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2013 Safest Year on Record for Flying Since 1945

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The numbers are in, and 2013 was one of the safest years on record to board a passenger plane. According to Dutch research group Aviation Safety Network, the year's 29 airline “accidents” led to 265 deaths, well below 2012's 475 casualties and nowhere near the ten-year high of 1,074 fatalities in 2005.

Data shows a sharp decline in both casualties and incidents since the late 1990's, while the 1960's and 70's repeatedly saw over 80 accidents and upwards of 2,000 fatalities a year. So even though this month's Southwest debacle may keep some Americans afraid of flying, the reality is that there hasn't been a safer time to take to the skies since the 1940's. See the full charts here.

Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo credit: Stan Fellerman / Alamy

The Olympics, Russia's Anti-Gay Law, and Why We Travel: A New Series

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Even as excitement grows for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, news over the games has been dominated by controversy. Just last week the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert to Russia. Much of the fuss over the past few months—and one of the six “risks” outlined by the travel alert—pertains to Article 6.21, a country-wide anti-gay law in place since June.

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Norman Foster Proposes Massive Elevated Bike Network in London

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Check out this futuristic eye candy. Design firm Foster + Partners has proposed a 137-mile network of elevated bicycle lanes over commuter rail lines in London.

Dubbed the SkyCycle, it could accomodate up to 12,000 cyclists per hour, making getting into and around the city a breeze.

When will we be able to go for a spin on the SkyCycle? London's mayor supported the idea when he met with the SkyCycle team back in 2012, so there's hope that the city will take Foster's plans seriously. Yet with funding still murky, we're looking at a decade or two at least before it opens. In the meantime, we can dare to dream that other cities will follow suit.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo credit: Foster + Partners

How Many Economy Seats Are in a Business Class Seat?

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Here's a head scratcher: What do you get when you take away one business class seat? Three economy seats, of course!

The math comes from an announcement that Delta Air Lines is drastically reducing business-class seating from its aircraft. On an unspecified number of B777 planes, 23 economy seats will squeeze into space formerly taken up by only seven premier seats. On B767s, Delta will scrap twelve seats from the business class cabin.

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State Department Issues Travel Alert for Russia Olympics

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The U.S. Department of State issued a travel alert today for Americans planning to attend next month's Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Six potential risks spurred the alert: untested medical treatment facilities, terrorism, petty crime, unpredictable public demonstrations, lack of proper accommodations, and Russia's newly imposed law banning LGBT "propaganda" in public.

The Olympics are always an "attractive target for terrorists," the alert states, but an uptick in deadly suicide bombings in Russia within the past month has officials on guard.

Given these factors, the State Department urges U.S. citizens to "remain attentive regarding their personal security at all times."

T+L has been following the Russia situation closely, and will continue to do so. For up-to-the-minute information, follow the State Department and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul on Twitter.

Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo credit: iStockphoto


Bangkok Braces for Massive Protests

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Bangkok is bracing for a massive round of protests on Monday, and the government has deployed nearly 15,000 police officers to maintain order.

As we explained last month, anti-government activists have been calling for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's resignation since November, alleging that her brother-in-exile, and ousted former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra is leading the country from afar.

Monday's protesters will target government buildings and several major intersections, complicating local transit and forcing schools to close.

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Rare Viral Disease Outbreak Spreads in the Caribbean

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This week, the Center for Disease Control reissued its Travel Watch to St. Martin, urging US citizens to take precautions against mosquitos in the Caribbean, responding to a viral disease currently spreading in several islands.

As of January 2nd, 122 cases of chikungunya have been confirmed in St. Martin (98 cases), St. Maarten (1), Martinique (13), Guadeloupe (3), and St. Bart's (7). According to the CDC, chikungunya's symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, and muscle and joint pains. Though rarely fatal, infected individuals can suffer from joint pain for months after the initial sickness.

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Facebook 's Top 25 Most Checked-In Places for 2013

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Facebook just released its 2013 Trends report, and the big winner is Disney.

The map of most checked-into destinations for 25 countries shows that the theme park empire holds the number one spot in an impressive four countries: Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland.

The California park's ranking increased a slot since 2012, overtaking Times Square to become the most checked-in locale in the US.

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Check out Delta's New Holiday Video

We're loving Delta's new holiday video, which features flight attendents, pilots, and other crewmembers making music with improvised instruments—peanuts and service carts, for example. Take a look!

It seems like there's a new airline video every day, as legacy liners and up-and-comers strive to retain loyalty among their flyers. Expect to see a Virgin America holiday video sometime soon.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Are Bitcoins the Travel Currency of the Future?

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We here at T+L have been reading a lot about Bitcoins lately.

The virtual currency—unaffiliated with national institutions and easily traded anonymously—has seen its value skyrocket to over $1,000 per “coin.” Whispers abound of a potential bubble (remember Tulipmania?). Today those whispers turned to full on warnings, when Chinese banks instructed financial institutions not to trade in the digital money. Yet while the news briefly caused the prices to tumble, they're once again on the rise.

Bubble or no bubble, it seems likely that digital money is here to stay. And the travel industry is helping.

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