Hayley Berg - Thu Jan 04 2024
We're expecting the cost of domestic airfare to remain below 2023 and pre pandemic levels for the next 6 months. Fares will rise 3% into December as travelers book last minute holiday trips before dropping 11% in January. January will be the cheapest month of the year to book travel until the fall shoulder season in September and October, so a great time for travelers to take advantage of low prices and book 2024 trips. Fares will rise into late spring as the spring break and summer travel period heat up.
Price relief on domestic airfare comes as domestic seat capacity has maintained at least a 5% lift over 2019 levels throughout 2023. In November, 6% more seats flew than in 2019, while TSA screened all time record daily passengers. In addition to increased capacity, airlines are seeing relief on jet fuel, with prices down 8% from this time last year.
Airfare from the US to international destinations has remained high to most regions of the world compared to pre-pandemic but prices have improved considerably from last year. Airfare to Mexico and Central America has dropped 10% from this time last year, while prices to the Antilles are down 3%. Fares to Oceania, some of the most expensive on the market, have dropped 22% from this time last year, a drop of $400 on average. For those travelers thinking about trips to Europe, prices remain elevated at $717 per ticket, up 5% from last year and 9% from this time in 2019.
International capacity has continued to rebuild and surpassed 2019 levels as recently as September of 2023. In November, 7% more seats flew to international destinations than in the same month of 2019! Incremental capacity will continue to relieve price pressures on routes where capacity has remained strained post-pandemic.
Rental car prices remain low, averaging $38 per day nationally, down -4% from this time last year. Top cities for rental pick ups are seeing even lower prices in many cases, with Orlando as low as $30 per day and Las Vegas at $31 per day.
Hotel stays in the US are averaging $214 per night as we head into 2024, in line with prices we’ve seen over non peak dates throughout 2023. Prices are expected to remain over $200 per night into the new year, and reach higher over holiday periods. Higher rates come as hotels grapple with higher costs, as well as higher demand for stays. The top destinations for hotel stays show demand for big cities around the world, with an emphasis on warm weather destinations like those in Florida, Mexico and even Spain.
Most Hopper users taking a trip next year will be taking time off, with 83% of travelers going on vacation at least once during the year. 52% of trips will be to see family and friends, while 26% will be for events like weddings, concerts and sporting events. While on their trip, 65% of travelers will book at least one hotel stay, 48% will stay with family and friends, 44% are planning to book a vacation home or rental.
Even as interest rates remain high and Americans tighten their wallets, 50% of Hopper travelers are planning to travel more next year while a further 40% expect to travel the same amount as in 2023. Expected travel spend will move in lock step with these plans, 77% of travelers plan to spend the same, or more, on travel in 2024.
Travelers continue to start their planning process closer to departure dates than pre-pandemic. For domestic trips, Americans are making their first search for a flight just one month before departure, almost a full 2 weeks closer in than pre-pandemic. This represents a 29% reduction in time travelers have to monitor prices and book at the right price for US trips.
For longer haul trips to Europe, the top destination for international trips from the US, travelers consistently start planning their trip a week closer to departure, while trips to Asia are planned at around the same time as in 2019.
Travel disruption remains top of mind for Americans planning to fly, drive or stay next year. The last few years of air travel in particular have been plagued by widespread disruptions, from bad weather to technical malfunctions that have grounded entire fleets and airports.
From hotels that don’t meet travelers expectations upon arrival to flight disruptions that prevent travelers from arriving on time, or at all, disruptions are widespread. 65% of Americans who traveled in the last 6 months experienced some kind of disruption while on their trip. On average, travelers who incurred additional costs due to travel disruptions estimate that it cost them $895. Over a busy holiday weekend, Labor Day, that estimate rose to $1,244. The cost for travelers is not just financial, but also includes the impact of stress and anxiety, lost or wasted time and more. It’s no surprise that 80% of travelers flying in the next 6 months are concerned about disruptions.
The good news for travelers is that disruption rates have improved considerably compared to last year and are on track to remain at normal levels into 2024. In the last three months, the national cancellation rate from US airports has remained below 2022 levels, with November seeing fewer than 0.2% of flights canceled on departure. Delay rates have also dropped in the last two months compared to 2022, and have dropped compared to earlier this year. These improvements come as airlines, airports, the FAA and Air Traffic Control have build more resilience into the system with hiring, training and operating capacity the system can handle even during peak times.
Despite the positive outlook, a shift in consumer behavior has solidified in the last three years, with more and more travelers willing to pay extra for products specifically designed to protect them from travel disruptions. Nearly one in five flight bookers on Hopper will purchase Flight Disruption Assistance with their flight, which allows you to rebook a new flight immediately, regardless of carrier, if you’re delayed, canceled by the airline or you miss a connection.
Hopper users are monitoring prices for trips to these destinations in 2024 more than any others worldwide.
Warm weather, leisure and beaches are driving travel plans for 2024! The top 5 destinations for domestic travel span the country but all offer relief from colder temperatures and access to entertainment, outdoor activities and the beach. International travelers are headed to the Caribbean, with Cancun and Punta Cana top of mind for those planning ahead for 2024. Those planning to travel further in 2024 are looking to London, Rome and Tokyo for long haul international trips next year.
These destinations are seeing a rise in popularity for trips in the new year compared to previous years.
Destinations off the beaten path are rising in popularity within the US this year, many offering access to the great outdoors. Spokane, Portland, Bangor and Fairbanks all offer access to National Parks and incredible scenery for travelers looking for fresh air and incredible views. Travelers headed to Orange County, Valparaiso and Hilton Head Island will have access to sandy beaches and leisure towns, excellent for vacations.
This year travelers are headed to Asia and an array of off the beaten track destinations across Canada, and Europe. Tokyo and Seoul top the list for trending international destinations for 2024, with both commanding a tremendous amount of demand from US travelers as tourism to Asia continues to rebound. Destinations in Canada have also topped the ranking, with Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal seeing increased demand relative to previous years and other destinations.
For those travelers looking to Europe, more off the beaten track destinations are trending in the new year. Copenhagen and Prague offer an array of food, culture and experiences on mainland Europe and are growing in popularity. Vacation destinations in the Canary Islands and Madeira are also increasing in popularity, with more travelers looking to these Atlantic islands for a tropical vacation experience.
This upcoming summer the attention of the world will be focused on Paris as the 33rd summer olympics kick off at the end of July. Competition events will take place throughout the city highlighting historical and cultural landmarks. Expect to see Paris trending as an international destination for travelers from all over the world as the 2024 travel planning season kicks off.
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