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

Keep up with our dispatches all week by following @BBC_Travel or tracking the hashtag #bbcinbrief.

Amazing things that should happen more often

US rental car company Hertz is awarding matching status in their loyalty programmes. For example, travellers with elite status as Avis First members can now receive Hertz Five Star benefits for free. National Rent a Car is also offering the promotion, through 31 January. [A View from the Wing] 

The UN Human Development Index ranked all 187 countries in terms of happiness. Norway came in at number one, while the bottom 25 were all in Africa. Criteria included income, education, life expectancy and gender equality, which may or may not be the best ways to measure happiness. We suppose it's hard to measure smiles. [CNN International]

In the same week, Mozambique is putting its embroiled past behind it and slowly becoming a popular tourist spot. Hopefully more African nations can follow suit. [CNN]

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

On Tuesday, architect Norman Foster proposed a design for a new London airport, set on an island in the Thames Estuary, about 14 miles from the city. It’s planned to be larger than Heathrow. [Daily Mail]

Singapore Airlines unveilled its new budget carrier, "Scoot", and seems to be alone in thinking the "geographically independent" name is "sharp and snappy". Others have focused on its low points, such as its "veterinary related homonym: a verb that refers to the canine or feline act of dealing with back-end irritation by dragging itself across the ground". [NPR/WSJ]

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

An Australian court demanded Qantas resume flights after Australia's worst labour dispute in decades affected 70,000 travellers over the weekend. Afterward, Qantas announced it plans to cut fares in a campaign to win back customers. [BBC/Reuters]

Seems $25,000 is a small price to pay for the unlimited first fresh-powder tracks included in Aspen's Ultimate Ski Pass. You know, as long as you happen to have an unlimited supply of cash. [Gadling]

Unexpected, and not looking good

Around 1,500 tourists have been stranded in the Everest region since Wednesday due to heavy fog surrounding the only airport in the area. As a result, hotels are running out of food and hundreds of people are living in tents. [Agence France-Presse]

It’s a no-go

The dangerous trend of blinding pilots with lasers is spreading in Great Britain, too. [Daily Mail]

Why did McDonald's fail in Bolivia? A Spanish-language film, Por Que Quebro McDonald's?, attempts to explain the closure of all eight of the fast-food chain's branches in 2002. [Global Post]

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