November 2021 U.S International Reopening Report

On Monday, November 8th, the U.S will reopen to vaccinated foreign travelers for the first time since the start of the pandemic. With the reopening, we are expecting a surge in inbound & outbound international travel as pent up demand begins to burst and we approach the holiday season.

Adit Damodaran - Nov. 4, 2021

On Monday, November 8th, the U.S will reopen to vaccinated foreign travelers for the first time since the start of the pandemic. With the reopening, experts are expecting a surge in inbound & outbound international travel as pent up demand begins to burst and we approach the holiday season.

The reopening prompted the research team at travel app, Hopper to examine exactly what international travel demand looks like right now - along with the impact on flight prices. The team analyzed Hopper’s database of over 30 billion daily airfare price quotes from flight searches happening all across the web and found the following.

Summary:

Search Demand

  • Since September 20th when the U.S. announced its reopening to inbound foreign travelers, searches have risen 338% for international flights departing to the U.S. after November 8th. This suggests a strong recovery in international travel demand for flights to the U.S., approximately twice as strong as 2020 search demand this time last year.

Highest Trending Destinations

  • To the U.S: The highest trending U.S. destinations are those that rose the most in searches relative to their weekly average number of searches prior to the announcement. They included: Tampa, FL (#1), San Francisco, CA (#2), and Miami, FL (#3). 

  • From the U.S: Relative to the holidays in 2019, the highest trending international destinations for U.S. travelers were St. Thomas Island, U.S. Virgin Islands (#1), Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (#2), and Oranjestad, Aruba (#3). 

Most Popular International Destinations for the 2021 Holiday Season

  • Most Searched International Destinations by U.S Travelers (Outbound from the U.S): The most searched international destinations for the holidays from the U.S. are San Juan, Puerto Rico (#1), Mexico City, Mexico (#2), and London, UK (#3)

  • Most Searched U.S. Destinations by Foreign Travelers (Inbound to the U.S): The most searched U.S. destinations amongst inbound international travelers for the holidays are New York City, NY (#1), Miami, FL (#2), and Los Angeles, CA (#3)

  • Most Booked International Destinations by U.S Travelers (Outbound Travel from the U.S): The most searched international destinations for the holidays from the U.S. are San Juan, Puerto Rico (#1), Cancun, Mexico (#2), and Mexico City, Mexico (#3)

  • Most Booked U.S. Destinations by Foreign Travelers (Inbound Travel to the U.S): The most booked U.S. destinations amongst inbound international travelers for the holidays are Miami, FL (#1), New York City, NY (#2), and Orlando, FL (#3)

Airfare Prices

  • Inbound to the U.S: As of November 2021, inbound international airfare from the U.S. is $630/round-trip, up 5% from October’s average of $600/round-trip, and 14% down from $737 in November 2019. We expect inbound international airfare to climb 20% into the holiday season, reaching $755/round-trip by December 2021. 

  • Outbound from the U.S: As of November 2021, outbound international airfare from the U.S. has rapidly increased since September to $815/round-trip, up 10% already from October’s average of $740/round-trip, and just 7% down from November 2019. We expect international airfare to climb another 8% into the holidays, reaching $880/round-trip by December and making December 2021 equivalent to December 2019 airfare.

  • Our forecasted rise in international airfare prices represent multiple factors contributing to higher airfare, including: strong pent-up travel demand for international routes, regular seasonal demand approaching the holidays, and higher jet fuel prices. 

The United States announced Monday, September 20th that it will begin allowing vaccinated foreign visitors starting November 8th.

Searches and Demand for Travel After Nov. 8th

Since September 20th, searches have risen 338% for international flights departing to the U.S. after November 8th. It’s worth noting that searches always increase rapidly towards the period of travel (since many travelers search for flights relatively last minute), so to put this number in context, we looked at the rate of increase in searches over the same period in 2020 and 2019. In 2020 and 2019, searches over the same period increased 167% and 92% respectively. This suggests a strong recovery in international travel demand for flights to the U.S., approximately twice as strong as 2020 search demand this time last year.

Inbound
International searches for flight departing after Nov. 8

Highest Trending US Destinations from Inbound International Travelers

The highest trending U.S. destinations are those that rose the most in searches relative to their weekly average number of searches prior to the announcement. The highest trending U.S. destinations following the announcement on September 20th are currently Tampa, FL (#1), San Francisco, CA (#2), and Miami, FL (#3).

Highest
Highest Trending US Destinations from Inbound International Travelers

Highest Trending International Destinations for Outbound U.S. Travelers

These were the highest trending international destinations (relative to their 2019 search ranking) for U.S. travelers searching for holiday travel: St. Thomas Island, U.S. Virgin Islands (#1), Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (#2), and Oranjestad, Aruba (#3). Broadly speaking, destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe all made significant gains in search interest compared to 2019, but European destinations were the ones primarily up in search interest from 2020. 

Highest
Highest Trending International Destinations for Outbound U.S. Travelers

Outbound International Airfare Prices (compared to pre-pandemic 2019) 

As of November 2021, outbound international airfare from the U.S. has rapidly increased since September to $815 round-trip, up 10% already from October’s average of $740 round-trip, and just 7% down from November 2019. 

The rise in international airfare has followed increased demand in the U.S. for international travel, on top of regular seasonal demand. Searches for international travel from the U.S. ahead of the holiday season are up 45% MoM, the largest monthly increase since this past spring. Jet fuel prices are also near their highs this year at $2.30/gallon, a massive 74% increase from $1.32/gallon at the beginning of the year. Higher jet fuel prices in addition to surging international travel demand is leading to significantly higher international ticket prices. 

Outbound
Outbound International Airfare Prices (compared to pre-pandemic 2019)

Forecast

We expect international airfare to climb another 8% into the holiday season, reaching $880/round-trip by December 2021. This would put December 2021 international airfare equivalent to December 2019 airfare.

Inbound International Airfare Prices (compared to pre-pandemic 2019) + Forecast

As of November 2021, inbound international airfare from the U.S. is $630 round-trip, up 5% from October’s average of $600 round-trip, and 14% down from $737 in November 2019. 

Inbound international airfare tends to increase seasonally this time of year, but the rate at which airfare is increasing is on track to outpace 2019. In 2019, airfare increased 6% MoM between the first week of November and the first week of October. In 2021, we’ve seen a 9% increase in airfare over that same period. Similar to increases in outbound international airfare, higher jet fuel prices are a major factor underpinning the rise in airfare, spurred even more due to strong pent-up demand for travel to the U.S. following its reopening. 

Inbound
Inbound International Airfare Prices (compared to pre-pandemic 2019) + Forecast

Forecast

We expect inbound international airfare to climb 20% into the holiday season, reaching $755/round-trip by December 2021. This would be a 10% increase over inbound international airfare this summer, representing improving travel demand, strong pent-up demand for a route that had been mostly closed since the beginning of the pandemic, and higher jet fuel prices.

Get the Hopper app to find the best deals.
You could save up to 40% on your next flight!