KSL INVESTIGATES

Gephardt: Why Airfares Aren’t Spiking Despite Increase In Travel To Beach Spots

May 7, 2021, 6:11 PM | Updated: 9:00 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – New numbers showed that air travel demand is back with a bang. In fact, there are some places where Americans were booking at levels well above pre-pandemic numbers. Despite that increase, the KSL Investigators found that airfares were not going up.

According to data from kayak.com, in the past few weeks, popular beach cities like Miami and Ft. Meyers in Florida, and Cancun and Cabo in Mexico, have seen huge spikes in travelers flying in.

The gold lei goes to the city of Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawai’i, where travel booking surged more than 50% above booking levels during the same week in 2019.

“The pent-up demand for travel is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” said Scott Keyes, who runs a discount travel website.

He called it music to the ears of the millions of people who make a living in travel and tourism.

“Trust me, I was sitting there on pins and needles for the past six, eight, nine months,” he said.

Good news for airlines can often mean bad news for consumers’ wallets. The airlines are long-time experts at riding the market, increasing prices with demand, but surprisingly, tropical travelers haven’t seen a spike in airfares, Keyes said.

“You’re actually seeing the opposite,” Keyes said.

He said it was not charity. The airlines still have a lot of planes parked, said Keyes, so they are retooling their route maps with many countries still not allowing travelers in.

“They’re taking many of the planes that used to fly to Tokyo and London and Johannesburg, and they’re flying them now instead to Cancun and Hawaii and Florida,” said Keyes. 

That also helped explain why Cancun, Hawaii and Florida have seen travel surges, while travel numbers still remain down, compared to before the pandemic. 

According to the Transportation Security Administration, most cities have seen fewer travelers than they saw in 2019.

A good example is Thursday, May 6, 2021, when 1,644,050 travelers went through TSA checkpoints. While that is certainly way better than the 190,863 who went through on the same weekday in 2020, it is close to one million fewer than the number that traveled in 2019.

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Gephardt: Why Airfares Aren’t Spiking Despite Increase In Travel To Beach Spots