Significantly more people plan to travel during the holidays this year than in previous years, according to a new PWC survey – but that pent-up demand will strain airlines still trying to recover from last year, industry analysts warn.
Why it matters: While many airlines are adding flights to popular destinations, consumers are likely to find higher prices and limited availability. Airlines could also face staffing shortages over newly issued vaccine mandates.
By the numbers: Roughly a third of the population typically travels during the holidays, most to visit family and friends, previous PWC data showed.
- That was true even last year, when many travelers took road trips instead of flying.
- This year, however, 52% of respondents said they plan to travel — far more than the typical one-third. Most will travel by car (72%), although 57% of those with household incomes above $150,000 said they plan to travel by air.
They’re going to spend more getting there too.
- Holiday travel spending is projected to increase by 69% in 2021 compared with 2020, per PWC.
- Even compared with pre-pandemic 2019, average travel spending is set to increase 24%, to $461 from $372.
The catch: Travel demand is likely to outstrip supply of available airline seats and rental cars.
- “Airlines can’t add capacity fast enough,” said Jonathan Kletzel, leader of PWC’s airline and travel practice.
- Unless you book your trip early, “there will literally be no seats available to get to your destination,” he said.
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