Key Findings about Escaping the Polar Vortex
- Daily flight search volume from Minneapolis to the top 10 destinations increased by an average of 40% between the last two weeks of December and the first week of January (when news of the polar vortex broke); significantly higher than the average over all origins of 29%
- The largest increases in flight searches were to Cancun, Las Vegas, Phoenix and various Florida destinations
- Prices were largely steady, with some Florida destinations showing a slight uptrend.
- For Chicago, flight search volumes increased a little less than average, at 19%, because traffic for several popular destinations such as New York and Los Angeles was far below average, however, searches from Chicago to Cancun spiked 52% during Polar Vortex.
- Prices have been fairly steady with warm weather destinations on a slow upward trend.
- The favorite destinations in 2014 are largely unchanged from the same period last year, but there are some good warm weather prices as compared to January 2013. For example, Minneapolis to Florida and Los Angeles, as well as, Chicago to Cancun, Mexico City and San Juan all saw great prices this year.
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Figure 1: Estimated daily search volumes and prices for the top 10 destinations from Minneapolis. Search volumes in Jan 2013 are not comparable to the two later periods due to underlying data changes. These results exclude business-oriented trips (without a Saturday-night stay) as well as long-haul international destinations.
Figure 2: Estimated daily search volumes and prices for the top 10 destinations from Chicago. Note different vertical scales (both axes) compared to Figure 1.