American to raise passenger award levels

Starting May 1, frequent fliers will need more miles for several types of award travel from American Airlines, the world’s biggest.

An unrestricted economy round-trip ticket within the continental U.S. and Canada will cost 50,000 instead of 40,000 miles, the airline told AAdvantage members last month. The restricted version of this ticket will stay at 25,000 miles. Unrestricted first-class or business tickets within the continental U.S. and Canada will go for 90,000 instead of 80,000 miles; the restricted version will change from 40,000 to 45,000 miles.

Airlines generally limit the number of seats for restricted award travel; the more costly unrestricted awards can be applied to any flight with available seats.


In making the changes, American was matching policies of competitors Continental and Northwest and “in many cases” Delta, a spokeswoman noted. (For first class, Delta was still charging 80,000 miles for unrestricted and 40,000 miles for restricted round-trip tickets as of last week.)

United, the No. 2 airline, was still matching American’s current, lower mileage requirements as of last week.

“The good news ... is they haven’t touched the most popular award,” the 25,000-mile restricted ticket, Tim Winship, publisher of, said of American’s action.

No more idling on deck -- you’ve got mail

First it was e-mail access on cruise ships. Then Internet cafes. And now you can log on poolside, in the lounge or anywhere else on board.

So much for getting away from it all.

This fall Norwegian Cruise Line began offering remote wireless Internet access on its Norwegian Sun. By the end of this year, in what it claims is a first for the industry, it plans to expand it to the whole fleet.

Guests pay $10 per day for a wireless network card that they can use in their own laptop or pay $35 per day to rent a laptop equipped with the card. They’re also charged 75 cents per minute of Internet time. (Packages can reduce this to 40 cents per minute.)


The company “recognizes that many passengers feel the need to stay connected while on vacation,” said Colin

Veitch, the president of Norwegian.

Examining the universe of Albert Einstein

You don’t have to be a genius to appreciate “Einstein,” a major exhibit on the groundbreaking physicist Albert Einstein, opening Nov. 15 in New York.


To document his life there are photos and personal items, some on display in the U.S. for the first time, such as his diary and a report card from his Swiss high school. To illuminate his theories, there are a hands-on physics lab, a kinetic sculpture and a wall-size interactive computer screen. Several handwritten pages from his 1912 manuscript on the “Special Theory of Relativity” will be displayed for the first time.

The exhibit, billed as the most comprehensive ever, is organized by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It runs through Aug. 10 at the American Museum, then travels to other museums, including the Skirball (in 2004). Adult entrance is $17, including museum admission. Open daily; hours vary. (212) 769-5100 (recorded information), (212) 769-5200 (tickets),

Traveler’s note

One of America’s most fascinating utopian movements is the subject of the Shaker Historic Trail, a new online itinerary at (Look under the “Northeast” regional heading.) It was produced by the National Park Service and other groups and profiles 15 historic Shaker settlements in seven states, including nine sites open to visitors. (One active community remains, at Sabbathday Lake, Maine.)



A free ride for kids at ski resorts

Children can fly free to Vail/Eagle County Airport in Colorado and ski free at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge or Keystone resorts under a deal valid for travel Dec. 1 to Feb. 14, except for holiday travel dates. (Contact the resorts for specifics.) Children ages 2 to 12 are eligible for a free companion ticket on American Airlines when accompanied by a paying adult (one free child fare per adult). They can also stay free and get one free lift ticket for every adult lift ticket. Various restrictions apply; for instance, you can’t fly on a Saturday or Sunday. For information, see a travel agent or contact Vail Resorts Central Reservations, (800) 404-3535.



Barnstorming in Pennsylvania

The pamphlet “Berks County Hex Barn Art Tour” gives a history of the “hex signs” that decorate many barns in Pennsylvania Dutch country, along with directions for a car tour that passes 20 colorful examples. Call (800) 443-6610 or visit