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Air routes to the United Kingdom may close this week due to another Icelandic ash cloud, Qantas is testing high-tech smartcards, a top travel writer chats about his new book, and more. Here are the stories that travellers are buzzing about:

European air routes threatened by Icelandic ash cloud
Ash from an erupting Icelandic volcano has cancelled most flights in and out of Reykjavik, the country's capital. The plume may reach Britain tomorrow and may shut down much of the UK's airspace for days. On a brighter note, the ash is heavier than it was in the cloud that stranded 10 million travellers one year ago, so it will fall out of the atmosphere much faster. As of this morning, there were nearly no flight delays for international flights to the UK and Europe. The next update from Eurocontrol, Europe's air traffic control organisation, is scheduled for 8 am ET. For facts about how the Grímsvötn volcano is affecting Iceland, visit Iceland tourism's Facebook page.

Airlines claim that the flying experience will improve
Airlines are testing new technologies that, if successful, could one day better the travel experience for all fliers, reports the Wall Street Journal. The most interesting experiment is being done by Qantas at Sydney and Perth airports with high-tech frequent-flier cards that are embedded with an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip. When a traveller enters an airport with one of these smart cards, sensors read the passenger's card and automatically send a gate number and electronic boarding pass to the passenger's smartphone. Qantas's site has more details on the program, which has been running since November.

Top US travel writer chats about his new book
Paul Theroux
may be America's most critically acclaimed travel writer, having published more than a dozen travel books since his genre-defining 1975 book The Great Railway Bazaar. Last Thursday, his latest work The Tao of Travel hit bookstores. This morning, there's a live Web chat with the Theroux at 8am ET via The Telegraph. The writer has also done interviews with The Atlantic and Reuters.

Video: Watch 51 planes take off in under three minutes
A clever time-lapse video shows planes at Boston's Logan Airport as they taxi, take off and land rapidly on 6 May. The amateur video has been spotlighted by Gizmodo and watched about 400,000 times.

The mega re-tweet
We scour Twitter to highlight a standout travel tweet.

"Dear humans. I am sorry, but I seem to be erupting in your Twitter, too. (I usually do not tweet so much.)."

-- @thisisiceland, the voice of the tourist office of Iceland. The Twitter feed has been a model for how a public relations team should respond to a crisis. It has been directing its followers to the most authoritative sources of information about the ash cloud. It is also been keeping its sense of humour in the face of adversity, such as by being amused that some non-Icelanders think they can pronounce "Grímsvötn" (GREEMSH-votn).

Got "In brief"? Talk with us on Twitter @BBC_Travel or by using the hashtag #bbcinbrief.

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