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Delta, Alaska Airlines to end partnership in spring

Delta and Alaska Airlines have decided to end their partnership as Alaska merges with Virgin America, according to news releases from both airlines.

Effective May 1, 2017, customers of each airline will no longer be able to earn and redeem Delta miles or Alaska Mileage Plan miles on flights operated by the other carrier.

>> Read more trending stories 

The companies will also no longer offer bookings for travel on each other's flights, through the practice known as code sharing.

The carriers will retain an interline agreement, allowing them to continue offering customers ticketing and baggage connectivity.

Beginning May 1, 2017, Delta SkyMiles Members will not be able to earn and redeem miles on flights operated by Alaska Airlines unless a ticket was purchased before Dec. 19, 2016. Medallion Benefits will not be available on flights operated by Alaska Airlines.

Delta customers can visit Delta.com/skymilesinseattle or call 800-323-2323 for more information.

Alaska customers can read more about the change with Delta Air Lines at this link www.alaskaair.com/Delta.

TSA reveals its strangest finds of 2016

Holiday travel is picking up this month and the Transportation Security Administration is preparing for an influx of bags.

With trips across the world, there have been a number of strange items the TSA has found. TSA social media analyst Bob Burns has listed the most unusual finds at TSA checkpoints across the country in 2016.

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Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport dominates the list with the most entries, including a movie prop corpse. Miami, Detroit, Houston and New Jersey airports are also on the list.

Here are the TSA's most unusual finds from this year:

10) Hand grenade trailer hitch cover: San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP)

9) "Hello Kitty" firearm: Bradley International Airport (BDL)

8) "The Walking Dead" character Negan’s bat "Lucille": Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

7) Golden Hand Grenade: Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

6) Replica suicide vest: Richmond International Airport (RIC)

5) Bladed dragon claw: Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

4) Dead seahorses in brandy bottle: Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)

3) Five-bladed flogger: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

2) Post-apocalyptic bullet adorned gas mask: Miami International Airport (MIA)

1) Movie prop corpse: Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

Pilot 'congratulates' passengers for drinking all alcohol on plane

Passengers aboard a recent Southwest Airlines plane received a special message from the flight's captain after the travelers drank all the alcohol aboard plane.

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On a Dec. 7 flight from from Oakland, California, to Kansas City, Missouri, the captain of the aircraft went over the PA system to announce to passengers that they had consumed all the alcohol on the plane, according to sports journalist Jimmy Durkin, who tweeted about the incident. The captain congratulated the passengers for their feat, which was accomplished during the three-hour-20-minute flight.

Durkin, who said the flight was a "Raiders flight," cleared up confusion from Twitter users who thought he meant the plane was full of Oakland Raiders football players. He said the flight had many fans of the football team, as many passengers were wearing Raiders paraphernalia.

Durkin, who said that the fliers were "not particularly rowdy," said "a decent amount of folks (were) in Raiders gear."

"Pretty standard fare for a flight to a city where the Raiders are playing," he told Fox News.

The Raiders played the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead stadium on Dec. 8. The Chiefs beat the Raiders 21-13.

AJC's George Mathis contributed to this report.

World's first yearlong frozen hotel opens in Sweden

While many people book vacations to destinations with warmer climates during the winter months, some travelers prefer to embrace the cold and find wonder in frosty locales. For the latter, you may want to consider booking a trip to northern Sweden and staying at the world's first-ever permanent ice hotel, Sweden's ICEHOTEL 365.

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The original ICEHOTEL, a pop-up that has been rebuilt every winter, was the world's first hotel made of snow and ice when it opened in 1989, according to CNN.

But ICEHOTEL 365, which opened last month, will be the world's first frozen hotel to stay open all year.

Located about 120 miles north of the Arctic circle in Jukkasjärvi, the hotel features 20 suites, an ice bar and sculpting studio, an ice church and more.

According to the hotel website, ICEHOTEL 365 is cooled by solar panels during the summer months and during the winter, the Torne River provides the hotel with its ice.

Watch the video below from Business Insider for a peek inside.

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Delta to offer new snacks on board: Yogurt bars, honey roasted peanuts

Delta Air Lines is upgrading its free snacks on flights and switching to yogurt bars, honey roasted peanuts and brand-name pretzels.

One thing that isn’t changing in the snack lineup: The well-known Biscoff cookies, which are staying.

The free snacks are for flights longer than 250 miles. Depending on the length of the flight, travelers might get either Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels or Squirrel brand honey roasted peanuts, or also have a choice of NatureBox apple cinnamon yogurt bars or Biscoff. The changes take effect Dec. 14.

>> Read more trending stories 

The Atlanta-based airline said the new offerings have “larger portions and more variety.” Delta also plans to change its mix of snacks more often in the future based on customer feedback.

The carrier had tested cashews and yogurt bars as snacks on some flights earlier this year. The Georgia Peanut Commission at the time said Georgia peanut growers are “proud of our special relationship” with Delta “and we’ve looked for ways over the years to maintain and grow it.”

Delta said it has set up vending machines in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle to offer free samples of the new snacks.

A stroll through Dickens's London

Visitors to London can walk in the footsteps of one of the city's literary giants, enjoying some spooky Christmas fun, a bit of history, and a pint of Nut Brown Ale.

On my first visit to London, a doorknocker spoke to me.

Back story: Way back in fourth grade, I played Tiny Tim in a grammar school production of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Though I’m certain my stage debut was nothing remarkable, the experience was pivotal for me. It kindled a lifelong devotion to reading and writing, performing on stage, and studying the life and work of Dickens, who was not only a passionate and often hilarious novelist, essayist, and public speaker but also a social activist.

So, back to that talking London doorknocker. Upon my first arrival in London at age 23, I decided that the best way to see the city was to do as Dickens himself had done: Walk. Everywhere. For hours. I happily took in the city's sights and sounds from my hotel in South Kensington all the way to Fleet Street and Chancery Lane, an area where Dickens-related churches, residences, and courts of law still stand. I wandered up high streets, into little alleys and down courts (essentially scenic "dead-ends" to this native New Yorker), following Dickens-themed guidebooks (this was pre-smartphone) to find what remained of Dickens’s London, including landmarks from his life and a few places where scenes from his novels were set. In one court in particular (it may have been Took's Court, but I don't recall), I came across a cast-metal doorknocker in the shape of a man's face. Not just a man's face, but a smirking man's face. Of course, for this fan of A Christmas Carol, that slyly smirking doorknocker wailed, "Scroooooooooge!” And in that moment, my devotion to reading and writing melded with my budding love of travel. Here, before my eyes, was precisely the type of doorknocker that may have inspired my favorite writer to pen his most famous work.

The Search for Scrooge

We know that, in 1843, Dickens conceived A Christmas Carol in a righteous, political frame of mind after reading an account of childhood poverty. But do we, could we possibly know whether there was one specific London doorknocker that inspired him to come up with the scene in which Ebenezer Scrooge imagines that the knocker on his own front door morphs into the ghostly visage of his deceased partner, Jacob Marley? This year, as Christmas approached, I decided to pose this decidedly niche query to Louisa Price, Curator at the Charles Dickens Museum. She did not disappoint me. “It was on Craven Street that Dickens got the idea of the famous scene,” says Price. “We don’t know which one (or if the knocker is still there!) but perhaps go down the street and see which one you think it might be.” Price also suggests that, to get a sense of what Ebenezer Scrooge’s counting house might have looked like, we should spend some time in London’s financial district, known locally as the City, where narrow alleys and courts remain (amid contemporary business towers) to evoke that December of 1843.

The Charles Dickens Museum

The Charles Dickens Museum ($12, 48 Doughty Street, Bloomsbury, dickensmuseum.com) is one of the most popular Dickens-related sites in London, a short walk from the British Museum. The Dickens museum is housed in the Georgian townhouse where the author lived with his growing family as he finished The Pickwick Papers (which, like most of his novels, was published in installments, a bit like a 19th-century Netflix series) and wrote Oliver Twist in the late 1830s. “It is the only remaining family home of Dickens's in London,” says Price. “The house has retained many of its original features, including the washhouse copper, which we believe inspired the Christmas pudding scene in A Christmas Carol. The house has been restored to an 1830s interior as Dickens and his young family would have known it, and it is full of furniture, paintings, and other items that they owned, as well as other treasures from our collection which relate Dickens’s life and times.”

Among the “treasures” in the museum are a few items that will connect viscerally with anyone who has enjoyed Dickens’s fiction. “Certainly the most popular will be Dickens’s desk and chair on which the author wrote his later novels like Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, and Our Mutual Friend,” says Price.

Another popular item at the museum, from Dickens’s mid-career novel Dombey and Son, is a street sign known as “The Little Midshipman.” This item was my personal favorite when I first visited the museum, which was then known simply as the Dickens House. “Dickens once stood outside Norie’s, a shop that sold nautical charts, sailing directions, and navigation textbooks at 157 Leadenhall Street. Dickens was familiar with Norie’s and became so fond of the midshipman that he gave him a starring role in Dombey and Son as the sign of Sol Gil, nautical equipment maker. In the novel he is described as ‘the woodenest of that which thrust itself out above the pavement.' Dickens also describes in The Uncommerical Traveller [one of Dickens’s many collections of essays] how he would pass the figure and pat him on his calf for ‘old acquaintance sake.’”

Not surprisingly, the Charles Dickens Museum goes all out from December 1 through January 6 (Twelfth Night), including an exhibition devoted to A Christmas Carol, candlelit tours, evening readings, and decorations typical of a 19th-century London home.

Guided tours of Dickens’s London run weekly from the museum with historian Richard Jones, whose Dickens tours were featured recently on CBS This Morning. Reserve your tour for your next London trip at the museum website.

Where to Get Convivial

There may have been no writer before or since Dickens who was as fond of food and drink and the camaraderie of like-minded friends; the novels are filled with accounts of huge dinners, toasts, and revelry. I asked Price if she could recommend a true “Dickens of a pub” in London. “The George and Vulture Pub is the site of the Pickwick Club’s meetings in The Pickwick Papers (it is mentioned about 20 times in total in the book),” she says, referring to Dickens’s first published novel, which relates the travels and extremely funny mishaps of the iconic Mr. Pickwick, his cockney servant Sam Weller, and their friends. “The George and Vulture was built in 1746 as a public house in Castle Court, near Lombard Street, City of London. There has been an inn on the site since 1268. It was saved from demolishment in 1950 by the great-grandson of Charles Dickens, Cedric Dickens. It has been the site of the City Pickwick’s Club meetings and the Dickens family Christmas gatherings ever since.” (Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale, Oatmeal Stout, meat pies, and other traditional pub fare, 3 Castle Court, 020-7626 9710)

Museum of London

The Museum of London covers the city’s history from prehistoric times to the present, covering the Roman settlement, medieval times, plague, fire, and various revolutions, with a healthy dose of Victorian-era artifacts and works of art. One exhibit brings a 19th-century London street vividly to life, and one painting in particular will resonate with Dickens aficionados: “The Crossing Sweeper,” by William Powell, depicts one of the young boys, like the character Jo in Bleak House, who made a meager living by sweeping mud, rubbish, and manure off the streets for pedestrians (free admission, museumoflondon.org).

Dickens’s Christmas Writings

While A Christmas Carol is by far the best-known of Dickens’s Christmas-themed fiction, in subsequent years he published several other short novels with holiday themes, including The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth. I asked Price if she had a favorite Christmas piece, and I was delighted that she recommended a story I hadn’t read yet. “My favorite is his first bit of Christmas writing, ‘A Christmas Dinner,’ which he first published in 1835,” she revealed. “‘A Christmas Dinner’ begins with: ‘Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused - in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened - by the recurrence of Christmas.’ The whole piece brims with all of Dickens’s enthusiasm and love of the season and describes a gathering very similar to the ones we know and love now.”

See More From Budget Travel:Delicious Globe-Spanning Eggnog Recipes!30 Beautiful Cities in Europe (How Many Have You Seen?)10 Most Family-Friendly Cities in EuropeHappy Birthday, Charles Dickens!

Therapy pig roams San Francisco airport, greets travelers

Anxious and stressed travelers passing through San Francisco International Airport now have a new way to calm their nerves thanks to the airport's newest member of the Wag Brigade.

 >> Read more trending stories 

The airport introduced LiLou, a therapy pig, as the first non-canine member of the Wag Brigade, a group of nearly two dozen trained therapy dogs that walk around the airport greeting travelers in an effort to ease the stress of traveling. Travelers are encouraged to pet the dogs as a way to bring comfort and to quell any fears of flying. 

LiLou, a spotted Juliana pig, has now joined the ranks of the group, roaming terminals in costumes and entertaining guests. Sometimes she twirls and stands on her back legs while wearing a tutu, and other times she plays a toy piano, USA Today reported.

"Since its launch in 2013, the SFO Wag Brigade has become a favorite amenity among travelers," Christopher Birch, director of guest experience, said in a news release announcing LiLou's admission to the Wag Brigade. "With the addition of LiLou, we can look forward to more moments of surprise and delight for guests at our airport."

A photo posted by LiLou (@lilou_sfpig) on Oct 16, 2016 at 6:19pm PDT <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>

"I can see that she is happy showing off her tricks and getting her praise," LiLou's owner, Tatyana Danilova, told USA Today. "It also brings positive emotions to me seeing that we can do something good for the community and bring more smiles in some unconventional way."

LiLou visits the airport at least once a month, according to airport spokesman Doug Yakel, who also said that the airport has been working with the San Fransisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to expand the types of animals included on the Wag Brigade. Lilou, who will turn 2 on Dec. 15,  is the first pig to be certified in the Animal Assisted Therapy Program of the San Francisco SPCA.

The SFSPCA requires that "At a minimum, AAT pets must be solicitous and fully comfortable with handling. In other words, pets must be interested in and eager to approach people and accept handling, regardless of the person's age, gender, race, size, mobility equipment usage and apparel."

 According to Conde Nast Traveler, more than 30 airports nationwide have programs that feature therapy dogs, and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has brought in miniature horses in a similar effort. 

See more of LiLou, who has dressed as a nurse, a pilot and a fairy, on her Instagram account.

A photo posted by LiLou (@lilou_sfpig) on Dec 2, 2016 at 9:17pm PST <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>

Disney reveals Death Star at Epcot

A Disney parks icon had a new look Monday night.

Epcot at Walt Disney World in Florida held a special event Monday night to celebrate Star Wars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the upcoming release of the film "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."

During the event, Epcot’s iconic Spaceship Earth was magically transformed into the Death Star, the devastating battle station seen in the original "Star Wars" movie. 

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The Death Star overlay was done through digital projections, complete with laser beams shooting into the night sky.

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The event was attended by Mads Mikkelsen who plays Galen Erso in the latest Star Wars installment. "Rogue One" hits theaters Dec. 16, with early screenings on Dec. 15. 

Watch the entire event below:

Plane diverted after baby born during flight

Normally a baby crying during a flight isn't a welcome sound, but this time it was when the trip from Philadelphia to Orlando landed with one extra passenger on board.

A woman delivered a baby while in the air on Southwest Flight 556, WCSC reported.

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Luckily there were medical professionals, two doctors and a nurse, on the flight who helped with the delivery of the baby boy, Al.com reported.

The plane was met by first responders when it was diverted to Charleston Sunday before the rest of the passengers continued on their way to Orlando.

Al.com reported that the baby was at 26 weeks and the baby and new parents were taken to a Charleston hospital.

Woman opens emergency exit door, jumps out of plane

A woman who flew to Houston from New Orleans didn't follow disembarkation instructions, but rather took matters into her own hands.

The unidentified woman opened an emergency exit door and jumped out of a plane as it was taxiing down the runway at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

The plane was headed toward its gate, airline spokeswoman Maddie King, said.

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Hampton Friedman, a passenger who was sitting across the aisle from the woman, captured a photo that showed the open door. 

"I realized when the door popped open, and a woman stepped out of it," he told CNN. Cathy Cole, another passenger, said the woman took off running toward the terminal.

"Somebody on the plane said, 'We have a runner,' and they kept repeating it," Cole told KHOU. "I was traveling with my sister, and she looked out the window, and she saw a woman on the tarmac running toward the terminal."

Another witness told KHOU that the woman didn't say anything before opening the door and jumping about 15 feet to the ground.

<iframe width="390" height="219" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EVtEmuEfkQ8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Flight passengers waited on the plane for over an hour while police boarded and searched the aircraft. 

"They kept telling us to wait, stay in our seats, stay seated," Cole told KHOU. "The captain came on air and said, you know, the police will be boarding the plane. They came on the plane with their dog."

According to KHOU, the woman was not charged and prosecutors said she is undergoing psychological tests.

"I've flown all over the world, and I've been on lots of really long flights, and I've never experienced anything like this," Cole said. "I have no earthly idea why she would want to do that."

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> We landed and waited for gate to open up as we were 30 min early.  A lady opened emergency exit door which she was...Posted by Cathy Cole on Monday, November 28, 2016

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