What to expect as summer travel season heats up
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that summer travel to Europe, a popular choice among Americans, is down by 15 percent compared to the previous years. While international destinations are offering amazing bargains and discounts, rising terror strikes in Europe and President Donald Trump's travel ban have put a damper on such plans.
The strong dollar has been a great incentive for international travel in the past 12 months, but it looks like that is winding down now. As a result, domestic travel is looking up again — even with fares rising.
AAA had predicted that Memorial Day travel this year would hit a 12-year high. They also forecasted that domestic summer travel will be up, and the bookings so far are indicating the same. Relatively low gas prices ($2.32 per gallon as of today) and a recovering economy led to more people (close to 39.3 million) hitting the road for the holiday weekend, officially kicking off the summer travel season.
According to airfarewatchdog.com, online searches related to summer travel are up by 50 percent, and overall summer travel is expected to be 12 percent more than last year. Bad press like the one faced by United Airlines in Chicago and Spirit Airlines in Fort Lauderdale in the past months have not deterred travelers from flying.
Travel agents have stated that they are witnessing a strong season for both domestic and international travel. Despite ongoing concern over terrorism incidents in the Europe and worries about the Zika virus in the Caribbean, international travel isn't completely down. The good exchange rate for Americans with the euro and the English pound is factoring in.
Though average air fares are about 9 percent higher than 2016, some travel organizations are projecting record-high airline travel this summer. There is some contention on this point, however, as others are saying that fares are quite competitive this year.
Data from Kayak shows a 23 percent decrease in the average coach fare compared to last summer. Airfare prediction site Hopper has said that low-cost international carriers will increase their capacity for a flight bound to the United States by 61 percent.
Exciting fare sales as airlines and alliance wars heat up are leading to very competitive fares — an exciting aspect for travelers. Traditional carriers are fighting back by increasing their capacity, premium economy options for international routes and offering individual flash sales. For domestic travel, some like American and Delta Airlines have reintroduced free food service in the economy section for transcontinental flights.
Expedited security clearance and more streamlined security practices have also been on the cards. But the recent terror attacks in the United Kingdom may hamper those efforts. The attacks, which occurred just as the summer travel season is kicking off, have urged officials to exercise caution.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a large number of Americans plan on air travel. With terrorists turning everyday items like laptops and computer tablets into threats, security checks have become a tougher job for officials, leading to longer waits for passengers. Travel and entertainment have become favorite targets for terrorists, and now they are focusing on transportation hubs and entertainment arenas that attract large crowds.
TripAdvisor has released a list of the popular domestic destinations for this summer. Northeastern states like New Jersey, New York, Maine and Maryland lead in the top 10 for affordable trips. Travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance's list, however, shows that Orlando and Cancun continue to be the most popular choices for the Americans' summer travel plans.
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