Travel news: The best and the worst of airlines and airports

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(CNN) — Happy new season! Depending on your hemisphere, the autumn or spring equinox has just passed (here’s the science on that), but if you’re not digging the pumpkin spice or cool nights, there’s always the option to jet across the globe.

Here’s this week’s travel news so you can start planning.

Aviation highs and lows

However, a study released Wednesday revealed that airline passenger satisfaction is taking a dive in North America, and one East Coast airport is leaving customers unhappier than most.
That same airport (alright, it’s Newark!) was the worst US airport for cancellations this summer, but if you want to know who was in the bad books globally, look to Canada for the world leaders in delays.
A regional US airline’s controversial proposal to tackle the global pilot shortage by cutting the hours it takes to become a co-pilot was slapped down by the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday.
And Southwest Airlines pulled an outrageous move when it surprised a flight full of Hawaii-bound passengers by handing out ukuleles for all and imposing an impromptu beginners’ lesson. Yes, you heard us right. Train company Amtrak was quick to troll the airline on Twitter.

Unlocking Asia

At the World Airline Awards on Friday, Skytrax CEO Edward Plaisted told the audience that the industry was being buoyed by the “pent-up demand for travel” but that we now “just need to see a few more borders opening.”

In Asia, the most cautious continent when it comes to Covid-19 policies, that’s finally beginning to happen. Japan has set a date to reopen to mass tourism next month, and on September 26, Hong Kong will remove international quarantine after more than two years.

Destination inspiration

To paraphrase Jean-Paul Sartre, travel is heaven but hell is other people. If you want to hit that sweet spot of great location but smaller crowds, then check out our list of 22 of the USA’s most underrated destinations.
And in Europe, the big-hitter capitals are rightly celebrated, but you can also get your fill of magnificent architecture and rich authentic culture in the continent’s many small towns. Here are some of the most beautiful.
If paradise islands surrounded by azure waters are your thing — and who among us can say they aren’t — you might be glad to hear that the South Pacific archipelago of Fiji and the dual-island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis have both moved down to the “moderate” risk category on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel advisories list. Check out the latest here.

Wipe out

A Santa Cruz, California, surfer has his ride cut short when an otter hops on his board and refuses to give it up. CNN’s Jeanne Moos reports.

Why swim when you can ride? A Californian surfer recently had his board hijacked by an otter keen to catch some waves. That’s after an Argentinian paddleboarder got knocked into the water last month after being surrounded by a pod of whales.

In case you missed it

It’s spawned hops-loving events around the world, but in Malaysia, religious groups are calling for a ban.

There was a dramatic rise in demand for flights out of Moscow on Wednesday.

Many Russians were keen to flee the “partial mobilization” of the country’s citizens.
And a mechanical fault forced a United Airlines flight to make an emergency landing in New Jersey.

The whole “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” podcast series is now on CNN Audio and Apple Podcasts.

The last episode — Bourdain’s personal journey through New York’s Lower East Side — dropped on Monday. Listen here.

Sitting in style

When it comes to camping chairs, the holy grail is to find something comfortable, durable, lightweight and stylish. Our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, have selected 22 of the best on the market to assist you in your quest.

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