As we look ahead to the holiday 2022 travel season, we must first look back at where we’ve come from. According to Deloitte, at the outset of the pandemic in March 2020, air passenger volume here in the U.S. dropped by more than 90%. In April 2020, Deloitte reported that U.S. hotel occupancy plummeted to just 25%. Travel industry insiders couldn’t be sure when and how travel would bounce back.
With the appearance of each new variant, it was as if we went from taking a step forward to two steps backward. However, less than three years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and travel is finally getting back to some sense of normal.
So, what is the travel industry outlook for the 2022 holiday season?
Increased domestic and international travel
All signs point to an increase in both domestic and international travel for the 2022 holiday season. COVID-19 is, by most accounts, under control, meaning many airlines and airports have lifted most if not all their COVID-19 restrictions. Travelers now feel safer to fly.
Last holiday season, we were still dealing with the omicron variant which forced many travelers to cancel or alter plans. Without a new variant between now and then, travelers will feel emboldened to take those trips to see family they have been missing. And with a booster shot now available for kids five and under, younger families can take those much-needed family visits.
Expect travel issues to persist
As many predicted, summer 2022 was an extremely busy travel time, not only domestically, but internationally, as well. With that increased volume came many travel problems that caught some off guard. Airlines and airports who had laid workers off during the pandemic found themselves short staffed and unable to deal with the increase in travelers.
Assorted issues ensued, not least among them canceled or delayed flights, lost luggage, soaring prices, and general unease. Once again, as we prepare for the holiday 2022 travel season, we may see airlines continue to struggle with staffing issues.
Staffing and Pilot Shortages
Speaking of staffing issues, Boeing’s 2022 Pilot and Technician Outlook reports that industry insiders are worried that many furloughed airline employees simply won’t ever come back to the industry. In fact, that same Outlook says that commercial aviation will need to hire more than 600,000 new pilots over the next 20 years.
But staffing problems aren’t limited to the airline industry. In fact, they seem to be everywhere we look, including the hotel industry. With staffing shortages at hotels, you can expect to find less amenities, including things like room service and daily housekeeping, and more reliance on automation and other technology to help fill the void left by workers.
Tips on how to navigate the 2022 holiday travel season
We all know how busy a normal holiday travel season is, and we have learned that 2022 should be no different thanks to less COVID restrictions. Here are a few tips to help you along and make the most of your time, whether traveling for business, pleasure, or both.
Preparation is key
Proper preparation can make all the difference between a successful trip or one that resembles a scene out of Planes, Trains And Automobiles. Book your flight as soon as possible to lock-in a seat, as well as the best rate. The longer you wait, the better chance prices increase.
Carry on your luggage
If possible, do not check a bag. We sure remember the chaos of lost luggage this past summer. Carry on your suitcase and you’ll know exactly where it is always. Plus, you might avoid extra fees.
What flight to book
If you can be flexible, now is the time to exercise it. The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. Instead of a Wednesday/Sunday itinerary, consider flying out on that Tuesday and back on that Saturday.
With Christmas day on a Sunday this year, Friday and Saturday will be chaotic. Consider traveling earlier in the week to avoid the worst of it. And even better, if you can work remotely, it may be worth delaying your return flight a few days to avoid the return traffic.
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