With the busy holiday season right around the corner, air travel is expected to rise to near pre-pandemic levels. Simultaneously, news of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant has already caused industry leaders to reinstate travel restrictions and limit travel to certain areas around the world. Read on for this season’s air travel predictions and our tips on how to best prepare.
The Vacationer 2021 Holiday Travel Survey suggests 161 million American adults, about 63% of American people, will travel throughout this holiday season. The data reveals a stark difference in the modes of transportation for holiday travel, with about 13% (33 million) people traveling by plane, about 61% traveling by car, about 4% traveling by public transportation, and 22.6% not traveling at all. It is important to note that this survey was taken on October 17, well before the rise of the new Omicron variant.
Hopper’s 2021 Travel Guide anticipates around 2 million travelers to pass through airports in the United States each day over the Christmas holiday weekend — double 2020’s levels and around 80% of 2019’s levels. Air travelers should expect and prepare for larger crowds than what they have seen throughout the pandemic, and more delays and cancellations as airlines ramp up their operations to meet demand. In the past month, Southwest and American Airlines made widespread flight cancellations due to bad weather and staffing shortages. Industry experts predict continued flight cancellations throughout the season, especially over holiday weekends.
With this increase in travelers and rising jet fuel prices, people can expect higher ticket prices as well. According to Hopper, U.S. domestic flights are currently averaging around $390 roundtrip.
With the unprecedented spread of the new Omicron Covid-19 Variant, President Joe Biden announced a set of new travel restrictions. All inbound international travelers will be required to test within one day of departure to the United States starting now. The CDC is also implementing additional pre-emptive measures for Omicron surveillance at four major U.S. airports: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.
Stay in the know on worldwide health changes and flight updates. Follow the latest travel recommendations to stay as safe as possible. Prepare for potential delays or cancelations by giving yourself a window of time before important events if possible. Arrive at airports early to avoid missing your plane. Finally, use App in the Air to your advantage. Get the latest information on flight delays, TSA wait-times, CDC guidelines, and more, all through the app.
Wait to see what happens. As of now, it is too early for scientists and leaders to tell the extent to which the Omicron variant will impact the holiday travel season. Stay informed, think ahead and always do what’s best for the health and safety of you and those around you.
We wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!