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

Amazing things that should happen more often

Heathrow Airport is employing a cast of Santas to surprise 24 randomly-chosen travellers with high-end gifts like iPads, watches and Jimmy Choo shoes. An estimated 105,000 people will depart from one of the world’s busiest airports on 21 December alone. [Huffington Post]

A new documentary series from BBC2 goes behind closed doors at London’s iconic Claridge’s hotel. The show follows hotel staff and documents events such as accommodating high-profile guests like actors and pop stars. [Condé Nast Traveller]

The world’s largest aquarium, located in Singapore, is now open to visitors curious to peek at the 800+ marine life species housed in the facility. The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is now the second largest. [Time]

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

Iconic Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer passed away this week, inspiring a number of tributes and retrospective articles. BBC News compiled a slideshow of his most notable works.

Cities around the world are decorated and lit up for the holiday season. The Wall Street Journal published images of some of the most impressive Christmas tree displays.

Ready for takeoff

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

The chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission is in favour of lightening the rules regarding the use of electronics in-flight, and penned a letter to the head of the Federal Aviation Administration expressing her view. The FAA announced a few months ago it planned to investigate the dangers of such activity, though it seems “voice communications” would remain forbidden. [Fast Company]

Charles Dickens’ home at 48 Doughty Street, London is set to reopen next week after a £3.1 million refurbishment to restore it to the time period in which the author lived. Dickens resided in the house from 1837 to 1839 and authored two of his most famous works there. [Huffington Post]


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

The esteemed Louvre has opened an extension in the northern French coal mining town of Lens. The project, entitled Louvre-Lens, has faced some controversy. While the concept was to make art accessible to more people, many criticize the choice to stage it in a struggling town. [AP]

A new study claims that one way the melting of the Arctic circle can be slowed is to stop planes from flying overhead. Planes began the polar crossings in 1998, and by 2010 about 50,000 flights per year were flying overhead on routes from North America, Europe and Asia. [The Washington Post]

It’s a no-go

An Egypt Air flight was forced to make an emergency landing this week because a man was bitten by a poisonous snake on board. The man who suffered the bite is a Jordanian reptile dealer and, as it turns out, the individual who smuggled the cobra on board. [Gawker]

A man who punched and shattered a window on a JetBlue flight is now being arraigned on federal charges. Why did he punch a window as the plane was leaving the gate? He was informed he would not be able to sit with his mother. [Daily Mail]

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