Pent-up travel demand could lead to holiday headaches

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Significantly more people are planning to travel during the holidays this year than in previous years New PwC Survey But industry analysts have warned that airlines are still trying to recover from last year’s slowdown in demand.

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why it matters: While many airlines are adding flights to popular destinations, consumers are likely to find higher prices and limited availability. Airlines may also face lack of staff On the newly issued vaccine mandate.

By numbers: Roughly a third of the population usually travels during the holidays, most of whom visit family and friends, according to previous PwC data.

  • This was also true last year, when many travelers took road trips instead of flying.
  • This year, however, 52% of respondents said they plan to travel far more than a third of the normal. Most will travel by car (72%), although 57% of those with a household income of more than $150,000 said they plan to travel by air.
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They’re also going to spend more to get there.

  • Per PwC, holiday travel expenses are projected to increase by 69% in 2021 compared to 2020.
  • Even compared to pre-pandemic 2019, average travel expenses increased by 24% from $372 to $461.

Hunt: The demand for travel is likely to exceed the supply of available airline seats and rental cars.

  • “Airlines can’t add capacity fast enough,” said Jonathan Keletel, PwC’s airline and travel practice leader.
  • Unless you book your trip early, “there will be virtually no seats available to reach your destination,” he said.
  • The lack of rental cars means you might pay the same amount to rent a Ford Fiesta from a rental agency as you would to rent a guy’s Maserati on a car-sharing site like Turo. .
  • Even one. is also shortage of goods.
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What are you saying: Some airlines are scrambling to add more flights and larger planes to meet the expected boom.

  • United Airlines said last week it would fly on its busiest schedule since the start of the pandemic, which will include December flights to cities like Las Vegas and Orlando, Florida, and ski resorts like Aspen, Colorado.
  • Ankit Gupta, vice president of network planning, said, “We are seeing a lot of demand in our data and are offering a December schedule that focuses on the two things people want most for the holidays: warm sunshine and fresh snow. ” and scheduling in United.

yes but: With more than 3,500 daily flights, United’s December schedule is still just 91% of its domestic capacity compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

  • American Airlines will announce its winter schedule soon, but told Nerdshala it is adding larger planes and additional flights to the Caribbean, Mexico and South America to meet increased demand.

Bottom-line: If you’re planning on traveling, don’t rush it, says Brian Kelly, CEO of the Points Guy travel website.

  • Normally prices fluctuate a lot, but this year those patterns will stop, Kelly says. “book early.”
  • “Use those (frequently flying) points you’re accumulating,” he says. “Getting a refund is made easy if you book with Points.”

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