People with a great desire to shake off their pandemic bubbles are driving an increased demand for travel this summer. But they are facing a huge shock.
The average cost of a domestic airline ticket is up more than 30% compared to the same period in 2019, according to industry watchers. Travelers will also pay more—and sometimes a lot more—to rent a car, stay in a hotel, or fill up a gas tank, making road trips more expensive.
However, it appears that many have not flinched, prompting the travel industry to prepare for a striking summer season reminiscent of pre-pandemic times.
“Record numbers are expected in parks, parks and airports,” said Pauline Frommer, FrommerMedia co-president and managing editor of Frommer Guidebooks. “After being stuck at home and having all these uncertainties in their lives, people want to go celebrate life and see their families living far away.”
Frommer said costs may rise but the economy is stable and people are returning to work. “Even with inflation, people know they have money coming in. They might eat less while on vacation and take more walks. They might not go to every attraction. They’ll get in the way. But they still get out there.”
Fortunately for Tristan Clausiger, 37, of Minneapolis, he booked flights to Orlando and California earlier this year before ticket prices soared. It will also run road trips closer to home, like the North Shore, as it did during the first two years of the pandemic. Next year, he may rebook the flight to Tokyo that he canceled in 2020.
Despite the high costs, Clauseger said that travel is his long-standing passion: “So I’ll always find a way to go by saving money.”
strong travel pull
According to statistics compiled by travel app Hopper, this summer domestic airfares are up 34% compared to 2019 — as a result of higher jet fuel prices and demand outpacing the airline.
The average cost of hotel accommodation, according to Huber, is up 36% compared to 2019. Car rental prices continue to rise after car companies scaled back their fleets early in the pandemic and struggled to rebuild in the face of supply chain problems.
For those who drive, AAA reports that the national average for gas is up more than $1.30 a gallon from last year.
“People are collectively deciding they are ready to go back there, even compared to two months ago,” said Kyle Potter, executive editor of Minnesota-based Thrifty Traveler.
Over the past two years, he’s seen surges of travel drive up epidemic rates. But he said this summer is expected to be the busiest since before the pandemic, and may exceed numbers seen in normal times.
Not only do people have a pent-up desire to go somewhere, their options are much broader as COVID-19 restrictions have loosened and sometimes disappeared. Potter said masks are no longer required on US airlines and many countries no longer require vaccinated people to test for coronavirus before entering.
He said the United States, however, was still doing so, making it a risky decision to travel internationally.
“If you test positive, you’re here for another week or two on your own,” Potter added.
While this may prevent some from traveling abroad, others are betting that US authorities will eventually abandon the test requirement for vaccinated people, Potter said.
Once that requirement is over, Linda Snyder, vice president of travel and retail services at AAA Minneapolis, expects demand for international travel to rise even more.
“Covid remains a concern for many,” she said. “But many say ‘I’ve been vaccinated.'” I have strengthened. …people say ‘I’m going now.’ Somewhere”. “
Many are booking “bucket list” trips to Europe and ocean and river cruises, with some cash credits for trips they canceled in 2020 when the pandemic started. Extended family trips and weddings are back.
“The [higher] Snyder said the costs don’t scare people, people want to spend on experiences.
Flight demand is on the rise
However, some travelers may be shocked by the posters when they look at the cost of the trip, especially compared to the artificially lower prices when airline travel fell sharply early in the pandemic, Potter said.
“Domestic flights are very expensive this summer – expensive as I’ve seen them for at least five years,” Potter said.
But he said there are deals if people can be flexible where and when they go. He and his wife wanted to rebook a flight to London they had to cancel in 2020, but they couldn’t justify this year’s prices. They will fly to Turkey instead.
Once people book their flights, they can expect full planes. This means that when issues such as cancellations occur due to bad weather, it can be difficult to find empty seats on other flights.
Over the past year, there have been several airline crashes when a series of flight delays and cancellations have left people stranded.
Brian Davis, chief marketing officer of Sun Country Airlines, said the industry was doing everything it could to rebuild after the pandemic forced it to cut capacity.
“Instead of multiple flights across multiple days for customers to choose from, there may be limited options,” he said.
He said airlines are making adjustments to better prepare for pent-up demand. For example, Sun Country canceled flights to Hawaii this summer because a long-haul flight uses a lot of fuel and requires more crew than short trips.
“Cutting those off the schedule has helped us free up crews, aircraft and resources, and put us in a stronger position to operate and complete other flights on the schedule,” Davis said. But we may not be able to fly enough flights to meet the demand.”