As travel restrictions relax and pandemic fatigue is overcome, airlines and tourist destinations expect massive crowds this summer.
Forecasters predict that the number of travelers will be similar to or exceed levels in pre-pandemic years. However, airlines now have thousands fewer employees in 2019 than they did in 2019. This has sometimes led to flight cancellations.
People who have just booked summer travel are feeling sticker shock.
According to Hopper, domestic airline fares are on average more than $400 round trip for summer, which is 24% more than in 2019, prior to the pandemic, as well as a staggering 45% above a year ago.
Scott Keyes who manages Scott's Cheap Flights website says, "The best time to get cheap summer flights was probably three- or four months ago."
Internationally, fares have increased by 10% but are still up. Hopper reports that prices to Europe are roughly 5% lower than before the pandemic. The average round-trip cost is $868. Keyes stated that Europe offers the best value for money.
Steve Nelson, Mansfield, Texas was waiting in line at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport security checkpoint this week, ready to board a flight from Dallas to Nice, France with plans to attend a Formula One race.
Nelson stated, "I decided that it was time to work on a bucket list." "I had never even thought about Monaco until this year."
While many countries have relaxed their travel rules, there are still some restrictions that can be annoying. The United States requires that you pass the COVID-19 negative test within one day of arriving in the country.
"We only discovered that a few days before we arrived here. Jonny Dawe, a software engineering graduate from Bath, England, said that he panicked when he couldn't find a place for testing. This was his first major trip since the outbreak. You must ensure that you comply with all testing requirements in the country you're visiting.
After a difficult March, online spending on U.S. flight tickets eased in April, but is still up 23% compared to spring 2019, mainly due to higher prices. Adobe Analytics
The airlines blame higher fares for jet fuel, which has nearly doubled in price since 2019. However, it's much more. Despite the fact that travel demand is growing, the number of flights hasn't returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Hayley Berg, Hopper economist, says that there are more people looking to book seats and that each seat will be more costly for airlines this summer due to jet fuel.
The hotel rates for travelers arriving at their destination will increase by about one-third compared to last year. The hotels are also filling up more quickly. The higher prices are attributed to the rising cost of supplies and tight labor markets.
Last summer rental cars were difficult to find and extremely expensive. However, that has changed as rental companies have rebuilt their fleets. Hopper reports that the national average rental car price is now $70 per day.
Jonathan Weinberg, the founder of AutoSlash, a rental car site, stated that prices and availability will be uneven. Although it won't be as bad this summer, prices for vehicles in Hawaii, Alaska, and other nearby destinations like national parks will be much higher than last year.
Even if your car is your own, it will still be expensive. On Thursday, the national average for regular gasoline was $4.60 per gallon. This is more than $6 in California. Some people are considering staying home because of these high prices.
Juliet Ripley, a San Diego resident, said that $6 gas is hard to get used to. She paid $46.38 for 7.1 gallons of fuel to her Honda Civic. A single mother of two does not plan to take her children on summer vacation, other than to visit a beach nearby.
It is not clear if airlines, hotels, and other travel companies will be able handle those who are determined to travel.
The average number of people who board planes in the United States is more than 2.1 million. This figure represents about 90% of 2019, and will likely rise by hundreds of thousands each day by July.