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Every Friday, we help you navigate the week’s most important and interesting travel news stories.

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Amazing things that should happen more often

In March, a tiny, battery-powered gadget called Trakdot will arrive in shops promising to help travellers electronically keep track of where their checked luggage is. Toss the device in your bag and it will use a cell-phone signal, not GPS, to approximately pinpoint the bag’s location at airports worldwide. The device is slated to cost $50, with a $13 a year subscription to receive text alerts. [Gizmodo]

In-flight entertainment       
Photos and videos that went viral on the Web this week

It’s time once again for National Geographic’s annual photography competition. This year, the 14 best photos were picked out of 22,000 entries from 150 countries. The top prize for a destination shot went to a gorgeous photo of the Matterhorn, Switzerland. [Nat Geo]

Dramatic photos of "Real London" from a native Londoner were this week’s viral photo sensation. They’re distinctive for the unusual framing and angles of the shots, such as of skyscrapers in the city and Tube stations at night, thanks to the photographer’s creative choices in shooting locations and times. [Facebook]

Ready for takeoff
All set to go, but too soon to tell what’s ahead

Reviews site TripAdvisor is famous for being built upon the helpful comments of millions of travellers worldwide. So it was fitting that when the New York Times’ Frugal Traveller columnist blogged about how to use TripAdvisor, the article received more than  230 comments, many of which turned out to be more interesting than the article itself. [NY Times]

Google has revealed the world's most searched travel destinations in 2012, broken down by country. A top foreign destination for Americans to search was, surprisingly, Toronto, while Singaporeans wanted to know more about Legoland Malaysia. [Tnooz]

Travellers looking to book holiday packages may find that the best time to buy flight-plus-hotel deals is now. Tour operators traditionally offer most alluring package sales in January for travel between now and August. The most impressively priced offers right now are for trips to Hawaii, Iceland, and Ireland, say experts. [MarketWatch]

Turbulence
Hold on folks, we’re in for a rocky ride

It’s worth celebrating that 2012 was safest year to fly since 1945. But Boeing is in the spotlight for a series of mechanical problems with its new series of aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner. For three straight days this week Dreamliners have experienced a range of issues, from brake problems to catching fire, causing many to question whether the much-touted new jets are safe to fly -- though Boeing insists it has “extreme confidence” that its planes are safe. [CNN; BBC; WSJ; The Motley Fool]

The Transportation Security Administration has begun testing a new program allowing agents to select passengers to bypass standard security checks instead of an expedited line based on personal observations about passengers' behaviour. Some are already claiming the new system is ripe for racial profiling. [NY Times]

Flight attendants confess their secrets to the editor of AirfareWatchdog, a fare alert website. Did you know that when flight attendants greet you at the door, they’re often not on duty, because many airlines only begin to pay them an hourly income either once the aeroplane doors close or its wheels take off from the tarmac? “No wonder the smiles sometimes seem fake.” [LA Times]

A photographer captured scenes as 10,000 angry passengers crowded airline counters and confronted police while delayed at China's Changshui International Airport. As air travel becomes more accessible to China’s expanding middle class, incidents like this have been occurring more frequently. [Sydney Morning Herald]

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