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

Breaking stories we're watching closely

Continuing violence prompted the US to issue a travel warning to Mexico. The advisory warns US citizens to avoid all but essential travel to 14 states in northern and central Mexico, as Americans have fallen victim to incidents "including homicide, gunbattles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery". [MSNBC]

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

The TSA announced the expansion of the PreCheck program, which allows passengers to leave on their shoes, belt and coats while going through the screening process. The program, which currently exists at seven US airports and will soon be available at 35 airports, is available to approved US citizens who agree to share background information with the TSA. While many frequent fliers view this as a major victory, some travellers worry it will create cracks in security.  [LA Times]

The Obama administration has eased restrictions on US travel to Cuba, but the government still bans American travellers from going to beaches and cabaret shows, and doing any kind of independent travel. Americans are heading to Caribbean island in droves, but many believe they have the right to choose their own itinerary. Meanwhile, some members of congress aren't happy about any type of travel to Cuba being opened up. [NPR] 

Amazing things that should happen more often 

Looking for someone to help you warm up this Valentine's Day? The Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Utah is offering on-lift speed dating for lonely skiers and riders. More importantly, lift tickets are $40. [Gadling] 

A water skier took playing with dolphins to a new level when a pair of the playful marine mammals joined him as he rode the wake. Luckily, his friend captured the event on video. [Gadling]

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

The European Aviation Safety Agency ordered Airbus to inspect all A380 superjumbo planes currently in operation. The decision was made as Qantas Airways discovered 36 small cracks in key wing components, and attributed the damage to manufacturing issues. Singapore Airlines also found cracks in its A380s, but has already made the necessary repairs. [BBC News]   

Heathrow Airport returned to a normal schedule after a snow storm caused flight cancellations on Sunday. More nasty weather this weekend has the airport warning passengers to check their flight status before heading out, but cancellations are not expected. That said, Heathrow admits it will always struggle to cope with snow. [Daily Mail/Telegraph]

China's continued battle with the EU over the new carbon tax could result in Chinese carriers being fined, or even banned from EU airports. The controversial emissions trading scheme is expected to cost Chinese airlines about $120 million in 2012 alone. [Spiegel International] 

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