Lots of people seem to be traveling lately. Airports are busy, while flights are mostly or completely full.
And sure enough, lots of people are traveling lately. The Transportation Security Administration’s passenger numbers — how many people go through airport security every day — are almost the same now as before the pandemic. There were 2.4 million air travelers Monday, just about the same as April 24, 2019. And some 78 million passengers traveled in January this year, while there were 79.5 million travelers in January 2019.
But the mix of travelers and the price of getting on that plane have changed a bunch since then.
“Leisure travel has really come roaring back,” said Lindsey Roeschke at polling firm Morning Consult. A lot of consumers are still flush with savings from the pandemic, she said. “People are excited to travel after a couple of years of really pulling back, because they missed out on travel for so long.”
Revenue from business travel though is still down more than 25% since the pandemic hit.
“That could be partly due to the rise in work-from-home technologies; now, with fears of recession looming tightening corporate travel budgets,” said Chris Raite at research firm Third Bridge.
Here’s what he’s hearing from corporate travel agencies: “On those business travel trips, they’re now sending less employees than they had been historically less frequency throughout the year.”
The problem is before the pandemic, corporate travelers — often buying business-class seats at the last minute — accounted for as much as 70% of airlines’ profit, Raite said.
But another new trend is helping the airlines, Raite added: “The uptake in the premium cabin by leisure travelers. So we’ve actually seen consumers with a propensity to spend.”
And they sure are spending. Prices — wherever you are in the airplane — remain high.
Morning Consult’s Lindsey Roeschke has been traveling recently.
“A beach vacation in Mexico earlier this year, just came back from a couple weeks in Sweden visiting some family,” she said. “And they’ve been great, but also clenching my teeth a little bit when I’m paying for flights.”
Ticket prices have risen nearly 18% in the last year.
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