EUROPE

Promenade, play area open on Paris' Left Bank

Paris has given back a stretch of its riverbank to pedestrians -- just in time for summertime strolls.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe inaugurated the 1.4-mile stretch along the Seine River between the Royal and Alma bridges on the Left Bank. Once a road with buzzing traffic, it's now a walkway with restaurants, a floating garden, a picnic spot and a children's area.

The project, started in April 2010, cost about $47 million to complete. Delanoe has made environmental concerns one of his top priorities. He brought to Paris the bicycle rental system known as the velib, followed by a similar system of electric cars.

Flood damages Austrian UNESCO heritage site

A flash flood unleashed by a major thunderstorm inundated the Austrian village of Hallstatt, which has been awarded special status by the United Nations because of its beauty.

Tuesday's storm turned a placid creek into a torrent that flooded the village square, tearing up cobblestones. Houses and a hotel were partly under water, and 30 people had to be evacuated by ladder.

Huddled next to an Alpine lake, the village is one of Austria's tourist attractions. UNESCO has named it one of its heritage sites.

AIRLINES

United's 'elite' fliers must spend $2,500


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United Airlines is making it a little harder to get a higher frequent-flier status.

That used to require flying 25,000 miles per year. Now, United is adding a requirement for at least $2,500 in spending, too, to qualify for status in its MileagePlus program.

Most frequent fliers would spend that much if they are earning 25,000 miles. But those who buy discounted tickets might be affected.

Travelers like to get so-called "elite" status because of seat upgrades and other perks.

The change, which matches one made by Delta Air Lines, takes effect next year for travelers trying to earn status in 2015. Taxes and bag fees won't count toward the total.

-- Compiled from Associated Press reports