For the week of Dec. 15, 2008
AIRLINES & AIRPORTS
British Invasion. Virgin America the only airline with seatback snack ordering and interactive entertainment systems will launch service to Boston on Feb. 12, 2009, with three daily nonstops from L.A., and two daily from San Francisco. Fares start at $149 one way.
United Extras. United passengers can purchase the "Premier Line" privilege for $25 on flights departing from select airports. Pay the fee when you get your boarding pass (use the Premier check-in line) for access to priority screening lanes and the right to board the plane first, to claim that overhead rack space.A few other United offers worth noting: Buy an annual membership to Economy Plus for $349, and you will be automatically upgraded at no extra charge every time you book an economy-class seat on the airline. Economy Plus seats, with five inches of extra legroom, usually cost anywhere from $12 extra on a short hop to $99 on international flights.
You can also buy a pass to any of United's 40 worldwide Red Carpet Club lounges where you can load up on snacks and free wi-fi for $50 a pop. If you see yourself using the lounge more than 10 times a year, join the club for an annual fee of $500.
Flight Plans. Southwest is changing some routes starting May 9, 2009. The airline is adding service between Tucson and Denver, and Nashville and Oakland. It's also canceling service between Detroit and Orlando. (See a complete list of changes.)
Protest Watch. Members of Plane Stupid, a grass-roots environmental activist group, camped out on the runway of London's Stansted airport early on Dec. 8, shutting it down for several hours, in protest of its carbon emissions. More than 50 flights were canceled and some 100 flights were delayed. The group says its next target is Heathrow in disapproval of the addition of a third runway at the urban airport. Plane Stupid won't say when the protest will go down. Stay tuned. (See 10 things to do in London.)
Why Visit Philly? If you can't find a room in Washington for the Inauguration on Jan. 20, try Philadelphia instead just two hours away by train or three by car. The city's tourism board is offering a "Philly Overnight" hotel package: at more than 30 participating hotels, you'll get free parking with a two-night stay, plus a Macy's savings pass. Check the tourism board website to book.
Luxury on Sale. The Art Deco Fontainebleau Miami Beach resort reopened in November after a $1 billion renovation. The hotel added an iMac to each of its 1,504 ocean-front rooms, plus a 40,000-sq.-ft. spa. Through Dec. 20, the Fontainebleau is offering special rates starting at $289 per night, which includes a $50 daily credit for use at the resort's spa, shops or 11 restaurants. From Dec. 21 to May 31, 2009, rates start at $399 per night. 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-538-2000
The Other Frisco. In case you get stuck on an overnight layover at Dallas International, Starwood's lifestyle brand, Aloft, the hotel geared toward the Gen Y traveler, opened an outpost near Dallas in Frisco, Texas, just 25 minutes from the Dallas International Airport and Love Field Airport. 3202 Parkwood Blvd., Frisco; 214-295-3597
Atlanta Scene. Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio opened a branch of his fashionable restaurant, Craft, in Atlanta on Dec. 8. Other locations serving Colicchio's simple, elegant fare are in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas. We recommend you sample his roasted quail and hen of the woods mushrooms. 376 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta; 404-995-7580
Zippy Rentals. Hertz is launching Connect by Hertz, the company's own version of the popular Zipcar rental service, on Dec. 16 in New York City, Paris and London. An annual membership starts at $50; per-hour rental fees start at $10. Book your car online, and pick up and return to designated hubs around the city. The fleet features "green" cars like the Mini Cooper and Toyota Prius and, if you have a big load to move, a Ford SUV hybrid. More cities are promised in early 2009.
Cheap NYC Parking. The Central Parking company is offering six hours of parking for $15 at any of its 55 locations in Manhattan, through Jan. 31, 2009. Find a garage and print a coupon from the Central Parking website you can print and use as many coupons as you like. (See 10 things to do in New York City.)
Fair Bus Fares. Greyhound is offering its first-ever stimulus package for the Northeastern United States: with a three-day advance purchase of one full-fare adult ticket, you may purchase three additional tickets at 50% off. With a 10-day advance purchase, all tickets, depending on availability, are 75% off. Buying a ticket online also gets you 20% off. And if you buy a ticket in the station from Dec. 15 to Jan. 5, 2009, you'll get 20% off your next ticket, good for travel Jan. 6 to March 31, 2009. Call 800-231-2222 for info or to book.
iPhones at Wal-Mart? Rampant rumors that Wal-Mart is planning to sell a 4-GB version of the iPhone for a mere $99 aren't true, unfortunately. But sources close to the retailer say Wal-Mart will begin carrying the same iPhone available from AT&T, Apple and Best Buy the cheapest of which costs $199 and has 8 GB of memory if not by Christmas, then by the end of December.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Last Chance. TIME art critic Richard Lacayo urges you not to miss the retrospective of sculptor Tara Donovan recipient of a 2008 MacArthur "genius" grant at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art. She does unexpectedly beautiful things with common objects like plastic soda straws, Styrofoam cups and Scotch tape. Through Jan. 4, 2009. (See TIME's top 10 museum exhibits.) 100 Northern Ave., Boston; 617-478-3100
Our Once and Present Future. The Museum of the City of New York has the exhibit Broken Glass: Photographs of the South Bronx by Ray Mortenson black-and-white pictures of razed sections of New York City, taken between 1982 and 1984, depicting the aftermath of the last economic crisis, in the 1970s. Through March 8, 2009. 1220 Fifth Ave. at 103rd Street, New York; 212-534-1672
SHOPPING & SERVICES
Dec. 15 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of Prohibition, so here are two special services to help you celebrate the occasion:
Sparkly. Looking for a Christmas gift for someone who needs to celebrate or just cheer up? Log on to Moët & Chandon's website and get personalized bottles of bubbly with greetings of your choice, like "Cheers" or "Happy B-Day" or "Lehman Bros 2008," spelled out in Swarovski crystals. From $90
Even More Sparkly. For people you really like, Dom Pérignon, the name that has become synonymous with champagne, is releasing three special vintages this holiday season: Dom Pérignon Vintage 2000 ($150), with toasty, mineral notes; Oenothèque Vintage 1995 ($400), which "is killer with caviar," according to Dom's Chef de Cave, Richard Geoffroy; and Rosé Vintage 1998 ($450), which, with notes of salt and fruit, is rare and sold in limited quantities and goes well with everything.