Thanksgiving treats are back this year – as well as the anticipation of the holiday, street and air holiday trips.
With rising Covid-19 vaccination rates and the reopening of US borders for vaccinated foreign travelers, the tourism industry is gearing up for the upcoming holiday chase.
In its holiday travel forecast, AAA said this week it expected more than 53.4 million people to leave between November 24 and 28, up 13 percent from 2020 levels.
The Transportation Security Administration said it was already inspecting between 1.9 million and 2.2 million people daily, and the impending November 22 strike deadline for the union’s staff had raised concerns about possible staff shortages for long security lines during the holidays. A TSA spokesman told NBC News it was focused on getting workers to be vaccinated by the deadline.
Prices for spiking gas do not deter travelers this year as well. About 48 million people will take to the streets this holiday season, according to AAA. At about $ 3.40, the average price of a tummy tuck this week has been the highest since 2014, says Patrick De Haan, head of gas analysis at GasBuddy.
Vehicle rental rates also remain high, following a shortage of essential semiconductor chips which has led to a sharp decline in the production of new vehicles during the epidemic, fueled by rental companies that removed their vessels last year during the outbreak. Daily car rental rates are currently estimated at $ 84, according to a Hopper tour operator.
That means travelers should adjust their booking habits during the holidays, said Michael Taylor, a leading tourist at JD Power. Although travelers often book a hotel room before looking for a rental car and plane, they should postpone the order, he said, especially in popular resorts like Orlando and Las Vegas where rental cars are more expensive and much needed.
“This is going to be an expensive holiday for some people,” Taylor said.
Camille Jones, a clinical social worker in Birmingham, Alabama, plans to fly to Orlando with her husband and two-month-old baby to spend the holidays with her cousins. While the family was considering driving to Orlando, renting a car would cost them about $ 590. Two round-trip airline tickets for up to $ 530.
To cut costs, the family has purchased airline tickets from Orlando from Atlanta to Birmingham, saving about $ 240. Jones said a two-hour walk to Atlanta is worth it, especially as they often visit the family there. She and her husband planned to arrive at the airport two hours before the flight, especially since they had a baby.
“We’ve never had a baby, so I know we’re going to slow it down a bit,” Jones said.
Travelers should consider purchasing travel insurance or using travel credit cards with built-in insurance, says Sara Rathner, a travel and credit card specialist at Nerdwallet. He also added that travelers should check out cash for flights or hotels for canceled 2020 trips.
Last month, Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights, costing the company $ 75 million and affecting tens of thousands of passengers. The company has announced that it has revised its flight plan to better reflect employee standards. Recently, American Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights over the Halloween weekend, citing a shortage of staff and inclement weather.
Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, a union representing American Airlines pilots, said the record for a slow recovery after a change of flight could cause problems during the upcoming holiday chase, especially in bad weather. Adding to the problem, the holiday season is in full swing, with pilots and flight crews about to extend their contract hours.
David Seymour, a senior U.S. official, said in a statement to workers on November 5 that 1,800 flight attendants had returned to work this month and that the airline was planning to add another 800 in December. Seymour also said workers will receive holiday pay for best travel dates in November and December, and expects 4,000 new employees to join this quarter.
Tired travelers should be provided with closed shops and restaurants at the airport, Taylor said. Staff shortages and inflation continue to plague the hospitality industry, which means any open shops and kiosks will have higher prices, fewer options and longer lines.
Delaware North Travel, a New York-based traveler company that operates food and airline stores, closed some of its facilities during the epidemic and reduced hours due to staff shortages. The company’s operating hours are based on the number of passengers who board each day and when certain gates are used, which means customers sometimes face long queues.
To combat inflationary pressures, Delaware North Travel raised prices on some of its menu items and rebuilt other items, said Bob Wilson, president of Delaware North Travel. For example, a dish with eight chicken wings now has bone-free wings, and some of the newer options were transformed into grab-and-gos. Some component sizes have been reduced.
Despite the challenges, many travelers are planning a full schedule.
Sarah Goldstrom, who works in the film industry, plans to fly Thanksgiving Day from Philadelphia to Greenville, South Carolina, and rest in Atlanta to spend the night with family. After completing the turkey, he plans to fly to New York to attend a Harry Styles concert before returning home to Atlanta.
“The Thanksgiving genre is chaotic anyway,” he said.