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Airlines

New rules for AA frequent flier miles

American and US Airways announced changes last week to their policies on checked-bag fees and redeeming miles for free flights.

Passengers traveling on American on miles they earned or who paid for an economy seat won’t get free checked bags anymore. Some elite-level frequent fliers on both airlines will get one less free bag than before.

When it comes to redeeming miles for free flights, US Airways is ending blackout days. American will change the number of miles to get an unrestricted free flight — more on popular travel days, fewer on less-busy ones. And it’s making an array of changes to the miles needed for international trips.

Suzanne Rubin, an American Airlines vice president who oversees the AAdvantage loyalty program, said the changes will increase revenue but she declined to give a figure.

The two carriers merged in December, and the changes are designed to bring the policies of the two closer together. Between them, they have 110 million loyalty-program members, Rubin said.

Other changes:

•  For U.S. travel on or after June 1, American members can redeem miles for an unrestricted “AAnytime” award at 20,000 miles, 30,000 miles or 50,000 each way instead of the current 25,000-mile flat rate. The less-flexible “MileSAAver” awards will continue to start at 12,500 miles.

•  Mid-tier elite members (platinum on American; gold and platinum on US Airways) will get two free checked bags; a reduction of one for the US Airways’ Dividend Miles elites.

•  Lower-level elites (gold on American; silver on US Airways) will get one free checked bag, a reduction from two for the American customers.

•  Removing a charge for second checked bags on trips to South America.

Cuba

U.S. travel to Cuba continues to rise

A new study shows travel by U.S. visitors to Cuba continues to rise, even as the more than five-decade long embargo remains firmly in place.

Within the first three months of 2014 alone, there were more U.S. tourists to the island than in all of 2013 from England, Germany or France. That’s according to a report by the Havana Consulting Group provided to The Associated Press last week.

Canada remains the No. 1 country of origin for travelers to Cuba. But the number of U.S. travelers has risen quickly, from about 245,000 in 2007 to nearly 600,000 last year. Most are Cuban-Americans visiting family, but others have no ties to the island and travel to participate in cultural exchange programs.

New York

Tavern on the Green reopens this month

The landmark Tavern on the Green in New York City’s Central Park, shuttered since 2010, is reopening later this month.

The glitzy restaurant has undergone a major rehabilitation and will reopen April 24 for dinner. Lunch and brunch menus will be launched in May for the Mother’s Day weekend.

New owners Philadelphia restaurateurs Jim Caiola and David Salama had planned to open last November, but construction problems delayed the opening.

Miami Herald

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