COVID-19 has demanded most of the country’s attention for almost a year. But despite cases being on the rise, it appears it hasn’t stopped Americans from booking their tickets back home for the holiday season this year.
Travel back in July had slowed down with 45% of American Airlines flights only reaching 20% capacity. That number increased in September to nearly 80% in-flight capacity. Now experts are expecting to see that number continue to climb into November and December.
“Based both on what our customers are saying and what our customers are doing, we see a clear divergence in terms of their attitudes toward the pandemic and their intentions towards leisure air travel,” Said Scott DeAngelo, Allegiant’s Chief Marketing Officer to USA Today “That is to say, customers believe the situation may once again be getting worse, but their leisure travel activity or their travel booking intent remains largely unchanged.”
To put it all into perspective, just a few weeks ago, the US set a new record for coronavirus cases with over 480,000 in a single week, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the past, that has greatly affected the number of people who were willing to fly. But that doesn’t appear to be quite as true today.
Theories as to why include the airline industries promoting that flying is “relatively safe” when compared to going to the grocery store or even out for dinner – largely due to their new precautions and sanitization measures.
In addition to this, many believe that a ‘Pandemic Fatigue’ could be setting in, making travelers willing to take more risks than back in the summer.
Despite the trends we’re seeing today, not everyone remains nearly as optimistic as many states in the Northeast still have travel quarantines in place with New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio urging residents to stay in-state this year for the holidays to avoid a new wave of cases.
He isn’t alone.
Dr. Allison Arwady, the Chicago Public Health Commissioner, said at a conference recently that “I am not planning to travel this Thanksgiving unless we see significant improvements, and would encourage you – especially if you normally are getting together with people who are older or have underlying health conditions – to think seriously about whether this is the year for travel.”
The country remains highly divided on the issue in a highly volatile environment. We’ll keep you updated as this story develops.