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FAA: One Billion Fliers a Year by 2021!

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CNN |  Feeling crowded at the airport and on your flights? Get ready to have even more company when flying.

Air travel in the United States is expected to more than double in the next 20 years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration's annual forecast released on Tuesday.

It also predicts U.S. airlines will carry 1 billion passengers a year by 2021, a milestone that will come two years earlier than previously thought. (To put that number into perspective, about 712 million passengers flew on domestic carriers in 2010.)

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Photo by Don Wilson/Courtesy of Port of Seattle.

TSA Shuts Door on Private Airport Screening

Washington (CNN) | A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was "neutral" on the program.

TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.

Though little known, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors who wear TSA-like uniforms, meet TSA standards and work under TSA oversight. Among the airports that have "opted out" of government screening are San Francisco and Kansas City.

The push to "opt out" gained attention in December amid the fury over the TSA's enhanced pat downs, which some travelers called intrusive.

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CNN Asks, to Recline or not Recline?

Between actor Josh Duhamel's inappropriate Blackberry usage and director Kevin Smith's ongoing problems with various airlines, air rage is back in the news. CNN considers one common rage-maker: seat reclining.

The passenger in seat 9C was ready for a nap after takeoff, so he pushed the button on his armrest and reclined -- straight into the path of someone who apparently wouldn't have it.

Tensions grew quickly on the American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Denver on November 22, court papers show.

The incident adds fuel to a debate that seems to divide air travelers into two camps: those who say that reclining their seat on a plane is a right that comes when they buy a ticket and those who believe it's a privilege that shouldn't be abused.

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Anti-Austerity Protests Sure to Disrupt European Travel this Week

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Travelers heading to, from or across Europe would be wise to take note of the protests and strikes planned for this week in more than one dozen countries. CNN explains:

London, England -- Simmering anger over government budget cuts will spill into the streets of 14 European countries Wednesday as tens of thousands workers fight state efforts to slash public debt.

More than 100,000 people are expected to chant "No to Austerity" in the streets of Brussels, with smaller protests planned across Europe by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which represents 50 unions in 30 countries.

The protests coincide with a general strike in Spain, but a poll published in Spanish daily Publico on Friday indicates that turnout could be low. The survey suggested that many people thought the government would push through spending cuts whether they protested or not.

Strikes have proliferated in Europe over the past few months as unions resist austerity budgets that governments say are necessary to restore the faith of financial markets in European sovereign debt. So how did it come to this?

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Photo courtesy of iStock.

Grupo Mexicana Suspends Airline Operations

CNN | Grupo Mexicana suspended operations at its three airlines Saturday "until further notice," citing the financial problems inherited when the group changed owners a week ago.

The company's three airlines—Mexicana Airlines, MexicanaClick and MexicanaLink—stopped all flights at midday Saturday, according to a statement from the group.

"Today's decision is a painful one for the 8,000-strong Grupo Mexicana family, but we will continue seeking out ways of securing the company's long-term financial viability, so our passengers can once again enjoy the quality services they are accustomed to," the statement said. "We hope to be back in the air soon and would like to thank everyone involved in this process for their support and understanding."

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Report: Man-made Threats to Grand Canyon National Park

CNN News |   The majestic views overlooking the Grand Canyon make it one of America's favorite destinations, but a new report finds several man-made threats are contributing to the deterioration of Grand Canyon National Park.

Scientists and park staff working on the "State of the Parks" Grand Canyon report highlight areas and resources in the park that are threatened, the history of those threats and what can be done to correct them.

What they found is a national park that continues to decline from factors ranging from climate change to mining to aircraft flyovers as well as management of the Colorado River upstream from the canyon.

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Airline Fees Can Make Fare Jump 50%

CNN |  That airfare you booked because it looked like a great deal can actually end up costing you 50 percent more because of extra airline fees, a watchdog group has found.

The Consumer Travel Alliance analyzed the base fares and extra charges for nine major airlines on four popular domestic routes.

It found that a traveler requesting extra legroom and checking two bags would have to pay an average of 54 percent more than the base price of the ticket shown on a popular online travel site at time of purchase.

For a family trying to book a trip, the fees can mean hundreds of dollars in unanticipated expenses, said Charles Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance.

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India Opens Massive Airport Terminal

New Delhi, India (CNN) — A massive new terminal at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport is being touted as a testament to India's economic prowess.

The sprawling five million square foot building was officially opened Saturday by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.

Complete with imported granite floors, huge white columns fitted with expensive speakers, 63 elevators, 95 immigration counters and a state of the art security and baggage system, Terminal 3 is also home to India's first transit hotel.

Officials say the new nine-level hub will be able to handle 34 million passengers per year, making it one of the biggest in the world.

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Senate Confirms John Pistole as Head of TSA

Washington (CNN) | The Senate confirmed Deputy FBI Director John Pistole as head of the Transportation Security Administration on Friday, ending a lengthy search process in which two previous nominees withdrew from consideration.

Pistole's nomination was approved by unanimous consent.

Pistole received praise for his law enforcement experience from both Democrats and Republicans during the confirmation process. His hearings were instead dominated by politically polarizing labor issues—specifically whether airport screeners should be allowed to unionize. The controversy had resulted in a GOP senator—Jim DeMint of South Carolina—placing a hold on an earlier TSA nominee.

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Harry Potter Comes to Orlando—Finally!

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CNN News |  The day Harry Potter fans have been waiting for is here. On Friday, Universal Studios is opening its "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" attraction at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida.

The park-within-a-park, as it's being called, recreates various locations, scenes and other elements from the wildly popular book and movie series. Harry Potter has beaten out fellow  Brit celluloid character James Bond as the top-grossing film series in history.

One of the reasons Harry Potter is so successful is its legions of fans, both young and old.

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Photo credit: 2010 Universal Orlando Resort

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