DECEMBER 22, 2021

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby anticipates the next two weeks will be “the busiest the airline has seen since the pandemic began,” reports Forbes. United expects to see over 420,000 travelers a day between now and the new year, keeping in line with the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) travel forecast that 6.4 million people will travel by air December 23 through January 2 – a 184% increase from last year. Kirby noted that while United has seen a fairly significant drop in international travel due to restrictions in response to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the airline “has not experienced an uptick in cancellations on domestic flights […] and ‘demand has not dropped off.’”

Last week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began distributing free at-home COVID-19 test kits at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Miami International Airport (MIA), and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), reports USA Today. The rollout of these tests is part of an effort to help travelers comply with the CDC’s recommendation that all air travelers take a COVID-19 test three to five days after arriving in the US. According to CDC spokesperson Caitlin Shockey, following said recommendation is “critical” and will “help identify imported cases of COVID-19 and stop the spread of the virus.”

The CDC has also established active testing programs at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), New York area John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Free COVID test kits are expected to be offered in additional airports “soon.”

On December 20, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designated an additional eight locations as high-risk, as more than 500 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents were registered in the last 28 days. According to CNN, the CDC is now advising against travel to Spain, the world’s number two most-visited nation, along with destinations across Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Middle East, including Bonaire, Chad, Finland, Gibraltar, Lebanon, Monaco, and San Marino. These places join a number of other countries on the Level 4 list, including Belize, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. In total, almost 90 countries were rated Level 4 as of December 20.

Starting December 27, the US State Department will increase passport fees by $20 across the board, reports Travel Weekly. Fees will vary based on age and type of application:
  • Adults over age 16 applying for a first-time passport will pay $165 (up from $145)
  • Adults over age 16 renewing a passport will pay $130 (up from $110)
  • Minors under age 16 seeking a passport will pay $135 (up from $115)

Standard passport processing time ranges from 8-11 weeks, with expedited processing taking between 5-7 weeks for an additional $60 charge. One to two-day delivery is also available for an additional $17.56. According to the State Department, the increase in cost comes in an effort to support production and is “necessary to ensure [they] continue to produce one of the most secure travel and identity documents in the world.” 
Completely reinvented, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth offers a renewed hotel experience. The hotel is conveniently overlooking the downtown core, makes the most of its spectacular views, and reflects the city’s joie de vivre. It reasserts itself as an urban social hub where local and international clienteles can connect.

Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth brings modern hospitality to new heights with completely redesigned public spaces including a Wellness Center with indoor pool and Jacuzzi and Moment Spa: a most inviting and welcoming downtown spa. The hotel offers innovative food and beverage outlets: Nacarat: a signature cocktail bar; Kréma: a cozy coffee lounge; Rosélys: a lively bistro; and Marché Artisan: a unique urban market.

The hotel offers well-appointed rooms and suites, three floors of luxurious Fairmont Gold guest rooms, and executive suites with access to a vast lounge with private check-in and dedicated Concierge service to offer the most personalized experience.
'Tis the season to escape to South Beach and Loews Miami Beach Hotel offers the quintessential, luxury holiday experience. From premier service to expansive suites, curated holiday activities and more, there’s no better place to celebrate the season. 
Nestled in the heart of South Beach, the renowned resort is an oceanfront paradise of sophisticated style and beachfront chic. Spend the day at the iconic pool deck with direct beach access. Relax in the comfort of 790 beautifully appointed guestrooms, including newly redesigned presidential suites. Savor Miami-inspired flavors at five restaurants, with the award-winning Lure Fishbar serving fresh seafood, American fare, and creative sushi dishes. Indulge at SOAK Cabana Deck or recharge at Exhale Spa. It’s all at guests’ fingertips at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, where luxury touches and VIP treatment are found at every turn.
Additional amenities include a fitness center, state-of-the-art kids club and designer shopping at Splash and Splish boutiques.
Park Hyatt Chicago, the founding Park Hyatt hotel, boasts sophisticated design, an impressive private art collection and award-winning cuisine just steps from the Magnificent Mile.
Park Hyatt Chicago offers 198 luxurious rooms, including thirteen elegant suites, each appointed with deep soaking tubs and sleek window benches with views of the Water Tower, Lake Michigan, or Chicago’s Gold Coast. Suites offer apartment-style layouts with separate living areas and a range of residential features such as a kitchenette and powder room, so travelers can feel at home in downtown Chicago.
Bienvenue au Sofitel New York — Welcome to Sofitel New York — the hotel with French soul and a New York City edge.
Live the French Way in luxurious New York City. An address of distinction, Sofitel New York is perfectly situated in midtown Manhattan, just off 5th Avenue’s luxury shops, the beautiful Bryant Park, Broadway theaters, stunning Rockefeller Center, and energetic Times Square area. Enjoy luxurious, spacious accommodations with extra-large bathrooms, ample closet space, floor-to-ceiling windows that open for fresh air, French Lanvin bath products, plush towels, robes, and more. Often called ‘a quiet oasis’, Sofitel New York provides a magnifique respite with all the wonderful energy of the city just outside the doors. 
In the two decades since its launch, Monarch Beach Resort has become an icon in Dana Point, California, itself an iconic community on the Orange County coastline. And as this renowned property joins into the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts family, the hotel intends to preserve the resort’s uncompromising standards—along with its blend of unparalleled luxury and laid-back beach vibe that has earned such richly deserved acclaim.
At the new Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club, a blend of True Waldorf Service and limitless opportunity will lead to moments and memories that are passed from generation to generation. With top-rated dining, a private beach club, championship golf, and an expansive spa among the activities and amenities on 175 oceanfront acres, anything is possible - because everything is here.