Travel Demand is Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels and What it Means To You This Summer


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People across the globe are eager to travel this summer, and for the first time since the start of the pandemic, global leisure and business flights have risen to levels not seen since 2019.

Airfares rose nearly 19 percent from March to April, according to recent Labor Department data, the largest month-over-month increase for plane tickets on record, and are up 33 percent from last year.

After over two years of restrictions on where to travel, people are booking new and different itineraries. The Mastercard Economics Institute’s third-annual travel report reveals several significant travel recovery trends, including:

  • Today’s Traveler: For the first time since the pandemic, business flight bookings have exceeded 2019 levels, a key milestone in the recovery.
  • Top destinations: Destinations are evolving as people have started booking travel farther from home. Long-haul leisure travel shot up to just -7% below pre-pandemic levels by the end of April.
  • Modes of travel: Throughout 2021, traveling by car was the preferred mode of transportation but now buses, cruises, and trains are seeing an uptick in bookings.
  • Consumer spending while traveling: Travelers are returning to spending on experiences over things. Travel budgets have shifted toward restaurants, bars, and recreational activities.
busy airport

Travel demand is back

There is a tremendous amount of demand for travel and with that demand comes rising costs. Roughly 90 percent of U.S. travelers plan to take a trip in the next six months, and 35 percent expect to travel more this summer than last, according to data from the U.S. Travel Association.  

The global travel and hospitality industry saw millions of jobs lost at the height of the pandemic as travel was nearly haltered altogether.

With large numbers of Americans taking trips for the first time since the start of the pandemic this summer, airlines, and hotels often don’t have the capacity to meet demand, driving prices even higher.  

plane flying to summer destination

What does this mean for travelers this Summer?

People who are planning on traveling over the next few months will undoubtedly feel that demand – with long security lines, packed airports and planes, crowded attractions, and hefty price tags.

Airfare costs

Airlines predict that U.S. airports will process 3 million travelers on a single day for the first time ever this summer. Airfares skyrocketed in recent months as summer flights quickly sold out.

airplanes lined up on tarmac

Record-breaking fuel costs, propelled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that spiked global oil prices. That is another reason why airline tickets have gone up even more.

Major airlines cut down on their spring and summer schedules to mitigate the impact of higher fuel costs and avoid a repeat of high-profile delays and cancellations that left travelers stranded last year. 

delta airlines

So travelers will have fewer flights to choose from, fewer seats to select from, with higher price tags attached to them.

Long waits at airports

The next time you’re at the airport, expect to be waiting for quite a bit. Airlines and airport security staff are simply outnumbered by all the increased travel demand. This means long wait times at airports and gates.

Concept Image Of Busy Airport

People traveling this summer should do the best they can to prepare for these long lines by arriving early, having all their documents in order, and submitting Covid documentation to airlines before arriving at the airport.

How long will this all last?

Whether travel demand will remain robust throughout the year — or whether travelers will take a last summer hurrah before tightening their purse strings — is yet to be seen.

American Airlines Aircrafts Lined Up At Unspecified Airport Runway

People have traditionally spent less on travel following rises in energy and food costs and with a global recession looming over our heads, many people may cut down their travel spending after the summer.

Only time will tell.


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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories

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