10 things we learned about Covid travel this week

(CNN) — Planning travel this summer is a lot like struggling through high school math.

There’s the algebra of restrictions, when X into Y can’t go. There are the rising and falling R numbers. There’s the addition of flight costs to test costs to quarantine costs. And then there’s probability theory and the risk that it might all fall through.

Luckily CNN Travel is here as your classroom assistant, guiding you through the latest pandemic travel news with these weekly updates.

Here are 10 things we learned this week.

1. Airline passengers are getting more unruly

The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has received close to 3,300 reports of unruly behavior by airline passengers this year so far — and it’s tired of their nonsense.

In January, the agency launched a zero-tolerance policy against passenger misbehavior and on Tuesday it announced that it’s levied $119,000 in civil penalties against nine travelers.

The biggest single fine is a $21,500 case against a man on a Frontier Airlines holiday season flight between Nashville and Orlando. After tucking into his own private supply of alcohol, this guy fought with the flight attendant and other passengers after being asked to wear a face mask, even hitting the person next to him on the head.
Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants labor union said last month on CNN that the situation has got “out of control.”

2. Billionaires are escaping to space

British billionaire Richard Branson plans to beat fellow billionaire and rival Jeff Bezos to space. Branson’s company, Virgin Galactic, made a surprise announcement that he will attempt to fly in Virgin’s rocket-powered plane on July 11 — nine days before Bezos’s planned July 20th launch.

When the world gets too much, “get your ass to Mars.” Failing that, get it into the upper reaches of the Earth’s mesosphere.

If all goes as planned, Branson will be the first billionaire ever to travel to space aboard a vehicle he helped fund the development of, beating Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin rocket by just nine days.

Of course, the adventure isn’t without risk. The rocket motor could fail to light, the cabin could lose pressure, or hurtling in or out of the atmosphere could just tear the vehicle apart. CNN’s Jackie Wattles explains what’s involved.

3. Asia-Pacific has the most powerful passports

The Henley index, which doesn’t take temporary travel restrictions into account, is based on exclusive data from the International Air Traffic Association (IATA) and ranks passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. Its top passports are Japan, followed by Singapore, and then Germany and South Korea in joint third place.

Arton Capital’s index’s ranking is based on adding the number of countries for which a passport has visa-free entry with the number for which it can get a visa on arrival. Its top passports are New Zealand, followed by Germany, Spain and Australia, all in joint second place.

4. Travelers are going to a little US island just to get jabbed

Wham, Guam, thank you, ma'am.

Wham, Guam, thank you, ma’am.

Mar-Vic Cagurangen/AFP/Getty Images

Taiwanese travelers are flying into the US territory of Guam to enjoy the island’s gorgeous scenery and also to load up on Covid jabs from a vaccine menu that includes Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The Guam Visitors Bureau’s newly launched Air Visit & Vacation (nicknamed V&V) program is open to Taiwanese tourists aged 12 and up and vaccines are delivered on-site at 11 designated hotels.

5. Airbnb has blocked more than 50,000 partiers in the US alone

6. Canada won’t be opening its borders anytime soon

If you can read this sign, you're too close.

If you can read this sign, you’re too close.

Elaine Thompson/AP

Canada might have just dropped its quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated Canadians entering the country, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week rejected the idea that non-essential visitors will soon be allowed in.

“I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen for quite a while,” Trudeau said during a campaign-style stop in British Columbia on Thursday.

The Canada-US border remains closed to non-essential travel until at least July 21. CNN’s Paula Newton has the full lowdown here.

7. Amber turns green for fully vaccinated Brits

The UK has once again spun its color wheel of fate and, from July 19, fully vaccinated UK travelers will able to skip the self-isolation requirement when returning from “amber” list countries. Implementation is down to the devolved governments and travelers will still be subject to testing requirements before and after.

This means that for the fully jabbed, there will be no difference between “green” and “amber” countries and the gates will once again be open to any of those destinations that will reciprocally accept them. (Find out more on the government website.)

8. Seoul and Sydney have toughed their lockdowns

Health workers conducting Covid tests in Sydney's Bondi Beach.

Health workers conducting Covid tests in Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

Steven Saphore/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, Seoul will enter a two-week lockdown that will be its toughest yet, in an attempt to counter surging Covid-19 numbers.

The new measure will ban private gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m., including in restaurants, in addition to current restrictions. Most public events, including exhibitions and rallies will be banned and weddings and funerals may only be attended by family members.

Over in Australia, Sydney tightened its measures on Friday. People only shop for essentials, are not allowed to exercise in groups of more than two and may not leave a 10-kilometer radius from their homes unless necessary. The lockdown will run until at least July 16. CNN’s Jake Kwon and Angus Watson have the details here.

9. Scottish coastlines might have the cleanest air in Europe

The Scottish island of Islay is known for its whisky.

The Scottish island of Islay is known for its whisky.


The coastlines of Eastern Scotland have the cleanest summer air in Europe, if a new air pollution study by US-based cleantech business Airly is to be believed.

Scotland’s Highlands and islands and West Central Scotland’s coastal region also made the top five.

If you’re looking for inspiration on where to go, check out CNN’s guide on the best places to visit in Scotland. There are more than 790 islands divided up into four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides.
And if you’re passing through the capital Edinburgh, keep an eye out for the “big jobby.”

10. LEGOLAND New York is opening a huge hotel

Legoland Hotel. Press handout, July 2021

The LEGO Friends room. Does the girl on the left know something her friend doesn’t?

Courtesy Legoland New York Resort

Sure, you can stay at the Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton, but to really do New York in style, you need a Disco Elevator and a Pirate Room.

The new LEGOLAND theme park in Goshen, New York, fully opened on Friday and guests can book stays at the adjacent LEGOLAND hotel starting August 6.

There are 250 rooms with a variety of themes, including Pirate, Kingdom, LEGO NINJAGO and LEGO Friends.

But before visiting this European import in the United States, please take note of the official company line. As LEGO tweeted in 2017, “LEGO is always an adjective. So LEGO bricks, LEGO elements, LEGO sets, etc. Never, ever ‘legos.'”

CNN’s Eric Cheung, Jake Kwon, Kate Mackay, Lilit Marcus, Paula Newton, Gregory Wallace, Angus Watson and Jackie Wattles contributed to this story.