During the holiday shopping season, airlines, cruise lines, and hotels do what almost every other company that sells goods or services to the public does: Black Friday deals.
The only difference is that for travel and hospitality businesses, these offers apply to Americans not to travel in the face of a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More Americans are expected to go on vacation this year than at any point since the pandemic began, despite record numbers of new Covid-19 cases. The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that this Thanksgiving festival should be attended by more than 50 million Americans, although recent outbreaks could suppress that number. Already on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, almost 1.04 million travelers went through airport security. This was the highest day since the pandemic began in mid-March. (Though it’s still less than half of 2019’s 2.3 million travelers on the same day.)
When consumers travel more comfortably, brands want to benefit. Under a Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal, Alaska Airlines is offering $ 29 one-way flights from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and $ 89 from San Francisco to Newark, NJ Southwest, of fall foliage and a pumpkin pie. Norwegian has 30% off deals, plus free WiFi, an open bar, and no fees for children.
While offers exist and demand is low, the airfare this holiday season is actually a little more expensive than last year, according to an analysis by The Points Guy.
“Airline marketers are now caught between the proverbial rock and the tough place,” said Henry Harteveldt, president of aerospace consultancy Atmosphere Research Group. “If you don’t do anything, the bookings come in at a lukewarm pace. If you and your colleagues in the pricing department sell a tariff, it looks bad. “
While it’s the same dichotomy that occurred over the summer – travel brands asking customers to take a trip despite the pandemic – it’s a little different this time around. In fact, cases are growing rapidly, suggesting lockdowns may be imminent.
This time around, however, airlines and cruise brands have far more lenient guidelines for purchasing a ticket. The major US airlines abolished change fees in September, meaning customers have less leniency on their shopping trip. And travel windows are much more flexible: tickets purchased in the Southwest are valid until March, while Alaska has extended its travel window to May, two months longer than 2019.
While Norwegian offers cruises in the first week of January, the cruise industry is still not legally allowed to operate from the United States, according to the CDC. But that didn’t stop the brand from taking a seat during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The ad got some backlash on Twitter, with Harteveldt pointing out that none of the talents are wearing masks, despite cruise lines being hotspots in the early weeks of the pandemic.
Guests who book can cancel up to 15 days before their departure to receive credit for a future cruise.
Additionally, airlines and airports have further expanded guest testing capabilities, which won’t grow until the New Year, and while not foolproof, they are likely to add consumer confidence. The recent news of successful Covid-19 vaccines has also been a boon to the industry. Although it’s unclear when the vaccine will be distributed, airline stocks have grown steadily since Pfizer’s announcement on Nov. 9. The imminent arrival is also likely to have an impact on consumer confidence in booking a trip.