Travel news latest: Holiday bookings surge as demand returns to pre-pandemic levels

The cost of going on holiday has tumbled as new travel testing rules come into force.

Following an announcement from Boris Johnson on Wednesday, travellers are now saved from the costly process of taking a lateral flow test before their return to the UK (costing roughly £20 per person) and a PCR test on day two of their arrival (costing roughly £80 per person) – for a family of four this cuts £500 off the price of a holiday.

Under the new rules, which come into force at 4am on Friday, fully vaccinated holidaymakers will now only face taking a Day Two lateral flow test. 

Tour operators are standing by for a surge in bookings, for both ski and winter sun holidays. Ailsa Pollard, CEO of DNATA Travel Group, which owns the likes of Travel Republic and Travelbag, described the news as “the positive start to the 2022 that the travel industry needs.”

“There have been many false dawns since this pandemic begun, but this is a sensible and timely move. There are some fantastic deals available, with many new measures in place to ensure customers can book with total confidence.”

In a further boost to travellers, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We want to provide more certainty to passengers and businesses, and will do a full review of our international travel measures for 2022 by the end of the month.”

Testing hasn’t been completely scrapped however. Unvaccinated travellers must continue to follow the old rules, including self isolation for 10 days, and many destinations require travellers to take tests before their arrival.

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Christmas Eve air travel well below 2019 levels amid flight cancellations as Omicron cases surge

(CNN) — While the number of people flying out of US airports this year has matched, and at one point exceeded, 2019 levels, Christmas Eve air travel fell sharply below pre-pandemic levels.

Thousands of Christmas weekend flights were canceled at the last minute because of staff and crew calling out sick amid the Omicron surge. The new variant has become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the US.
More than 1.7 million people passed through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints Friday, TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said on Twitter. This is more than 800,000 fewer people than the nearly 2.6 million screened in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic.

That number is still higher than the 846,520 people the agency screened on Christmas Eve of 2020.

Less than three weeks after Omicron was first detected in the US, it accounted for over 73% of all new cases as of Monday, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In spite of rising coronavirus cases, millions are still flying with the TSA reporting 2.19 million people screened at airports across the country on Thursday, the highest figure since the uptick in holiday travel started a week ago.

On Wednesday, there were more people traveling through US airports than in 2019.

Globally, airlines have canceled about 5,700 flights on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after, according to FlightAware. That includes about 1,700 flights within, into or out of the United States.

Health officials recommend third booster shots

In the last few weeks, reacting both to Omicron and clear evidence of fading immunity to the Delta variant after six months, public health authorities strongly encouraged the already vaccinated to receive a third dose — the booster — pronto.
Adding the third shot clearly is effective against Omicron as well, with National Institutes of Health data on the Pfizer vaccine showing that protection after three doses can reach about 80% effectiveness. Preliminary data from Imperial College London on both mRNA vaccines used in the US places the protection from a third dose between 55% and 80%.

As former NIH director Francis Collins and UK leaders noted, booster-induced immunity is also critical for reducing the risk of severe symptoms, even if a breakthrough infection should occur.

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Holiday airline travel expected to be at pre-pandemic levels | Connecticut News

WINDSOR LOCKS, CT (WFSB) – With Christmas just a day or so away, families are traveling to see their loved ones.

Airline passenger travel is expected to be near pre-pandemic levels.

The busiest travel times are between 4 to 7 in the morning.

Lauren Angat is all packed and ready to fly to Florida for Christmas.

“Gonna go see family. It’s been about a year since I’ve seen my parents because of COVID so we are going to go for the holidays to get a little warmth and sunshine,” she said.

This year, she’s bringing her boyfriend, Tom Franco, with her.

Franco said, “I was born and raised in CT and the running joke I’ve been saying is this will be my first Christmas above 70 degrees, so we will see how it goes.”

Bradley International Airport says passenger volume is expected to double compared to last holiday season, it’s yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels.

But nationwide, the TSA says they screened more than 2 million people today. That’s more than they screened in 2019.

They also plan to screen 20 million people between today and January 3rd.

Sean Clarke from Fairfield said, “we decided to leave early so we are not rushing so we have 2.5 hours and sit down and have some lunch. As long as you leave early everything is ok. Very manageable.”

Clarke is also heading to Florida for Christmas.

He says he now vacations with his family for the holidays, “now that my kids are older yes. It’s so nice to be in a warm climate then to be in CT over the holidays.”

Near baggage claim, the airport is continuing to offer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations and booster shots during certain times.

Copyright 2021 WFSB. All rights reserved.

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U.S. Coronavirus Cases on the Rise as Omicron Spreads, High Levels of Holiday Travel Expected | Health News

Coronavirus infections are on the rise as millions of Americans are expected to travel for the holidays amid rapid spread of the omicron variant.

The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases increased 25% over the previous week, Rochelle Walensky, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, said during a press conference Wednesday.

Nearly 150,000 new infections are reported on average each day, she said. It’s a level of cases not seen since September during the delta surge.

Cartoons on the Coronavirus

Meanwhile, holiday travel is expected to be near pre-pandemic levels, according to the Travel Security Administration.

On Wednesday, more than 2 million people went through airport security – a level higher than pre-pandemic numbers recorded on the same day in 2019. More than 2 million people have been recorded going through airports nearly every day of the past week.

President Joe Biden told vaccinated Americans this week that they could carry on with their holiday plans.

“If you are vaccinated and follow precautions that we all know well, you should feel comfortable celebrating Christmas and the holidays as you planned to,” Biden said.

The World Health Organization, on the other hand, has encouraged people to cancel some holiday plans due to the highly contagious omicron variant.

“There can be no doubt that increased social mixing over the holiday period in many countries will lead to increased cases, overwhelmed health systems and more deaths,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

Biden and his health officials have warned that omicron will lead to an inevitable surge. Omicron this week became the dominant strain circulating in the U.S.

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Get prepared for the holiday week. Air travel expected to see near pre-pandemic levels.

IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Falls Regional Airport is gearing up for a busy week of holiday travel.

In a news release Tuesday from the city of Idaho Falls it said, “With the increased number of flights offered at IDA, additional airlines serving the region and reduced fares, passenger levels at the region’s busiest airport are going to see continued high volumes for the holidays.”

The travel isn’t expected to let up after the airport had about 15,000 passengers come through during Thanksgiving.

“This is just a busy time of year for the air travel industry,” said Rick Cloutier, the director at the Idaho Fall Regional Airport. “With more people wanting to go visit family they haven’t seen because of the pandemic, airports across the country are poised for some really high levels of passenger volume this holiday season.”  

According to the Transportation Security Administration, about 21 million people were screened at airports across the nation over the 10-day Thanksgiving travel period. The numbers aren’t expected to drop as travelers head into Christmas and New Year’s travel.

Airport Passenger IDA
Idaho Falls Regional Airport | file photo


Travelers are encouraged to plan ahead and arrive early for flights at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport.

Only ticketed passengers are allowed in the air terminal. The federal government requires all travelers to continue to wear masks at all times both in airports and on their flights.  

Ticket at airport
Idaho Falls Regional Airport | file photo

“We are working very hard at IDA to make that experience as comfortable and convenient as possible, but we urge folks to be patient and plan for a little extra time to get through lines,” said Cloutier.  “A little kindness and some preplanning will go a long way to helping make travel better for everyone.”  

In the press release, airport staff said that due to the high volumes of travel expected, travelers are asked to plan ahead for parking. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, parking at the airport went over capacity. All parking fees for IDA travelers have been reduced for the holidays to the economy fare.

Overflow lots will be open on International Drive and available to increase parking capacity.  These overflow lots will be free for customer parking.

idaho falls regional airport
Idaho Falls Regional Airport | file photo

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Holiday travel inching closer to pre-pandemic levels

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The holidays are finally here which means more people are on the roads and at the airport.

Compared to 2020’s holiday season TSA expects a 184% increase in air travel. They believe the busiest days will be December 23rd and January 2nd.

AAA estimates 100 million Americans will travel by car this year seeing a 28% increase over last year.
These numbers are inching closer to pre-pandemic levels sitting at only 8% lower than 2019.

So, to make your trip to the airport a little smoother Huntsville International Airport recommends having your face mask on, any liquids and electronics already pulled out or easily accessible, and your ID ready when going through security.

HSV spokesperson Mary Swanstrom warns travelers to prepare to spend a little longer in the TSA security line. “One thing that might happen is folks are traveling with gifts, they’re traveling with food, they’re traveling with children, and getting through TSA checkpoints can take a little longer,” Swanstrom says.

HSV recommends arriving 1 1/2 to 2 hours before flight time to allow ample time to check-in, get through security and make it to your gate.

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Holiday air travel approaching pre-pandemic levels despite threats from 2 COVID variants

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With less than a week to go before Christmas, travel is starting to ramp up and more people are flying by air than last year.

As travel increases, we are now facing a double whammy with COVID-19 — the delta variant is still active and the highly contagious omicron is surging.

Last year, millions of Americans canceled holiday travel plans during the pandemic. However, that attitude is changing this year.

Robert Davis didn’t want to alter his plans to come home to Raleigh for the holidays.

“I haven’t seen my family in two years,” he said.

The number of people traveling is approaching pre-pandemic levels with 109 million expected to leave home for the holidays. That is a 34 percent jump from last year.

That means more than six million people will be flying.

“I think the airlines are doing their best making sure you’re keeping your mask on,” said traveler Lisa Richards.

Health care experts are warning about holiday travel.

Their worry is not so much about the airline flights, but rather what will happen when people get to where they are going.

“Airplanes now require masking, so probably being on an airplane is a fairly safe place to be,” Dr. Francis Collins of the NIH told Face The Nation. “Think about how you’re going to get there and how you can make sure you’re safe along the way.”

“I am concerned to an extent that others are not concerned about it,” said traveler Chris Caldwell.

It’s also going to cost people more to travel this holiday season.

AAA travel service says:

  • Airline tickets have increased 5 percent
  • Hotel rates skyrocketed 36 percenter over last year this time
  • If you try to rent a car, you’ll have to shell out 20 percent more

Surveys indicate with vaccines more widely available, people have become increasingly confident about traveling by air.

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Air travel expected to reach near pre-pandemic levels this holiday season

SAN DIEGO – As the Omicron COVID-19 variant spreads, local air travel is still expected to reach near pre-pandemic levels this holiday season.

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority said about one million travelers are expected to make their way through the San Diego International Airport from Friday through January 3.

A local Transportation Security Administration spokesperson said mornings will be the busiest time of day. 

“You’re just going to find a constant flow of people it will fill like pre-pandemic levels,” Lorie Dankers told FOX 5. 

She wants to remind holiday travelers to plan ahead for parking and make a reservation, if possible. She also said travelers should arrive early and mask up. 

To help save time, TSA is asking everyone to pack smart. That includes keeping all weapons out of your carry on along with liquids over 3.4 ounces, which includes holiday favorites like frosting and pudding. 

“Keep in mind if it’s a liquid it can be spilled, spread, it can be pumped or poured,” Dankers said. 

TSA is also asking travelers to leave items in bag available for search, if necessary. 

“We’re asking people not to wrap their gifts because if it needs further inspection our officer needs to unwrap that gift and it makes them look like the Grinch,” she said. 

Dankers said TSA staffing in San Diego is down about 20 officers right now, but that won’t affect travel because TSA pulls resources as needed from National staffing to make sure things go smoothly. 

The airport authority said terminal one construction will not delay travel wait time during holiday travel. It will primarily affect parking after January 3.

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Cirium: 2022 Air Passenger Capacity to Reach 2015 Levels

Global airline passenger capacity in 2022 will grow 47 percent year over year, reaching 2015 levels, according to projections in global aviation analytics firm Cirium’s latest Airline Insights Review, released Wednesday. Capacity in 2021 as measured in available seat kilometers is expected to return to 2006 levels, 30 percent down from 2019 levels.

About 78 percent of worldwide flights Cirium tracked between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2021, were domestic. International flights have taken a slower time to recover, with restrictions still in place on certain routes, but capacity still grew 6 percent compared with the same period in 2020. 

Worldwide domestic traffic, measured in passenger numbers, is projected to be back to pre-pandemic numbers by the end of 2022, with international passenger traffic reaching two-thirds of 2019 levels. Cirium predicts that transatlantic travel won’t return to 2019 levels until 2023, and fares are likely to increase, with sustainability initiatives helping to push fares up in the long term. 

“The past year has had its challenges as we continued to face fluctuating cases of Covid-19, new variants—most recently omicron—and varied vaccination programs per country,” said Cirium CEO Jeremy Bowen in a statement. “There is light at the end of the tunnel as we see international travel corridors reopening. However, we will continue to track this momentum as new variants arise.”

The report also predicts that corporate travel will accelerate in 2022, led by an increase in business events and meetings. The company is tracking online activity around business events, and Cirium’s Diio Signals product showed increased activity on the web around corporate events and conferences. The report offered Barcelona as an example: The city hosted 10 major business events that impacted air travel in January 2019, 23 in January 2020 and only two in January 2021. But it has four on the books for January 2022 so far, “a clear sign that business events are slowly returning.”


Cirium projects CO2 emissions to increase in 2022 as more flights return. CO2 emissions from flights in 2021 were 40 percent less than pre-pandemic levels, according to the report. However, airlines are returning more fuel-efficient fleets to service, with many airline companies looking at fuel burn and how to reach 2050 net-zero targets. 

“Cirium anticipates the return to normalcy will usher in more focus on sustainable travel practices, including younger, more fuel-efficient aircraft, and the ability to more closely measure the impact of airline travel on global greenhouse gas emissions,” Bowen said.

A large area of demand for emissions data is coming from corporations as they roll out strategies to reduce their emissions, including their Scope 3 emissions from air travel, Cirium sustainable travel product leader Robyn Grassanovits wrote in the report. “Corporate travel managers hold the travel data from previous purchases and manage future travel procurement decisions,” she said. “But measuring emissions from air travel purchases presents special challenges, and most travel managers simply don’t have access to quality flight emission data to confidently address their needs.”

Grassanovits added that Cirium is in a pilot test with some corporations to measure emissions down to the division, department or traveler level.

2021 Business Airports and Routes

The United States had nine of the 10 busiest airports based on arriving flights tracked between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2021. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport topped the list, followed by Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Other U.S. cities on the list, in order, included Denver, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Houston, Seattle and Phoenix, which was tenth. China’s Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport was the ninth busiest.

In contrast, most of the top routes were for international markets, with Asian pairs landing seven of the top 10. The top U.S. route was between Los Angeles and San Francisco, coming in at 14th globally, followed by Las Vegas and Los Angeles flights, at 18th.

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