The parent company of Alaska Airlines has struck a deal to buy Virgin America, creating a West Coast-focused airline. If approved by regulators and Virgin America's shareholders, the combined airline will be the fifth-largest U.S. carrier, according to Alaska Air Group.

"By bringing them together, we're creating the premier airline for people who live anywhere on the West Coast," Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement.

Juvenile penguin on Genovesa Island. Click on this image to see more penguin photos.
Patricio Maldonado/Courtesy of

Bill Radke speaks with University of Washington researcher Dee Boersma about her website iGalapagos, where she is asking Galapagos Islands tourists to share their photos of penguins to help with her research. 

Blue Origin team members Bretton Alexander and Jeff Ashby, founder Jeff Bezos, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, and team members Rob Meyerson and Robert Millman at the company’s headquarters in Kent in 2011.
Flickr Photo/NASA HQ Photo (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/

Audio Pending...

Bill Radke interviews reporter Alan Boyle about his recent tour of Blue Origin -- the Jeff Bezos' space tourism and rocket factory that opened its doors to reporters for the first time this week.  

On Monday, Amtrak opens its Cascades trains to cats and dogs between Eugene, Oregon, and Bellingham, Washington. But there are some guidelines.

Removing any doubt about whether you're allowed to puff away on an electronic cigarette while airborne, the Department of Transportation has explicitly banned vaping on commercial flights.

When Godwin Ndosi first heard the word "Airbnb," he said, "Airbnb? Is that the name of a person?

Now it's the way he makes his living.

His introduction to the accommodations rental website came a year ago. Ndosi, a 23-year-old from Arusha, Tanzania, runs a safari business. A client had nowhere to stay after his hotel plans fell apart, so Ndosi invited him to spend the night at his pad.

Washington state government workers would be forbidden to travel to Victoria, British Columbia, on business under a budget proviso passed by the Washington House of Representatives. The proposed travel ban is meant to pressure Victoria to stop dumping raw sewage into shared border waters.

A lot of visitors to Colorado figure they might give the state's good ganja a try, but they might not be prepared for the effects. When it comes to bad weed trips, out-of-staters have been doing much worse than Colorado residents and are going to the ER more often since recreational sales of marijuana began in 2014.

A vote by Idaho lawmakers Monday showed Northwest states are moving toward full compliance with driver's license security upgrades demanded by Congress more than a decade ago.

On a chilly afternoon in south Georgia, more than 100 Transportation Security Administration trainees are huddled together on metal bleachers overlooking a field. They're watching an explosives instructor demonstrate what can happen if they don't do their job well.

"All right, confined smokeless powder in three, two, one."


The trainees (and an observing reporter) jump, startled by the explosion 100 yards or so before them.

More blasts follow, with different explosives. The lesson for these new hires? That the consequences of a mistake are deadly.

The Record: Thursday, Feb. 4, Full Show

Feb 4, 2016
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Today on The Record: Rick Steves, a well-known travel writer based in Edmonds, will tell you how to go to Cuba and what you might find.

Also, is Europe's immigration crisis something you should consider when it comes to visiting there? And move over Gala, Fuji, Braeburn and Red Delicious, there's a new Washington apple coming to your grocery store. Listen to the full show above or check out the individual stories:

The Obama administration is implementing changes — voted into law by Congress late last year — that tighten the visa waiver program, specifically targeting Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. But the administration is reserving the right to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

As Iran prepares to pump even more oil into an already glutted market, that oversupply isn't just making gas cheaper for your car — it's also causing jet fuel prices to go down sharply. And that's now pushing airfares down, too.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering a travel warning for countries where Zika virus is circulating. The reason: growing concern among researchers that the virus could be causing babies in Brazil to be born with brain damage.

The Zika virus is named after the Zika forest in Uganda, where it was first identified in the 1940s. For decades it was a rare disease, primarily popping up in Africa and occasionally in Southeast Asia. In 2007, there was a major Zika outbreak in Micronesia. Then in May of 2015 the virus turned up in Brazil.

It won't be long until passengers will be able to take a ferry to Cuba from Miami, an idea that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago in a city that's home to Cuban exiles who fled from the Castro regime. The Obama administration approved licenses last year to companies that want to run ferries to Cuba. Several are interested. Still, it came as a surprise last week when the port of Miami said it's considering building a new ferry terminal on land that had been slated for development.