Travelers on alert, AirTran’s transition and more

Watch out, world

After last week’s Osama Bin Laden drama, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for, well, everywhere. The main concern: anti-American sentiment.

The agency warns travelers to avoid “mass gatherings and demonstrations” and encourages Americans to keep up on developing news and to stay in touch with embassies and consulates.

U.S. facilities in vulnerable areas remain in a state of high alert. The agency warns, “These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture.” But it assures travelers that its offices will do their best to assist Americans in need.

The alert expires Aug. 1.

Meet SouthwestTran

Southwest has completed its purchase of AirTran. Hooray. Now what?

Not much.

Southwest officials say it will take several years to fully transition AirTran into Southwest. For now, AirTran passengers will continue to make reservations and check in through the carrier’s Web site and phone number; Southwest customers will stick to that airline’s digits and site.

Eventually, though, the frequent-flier programs will be combined, as will reservations and ticketing systems and Web sites.

In the best news of the day: AirTran will follow Southwest’s lead, eliminating fees to check the first two bags and to change a reservation. Also gone: assigned seating and two classes of seating. And in the first half of 2012, AirTran’s blue, red and green color scheme will be no more, as Southwest repaints the fleet to look like its own.

Best of

Since 1996, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences has presented the Webby Awards, the Oscars of the virtual world. In addition, citizens get their say with the People’s Voice Award. The accolade covers almost 70 categories, including travel. And this year’s travel winners are (unless noted, the awardee claimed both honors):

-Best Guides/Reviews: Yelp

-Best Guides/Reviews Apps: Yelp Mobile

-Best Travel & Adventure site: Bali Temple Explorer (Webby); Frugal Traveler (People)

-Best Use of GPS/Location Tech in an App: Foursquare

-Best Mobile Travel App: Kayak Mobile for iPhone (People); Tripit (Webby)

-Best Travel site: Lonely Planet (People); Jetsetter (Webby)

-Best Tourism site: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

For a complete list: