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Pent-Up Travel Demand Means Pent-Up Planes



The pent-up demand for travel created by more than a year of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic crisis has led to a record number of flights being booked, particularly for summer.

That means if you had any designs on traveling by air and having an empty middle seat, or hoping that your entire family would be seated together, you might be out of luck.

The numbers certainly are trending in that direction. While the airline industry isn’t back to where it was in 2019, the Transportation Security Administration has processed at least 1 million passengers a day, every day, since March 11 of this year.

In fact, Sunday, May 9, set a pandemic-era record with a little more than 1.7 million passengers being screened. Consider that on May 9 of 2020, the TSA screened just over 170,000 travelers.

A number of factors are playing into the rise in bookings. The aforementioned pent-up demand is certainly one of them. The dramatic, and continued, decrease in business travel is another. The public’s reticence in flying overseas to places where COVID-19 is still considered a ‘hot spot’ is leading to more domestic travel.

The success of the three vaccines now available to combat the disease has also contributed to a growing number of people feeling more confident about getting out and about and away.

And the federal government’s decision to extend the mandate on wearing a face mask on planes, trains and buses – and at airports, train stations and bus stations – to Sept. 13, 2021, certainly adds to the sense of safety for many travelers.

But even with airlines selling middle seats again, if you have any thoughts on traveling this summer you better make your plans now. The pendulum between supply and demand has definitely swung in favor of demand – there’s more of it and far fewer seats at much higher prices for the summer.

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