A roundup of recent flight data and travel news:
Pet-setters. Last week, Pet Airways took off from BWI Marshall Airport on its inaugural flight that caters to cats and dogs. My colleague Andrea Walker was at the airport and reported that the flight to Chicago (where some pets were making a connection) included a Bernese Mountain dog, a Labrador retriever, four cats, a Boston terrier and a variety of other pets. One-way fares start at $149, but the flights are already sold out for the first two months. Go to petairways.com.
Can't beat it. A tour company is offering a bus trip from Chicago to Gary, Ind., to see Michael Jackson's childhood home and other haunts. "The King of Pop Hometown Tour," created by Chicago-based J W R Tours, promises stops at 2300 Jackson St., which was the singer's boyhood home; Jackson's junior high school; the high school his siblings attended; the steel mill where his father worked; and one of the first places the Jackson 5 performed, reports the Associated Press. Tickets are $55. All aboard.
Social statue. Even the Statue of Liberty tweets. The lady of the harbor has joined the social networking craze by signing up for her own Twitter.com account. Actually, it's probably park rangers and guides since her hands are full. Follow her at twitter.com/statuelibrtynps.
India on top. Udaipur, India, was the top city in Travel + Leisure's annual list of the "World's Best Cities," selected by readers of the magazine. Last year's best city was Bangkok. Now, that one you've heard of.
Spend a day, get a night. Here's a way to earn a free night's hotel stay: volunteer. The group you volunteer for has to be a 501c3 organization - a place like Habitat for Humanity, for example - and you'll need a letter from the organization proving that you did the work. Then make your reservation at least 48 hours in advance at places like the Hilton Garden Inn in Orlando, Fla., the Marriott in Charlotte, N.C., the Renaissance Pittsburgh, the Doubletree Atlanta etc. You'll have to pay the taxes and rooms are limited at each hotel - but the offer is good through Dec. 20. Details at sagehospitality.com/specials/giveadaygetanight.htm.
What's in a word? The term "staycation," originating circa 2005, has made it into the new collegiate editions of the Merriam-Webster dictionary along with 100 other newish words. The definition is a "vacation spent at home or nearby."
Road trip ready. The Maryland State Highway Administration has launched a newly designed Web site, marylandroads.com. While you're there, order your free copy of Maryland's Official 2009-2010 Highway map. The new map is larger with easier-to-read text, according to a press release. It also includes a tourism information panel, BWI parking map and 3D-relief map of the mountains of Western Maryland.