With the onset of spring, the return of travel has grown even stronger. The month of March brought many big moves for aviation including airport advancements, airfare increases, lingering COVID-19 policies, and an overall powerful demand for travel. Read on for the March ‘Intel in the Air’ news roundup, where we keep our users informed on the industry’s latest happenings.
Increase in Travel Demand
From March 9 to 13, around 10.6 million people were screened through TSA at airports in the U.S. That’s 500,000 more than Thanksgiving weekend, 2021. The air travel demand is the highest it has been since before COVID-19 and is continuing to near 2019 levels, promising a bright future for the return of travel.
With the rise in travel demand, airfare prices have inevitably followed. On top of that, tensions with Russia due to the Ukraine invasion have caused fuel prices to skyrocket. Delta President Glen Hauenstein announced that ticket prices are projected to increase around 15 to 20 dollars due to the surge. Along with the natural seasonal fluctuation, the demand recovery and the hike in fuel costs have caused a 36% increase in airfare since the start of the year.
Health Precautions Remain
Despite countries around the world dropping COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it will be extending its current mask mandate to April 18, as recommended by the CDC. TSA noted that they are closely monitoring the situation and could make changes at any time if national data and the latest science supports it.
In March, a few exciting new improvements were made to ease the stress of travel. United Airlines launched a new way of checking bags that is promised to take no longer than a minute. Travelers can download the United app and select their number of bags prior to airport arrival. Once at the airport, they can locate the bag drop off, weigh their luggage, scan their boarding pass, and be on their way. This service is currently available in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
This month, TSA announced a 198-million-dollar investment in new CT scanners at airports. These new high-tech security scanners can check bags in 3D at 360 degrees to determine if a substance could be harmful. As a result, liquid restrictions have the potential to be changed. The Shannon airport in the Republic of Ireland is the first to change their policy, now allowing travelers to take resealable liquids in containers of any size through security.
TSA made another monumental move in March by expanding their PreCheck screening program to its first international destination. Now passengers with PreCheck at the Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau can speed through customs on their way back into the United States — making it easier than ever for U.S. travelers to visit the Bahamas. TSA hopes to expand this service further internationally, using this location as a trial model.
Happy spring and save travels! Follow along for more news and updates on our next ‘Intel in the Air’.