“Book the trip as soon as possible.” Americans are flying again as vaccines are launched, and cheap airfare could soon be hard to find

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new guide for domestic and international travel on Friday, easing the requirements for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Travel experts say the vaccine-driven surge in travel bookings could be bad news for anyone looking to get a deal on a summer vacation this year.

More than 1.57 million people passed through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at airports on March 28, according to data released by the government agency. That’s the highest number of people passing through airports in the U.S. since mid-March of last year, when public health officials warned against travel as the number of COVID-19 cases rose across the country. the country. Since the beginning of March, there have been four days in which more than 1.5 million people passed through US airports. Following this milestone, health officials relaxed their travel guide for people fully immunized against COVID-19. On Friday, the CDC said that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can travel nationwide without needing to be tested or self-quarantined. International travelers do not need a COVID-19 test before leaving the country if they are vaccinated, unless the country they are traveling to requires it. They are also not required to self-quarantine upon return, unless their statuses require it. The CDC maintained that international travelers must have a negative test before returning to the US and be retested for COVID-19 within five days of their return. Despite the new guidelines, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky made a note of caution at a press conference Friday, saying the agency “does not recommend travel at this time due to the growing number of cases.” . Previously, when the CDC released interim recommendations for people who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the agency did not update the travel guidelines for fully vaccinated people. Nearly 100 million Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine, and more than 56 million have been fully vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the CDC. As more people get vaccinated, they seem more willing to embark on air travel. “The fact that the number of TSA checkpoints continues to increase by 5% each week underscores the optimism felt by travelers across the board,” said Scott Keyes, founder and chief flight expert at the travel website. Scott’s Cheap Flights. Older people, in particular, are taking to the skies. Citing credit card spending data recently released by Bank of America BAC, + 2.07%, Keyes noted that seniors are booking flights at three times the rate of millennials right now. Older people were among the first to have access to vaccines. “With vaccines accelerating and all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1, your world will soon be our whole world,” Keyes said. What will happen to the discounts as more people start traveling? As of now, the discounts are still available. Among the amazing deals Keyes found were $ 199 roundtrip flights to Alaska and $ 179 roundtrip airfare to Cancun. But that won’t be the case forever, and most travel experts recommended that vacationers make their spring and summer travel plans sooner rather than later. “There are definitely still some discounts, but they are primarily for companies that are not adjusting quickly enough to the peak in demand that is occurring right now,” said Jordan Staab, president of travel website Hopjump. “We are advising all of our subscribers to book trips as soon as possible and get the deals while they last.” Several factors are expected to lead to an increase in airfare prices in the near future, and the growing number of vaccinated Americans is just one of them.

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“‘There are definitely still some discounts, but they are mainly for companies that are not adjusting quickly enough to the peak in demand that is occurring right now.’ ”- Jordan Staab, President of the Hopjump travel website

Another factor is that carriers significantly reduced their capacity in light of the pandemic. Airlines pulled service planes, closed middle seats and cut the number of flights they fly daily to cut losses with so few people traveling. These companies can’t just flip a switch and get things back to normal because now more people want to travel. “The number of domestic flights is still 30% lower compared to 2019 in April – in other words, supply goes down and if demand goes up, fares will go up,” said Edward Russell, an airline reporter for the US news outlet. Skift travel. Gas prices are another factor. This week, gasoline futures, which are contracts that guide fuel prices in the coming months, hit the highest closing price in more than two years. Travel is expected to resume overall, which means there is more demand for fuel. Airlines will eventually start pricing those higher fuel costs into the airfares they present to customers, Staab said. Another factor airlines should consider when pricing future flights is the excess coupons they provided over the past year. Instead of reimbursing cash to customers who canceled trips due to the pandemic, in most cases, airlines offered coupons. In some cases, those coupons have expiration dates of 2021. And either way, the people who keep those coupons may feel better traveling now and want to redeem them. “Airlines will be looking to recoup some of their losses from last year and will look to raise prices as soon as demand increases,” Staab said. What about international travel? “It’s worth noting that this boom is driven almost exclusively by domestic travel,” said David Slotnick, senior aviation reporter for The Points Guy. It is still difficult to travel abroad due to the precautions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. The CDC requires that all air passengers, including vaccinated individuals, have a negative COVID test or documentation that they have recovered from the disease before boarding a flight from another country to the US, even if they are US citizens. In fact, flight search data shows more concerns about traveling outside of the United States. Summer domestic flight searches actually exceeded pre-pandemic 2019 volume in late February and have risen 22% since then, according to data from the travel app Hopper. But that’s not the case for international flights. Searches for these trips were still down 45% compared to 2019 levels in early March. “While confidence around international summer travel is improving, we are likely to see a much longer payback time horizon relative to domestic travel,” said Adit Damodaran, an economist at Hopper.