The past fifteen months or so have been tough for the airline industry. Whether through fear of the virus, restrictions or flight cancellations, record low numbers of travelers were recorded as Americans were forced to remain at home and give up their travel plans.
However, much to the delight of travelers around the US, it looks like those days are firmly behind us. On Friday, the US set a new pandemic record for the number of passengers through TSA checkpoints, whilst a survey has revealed Americans are desperate to visit bucket-list destinations. Here’s what you need to know about these stories, and what they mean for travelers.
Record Numbers Flying – Information For Travelers
Over the past few weeks, it has been a question of when the 2 million travelers threshold will be broken, not if. The number of travelers passing through TSA screening has hovered around the figure on a couple of occasions, reaching as high as 1,975,189 on Thursday. However, the following day it finally happened, in what could well be a watershed moment for pandemic-era travel.
A whopping 2,028,961 passed through TSA checkpoints on Friday, 11th June, as the US airline industry gave its biggest signal yet that it is rebounding strongly. Whilst the figure may be still some way below the 2019 total of 2,727,860, it is significantly higher than the number of travelers who were screened in 2020, when just 519,304 were recorded on the same date.
Each time the record is broken, it brings with it a renewed sense of optimism that things are getting better. Whilst previously publicized records have followed significant events, such as Spring Break, the impressive fact about Friday’s record is that it comes off the back of no real events or holidays, with the closest being Memorial Day weekend a fortnight ago. Simply put, it shows the renewed desire amongst Americans to pack their bags and get flying again.
There are several reasons why Americans may be taking to the skies once more. The progress of the vaccination campaign is undoubtedly a driving force between the rise in travelers. Around 142 million Americans are now fully vaccinated – more than 43% of the population – giving travelers the confidence to travel once more without fear.
A senior vice-president at Hilton, Mike Gathright, revealed that the company was “very optimistic” about the future, and attributed the recent successes to several factors. “The vaccine distribution, the relaxed travel restrictions, consumer confidence – all of that is driving occupancy and improvement in our business,” he said.
As more and more American begin to take to the skies once more, it could have a significant effect on the number of travel options available to travelers. Already this year, airlines have committed to adding a series of new routes to cope with the increasing demand amongst travelers. Further demand could see more routes added, with airlines competing for business driving prices down lower.
Travel habits of American travelers look to be changing, with a recent survey revealing that most travelers plan to resume their traveling with a bucket list destination that they would not have considered prior to the pandemic. The survey, hosted by Hilton, revealed that Americans were considering trips to both dream domestic and international destinations, such as the Grand Canyon, Eiffel Tower, Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty, the Colosseum in Rome and the Las Vegas Strip. With a further 64% of Americans admitting they were in desperate need of a vacation, we could be set to see the record break once more in the coming weeks.
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