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Today's travel intel

--If the passenger next to you is sick... will you get sick, too, after your flight is over? No, say medical researchers, who were interviewed for this Wall Street Journal article (subscription required). Here's the money quote: "The air on planes is better than in most home and office environments since it changes much more frequently. On most commercial planes, at least half of the air comes from outside the aircraft and passes through a high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filter which removes contaminants." You're also unlikely to fall sick if the previous occupant of your airplane seat was sick. Cruises, though, are another story entirely. Learn how to stay healthy on cruises, by clicking here.

--European railways to challenge discount airlines. That's the surprising news from German business daily Handelsblatt. In December, a new "Railteam" program will aim to make it easier for travelers to book discounted travel across Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium. When the railway companies reveal more details, we'll pass them on to you. (Courtesy of the fine bloggers at EuroCheapo.)

--Has it been 400 years already? In 1607, Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone and Rory O'Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell, fled Ireland. This event provided an opening for the British to expand their rule over the island. History buffs can learn more about talks, festivals, and marches commemorating the event by visiting a new website, Flightoftheearls.ie. (Thanks to reader John McNeal for the tip.)

--Our website has a new baby sister. And she's "green"! Sprig.com was launched earlier this week to cater to the interests of people who want to do a little bit more to care for the environment -- without obsessing over it. And, yes, there's a travel-related angle here. Sprig offers travel tips as part of its lifestyle section. For example, Sprig recommends you consider flying Virgin Atlantic because, among other things, the airline plans to start flying planes on plant-based fuels next year.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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