What You Can Expect From Holiday Travel Season

Thanksgiving, Hanukkah/Christmas and New Year’s — it’s the trifecta of holiday travel that everyone both loves and hates. 

The pandemic curtailed both holiday travel and business travel alike. Some experts have said that business travel has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. but that’s not so, according to an industry executive who should know — Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian. 

“The thing that people miss is that while people aren’t traveling for managed business, they’re traveling on the road at a much higher level because mobility has been at a premium because of hybrid opportunities to travel and bring your office with you,” Bastian told CNBC.  “Business is far above anything we ever saw pre-COVID—we’re just managing and looking at it differently today.”



Delta Air Lines hit new travel records over the Thanksgiving holiday period as workers could dial in to their jobs remotely, he says adding that he predicts the same happening again over Christmas. The airline expects nearly 9 million travelers to fly with the carrier from Dec. 21 to Jan 7.

United Airlines s also predicting its “busiest-ever end of year holiday travel season” with about 9 million passengers — a 12% increase compared to last year — expected to fly from Dec. 21 through Jan. 8, the airline shared with Travel + Leisure. American Airlines anticipates more than 12 million customers forecast to fly with the airline from Dec. 20 to Jan. 8.

As someone who has traveled recently for both work, pleasure and at times a combination of the two, I can anecdotally back up what he’s saying. The planes are packed — folks are clearly not sitting at home. 

Pre-pandemic business travelers accounted for half of U.S. airlines’ revenue, but just 30% of the trips, according to Airlines for America, an industry group that represents most U.S. carriers. “However, rather than globe-trotting to see colleagues, workers today are more likely to be mixing business and pleasure,” according toFortune

Air travelers who have chosen to fly on Southwest can rest assured that the airline is mindful of not repeating last year’s meltdown which resulted in the cancellation of over 16,000 flights, according to Phoenix’s KTVK/KPHO TV stations. 

The airline has improved its infrastructure including hiring thousands of employees and training more staff to de-ice aircraft.

Once the holidays have come and gone, the New Year could bring a new type of getaway, a phenomenon called “surprise travel.” A recent by Booking.com survey showed that more than half of travelers would pack their bags, head to the airport and fly to an unknown destination. 

“In the last decade, more and more surprise trip companies have popped up. It always seemed that planning a holiday was part of the excitement of travel, but perhaps the element of mystery is tempting travelers to seek a new way to see the world,” according to the BBC.

No matter where or when you are flying, please be mindful not to become what airline employees refer to as “gate lice.” Those are the nervous travelers who hover around the gate area even though it’s not their time to board. 

You are being silently cursed by those who have to navigate around you, trust me. 

“Passengers getting in line too early can lead to congested airport walkways, longer wait times for boarding groups who were actually called and general confusion,” according toThe Washington Post.  

Next story loading loading..