With the approach of end-of-year holidays, generally high vaccination rates and the opening of American borders to vaccinated travelers in November, flight reservations are being made at a frantic rate. The United States, and particularly New York, is looking set to be a particularly popular destination for Europeans. So much so that some airlines are reporting pre-pandemic levels of bookings.
Business is picking up for airlines. On October 7, the American company United Airlines announced that in December it would be offering 91% of its usual flights, based on pre-covid figures. A record since the pandemic measures started rolling out in the US in March 2020. According to the company, flight searches have increased by 16% compared to the same period in 2019. And the Thanksgiving period will surely be one of the most popular, particularly November 24 and November 28, as well as the Christmas vacations with peak travel days forecast as December 23 and January 2.
"We're seeing a lot of pent-up demand in our data and are offering a December schedule that centers on the two things people want most for the holidays: warm sunshine and fresh snow," said Ankit Gupta, United vice president of network planning and scheduling.
And the trend goes beyond domestic flights within the US.
Since the announcement of the reopening of the United States to vaccinated European and British travelers on September 20, bookings have taken off. The Lufthansa Group reported in a press release on September 28 that "flights across the Atlantic increased three-fold over the week before," noting that "demand in the last week on certain routes almost reached pre-crisis levels."
Meanwhile, Air France announced on October 8 the opening of 23 new routes compared to 2020. The French company intends to strengthen its offering to the United States, where it has 11 destinations, so that by March 2022 to "a capacity equivalent to approximately 90% of its capacity in 2019 to and from the USA."
Flights added, booking sites saturated
To anticipate the growing demand, airlines are increasing their number of daily flights. Starting in November, Lufthansa will operate three daily flights from airports with the highest demand, such as Zurich and Frankfurt. The Christmas period is expected to be very busy, with the company already seeing high demand. With nearly 55 flights to New York for the month of December from the biggest airports in Europe, the company is considering "further short-term expansion of services."
We have seen very high demand today for our Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flights. While we have added more resources at our customer servicing points, our agents may take longer than usual to respond to queries or attend to customers. Customers who wish to learn more about the
— Singapore Airlines (@SingaporeAir) October 9, 2021
In Singapore, travelers are also ready to fly, with the website of Singapore Airlines being unavailable for momentarily during the weekend of October 9 and 10. Despite this, Singapore Airlines registered "very high demand" and announced on its Twitter account that agents could "take longer than usual to respond to queries."