Australia is one of 22 new countries deemed ‘very high’ risk for travel

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(CNN) — More than 20 new destinations have been added to the United States’ highest-risk travel category, and an airline crisis over 5G was mostly averted this week.

At least life’s good in the ocean, where a beautiful 3-kilometer-long coral reef has just been discovered off the coast of Tahiti.

Here are the biggest new stories this week from CNN Travel.

‘Delinquent, utterly irresponsible’

Bear spray, a chainsaw and a meth-stuffed burrito were just some of the unusual items confiscated by the US Transportation Security Administration last year. The agency has released its annual list of Top 10 Catches with the aim of raising awareness and also a few chuckles.
Tim Clark, president of UAE flag carrier Emirates, described the US handling of the 5G mess as “delinquent” and “utterly irresponsible.” But the doomsday scenario is over, some US airline executives are saying.

22 new ‘very high’ risk destinations

It would probably be quicker to tell you what destinations haven’t been added to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s highest-risk “Level 4” travel category.

Every continent but Antarctica was represented this week as 22 new places were added to the list, including Australia, Argentina and Egypt. Another 22 were added to the “high” risk Level 3 category.
The UK, meanwhile, is looking toward Covid becoming endemic and is relaxing restrictions accordingly. Covid tests for vaccinated travelers entering Britain could be scrapped as early as next month, say reports.

Motion in the ocean

The 3 km-long “twilight zone” reef is one of the biggest on record, according to UNESCO.

Scientists have discovered a pristine, 3-kilometer-long coral reef off the coast of Tahiti, deep in what’s known as the ocean’s “twilight zone.” It’s one of the biggest on record, and divers say it’s “magical to witness.”
A rare rainbow-hued blanket octopus was spotted swimming on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef this week. Marine biologist Jacinta Shackleton caught its elegant sashay in action.
If the slinky cephalopod inspires you to drape yourself over a sun lounger like the colorful, exquisite creature you know you are, we’ve put together this roundup of seven stunning new resorts in the Maldives you can visit in 2022.

Castles you can visit (and one you can’t)

It’s been a big week for medieval fortifications on CNN Travel.

Or maybe Osaka Castle is more your style, with its mint-green tiles and samurai heritage. It’s just one of a crop of beautiful Japanese castles that you can still visit.

Unfortunately, one famous castle has announced it won’t be putting down its drawbridge for a much-loved annual event.

The White Castle fast food chain, whose budget “fine dining” nights on Valentine’s Day have become the stuff of legend, has scrapped its in-house celebrations this February — though you can still order a $15 “Love Cube” meal for delivery.

Superwomen of the skies

Keeping with Dubai's 'nothing is impossible' spirit, Emirates is soaring up and around the Burj Khalifa for another edition of its viral ad campaign, this time taking it one spectacular step further with the masterful addition of the iconic Expo 2020 Dubai A380. Emirates hit the global headlines and social media feeds of millions in August 2021 when it took its brand message to new heights atop the Burj Khalifa.

Nicole Smith-Ludvik promoting Expo 2020 Dubai from the top of the Burj Khalifa.


What do you get when you combine an A380 superjumbo, the world’s tallest building and a very brave stuntwoman?

Another audacious stunt by Emirates, which for the second time has sent a stuntwoman in full flight attendant uniform to a tiny perch some 830 meters up the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

This time round, they got one of the world’s largest passenger jets — Emirates has 115 A380s in its fleet — to do a flyby at the same height as the building.

Also in the news this week, Anglo-Belgian teenager Zara Rutherford became the youngest woman to fly around the world solo. The 19-year-old completed her 41-country odyssey on January 20.

Don’t try this at home

Spain’s “Las Luminarias” festival has returned for the first time since the pandemic began, according to Reuters. About 100 horses leaped through bonfires, following a yearly ancient tradition.

Spain’s annual “Las Luminarias” festival, in which horses leap through a “purifying” fire, has returned this January for the first time since the pandemic began. Further south, Anthony Bourdain visited the Andalucia region in 2013 for the “Semana Santa” festivities around Easter. You can listen to the podcast here.

In case you missed it

A restaurant in Canada had to close its dining room because it accepted dog photos instead of vaccine cards.

This better not spell the end of free hotel breakfasts.

Tripadvisor has revealed its most popular global destination for 2022.

Top image: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)