February 9.

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DeltaFor many Caribbean destinations, spring is the perfect time to visit – the high season crowds start to depart and hotel prices begin to dip, yet the weather remains balmy and hurricane season is still just a blip on the horizon. A boon of new routes this year from the East Coast will get you to that sunny vacation even faster.

Launched March 2, Delta now takes New Yorkers from Laguardia to Nassau, Bahamas. JetBlue has three new routes with deals to match:

  • Newark to San Juan, PR: starts April 25, from $163 one-way
  • Fort Lauderdale to Kingston, Jamaica: starts April 30, from $107 one-way
  • West Palm Beach to San Juan, PR: starts May 15, from $113 one-way

Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights.

January 1stmarked the launch of a new European Union law requiring carbon emission offset payments for all flights in and out of Europe. Not popularly received by airlines outside of Europe, who’ve expressed resistance to the additional charges (a handful of major Chinese airlines said they wouldn’t pay the fees, and were threatened with a ban from European airports), European-based airlines held similar sentiments, complaining that the carbon fee and cap requirements were asking too much too soon. U.S. airlines were likewise opposed, but since boycotting lucrative European markets simply isn’t an option, they’ve opted to implement fare hikes to cover the carbon cost – all in all, ticket prices for travel to, from, and within European markets are shaping up to average an increase of an estimated 3 percent. Read more

Recently rated the most tech-friendly airline, Delta Airlines continued its tech trend by installing six cameras in a suitcase to show us exactly what journey our luggage goes on when we check it. Although the video leaves some to be desired (no TSA screening area photography allowed, for example, and the outdoor shots are at night), it’s no doubt interesting to see the journey that the bag makes, especially as it rides through a maze of conveyer belts reminiscent of the airport scenes in Toy Story 2 (which turn out to be pretty accurately portrayed, animated dolls aside).

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PCWorld recently published a list of the “Top 20 Airports for Tech Travelers,” marking the first time such a comprehensive analysis of domestic airport and airline technology has been published. Research for the piece involved canvassing the 40 busiest U.S. airports and a staggering 3,300 gates to identify the industry’s ultimate tech-friendly winners (and losers). Rankings were based on accessibility to electrical outlets, USB ports, and charging stations, as well as on airport Wi-Fi quality and cell reception. PCWorld also looked at individual domestic airlines for their own tech-friendly rankings, based on technological offerings at their gates, in their planes, and on their websites. Read more

JetBlueOn November 17, JetBlue threw two parties. The first was at JFK’s Terminal 5, just before 9am, with cupcakes, coffee, smoothies, and a three-man steel band. The second was six hours later in Liberia, Costa Rica, marking the airline’s inaugural flight to the capital of the Guanacaste province, JetBlue’s second Costa Rican destination and 68th overall. That party was co-hosted by the Costa Rican minister of tourism, and started with water cannons over the A320’s fuselage, followed by three men on a marimba, a woman feistily playing a donkey jaw, and six youthful dancers in national dress, featuring lots of flouncy skirts and sashes. To promote the new four-times-weekly flight, the only non-stop to Costa Rica from JFK, one-way fares through February 15 are $119 for tickets bought by November 30, and surfboard surcharges are waived through December 17. (Catching wind of JetBlue’s plans, Continental launched its own daily directs from Newark one week before, but without the donkey-jaw, dancing, or promotions.)

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Sorry, underage drinkers: Air travelers will have to leave their fake IDs at home starting early next year, as the TSA plans to introduce 30 document-scanning systems that will make it easier for screeners to spot fraudulent documents.

TSA employees at select U.S. airport checkpoints will use the machines to verify boarding passes and passenger IDs, such as driver’s licenses. TSA Administrator John Pistole said that the move was all about “facilitating risk-based security, while making the process more effective,” according to Bloomberg.

The announcement comes after an incident in June in which a Nigerian man passed through a checkpoint at JFK Airport in New York and took a Virgin America flight to Los Angeles using another passenger’s boarding pass.

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We missed this memo yesterday, but apparently August 2, 2011 was Wi-Fi Day, so dubbed because the date’s digits (8/02/11) make up the standard IEEE code for Wi-Fi connections: 802.11.

Even if that number is foreign to you (guilty as charged), we’ve rounded up some in-the-sky Wi-Fi news in belated honor of the holiday, which we can only presume the rest of the world celebrated February 8, 2011.

Free Delta Wi-Fi Code: Score free in-flight Wi-Fi on Delta all month long with code DIETCOKEGOGO (a one-time, 24-hour connection usually costs $12.95). The airline uses Gogo for cruising altitude connections, so rumor has it that the code could work on other Gogo-enabled planes. We haven’t flown anywhere in the last three days, so report back if you’ve tested this out.

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Tequila AviónFancy a pre-flight tipple? Throughout the summer, select Delta Sky Clubs are hosting tastings featuring Tequila Avión – a new edition to the airline’s airport lounge menu – in creative cocktails designed by expert mixologists. Sample city-specific libations like the Flying Watermelon (tequila, watermelon juice, lime juice, agave nectar, and basil) or the Tailwind (tequila, lime juice, cucumber, and mint). Watch for the free cocktails at happy hours at select Sky Clubs in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York (at JFK and Laguardia); swing by on Thursdays from 5-7 pm, except at LAX where tastings run from 7-9pm.

Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights.

Here’s a sliver of good news for Japan tourism: United announced today that it will resume twice-weekly flights to Sendai, Japan – the city closest to the March 11 earthquake’s epicenter – beginning October 2; it’s the first foreign airline to touch down regularly at the airport since it reopened April 13.

Visitor numbers fell by 73 percent immediately after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake devastated the country, fueled a tsunami, and set off a nuclear crisis, according to the Japan Times, but United’s restart of Sendai flights is one of a handful of signs that travelers are warming up to the idea of returning to the country.

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AmsterdamBefore prices skyrocket for peak-spring and summer travel, score a flight to Europe for as little as $219 one-way with Delta Airlines’ fare sale. This sale offers reduced rates to London and Amsterdam from Boston, Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa. Fares to Amsterdam are valid for departures from March 21 – April 17 and May 15 – June 15.  Fares to London are valid for departures from March 26 – April 17 or May 1-15, but all tickets must be purchased by March 31.

Sample One-Way Fares:

•    Boston–London: $219
•    Jacksonville–London: $219
•    Miami–London: $219
•    Orlando–London: $219
•    Tampa–London: $219
•    Miami–Amsterdam: $319

THE VALUE: One-way flights to Europe in the spring and summer can easily top $500, so these fares can save you over $600 round-trip. Plus, flights out of smaller Florida cities go on sale much less often than major airports, so grab this bargain while you can!

THE CATCH: Taxes and fees are not included, so expect to pay an extra $100+ each way.

THE DETAILS: To book your flight, visit Delta’s website.

WE’VE GOT MORE: Find out the best things to do in London & Amsterdam with our travel guides, and grab a great hotel bargain before you go.

Delta might still charge for checked luggage, flight changes, and even TV shows on some flights, but the Atlanta-based carrier made a surprisingly generous move yesterday when it announced that, as of January 1, 2011, it will eliminate expiration dates for its SkyMiles frequent flyer program – the only U.S. carrier to do so.

Previously, flyers had to use award points within two years; the new system completely abolishes that requirement, according to a statement on Delta’s website: “Effective January 1, 2011, we eliminated our mileage expiration policy so you can earn and redeem miles without worrying about if and when your miles will expire.”

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Starting this summer, Delta flyers who want to stretch out on long-haul flights can opt for the new Economy Comfort class, a happy medium between pricey first-class fares and snug economy seats that give travelers extra reclining space and 4 inches of extra legroom – plus front-of-the-cabin perks like early boarding, free cocktails, and in-seat power outlets.

Like in United’s Economy Plus section, where seats have 5 inches more legroom than in traditional coach rows, Delta will let its platinum- and diamond-tier frequent flyers reserve spots in the section at no extra charge. Otherwise, the spacious seats sell for $80 to $160 more than coach tickets, with a 50 percent discount for gold-level flyers and a 25 percent savings for silver members.

Passengers can book the seats, which will take up the first few rows of coach on more than 160 planes, beginning in May.

Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on airfare, hotels, packages, and more travel deals.

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