Charlotteans are booking tropical vacations after a year of being stuck at home.
Driving the news: American Airlines’ Charlotte hub, the airline’s second largest, has been faster to recover than other markets, an airline spokesperson tells me.
- In April, American will average 643 daily departures from CLT. That’s way up from 270 average daily departures in April 2020, of course. But more noteworthy is that it’s just shy of 679 average daily departures in April 2019.
Why it matters: Increased access to vaccines, lower COVID metrics, and cabin fever have all contributed to the recent uptick in travel. And while there’s still a long road ahead for the travel industry as it rebounds from COVID losses, the Charlotte region is on its way to returning to pre-pandemic travel trends.
By the numbers: Flights to leisure markets are at the top of locals’ itinerary, and understandably so. Who doesn’t need a vacation after the last year?
- This summer American estimates it will operate 50% more flights from Charlotte to Miami, the Caribbean and Latin America than in summer 2019.
- American has also added, resumed and expanded service to popular vacation destinations; including nonstop daily service from Charlotte to Honolulu from May 6 to September 7.
AAA Carolinas has also seen an increase in travel bookings. A spokesperson tells me that February 2021 sales were up 99% over February sales last year, which is especially noteworthy considering bookings didn’t start falling off until March 2020.
- While cruises are still on pause, bookings through AAA are running out of space for 2022 sailings. Oceania’s 2022 world cruise sold out in one day, the spokesperson tells me.
Yes, but: Travel is still restricted in many parts of the world. One of the reasons the Caribbean is so popular right now is because it’s one of the few areas welcoming tourists.
The European Union is not allowing travelers from the United States. Many Asian countries are also restricting American travel.
The U.S. also has travel restrictions on residents and non-residents alike. Anyone entering the United States is required to show proof of a negative COVID test taken no more than three days prior. Airlines are required to deny passengers who don’t have proof of a negative test.
Looking ahead: There’s lots of speculation circling around vaccine requirements and travel. It’s possible that countries begin requiring proof of vaccination before accepting foreign tourists.
What they say: Cathy Reavis, the owner of World Travel Mates, tells me she’s spent much of the last year “continually rebooking” trips that have been canceled. Some of those trips, particularly cruises and European vacations, have been canceled and rebooked three or four times.
Reavis has a few tips for travelers looking to getaway in the next few months.
- Get good travel insurance, and know what it covers. While most insurance will cover COVID illness, COVID anxiety is not covered.
- Research COVID testing before you go, as a negative test is required to re-enter the U.S. Some resorts have on-site testing for guests.
- Additionally, some destinations require a negative test to enter, know where and when you’ll need to get tested before departure.