Flight prices dip amid COVID. Will it impact holiday travel?

The nation’s airlines are sweating over an unexpected drop in business travel in the last few weeks — and that’s welcome news if you’re a traveler looking to save money.

This month, domestic airfares are down 5% from September 2019 and international fares down about 8%, drops that industry experts attribute partly to the traditional price slump that happens at the end of the peak summer travel season plus the rise in coronavirus cases due to the Delta variant, according to the travel website Hopper.

Prices for flights to Europe are at a five-year low, down more than 30% compared with the same month in 2019, according to the travel website.

But the discounted prices are not expected to last long, with increases likely when travelers start booking holiday trips.

“Everything we are seeing says people are definitely going to be traveling,” said Adit Damodaran, an economist for Hopper.

The airfare roller coaster shows how the pandemic continues to affect the nation’s $1.5-trillion travel and hospitality industry. For the first time since COVID-19 took hold in spring 2020, travel demand this summer began to match and briefly surpass pre-pandemic levels, giving airline executives hope that the industry would soon rebound from more than a year of financial losses.

But in the last few weeks, airlines have reported a steep drop in demand and an increase in reservation cancellations. September typically marks the end of the peak summer travel season and the start of business travel for conferences, conventions and meetings. Industry experts say the uptick in business travel never materialized because of the surge in COVID-19 cases.

As a result, airlines are forced to drop prices to fill the seats left empty by business travelers.

“In a normal year, the fares would stay high because people would travel for business, but that is just not happening,” said Madhu Unnikrishnan, editor of the publication Airline Weekly.

The average domestic round-trip flight costs $260, down from $290 at the end of August, according to Hopper. International round-trip fares have dropped to an average of $700, down from $760 at the end of August.

The average round-trip price of a flight to Europe from the U.S. is $565, down from $665 at the end of August and the lowest price in five years, according to the website’s data. That price was an average of $940 at this time in 2019.

But flying to Europe could become more difficult soon. The European Union recommended this week that its 27 nations reinstate restrictions on tourists from the U.S. because of rising coronavirus infections. The guidance isn’t mandatory, and member countries have the option of allowing fully vaccinated U.S. travelers in.

The slump in business travel and rise in overall cancellations have airlines worried. Southwest, United, Delta and American airlines all revised their earnings outlook for the July-to-September quarter.

“The company continues to experience softness in bookings and elevated trip cancellations, especially close-in, as a result of the rise in the COVID-19 cases associated with the Delta variant,” Southwest Airlines said in a Sept. 9 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Close-in” cancellations are usually defined as being within 21 days of departure.

In its own Sept. 9 investor update, Delta Air Lines said “initial revenue expectations were predicated on an acceleration of business travel through the September quarter. The pace of business travel recovery has paused as companies delay or scale down initial office reopening.”

United Airlines said it expects the drop in demand to push total revenue down 33% in the July-to-September quarter.

Airlines are not the only businesses feeling the pain. The hotel industry is projected to lose more than $59 billion in business travel revenue in 2021 compared with 2019, according to a report by the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. and Kalibri Labs.

If the number of coronavirus cases drops or remains unchanged, travel experts say, Americans are likely to book air travel in high numbers for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season. And higher demand usually means higher prices.

“Most airlines have said Thanksgiving and Christmas and year-end holidays remain solid,” Unnikrishnan said. “So far, people are not canceling their holiday plans.”

Bookings and internet searches for holiday flights have started to rise.

“Right now, flight prices for the holiday travel season are up across the board compared to both 2019 and 2020,” said Giorgos Zacharia, president of the travel website Kayak.

Domestic round-trip airfares around Thanksgiving are priced at an average of $300, up 23% from 2020 ($245) but down 11% from the pre-pandemic 2019 fares ($335), according to Hopper. The average domestic round-trip airfares for travel around Christmas are $430, up 71% from 2020 ($250) and up 10% from 2019 ($390).

Rick Seaney, chief innovations officer at 3 Victors, a travel data company, said making flight reservations for the holidays can be tricky. Booking early — up to six weeks before departure — usually ensures that travelers get the lowest prices. But Seaney said another coronavirus surge could keep prices down, allowing travelers to book flights much closer to the holiday season.

“The question is will the prices get better or worse if you wait,” he said. “It depends on what will happen with the pandemic.”

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UPDATE: dropping gas prices, impact on holiday travel

UPDATE 10:45 P.M. NOV. 23, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Wednesday is typically the busiest travel day ahead of Thanksgiving and people are already dealing with higher inflation and rising prices ahead of holiday travel.

According to AAA, prices at the pump are about 50% higher than a year ago. For those hitting the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, it all adds up.

“They’re not going to impact me too much, fortunately,” says one holiday traveler, Becky Johnson. “We’re lucky to be able to afford higher prices and we’re only traveling to northern Kentucky so we’re not going too far.”

“I know it stinks, you know prices like this, but unfortunately there isn’t a thing we can do about it so just be safe and get where you can and be with your family,” says William Tucker, another holiday traveler at the pumps.

With President Biden’s announcement Tuesday, he’s fulfilling a promise he’s made to Americans by pushing down oil prices, and therefore, prices at the pump. However, the relief may only be temporary. According to AAA, until global oil production ramps back up to pre-pandemic levels, the recent dip in crude prices may be short lived.


WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden is ordering 50 million barrels of oil released from America’s strategic reserve to help bring down energy costs.

The White House says he’s acting in coordination with other major energy consuming nations, including China, India, and the United Kingdom. The action, announced Tuesday, is aimed at global energy markets, and also to help Americans who are coping with higher inflation and rising prices ahead of Thanksgiving and winter holiday travel.

Gasoline prices are at about $3.40 a gallon, more than 50% higher than a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is an emergency stockpile to preserve access to oil in case of natural disasters, national security issues and other events.

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Busy holiday travel season lands at Sea-Tac Airport but vaccine impact on TSA minimal – KOMO News

Busy holiday travel season lands at Sea-Tac Airport but vaccine impact on TSA minimal  KOMO News

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Will Inflation Impact Your Upcoming Travel Plans?

We’re all excited to see more people traveling again, if only because it signals some degree of normalcy returning after the better part of two years living amid COVID-19. Of course, there’s also a downside to so many people hitting the roads and taking to the skies, which is that, as demand again approaches the amount of supply, things get more expensive.

A Washington Post report revealed that the cost of almost every aspect of travel increased last month, with airfare being the one major exception. According to the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Price Index, travel-related prices jumped 14.4 percent in October of this year in comparison with the same month last year.


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Overall U.S. inflation spiked by 6.2 percent compared to 2020, representing the most substantial year-over-year increase of the past three decades. It will come as no surprise to anyone with a vehicle that the high cost of motor fuel—up by almost 50 percent last month compared with October 2020—is playing probably the biggest role in driving up travel costs. Followed by increased rates for hotel and motel rooms, which have risen more than 25 percent.

Also on the rise are the costs of buying food and alcohol while on the road, ground transportation (e.g., taxis and ride-share services), and prices for recreational activities, such as admission to concerts or sporting events. While prices for just about everything seem to be going up, the rise in travel costs is particularly steep because there’s so much more demand this year compared to last.

The U.S. Travel Association’s executive vice president of public affairs and policy, Tori Emerson Barnes told the Post that, due to the extreme lows that travel hit in 2020, it would be fairer to compare this year’s prices to those seen in 2019. But, still, today’s prices are higher than they were pre-pandemic.

Last month’s travel prices were still 6.2 percent higher than in October 2019. Fuel costs are nearly 23 percent higher, lodging comes 5.5 percent dearer, and food (9.3 percent) and alcohol (6 percent) purchased away from home more expensive than two years back.

There’s really only one major travel expense that doesn’t follow the trend: airfare pricing, which is down 4.6 percent in comparison to 2020 and a whopping 24 percent compared with 2019. That’s due to the fact that air travel hasn’t rebounded to pre-pandemic levels and that a hefty portion of business travelers, who typically are bigger spenders in terms of airfare, still aren’t taking trips.

With travel demand quite evidently being pretty robust for the upcoming holiday season, it doesn’t look like there’s a price break coming in the near future. “I think through this holiday season we can pretty much forecast that there’s probably going to be higher prices,” said John Horn, professor of practice in economics at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. “Next summer, I don’t know. There are too many unknowns.”

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Rain, wind could impact holiday travel

Nov 22, 2021, 10:47amUpdated 22m ago

By: News 12 Staff

Showers and gusty winds early today could cause traffic
delays if you are traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday today.

News 12
Long Island’s
Caroline Flynn is checking on the roads as the Thanksgiving
travel week begins.

News 12 meteorologists say the combination of
light rain and the amount of leaves on the ground could make for some slick
road conditions.

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Rain, wind and cold temps could impact Thanksgiving travel in Connecticut

News 12 meteorologists say rain, wind and cold temperatures may impact travel plans ahead of Thanksgiving.

TODAY: Sun to mostly cloudy skies later. Chilly, less wind. Highs in the upper-40s.

TONIGHT: Clouds gather. Dry and mild. Lows around 40.

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, rain arrives in time for dinner and beyond. Breezy and milder. highs middle-50s.

MONDAY – AM ALERT: Rain moves through quickly, gone by mid-morning. Winds freshen. Sun returns. Temps drop from 50s into 40s.

TUESDAY – WEATHER TO WATCH: Partly cloudy, cold and blustery. Highs lower-40s, winds gust to 35 mph. Feels like middle and upper-20s at times. Passing flurry possible.

WEDNESDAY: Less wind more sunshine. milder highs in upper-40s.

THURSDAY- THANKSGIVING: Mostly sunny middle-50s.

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Citing Q3 Growth, Cvent Calls Variant Impact ‘Limited’

Third-quarter revenue for meetings management company Cvent increased 13.1 percent year over year to $134.1 million, the company reported this week.

Cvent founder and CEO Reggie Aggarwal during an earnings call acknowledged that the delta variant of Covid-19 had a negative effect on the meetings industry and slowed the return of in-person events, but called its effect “limited.”

“The silver lining is that we were able to accelerate our growth during this time,” Aggarwal said. “The limited impact of the delta variant really showed our business’ true resiliency. Quarter three 2021 is the first quarter we’ve grown since we felt the impact of the pandemic, and it’s a great foundation for our future growth.”

Aggarwal attributed the growth to factors including what he called significant new business signed during the quarter, existing clients expanding their usage of the Cvent platform and product innovation.

The company reported third-quarter revenue for its Event Cloud product for planners of $92.5 million, representing a 27.2 percent year-over-year increase, according to Cvent CFO and SVP William Newman. Revenue for its Hospitality Cloud product for suppliers declined 9.2 percent during the period to $41.6 million. “We are seeing signs of recovery in the Hospitality Cloud as the rate of decline improved significantly relative to the second quarter of 2021, when it declined by 23.2 percent,” he said.

Cvent also increased its fourth quarter and full-year 2021 guidance based on the strong revenue performance during the third quarter. The company expects fourth-quarter revenue in the range of $139.9 million to $141.1 million, representing increases of 21.1 percent and 22.2 percent, respectively, compared with the fourth quarter of 2020. Full-year revenue guidance is in the range of $514.1 million to $515.3 million, representing increases of 3.1 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. 

Cvent in July announced its intention to go public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, Dragoneer Growth Opportunities Corp. II, at a valuation of $5.3 billion. That merger is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2021.

RELATED: Cvent Confirms SPAC Move, Details Finances, Virtual Bet

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COVID-19 vaccine holdouts could impact airline travel heading into holiday season

The countdown is on as travelers finalize their Thanksgiving holiday plans, but concerns are mounting that vaccine mandates for TSA and airline workers could cause even more cancellations and delays than experienced in recent weeks.

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Airlines across the country have a deadline of Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving, for employees to be vaccinated as a workforce shortage and crisis is creating problems industry-wide.

The deadline could cause massive cancellations, so should you get insurance if you’re planning to travel this Thanksgiving holiday?

“It doesn’t really matter if it’s a worker shortage issue or a weather-related issue,” says Goose Insurance Co-founder Omar Kaywan. “It’s an unforeseen event and there are benefits that are available to people because for all intents and purposes, it’s outside of their control.”

READ MORE: New COVID-19 travel rules in place ahead of holidays

American Airlines most recently experienced labor shortages that caused booking complications and prompted the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights over the weekend.

Southwest and other airlines reportedly have thousands of employees unable to work due to their unvaccinated status or a negative COVID-19 test. 

READ MORE: Southwest Airlines scraps plans to put unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave

All this could mean travelers may get stuck this holiday attempting to get to their holiday destination.

Experts say to be sure to read the fine print when getting travel insurance to make sure coverage includes not just worker shortages, but weather events as well.

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High gas prices, crowded airports could impact holiday travel plans – Boston 25 News

BOSTON — Packed airports and pricey gas are two current trends that could impact holiday travel plans.

Last year at this time, many people wondered if they could safely gather with their extended family as the coronavirus raged unchecked.

This year, they’re trying to figure out if they can even afford to get there.

Just look at what’s been happening with the price of gas. “We’re actually about $1.20 higher than we were last year in Massachusetts, and the average driver is now paying about $17 more per fill-up per tank,” explained Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs for AAA-Northeast.

That spike in gas prices comes just as Americans are thinking about their plans for the holidays.

According to the PwC Holiday Outlook 2021, 72% say they plan to drive to their destination.

40% say they will fly, while 13% will board a bus.

The numbers exceed 100% because many trips use multiple forms of transportation.

Higher gas prices, at least at their current levels, aren’t expected to keep people home this year.

“I think people will grin and bear it and go,” Maguire said. “I mean, frankly, I think there’s a lot of pent-up demand for people who want to travel.”

Maguire added that drivers can help themselves save money at the pump with some simple measures, like making sure to buy regular gas.

Going a little bit slower increases fuel efficiency. Making sure tires are properly inflated will “improve fuel efficiency by 3-4%,” according to Maguire.

She also says it’s worth comparing prices as it’s not hard to find a service station that might be a little less expensive. She suggests using free apps.

Taking to the sky to avoid the roads could raise its own issues this year.

The Southwest Airlines meltdown early last month stranded thousands as hundreds of flights were abruptly canceled.

Some airports, like Denver, have been overwhelmed with crowds this fall.

All this is having a chilling effect on some travelers at Logan Airport.

One woman said she was concerned about flying because of what happened with Southwest.

Another woman said, “We don’t plan on traveling over the holidays, we’re taking that into account.”

Patrick Gourley, Ph.D., a professor of economics at the University of New Haven who follows the aviation industry, said he sees ticket costs going up.

Gourley has a strategy to make sure he gets the date he wants at the best price. “One thing you can always do is, depending on the terms and conditions, is book a refundable ticket now, and then once it gets closer to the flight, just cancel the refundable ticket and book the cheaper non-refundable one.”

Overall, Gourley says it’s a good sign that Southwest’s problems didn’t spread to other carriers. “I don’t think it’s going to be widespread. I think the airlines have plans in place. They know travel is going to pick up over the holidays and they’ve been doing this for years.

One man traveling at Logan told us he’s most concerned about the way passengers are behaving these days. He hopes they remember the spirit of the holidays and don’t make a bad situation worse.

“They need to be tolerant. They shouldn’t throw coffee into somebody’s face.”

Gourley pointed out the holidays aren’t actually the busiest time of year for the airlines. That occurs in the summer.

He says it can seem more hectic now because a lot of families are flying with children and there are more people who don’t tend to fly as often. These groups don’t move as efficiently as business travelers.

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The impact of climate change will top travel risks in 2022

Emanuele Scansani, director of partnerships and strategic relations, Riskline

Emanuele Scansani, director of partnerships and strategic relations, Riskline

Having obliterated the travel world for nearly two years, the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022 will no longer be the primary risk to business travellers, nor the principal duty of care concern for travel managers.

While it’s impossible to predict precisely what will happen next year, our worldwide network of risk intelligence specialists analyse information from trusted sources and use their deep understanding of repeated patterns of human behaviour to interpret this and suggest what may happen. And in 2022 we expect Covid-19 to be among a raft of risk and duty of care concerns as business travellers get back on the road again.

Safety, security and sustainability will be the prime considerations in 2022. Covid-19 is sure to be in the top five travel risks again, but the impact of climate change in its broadest sense is likely to have the greatest influence.

Firstly, what travel managers are requesting from their suppliers has changed; they want detailed sustainability information as they must consider their company’s carbon footprint. This is closely aligned with the rise of purposeful travel – thinking about the ROI of travel before booking, travelling directly by the most eco-friendly mode of transport possible, and taking into consideration any negative impact on communities along the way.

Equally of concern is how climate change is affecting weather patterns and the number of natural disasters we are seeing today. Storms, wildfires, extreme temperatures and monsoons continue to be more severe and to disrupt travel – so too volcanic eruptions.

One of the consequences of this extreme weather is large-scale forced migration which creates havoc on particular routes and at borders. What is happening between Belarus, Poland and Germany, and from North Africa to Italy and through Turkey are good examples.

Geopolitical changes will also add new tensions to the world order, potentially introducing new considerations for travellers and travel managers. The Biden administration’s isolationist approach has left space for other countries like China, for instance, to increase their dominance in Hong Kong, and flex their muscles in Taiwan and the South China Sea, while in Europe there is set to be a change in the power balance following Angela Merkel’s leadership in Germany.

Unfortunately, terrorism is likely to return as the level of hatred and anger increases, with not only Islamist attacks but also right-wing extremists continuing to be a potent threat. Travellers need to be more vigilant than ever about such threats and ensure that they have the best possible information sources and avoid local rumours.

In 2021 there have been several major cyber attacks such as the Colonial Pipeline breach and the ransomware attack on Brenntag. Without any new deterrents, further attacks are likely in 2022 as businesses, governments and organisations continue to migrate more business functions and operations to the digital world.

Of course, Covid-19 is still with us and remains a significant threat to travellers. Although many countries have rolled out vaccination programmes, many lower income countries have not double-vaccinated more than half their populations – and some far less. 

At the same time, the long-term efficacy of the vaccines is uncertain. The rising number of cases in the UK is partially due to the need to give a booster to those who were vaccinated early in the year. What’s more, the possibility of new variants that are not suppressed by existing vaccines remains a threat. On top of this, anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown protests are likely to create scenarios in city centres that travellers should be informed to avoid.

Compared with the extensive disruptions in 2020 and 2021, travel in 2022 may be slightly easier and less uncertain, but trusted sources of up-to-date information about potential threats will remain vital.

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