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An earthquake and resulting tsunami hit Japan on Friday causing at least hundreds of deaths and affecting travel plans around the globe. Reuters reports that most US airlines canceled most of their flights to and from Japan on Friday. American Airlines canceled all of its flights.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Japanese air carriers canceled hundreds of flights and that airlines throughout Asia and Europe diverted or suspended flights to Tokyo Friday.

In Japan, All Nippon Airways reports that it canceled some flights to Tokyo Narita Airport, and its midnight flights from Tokyo Haneda on March 12 have been canceled.  Japan Airlines says it’s flights are experiencing “irregular operations and that Sendai Airport has been closed.

British Airways reports that flights to Narita and Haneda “have been disrupted.”

States along the U.S. west coast have issued warnings to residents to stay away from beaches as the tsunami approaches the region. It was expected to reach California shortly after 11 a.m.

Students Warned To Avoid Mexico for Spring Break

After an increase in Mexico’s drug violence, the Texas Department of Public Safety wants college students to rethink spring-break plans south of the border.

Public Safety Director Steven McCraw encourage students to stay on the US side of Falcon Lake, a popular fishing and boating spot on the Rio Grande border. According to MSNBC.com, it’s also the same area where David Hartley was shot and killed last September.

“Drug violence has not discriminated — innocent bystanders and people who may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time are among the casualties,” McCraw said in a written statement on Tuesday.

Officials are also warning students to travel with caution in popular destinations, including Cancun and Acapulco, where “various crime problems exist.”

Richard Branson with Virgin Atlantic Attendants

Like the rest of us, our hosts were getting into the Valentine’s Day spirit this week. Of course if your love life is dead, you’d probably prefer to celebrate with the Ghost Adventures guys and their Ghostly Lovers special. And if all else fails, you can fawn over these adorable snow babies.

Here’s the news you might have missed:

Which airline has hottest flight attendants? According to a survey of 1,000 people, 53% picked Virgin Atlantic. [Huffington Post]

Bomb threat suspect: ‘I did it for love!’ The 300 people who were evacuated from the plane moments before takeoff weren’t amused. [MSNBC]

Not knowing wife’s name gets man in serious trouble: But it may also be to blame for getting her stuck in China. [Gadling]

Baggage handler got trapped: Narrowly missed becoming passenger in the plane’s cargo hold. [CNN]

You can still smoke on planes? Electronic cigarettes, that is. And not for much longer if the US Department of Transportation gets its way. [Huffington Post]

Julia Mancuso

Our super ski-travel blogger, Julia Mancuso, has had some early success at the FIS world ski championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. On the first day of competition Tuesday, Julia finished second in the super-G, a speed event that includes tighter turns than a downhill race.

We prefer to think that Julia’s association with TravelChannel.com, which began in December, has brought her good luck. But she won three previous world championship medals before she started blogging for us. Julia also has won three Olympic medals, including gold in the giant slalom at the 2006 Turin Olympics and two silvers at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Julia is planning to compete in three of the four remaining events at worlds–the downhill, the super combined and the giant slalom. The championships end February 20.

You can read Julia’s blog on TravelChannel.com and get updates about her performances at worlds from her website.

JFK Airport

Things may be changing at New York’s JFK airport soon. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are looking for developers to build a boutique hotel. The proposed150-room hotel would be built between the old TWA terminal and the new JetBlue building, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The now-vacant TWA terminal was designed by Eero Saarinen, who also designed the St. Louis Gateway Arch. The plan is to use the Saarinen-designed space as the hotel’s lobby and entrance, which would also be home to restaurants and shops.

Construction for the new hotel could wrap up 2 years after a developer is signed, but there is an obstacle. The TWA terminal is a New York City landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Robert Cook

Bob Cook’s streak of attending every Super Bowl game ended Sunday after he fell ill last Thursday and ended up in the hospital, where he remains in serious condition.

But the streak for his family remains in force, thanks to some creative crisis travel management by his wife, Sarah, and daughter Kylie.

Cook had received a lot of press in the weeks before Super Bowl XVL as one of 4 men who had attended every Super Bowl game. We posted a story about it last week. The others, Don Crisman, Tom Henschel and Larry Jacobson, made it to Dallas on Sunday to watch the Packers beat the Steelers and extend their Super Bowl streak to 45. READ MORE

Super Bowl weather

Football fans whose flights had been canceled scrambled Saturday to get to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV, while those already in town were dealing with frigid temperatures and over 5 inches of snow — twice Dallas’ annual average.

A fresh blast of snow and ice canceled hundreds of flights Friday, snarled highways and caused dangerous sheets of ice to cascade from the domed roof of Cowboys Stadium. The falling ice injured 6 workers hired by the NFL to prepare the stadium, though none of the injuries were considered life-threatening.

The problems in the Dallas-Forth Worth area capped off one of the worst weeks of winter weather in US history. To see how this week’s storm compared to some of the nastiest ever recorded, check out our Worst US Blizzards photo slideshow. And if you’d like to reminisce about a time when NFL championships were actually played outside in the “frozen tundra,” don’t miss our Life of Lombardi feature.

Royal Caribbean's largest gay and lesbian cruise

On Sunday, February 6, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas will host the largest gay and lesbian cruise ever. Atlantis Events, Inc. specializes in all-gay and lesbian cruises. Already, 5,400 people have signed up for the 7-night Western Caribbean cruise that will leave from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. In 2012, the cruise will set sail on January 29. Royal Caribbean will start the sale of that cruise on February 23, 2011.

For more information and to read full story, go to Atlantisevents.com.

M/V Polar Star hits uncharted rock

On Monday, January 31, 2011, the adventure cruise line M/V Polar Star struck an uncharted rock while anchoring near Detaille Island off of Antarctica. Passengers aboard the Polar Star got a small taste of what it must have felt like aboard the Titanic when it hit an iceberg on April 15, 1912.

Eighty passengers, including 32 Americans, were traveling from Ushuaia, Argentina, to the Drake Passage (between Ushuaia and Antarctica), then back to Ushuaia. No injuries were reported. The ship suffered minor damage and within hours was able to travel at a safe cruising speed, according to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators. Although the damage on the M/V Polar Star was minor, the Drake Passage is known for rough seas, so on Wednesday, February 2, the Polar Star captain and other officials made the decision to evacuate the ship.

The M/V Polar Star will head back to Ushuaia for minor repairs.

New Body Scanner
You had to be buried under a rock -– or perhaps a pile of snow from the monster Midwest blizzard — if you didn’t hear about the unprecedented political unrest in Egypt. The silver lining? Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, which apparently means spring is on the way. Let’s sure hope so. Until then, these festive Chinese New Year celebrations will have to lift our spirits.

With such a busy week, it’s easy to miss a few important links:

A less-naked body scanner? TSA is testing a new system in 3 airports that ditches the x-ray style for a more modest scan that looks like a chalk outline of a body at a crime scene. [Travel Channel]
Read the story

Mice trained for airport security: Israeli scientists claim they’re more accurate than using dogs and x-ray machines. [The Telegraph]
Read the story

A divorce has to be easier: An Immigration agent put his wife on the do-not-fly list so she can’t return home. [Daily Mail]
Read the story

READ MORE

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