Get ready for travel prices to surge, experts say

Travelers with high ground turn their engines.

With Friday guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people can travel again at low risk to themselves, millions of Americans got the green light to begin planning their next trips.

And while CDC director Rochelle Walensky told a news conference on Friday that the agency was still not offering travel due to the growing number of cases of Koran virus, travel numbers have already risen sharply in recent weeks – an upward trend that is expected to accelerate the announcement is yet to come.

The Transportation Safety Administration has been checking more than 1 million passengers every day for weeks and hiring thousands of new agents to prepare for the impending explosion. The Hopper travel booking app has seen a 58% increase in summer travel searches. Airlines are adding many new routes to leisure destinations to meet changing travel demand.

So what impact will CDC’s updated guidance have on the industry? According to travel experts, it is possible to see an increase in prices as customers start booking tours again.

As demand increases, supply will find it difficult to keep up, making travel more expensive. Many hotels, bars, excursions and attractions still operate at reduced capacity. car rental agencies reduced their fleet to reduce costs. and more people are asking for all of the above.

We spoke with six domestic travelers about what would happen next and why.

Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, says the fivefold increase in travel demand is unlike anything the industry has ever seen. The news from the CDC could affect flight prices as more people start pursuing travel plans.

“I think there will be a short-term increase in airfare for the summer,” says Keyes. “Everyone wants to travel, they are looking to make up for lost time, and they especially want to do it this summer, while the weather is good and eventually it will be safe and [everyone’s] comfortable to do.

Keyes does not expect the fare to last longer than the summer.

“There are many reasons why I think airfare will continue to be very, very affordable,” he says. “The golden age of cheap travel, like the one we have been living through since 2015, will continue to emerge from the pandemic.”

Lin Chen, director of the Travel Medicine Center at Mount Auburn Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, said it was quite unknown to the coronavirus – especially as new variants emerged – that travelers should be careful.

“I think people should not disappoint their whole guard,” he said.

He added: “I think that for the general public, even if they are fully vaccinated and traveling, they should continue to take all other precautions such as wearing masks and avoiding crowds and washing their hands well and staying away from strangers. ».

Chen, who is president of the International Society of Travel Medicine, said vaccinated travelers should look for destinations that have good healthcare facilities and vaccinate their own populations at a steady rate.

The CDC said fully vaccinated people did not need a coronavirus test before or after their domestic trip and did not need to self-quarantine after traveling within the United States. Prior to international travel, the agency said, tests are only required if the destinations require it. However, even fully vaccinated people must have a negative test no later than three days before returning to the United States and must be tested within three to five days of arriving home.

“I think domestic travel is probably the safest yet, or the easiest and least burdensome,” Chen said.

Misty Belles, global public relations director for travel agency Virtuoso, says travel demand is growing exponentially as Americans promise to get vaccinated soon. The CDC announcement has added fuel to this fire and will give people the confidence to book travel. He predicts that prices will change depending on new demand.

“You still have some limited availability problems because the hotels are running – in some areas – with reduced capacity. So they are going to fill it a lot faster,” he says.

In places where it has already seen an increase in travel, such as Florida, Belles says prices are already higher than they normally would be.

“It will continue to rise,” he says. “And it will be the same for airline tickets.”

Mark Crossey, a U.S. travel expert at Skyscanner booking site, says many holidaymakers are waiting for this announcement to eventually book a major trip, though that will come with some extra effort.

“The possible easing of restrictions by the summer and the successful launch of vaccines, combined with this new announcement, have increased the positive,” Crossey said in an email. “But these are just a few pieces of the puzzle with clear guidance on travel restrictions, quarantine measures, digital health passes and tests needed to let travelers know what is safe to book and within directions.”

Crossey says travel for Americans in 2020 was dominated mainly by domestic travel, as well as visits to Mexico and the Caribbean. Now that vaccine progress could help open borders, he expects a higher rate of international travel.

As more people travel – and pay higher prices for hotels, airline tickets and rental cars – the summer travel season is still not normal, said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group.

Flights and hotel rooms may be available, and vaccinated people can be assured that they are safe, but certain rules such as capacity limits at theme parks, sporting events, museums or other attractions are likely to remain in place.

“Before booking your flights and hotels, make sure you can do the things you want – and whether it involves going to a baseball game or theme park, do your research on ticket availability and prices and anything. another before you start buying, “he said.” You do not want to get stuck spending a lot of money just to find something that is not available or is going to be much more expensive than you thought.

He said that because some popular travel options such as cruising and visiting Europe are still limited, more travelers are likely to flood places that are open to Americans – meaning people could be in the crowds again.

Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy at the American Travel Association, said the travel sentiment still shows that people want to spend time outdoors on beaches, national parks and mountain sites. But with new guidance from the CDC, he said he expects other types of destinations to gain popularity.

“I think those who were more careful when traveling by plane or staying in a hotel or going to a city will start to feel more comfortable when they have been vaccinated,” he said.

He said there are still some big questions to be addressed about the CDC, such as opening up international travel and expanding larger concentrations so that business meetings and events can be repeated.

“From an industry standpoint, these are two very important parts of our business,” he said.

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