May 18, 2024

Airlines Cash In as Flexible Work Changes Travel Patterns

“We know that travelers, many of them, have not traveled either home for the holidays or for traditional vacations for three years now, and we know that demand is going to be incredibly high,” she said.

United said this week that even demand between Thanksgiving and Christmas was growing, with sales for flights during the first two weeks of December ahead of where they were in 2019.

Deals may still be available, if travelers are flexible on when and where they fly. Some flights abroad are notably cheap around Thanksgiving, for example. But even those flights are selling fast.

While the recovery in international travel and corporate travel, two profitable parts of the business, has lagged behind that of domestic travel over the past two years, airlines say both are rebounding steadily.

In some cases, the two are intertwined: At United, corporate travel is recovering faster on flights across the Atlantic Ocean than within the United States, the airline’s chief commercial officer, Andrew Nocella, said on Wednesday’s call.

“A Zoom meeting is simply less practical in a global setting,” he said.

The international rebound is driven by a strong U. S. dollar and a continued reopening of borders around the world. Delta said last week that it had more flights scheduled across the Atlantic this month than in October 2019, leading the rebound in other regions. Delta and United said they expected a rapid rise in demand for travel to Japan after its recent reopening.

At American, the rise of blended trips and travel by small and medium-size businesses has more than offset a slower rebound in travel by typically larger corporations. That’s because the people flying those blended and small-business trips are increasingly buying tickets that yield higher profits for the airline or are interested in valuable perks, like premium seats, branded credit cards or the airline’s loyalty program.

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