The Traveler's Journal  
Travel Articles by David Bear
Versions of these articles and columns have appeared in newspapers around the county. Please enjoy them for your own use, but if you want to reproduce or publish them in any form, please let us know first by emailing us

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Airlines' frequent-flier programs improve in response to complaints


Several carriers have introduced features to simplify the process of finding a free seat
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Let's hope Virgin America brings its fares here eventually


On Aug. 8, after three years of planning, negotiations and back-room bargaining, Virgin America finally got off the ground.
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JetBlue sings 'Burgh blues as fliers can't shake US Airways' habit


The bulk of the traveling public has stuck with US Airways, whether from habit, loyalty or addiction to its frequent flier program.
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The Baltimore connection clicks


Given the dearth of international departures these days from Pittsburgh International and the alarming uncertainty of making international connections at other domestic airports, it's time for local travelers to consider other options.
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Be conscious of code sharing


Each afternoon at 2:15 p.m. six airlines provide service from Pittsburgh International Airport to JFK. Traffic jam in the sky? Not really. Welcome to the world of code sharing.
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Upstart airlines revolutionize flying


You are now free to move about the planet. Well, maybe not free, but certainly less expensively than before the European Open-Skies Treaty of 1991 ended the monopolies of national air carriers on flights between cities in the Common Market.
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Two high points of Chicago


Any city would be fortunate to have a single world class vantage point to offer; but Chicago boasts two, the Sear's Tower and John Hancock Center
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Keeping up with world's tallest buildings


Whenever I visit a new place for the first time, I always gravitate to a high point of view. In this feeling I am not alone.
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Make a to-do list before the trip


Regardless where you're headed or how you will get there, this pre-trip checklist will come in handy.
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Forgive us, US Airways, for our skepticism


Recognizing the growing negative consumer response to the string of service meltdowns it has experienced since its merger with America West, the management of US Airways recently reached out to its Dividend Miles program members to tell them what the airline is doing to correct problems and improve its product.
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Despite the Internet, nothing beats a map


There's no doubt about it, roads in this country came a long way in the 20th century.
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Storm warnings on summer travel front


Like long-range weather forecasts, predicting prevailing travel conditions over the coming weeks and months is always speculative. But as we head into the busy summer travel season, dark clouds on the horizon indicate a bumpy ride.
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Retracing the trail to Forks of the Ohio


In the summer and fall of 1758, an army of 6,000 British and Colonial forces under the command of Brig. Gen. John Forbes hacked a crude cart path through the wild mountains of southern Pennsylvania to the Forks of the Ohio River. 
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Follow these tips to avoid surprises at check-in time


It's happened to every traveler. You arrive someplace to discover the hotel described in the brochure or Web site as "first class" turns out to be anything but, at least by your personal standards.
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Diamonds are a guest's best friend


According to Webster, "luxury" is "A material object, service, etc. conducive to physical comfort or sumptuous living, not usually a necessity of life."
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Follow these tips to avoid surprises at check-in time


Dissatisfaction with accommodations is the second-most- common travel complaint, after airline problems.  It's happened to every traveler. You arrive someplace to discover the hotel described in the brochure or Web site as "first class" turns out to be anything but, at least by your personal standards.
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Public favors U.S. Steel Tower view open to all


The top of the 64-story Downtown landmark has been closed since the 2001 terrorist attacks. But with UPMC recently announcing plans to move its executive offices to the city's tallest building -- including to the top rentable space on the 62nd floor -- I suggested in a column last week that the health-care giant create a public viewing facility.
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Here's a 'Pie in the Sky' idea


Now that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has announced plans to lease five floors in the U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown's tallest office building -- including its topmost rentable space -- consider the possibility of sharing our city's best point of view.
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Don't dawdle on passport applications


New federal regulations requiring passports for any air trip out of the country have created a tsunami of new applications to the State Department to process.
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Restless wanderer's legend lives on


Although he died in 1789 at age 37 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Egypt, by many estimations John Ledyard qualifies as America's first explorer and travel writer.
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A second round of March madness


For the second time this month, thousands of US Airways passengers showed up last weekend at Pittsburgh International and other East Coast airports expecting to catch flights home, to vacation destinations to make overseas connections or to visit friends and relatives.
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Traveling responsibly


Dozens of organizations now offer ways travelers can support environmentally oriented projects.
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Computer glitches forecast future snafus


If the computer crashes that stranded hundreds of US Airways passengers last weekend are any indication, local travelers should fasten their seat belts.
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Go with flow on spring break


Over the weeks of Spring Break, millions of college and high-school students are expected to head off to distant places. Some will take part in organized programs of social, educational or charitable import; others will head to places with lots of sun and/or snow for a week of fun and frolic.
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Tall ship Niagara to be college classroom


For three weeks this summer, 20 college students will live, study and work on the sailing ship U.S. Brig Niagara, a replica of a historic, two-masted warship, as it plies a course across the Great Lakes. It's part of an innovative course being introduced by the University of Pittsburgh.
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