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Venice Protests Dwindling Population, Cannabis Tourism Expands: Today's Travel Briefing | Frommer's FreeImages/Andy Fox

United Launches Basic Fares, Venice Protests Congestion, and More: Today's Travel Briefing

A roundup of travel news from all over


United Airlines announced today that they were following Delta's lead and would be offering so-called "Basic Economy Fares". When Delta started offering similar fares in the summer of 2015, they offerred a savings of between $10 and $25 per flight, on average. So they're definitely cheaper, but boy can they be ugly.

Buy one and you'll be assigned a seat, with no choice whatsoever (and that will also go for parents traveling with children, apparently). You won't get points that you can use towards upping your status with the airline, though you will get some other form of points. (How the points will differ is unclear). You'll be the last one allowed to board. But that won't matter because roll-aboard suitcases will be verboten for those with basic fare tickets.

Buy this most affordable seat and you'll only be allowed one carry on, and it will have to be of the small sort that fits under the seat—the overhead bins will be unavailable to you.

That last point is important as it means that you'll likely have to check a bag, so do check what happens to the overall fare once you factor in the fee for baggage. On most airlines, the baggage fees alone are $25, which could wipe out any savings on the final cost of the flight.

This new class of seats will go on sale beginning in January, for flights that start in March.


So the question becomes: is that a good or a bad thing?

Sure, it's fashionable, and even bi-partisan, to hate TSA Agents. They've been accused of everything from feeling up grandmothers to stealing Iphones to allowing weapons to float right by them and onto planes. Sometimes these complaints are fantasy, and sometimes they're dead on.

But as someone who's noticed that we haven't been hit with a major airplane attack since 9/11, I have to give a tip of the hat to these hardworking, woefully underpaid men and women: they're obviously doing something right. And we, the public, would only know when something major went wrong, which hasn't happened.

So it's was with slightly mixed feelings that I read that at Chicago's O'Hare Airport American Airlines and United Airlines have added automated lanes to the security area. They don't replace the human who stares at the screen, looking for contraband and weapons. But they will automatically re-stack the bins that travelers use and feed those bins into the machine (so no longer will customers have to push their bags along the rollers). The automated system also has cameras taking photos of the outside of the bags, which can then be matched with the X-ray of the interior of the bag. And each bin has a tracking device on it, so the system knows where it, and its contents, are throughout the process.

Some TSA Agents, one must assume, have lost their jobs this week in the Windy City.

For more information the new system, which could be coming to an airport near you soon, click here.


Venice might be one of the world's most beautiful places, but you wouldn't want to live there, according to the Venetians who staged a demonstration in the Italian lagoon city on Saturday. 

Waving maroon and yellow flags and carrying empty suitcases, dozens of residents participated in a symbolic procession—otherwise known as "Venexodus"—meant to draw attention to Venice's falling population.

The trouble is the more than 20 million tourists who pour into the city each year, clogging narrow streets and making it difficult to complete daily tasks like food shopping. 

The protesters argue that city officials have done too much to accommodate visitors and not enough to help overburdened residents, who face not only congestion but also inflated housing costs brought on, they say, by short-term vacation rentals. 

As a consequence, the city's population of permanent residents has been steadily decreasing, some say by as much as 1,000 people per year.

Many would like to see tourism limited by a booking system. 


We can't help you follow in the exact footsteps of Outlander's Claire Randall Fraser. After all, she toggles between the 20th and the 18th centuries on that hit Starz show, and, unfortunately, time travel is the one type of travel Frommer's hasn't mastered yet.

But for superfans of the series drawn to the beauty of its Scottish filming locations, luxury travel company Artisans of Leisure has the next best thing: a 10-day Outlander-themed vacation in Scotland.  

The private tour includes the services of an expert guide, accommodations at opulent hotels and resorts, and stops at numerous locales featured in Outlander—both the TV series and the novels by Diana Gabaldon. Edinburgh, the Scottish Highlands, Fort William, Inverness, and the Perthshire countryside are all on the itinerary. 

The focus might be on the 18th century, but the prices have been adjusted for the present—and then some. The trip will set you back $12,650.

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