Americans travel to thanksgiving despite corona

Many Americans booked last-minute domestic flights this year to celebrate Thanksgiving with family or vacation in the sun (or snow) – despite the particularly rampant corona pandemic in the U.S. and the currently struggling airline industry. This is what research by the travel analytics company ForwardKeys has shown.

In a ranking of the top domestic U.S. destinations this Thanksgiving (that is, destinations accounting for at least 1.0 percent of domestic air bookings), there are many places where Americans like to spend their vacations.

Florida most popular vacation destination for Thanksgiving

Fort Myers in Florida sees least drop in bookings compared to 2019. There, airline tickets issued on 14. November bookings for travel during the Thanksgiving period (departures from 19. to 25. November) lagged behind last year's figures by only 11.9 percent.

Tampa ranks second as another sunshine destination, where bookings are down 14.2 percent from a year ago. The next three most resilient places to ski are Salt Lake City Utah (down 23.5 percent) , Phoenix Arizona (down 30 percent), which is within driving distance of the Arizona Snow Bowl, and Denver, Colorado (down 32.1 percent).

Domestic flight bookings at 75 percent of last year's level

Significantly fewer domestic flights for Thanksgiving than in 2019 include Miami (down 33.5 percent) Orlando, home to several iconic theme parks (down 33.9 percent), Kahului (down 35.4 percent), Dallas (down 38.6 percent) and Las Vegas, down a steep 40.6 percent.

"The Covid 19 crisis decimated international air travel and severely damaged domestic air travel."

ForwardKeys' Olivier Ponti explains, "The Covid 19 crisis decimated international air travel and severely damaged domestic air travel. Over the past three weeks, we've seen a slowdown in the pace of bookings, and that correlates with the third wave of the virus. However, there are some very resistant periods, Christmas and Thanksgiving, in which the bookings have not slowed down and are relatively much stronger than for the rest of the year" Those in the week from 8. November, airline tickets issued for travel during the Thanksgiving period (departures from 19. to 25. November) had still risen to 74.5 percent of the previous year's volume.

While hardly anyone would travel for business, he said it's encouraging news for the travel industry that people don't want to give up what they normally do on Thanksgiving: namely, travel to see family and go to vacation destinations.

Only ten percent of U.S. citizens forgo travel on Thankgsgiving

An analysis by IHS Markit for AAA news magazine found that the number of Americans who planned to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday was only about 10 percent lower than in 2019.

While only half of the usual people are boarding planes this Thanksgiving and even fewer are taking buses, trains or cruises , Americans seem more comfortable driving during the pandemic. The volume of automobile travel – by far the most popular type of travel on Thanksgiving – is expected to drop only 4.3 percent.

The results can also be read to mean that Americans are forgoing long-distance travel because of Covid-19, but still like to visit friends and relatives who live short or moderate distances away.

But despite the high level of concern about the common form of travel and the spread of the disease between states, Thanksgiving gatherings themselves carry an inherent risk of infection.

Anne-Katrin Schwanitz

Anne-Katrin Schwanitz writes on Expat News about intercultural issues and about labor, tax and social security aspects of business trips and assignments abroad, as well as trends in digital nomadism and emigration.

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