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Omicron is sweeping through Europe. The United States is preparing for full-throttle winter holiday travel. And Australia and the Caribbean island-nation of St. Kitts and Nevis are relaxing visitor restrictions.
Here are the newest developments in travel this week.
Omicron’s spreading as the holidays near
This is definitely NOT what we asked for from Santa.
Omicron is set to be Europe’s dominant coronavirus variant by early 2022, and the United States may not be far behind. It’s already the dominant strain in London, with the UK facing an Omicron “tidal wave.” All this as the holidays approach.
In the United States, holiday travel is set to reach almost prepandemic levels, with 109 million Americans expected to be on the move. We’ve got some expert advice for safer, smoother travels. And please, be kind to your flight attendants – with disruptive passenger incidents massively on the rise, they’re going through a lot right now.
Most countries that introduced travel bans against southern African countries after the variant was first discovered in the region have kept them in place, with the UK a notable exception: It abandoned its briefly reinstated “red list” on December 15.
France, which has nine southern African countries on its strictest “scarlet red list,” is banning nonessential travel from the UK. Canada has advised its citizens to avoid all nonessential international travel.
And Ghana has introduced some of the toughest measures in Africa, mandating that all arrivals are vaccinated and fining airlines that break the rules.
Countries where risk levels are rising
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added three places to its highest-risk category for travel on Monday: Italy, Mauritius and Greenland.
All have moved to “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High,” which applies to destinations where more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents are registered in the past 28 days. More than 80 destinations are now at Level 4.
In Southeast Asia, Malaysia has dropped from Level 4 to Level 3, while Jamaica, the Philippines and the Republic of Congo have moved down from Level 3 to Level 2.
The places that are opening up
On Wednesday, Australia reopened its borders to vaccinated skilled migrants and foreign students for the first time since the start of the pandemic. And some domestic restrictions have also been lifted in Australia for vaccinated interstate travelers.
The Caribbean island-nation of St. Kitts and Nevis has relaxed restrictions for international air travelers ahead of the holiday season, with fully vaccinated visitors no longer needing to test or quarantine on arrival. And the island’s tourism authorities expect the week beginning December 12 to be its busiest for cruise travel since 2020.
The last ever superjumbo has been delivered
Nearly three years after Airbus announced it was being discontinued, the last ever Airbus A380 – the world’s largest passenger airliner – was delivered to its customer airline Emirates on Thursday in London.
The day before delivery, pilots took the craft on its final test flight over northeast Germany and left a love message in the sky, following a route map in the shape of a heart.
There should still be plenty of opportunities to fly on an A380 in the years to come, though. There are 76 superjumbos in service, 165 in storage, and only eight have been retired so far, reports aviation analytics firm Cirium.
A tourism powerhouse has logged just 45 international visitors in 2021
Back in 2019, the Indonesian island of Bali welcomed around 6.2 million international arrivals. This year, they’ve logged 45.
Almost all of that small handful of tourists reached the island by private yacht, as the island’s Ngurah Rai International Airport has been closed to international flights nearly all year. While the airport officially reopened to international flights in October, so far it’s handled only domestic flights, primarily from Jakarta.
To come to Bali, foreign visitors have to get a $300 business visa, take multiple PCR tests and buy special health insurance.
Copenhagen’s having a moment
A tour around cool Copenhagen
The Danish capital is home to the two best restaurants on the planet and the world’s coolest neighborhood. Here’s why everyone wants a piece of Copenhagen.
Teen aviator lands historic flight
Zara Rutherford, 19, landed in Seoul this month from Russia, as part of her attempt to become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.
In case you missed it
Why we’re actually in love with airplane food.
No, really. Who doesn’t dig tiny rolls?
Sweden’s Ice Hotel has a brand new Royal Suite.
It’s themed around “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
These are some of the most unusual new airplane seat designs.
Hear us out – sleeping in the overhead locker might actually work.
One year after opening, Berlin’s cursed airport is still in crisis.
There are passenger complaints, and it’s massively over budget.
This skyscraper superyacht has two infinity pools.
And did we mention the helipad?
CNN’s Forrest Brown, Marnie Hunter, Masrur Jamaluddin, Sherry Liang, Lilit Marcus, Pete Muntean and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.
Top image: A near-empty beach in Kuta on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali. (Photo by Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP via Getty Images)