US Air Travel Trends
- The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed annual U.S. passenger airline traffic to a shocking 36-year low.
- U.S. passenger airlines carried 371 million people in 2020 which is the fewest since 1984, according to new data from the Department of Transportation.
- In December of 2020, passenger traffic on U.S. carriers fell 62% from 2019 to 30.4 million. The annual total was more than 60% lower than in 2019.
- Airlines have said they expect weak demand to continue in early 2021 because of persistent COVID-19 cases and a slow rollout of vaccines, but that travel demand will likely, and hopefully, perk up in the second half of 2021 and early 2022.
- If you’re thinking about traveling in 2021, now is a good time to start making plans and booking flights. With the increased flexibility from almost all airlines. Luckily, there is little to no risk booking flights now with most airlines waiving change fees, and while flight rates being so low and don’t forget ample points and miles award availability.
- This is a great way to take advantage of travel credits, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 annual travel credit or the Platinum Card from American Express’ $200 airline incidental fee credit (DM us on Instagram if you need help using this towards your tickets).
- Points Passport’s Thought: While we’re fairly confident that prices will stay low through at least the middle of summer 2021, there’s certainly a lot of pent up demand to travel. This combined with the drastically decreased capacity from airlines having to cut back, definitely has the potential to cause airfare prices to skyrocket later in the year. Read more about this topic here.
JetBlue Eliminating Change Fees: with a Basic Twist
- JetBlue has announced that they will no longer charge change or cancel fees starting 4/1/21 for most fares.
- All fares booked through 3/31/21 will still enjoy no change or cancel fees. After that, changing or canceling your plans will still be easy, with:
- No change or cancellation fees prior to day of travel for Blue, Blue Plus and Mint fares on all routes (fare difference applies). Same-day confirmed switches can be made for $75, without paying a fare difference.
- No change or cancellation fees (fare difference applies), and free same-day confirmed switches, for Blue Extra fares.
- Blue Basic fares can be changed or canceled for a $100 fee for travel within the U.S., Caribbean, Mexico or Central America, or $200 for all other routes. Same-day confirmed switches can be made for a $75 fee (no fee for Mosaic members), without paying a fare difference.
- BUT here’s the Basic Twist
- JetBlue is eliminating overhead bin carry-on baggage allowance for its Blue Basic fares starting this summer, which applies to flights booked on or after Feb. 25 for travel starting July 20, will limit passengers on a Blue Basic fare to one personal item that fits under the seat in front of them.
- Those traveling on a Blue, Blue Extra, or Mint fares, or who book an "Even More Space" seat on domestic flights will be guaranteed overhead bin space and will receive a $25 credit if it isn't available.
- Other US Airlines such as American Airlines, Delta, and United Airlines have eliminated change fees on flights across the globe in recent months. Read more about these changes here.
United Airlines Launching “Travel Ready Center”
- United Airlines is the first airline to roll out at-airport COVID-19 testing.
- They’ve done so by partnering with Xpress Spas, whose business was essentially shut down due to the pandemic. Now, Xpress who was uniquely positioned, due to having Xpress Spa spaces already within airports, to pivot into the COVID-19 testing space.
- Xpress Check has three zones:
- Testing rooms
- A full-service lab
- United Airlines is capitalizing on this unique opportunity by introducing the United Travel Ready Center app. This digital platform allows passengers to do everything from check local and destination COVID-19 requirements and to schedule a test at the terminal. Whereas before, a traveler may be stuck jumping from page to page on various government websites, United's new app ensures relevant information is attached directly to their ticket based on where they are going. Learn more about Xpress Check and the United Travel Ready Center here.
American Express Announces New Centurion Lounge Location (DCA)
- On February 17, 20201, American Express announced plans for a brand-new Centurion Lounge that’s coming to Washington D.C.’s Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA)
- The 11,500 sqft DCA lounge will be American Express’16th Centurion Lounge
- Design elements will take inspiration from the Washington DC area, similar to how other Centurion Lounges theme their lounges geographically.
- Amenities will be as expected: Premium Bar, Food curated by a local chef, restroom and shower suites, private work areas, and wifi. Everything complimentary as per usual.
- Check out more information on the DCA Centurion Lounge here.
- We use your Platinum Card from American Express to gain entry into the Centurion Lounge with up to two complimentary guests. You can also use the American Express Business Platinum Card, as well as the Centurion personal and business Card and the Delta Skymiles Reserve card.
That wraps up the second Points Passport Travel TLDR, or Too Long Didn't Read! Hope you all enjoyed it and come back next week for Travel TLDR Episode 3, for the week of April 1, 2021! We would love to hear your feedback or any topics you would like us to cover in future episodes. The best way to get in touch with us is on Instagram by DMing us, but you can also contact us on our Facebook and make sure you subscribe to our YouTube.