U.S. Summer Travelers Can Expect Long Lines, Higher Prices as COVID Restrictions Ease

U.S. Summer Travelers Can Expect Long Lines, Higher Prices as COVID Restrictions Ease

As COVID restrictions ease, more Americans are planning to travel by air and car this summer, putting strain on capacity in the leisure and travel industry and driving costs even higher.

In the most recent batch of company earnings, airlines, hotels, rental car firms, and booking sites all reported an increase in demand for their services. However, as they struggle to resume and expand operations after more than two years of decreased demand owing to the epidemic, many of those enterprises face a tight labor market and restricted volume.

Inflation will affect all aspects of travel purchasing in 2022, according to Tripadvisor, and booking now rather than later can result in lower prices.

CEO Christopher Nassetta told investors on Tuesday that Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (HLT.N) wants to continue repricing hotel rooms “every minute of the day” to reduce the impact of inflation on the company’s business.

On the company’s earnings call, he added, “We have certainly been able to do that as demand has ramped up, and we think that we will continue to be able to do so.”

In the first quarter of 2022, Hilton’s average daily rates in the United States were 36.4 percent more than the same period in 2021. According to hotel market data supplier STR, average daily rates across hotel companies in the United States increased by 37.7% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same time in 2021.

Flight prices are also on the rise this summer, according to travel search engine Skyscanner. Round-trip flights within the United States will cost an average of $302 per person, up 3% over the pre-pandemic period. Long-haul and ultra-long-haul international flights are up to 20% more expensive than in 2019, costing $797 and $1182 on average.

As leisure and business visitors return, other parts of the travel industry are experiencing supply restrictions and labor shortages.

Hertz Global Holdings (HTZ.O), a car rental company, reported an average of 481,000 vehicles in the first quarter of 2022, compared to a pre-pandemic level of around 700,000 vehicles.

“There’s little doubt that when demand rises in the summer season, [utilization] stress will increase,” Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr said, adding that the available supply of vehicles is limited and must be properly controlled.

Staffing issues have also hampered operations at Alaska Airlines (ALK.N) and JetBlue (JBLU.O) in recent weeks, causing them to trim summer schedules to minimize more disruption.

App for booking flights Domestic airlines are expected to run at 75 percent to 95 percent of their 2019 summer capacity from May to August, according to Hopper.

According to a statement from the agency, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) continues to organize hiring events in an effort to boost employees ahead of anticipated summer travel and the return to pre-pandemic passenger counts.

In March, the TSA announced that (fiscal year) 2019 passenger traffic levels would be restored of (fiscal year) 2022, a year sooner than previously anticipated, and that an increase in staff would help ensure that “the traveling public does not encounter exorbitant wait times.”