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Originally published Friday, May 7, 2010 at 7:30 PM

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Travel updates: Airline fees, new Seattle website for gay travelers

Travel updates including airline fees and new Seattle website for gay travelers

Airlines cash in with fees

U.S. airlines made a lot more money in extra fees last year. The U.S. Department of Transportation said revenue from fees rose 42 percent to $7.8 billion in 2009. The biggest chunk of that came from checked baggage fees. Besides checked bags, other fees include those for reservation changes, pet travel and mileage sales.

Delta collected the most revenue from fees at $1.65 billion.

Delta waives bag fee for cardholders

Delta Air Lines will waive the fee on the first checked bag — usually a $25 charge — for most customers who have Delta SkyMiles credit cards. The move by Delta and its card issuer, American Express, could pressure other airlines to waive bag fees for their credit-card users, too.

Welcoming gay travelers to Seattle

A new website, Travel Gay Seattle, has been launched to tap into the lesbian and gay travel market. At www.thegsba.org/travel, travelers can find Seattle tips and reviews, and book plane tickets, hotels and more. The Greater Seattle Business Association launched the website, with support from Alaska Airlines. The association is a chamber for commerce for LGBT-oriented businesses — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Reno turns into Artown in July

Folk music legend Joan Baez is among the performers slated for Reno's 15th annual Artown festival this summer. Baez plays July 6 during the monthlong festival which features 400 events — theater, dance, music, visual arts and children's workshops — spread through July.

Nearly two-thirds of the events are free, many on a downtown island in the Truckee River surrounded by a kayaking and whitewater park. Information: www.renoisartown.com

Fast-track security program

to relaunch at U.S. airports

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The Clear program, which allowed members to breeze through security at some U.S. airports before it abruptly shut last year, is expected to be running again by the fall.

The company has been taken over by Alclear LLC, whose board includes Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

When the program shut in June, there was concern among members because of personal data they volunteered in exchange for quick passage through airport security.

Former Clear customers will soon be sent a notice, asking if they want their data (which includes fingerprints, iris scans for ID and Social Security numbers) transferred to Alclear. If not, the data will be destroyed. For new customers, membership will be $179 yearly. Information: www.flyclear.com

Denali National Park opening up

Denali National Park in Alaska is springing back to life. The Denali Visitor Center opens for the summer season on May 15. Rangers will be on hand to provide general park information and interpretive programs, which include a sled-dog demonstration. One campground already is open and two more will open in mid-May. The shuttle buses that take visitors into the park (private vehicles are restricted) begin operating on May 20, although the full 92-mile road won't be open until June 8. Information: www.nps.gov/dena

Seattle Times staff and news services

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