In brief: Increased travel warnings and frequent flier facts
Officials warn Americans travelling abroad about reprisal attacks and a loyalty program summit answers frequent flier questions. Here are the stories that travellers are buzzing about:
Alert for Americans travelling abroad
On May 1, the US State Department warned Americans travelling and residing overseas of potential reprisal attacks from al Qaeda and its partners after the killing of the group's leader Osama bin Laden by American soldiers in Pakistan. The agency encouraged its citizens to sign up for its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive updates on travel and security issues. An analyst for The New Yorker warns: "Al Qaeda and its followers will be attempting to make a powerful statement in the next several weeks to demonstrate that they are still relevant following this mighty loss. Al Qaeda affiliates may speed up operations that were in the pipeline." An example of the type of potential attack might be last Thursday's bombing of a popular tourist cafe in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Highlights from the first travel loyalty summit
Last Friday for the first time, the heads of the loyalty programs for Delta, American, United, Hyatt and American Express Membership Rewards came together in one room to answer questions from the public. The event was organised by Randy Petersen, a loyalty program expert who founded the FlyerTalk online forums. Among the facts revealed: about half of the fliers who buy miles to top up their frequent flier accounts already have elite status on the airline they're buying from, which is puzzling considering most airline programs charge more to purchase miles than the estimated redemption value of a penny per mile. Anyway, for summaries of the talk, see The Wandering Aramean and Reuters.
"If this means there is one less death in the future, then I'm glad for that. But I just can't find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it is Osama Bin Laden."
-- Harry Waizer, who was in an elevator in the north tower when the plane struck on 11 September, 2001. He was interviewed by The New York Times.