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

Amazing things that should happen more often

Of all the world’s developed nations, the US is internationally recognized as being the stingiest with vacation time. But some US companies are starting to prioritize time off. [The Huffington Post] 

Virgin America unveiled their new flight attendant uniforms, which were designed by Banana Republic. Could this mark the return of style in the skies, perhaps even encouraging passengers to dress in more than sweats? [Gadling] 

Vienna is now home to Europe’s largest carbon-zero neighbourhood. [GlobalPost] 

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

In an article with the headline containing the phrase “it might actually happen”, Grist reported that Amtrak released a proposal for a high-speed rail in the US Northeast. However, it would not be ready to passengers until 2025. [Grist]

In an attempt to reduce hair-pulling wait times at immigration, London Heathrow Airport opened special passport lanes for travellers from countries that do not require visas to visit. But the goal of getting Europeans through in 25 minutes and non-Europeans in 45 seems a bit ambitious, considering the airport's track record. [The Telegraph]

One entrepreneur seems to think that a 200-acre section of abandoned factories and warehouses in Detroit would be the perfect place for a "zombie apocalypse" theme park. [NY Daily News]

The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is conducting Path of History tours beneath the hotel’s floors since a bomb shelter from the Vietnam War was discovered on the establishment’s grounds. The hotel’s general manager said the tours are an important way to pay tribute to the hotel’s staff during the war. [Time] 

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

British Airways' new Know Me program — which requires crew members to study frequent fliers' personal information stored in a database (now including a collection of passengers' Google image search results) — has sparked much debate as to whether the airline is offering more personalized service or just being downright creepy. [USA Today]

And in more potentially invasive airport news, the US Department of Homeland Security reportedly will begin using laser-based molecular scanners at airport security and border crossing points. With the scans, scientists will be able to deduce everything from traces of gunpowder to recently consumed food and even adrenaline levels. [Gizmodo]  

Earlier this year, the Global Business Travel association estimated a 3.6% increase in business travel for 2012. But the group reported this week that growth will probably only hit 2.2% after all. The European economic recession (and similar pains being felt worldwide) is cited as the cause. [USA Today]

It’s a no-go

It may not come as a surprise, but the captain of the Costa Concordia admitted this week he was “distracted” by a phone call when the cruise liner capsized. The admission came from the first interview with the captain since the January incident. [MSNBC] 

The Spanish Prime Minister announced an increase in the country’s VAT from 18% to 21%, and the VAT related to tourism -- the “leisure vat” -- will rise from eight to 10%. The hike will hit items and amenities including clothing and hotel rooms.  [The Telegraph] 

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