Hopper says budget domestic airfares are up 34% compared with the summer of 2019. The rise in international fares is not as pronounced. Photo Credit: Ernesto Juan Castellanos/Shutterstock.com
Budget domestic airfares are up 34% for this summer compared with the summer of 2019, according to an analysis by the price-predicting and booking app Hopper.
Hotel prices, meanwhile, are up 36% compared with 2019.
"Americans who haven't booked travel since summer 2019 are in for a shock this summer, with domestic airfare for summer travel averaging $383 roundtrip," wrote Hopper economist Hayley Berg in a report released Tuesday.
Hopper defines budget fares as the lowest 10% of the fare quotes it tracks.
Budget fares will continue to rise seasonally through June, Berg predicted, topping out at between $410 and $420.
Ballooning fuel prices, strong travel demand and reduced airline capacity relative to 2019 are all factors in the high prices. Airlines, Hopper said, are scheduled to fly approximately 2.4 million travelers per day this summer, compared to an average of 2.9 million passengers per day over the summer months of 2019.
Modest rise in international fares
The airfare increase is far less pronounced for international travel, however, with an average roundtrip price for summer of $912, up just 2.5% over 2019.
Hotel rooms, said Hopper, are now averaging $154 per night. Car rentals for summer are costing approximately $60 per day, which is similar to last year, when diminished rental car inventories drove a price surge.
Preparing for an Expanded Alaska 2022 Cruise Season
Last year’s Alaska travel season was far from normal, but cruise lines are gearing up for exciting experiences and itineraries in 2022. Credit: 2022 knelson20.stock/adobe.com
After an abbreviated 2021 cruise season in Alaska, 2022 is looking to be one of the biggest years ever for travel to The Last Frontier.
Greatly supporting the rebound of Alaska cruising is the newly announced reopening of cruise travel in Canada — starting in early April — where many ships embark and disembark Alaskan visitors.
“The completion of this guidance by Transport Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Public Health Agency of Canada and port officials will allow us to sail our Alaska and Canada/New England seasons as planned,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line (HAL). “This is a positive step for everyone who loves to travel to these regions and for all of the businesses in Canada that we support through tourism.”
HAL is particularly excited about this upcoming season because it marks the brand’s 75th year visiting the region, which is longer than any other cruise line. Besides commemorating the anniversary this year, the line will newly feature one or more of Alaska’s famed glacier destinations and showcase several fresh weeklong itineraries between Whittier, Alaska, and Vancouver (roundtrip from Seattle).
Further programming will extend to “Alaska Up Close” cultural events such as EXC (Explorations Central) Talks lecture series, meeting native Alaskans, tasting local food and catching BBC Earth’s “Alaska in Concert."
Cunard Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line's Plans for Alaska
Other Carnival Corporation brands — Cunard Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line — are similarly gearing up for Alaska this year.
“Amidst the myriad choices, Cunard's signature voyage offering, in tandem with the wild frontier of Alaska, is uniquely captivating and distinctive in many ways," said Jamie Paiko, vice president of sales, Cunard North America. "Guests enjoy the line's hallmark experiences and amenities in a large ship environment but with fewer guests on ships of her size. And this year we are excited to debut our new 'Ice White Ball' with 'Taste of Alaska' Gala dining menu.”
Meanwhile, Princess will have six ships in Alaska this year embarking on a dozen itineraries and 140 total departures. The line’s latest Discovery Princess will lead Crown Princess, Grand Princess, Majestic Princess, Royal Princess and Ruby Princess on a variety of routes that will include more than 20 cruise tour options extending shoreside.
The corporation’s most luxurious option, Seabourn, will cater to just 458 guests onboard Seabourn Odyssey in Alaska between Vancouver and Juneau from May to September. Clients can select weeklong one-ways or 14-day roundtrips from the Canadian port of embarkation. Alternatively, there will be four 10- and 11-day options leaving from and returning to Vancouver.
The newly rebranded American Queen Voyages (formerly American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines) is readying to introduce its new Ocean Victory expedition ship in Alaska this year on extensive 12- and 13-day routes. The 186-guest vessel will accommodate deep exploration via kayak and Zodiac.
Lindbland Expeditions, a veteran of Alaska, is set to have four ships in the region for 2022 to offer a wide variety of cruise lengths from six to 15 days between May and September.
“All voyages will provide guests the wild, iconic Alaska experience Lindblad Expeditions has honed over nearly 40 years of expedition discovery,” according to the line. “Guests will witness the exhilarating wildness only accessible via small, nimble ships as they explore deep into remote Alaska — surrounded by extraordinary wildlife and epic landscapes.”
Promising more departures than any other cruise line, UnCruise Adventures is pulling out all the stops. Beginning in April and running all the way until October, the small ship line will sail 14 itineraries across seven vessels.
“April, May and early June are the driest months of the year in Juneau, and due to our maritime climate, are not unduly cold,” said Captain Dan Blanchard, owner and CEO of UnCruise. “This, combined with meeting Alaska towns and people before the summer rush, makes the early season a treat for those who love to explore and step out of the norm.”
The CDC now requires only 90% of cruise ship passengers to be vaccinated for a ship sailing to be considered "highly vaccinated," down from 95%. Photo Credit: Jo Panuwat D/Shutterstock.com
The CDC relaxed a key pandemic-era cruise regulation Thursday, allowing more unvaccinated adults and children to cruise on ships designated as "highly vaccinated."
The regulation now requires 90% of cruise ship passengers to be vaccinated for a sailing to be considered "highly vaccinated." That's down from 95%, according to the CDC's Covid-19 Program for Cruise Ships Operating in U.S. Waters.
That 90% threshold applies to passengers who are 5 years of age and older. Crew vaccination requirements remain unchanged at a 95% threshold.
CLIA said the decision recognizes protective measures cruise ships have taken during the pandemic. A spokeswoman said the change is particularly notable because it will allow for a cruise line to carry more families traveling with children who are not vaccinated.
While the CDC recommends all people 2 years old and older wear masks on public transportation, such as at cruise terminals, the Federal Mask Mandate is no longer in effect. However, port authorities and local health officials may require masks to be worn.
Princess Cruises has announced that three more of its ships are returning to service, including Crown Princess, Island Princess and Royal Princess. This return marks a total of 12 ships, and 80 percent of the fleet, to have resumed cruising since July 2021.
Celebrating the 55th anniversary of the cruise line sailing to the Panama Canal, Island Princess departed on a 14-day “Ocean-to-Ocean Panama Canal” itinerary from Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles on April 27. It will return on a subsequent cruise from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale on May 11. Later, it will sail to Europe for the British Isles, Northern Europe (including Iceland and the Arctic Circle) and Mediterranean voyages.
Royal Princess departed Vancouver on May 2 for back-to-back northbound and southbound cruises to Whittier (Anchorage), offering the “Voyage of the Glaciers” itinerary. Every cruise includes two days of glacier viewing, including Glacier Bay National Park and Hubbard Glacier (southbound) or College Fjord (northbound). Ports of call include Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. These cruises can also be combined with one of the 20 “cruisetour” options with land tours to Denali National Park and Princess Wilderness Lodges.
Crown Princess is scheduled to depart from Seattle on May 7 for 19 seven-day “Inside Passage” cruises to Alaska through September 10. Later, it will move to Los Angeles for a season of California Coast and Hawaii sailings.
Additionally, Coral Princess, Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess are expected to return to schedule on June 16, September 1 and September 24, 2022 respectively.
Renovation of the Royal East Tower is due to be completed by this summer, with a refresh of accommodations in the Royal West Tower to follow shortly after. Photo Credit: Atlantis Paradise Island
Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas is set to embark on a multimillion-dollar renovation, which will include a top-to-bottom revamp of its guestrooms and suites in the Royal towers and a reimagined Atlantis Casino.
Renovation of the property's Royal East Tower is due to be completed by this summer, with a refresh of accommodations in the Royal West Tower to follow shortly after. Both towers will feature new "soothing" design elements that draw inspiration from natural surroundings, including aqua-hued waters, white-sand beaches and coral reefs, Atlantis said.
Included in the overhaul will be the Royal's 4,740-square-foot Bridge Suite, which is on track for completion next year.
The Atlantis Casino, meanwhile, will be receiving various improvements, including more modern finishes and an expansion of its two on-site lounges, which include a high-limit slots lounge and a gaming salon.
The complex is also updating its restaurant offerings, adding renowned chef Michael White to its roster of Michelin-starred culinary partners. (Atlantis Paradise Island has existing fine-dining concepts from Michelin-starred chefs Nobu Matsuhisa and Jose Andres.)
White will spearhead the opening of Italian restaurant Paranza at The Cove, which is expected to debut later this year.
On the casual end, a new Mediterranean-style beachside concession stand, Pita, will be joining the mix. Located near Atlantis' Aquaventure waterpark, Pita will serve shawarma and falafel among other dishes.
Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand (photo by tawatchaiprakobkit/istock/getty images plus/getty images)
Thailand’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) late last week approved the lifting of the RT-PCR testing requirement for international arrivals beginning May 1, 2022, introducing two new entry schemes customized for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.
New entry rules for vaccinated travelers: International travelers who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to show proof of a pre-arrival negative RT-PCR test nor undergo an arrival test. They are still required to register for a Thailand Pass (via tp.consular.go.th) with a certificate of COVID-19 vaccination and an insurance policy with coverage no less than $10,000 (reduced from $20,000).
Once arriving in Thailand, they will be allowed entry and are free to go anywhere in the kingdom.
New entry rules for unvaccinated travelers: International travelers who are unvaccinated or are not fully vaccinated will also no longer be required to show proof of a pre-arrival negative RT-PCR test nor undergo an arrival test. They are required to register for a Thailand Pass with a five-day hotel booking and an insurance policy with coverage no less than $10,000 (reduced from $20,000).
Once arriving in Thailand, they must proceed to undergo the quarantine for five days and undergo an RT-PCR test on Day 5.
Tip: An exception is made for unvaccinated travelers who are able to upload proof of a negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours of travel via the Thailand Pass system, they—like those fully vaccinated—will be allowed entry and are free to go anywhere in the kingdom.
While in Thailand, both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers are advised to strictly follow health and safety standards. Travelers who are experiencing COVID-like symptoms should get tested. If testing positive, they must get the appropriate medical treatment.
If you’re looking to visit Italy this summer and would like to spend the day in Venice, it will cost you about $11.
City officials have enacted a booking system for single-day visitors to the Italian city that includes an entry fee, in a trial run that the government hopes will not temper tourism, but manage it.
“We will be the first in the world to conduct this difficult experiment,” Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said, according to Forbes. Venice had more than 125,000 visitors during Easter weekend, which Brugnaro was grateful for – “a breath of fresh air for the tourism sector” – but added that the popular city needs “a more balanced management of tourism.”
The fee is for single-day visitors only. The entry fee is waived for tourists who stay overnight in one of Venice’s hotels, which already charge a tourist tax.
Tourists who would like to visit for the day without overnight accommodations will need to book their day online and pay three Euros in the offseason and 10 during the summer, or about $3 and $11 in U.S. currency, respectively. The six-month trial could become permanent next year.
Crowds in St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy. (Photo via Getty / Philippe Paternolli)
“The experimental phase begins in June when day tourists will be invited to book through a website that is being set up by the council,” Simone Venturini, Venice’s tourism councilor, said. “Those who book will receive incentives, such as discounts for entering museums. To determine the access fee, we will set a maximum threshold of 40,000 or 50,000 visitors a day.”
(photo by michele ursi/istock/getty images plus/getty images)
Travelers want the pandemic-related policy requirement for a negative COVID test before returning to the U.S. from abroad eliminated, according to Global Rescue’s “Spring 2022 Traveler Safety and Sentiment Survey,” which polled 1,200 of the travel risk and crisis response provider’s current and former members between April 5 and 9, 2022.
A third of travelers (32 percent) say the U.S. government should immediately eliminate the requirement for a negative COVID test for fully vaccinated inbound international travelers to the U.S. while nearly an equal amount (34 percent) say the requirement should be removed for U.S. citizens but not non-citizens. In fact, 15 percent of survey-takers reported that producing a negative COVID-19 test to meet U.S. re-entry requirements is their main travel concern only behind being stranded away from home after testing positive for COVID-19.
The overwhelming majority of travelers (84 percent) are less or much less concerned about travel today compared to the beginning of the pandemic. According to the survey, many travelers believe they no longer need pandemic protocols, including masking and physical distancing. Almost half of the respondents (42 percent) say there are no pandemic-related behaviors they plan to continue unless required. A third (33 percent) of respondents disagree and say they plan to continue masking despite easing of mask requirements.
Note: According to The New York Times, COVID cases are again on the rise in the United States (up 39 percent over the last 14 days). That said, hospitalizations, those in ICUs and deaths are all down over the same period.
Vaccinated travelers with negative pre-departure COVID-19 tests do not need to self-isolate on arrival.
"We look forward to welcoming manuhiri [visitors], family and friends back in May,” said René de Monchy, chief executive of Tourism New Zealand. “New Zealand has plenty to offer international visitors from breathtaking landscapes, rare and remarkable wildlife to our rich culture and heritage; our people and places are what make us unique, and we look forward to sharing this with the world again.”
Do You Have to Be Vaccinated to Enter New Zealand?
Do You Have to Provide a Negative COVID-19 Test Upon Entry?
Yes. Vaccinated American travelers must provide one negative pre-departure test. Accepted tests include PCR tests taken within 48 hours of boarding a flight to New Zealand or LAMP or rapid antigen tests taken within 24 hours of boarding a flight to New Zealand.
Do You Have to Take Rapid Tests Upon Entry?
New Zealand will provide travelers with two complimentary rapid antigen tests upon arrival at Auckland Airport. The first test is to be self-administered after leaving the airport on the first day of arrival. The second test will be taken on day five or six after arrival and can be taken at home or at a hotel.
What Happens If You Test Positive for COVID-19 After Arrival in New Zealand?
Travelers who test positive either on their arrival day or upon their second test on day five or six are required to take a PCR test to confirm their results.
If a traveler tests positive, he or she will be asked to self-isolate in line with the requirements that apply to all community COVID-19 cases in New Zealand.
How Can Americans Get to New Zealand?
One of the best routes from the U.S. is from Los Angeles. Los Angeles to Auckland is a 12-hour nonstop overnight flight. Flights from San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and Honolulu are scheduled to return in 2022.
What About Australians?
Australians will be able to visit New Zealand starting April 12.
JetBlue CEO outlines plans to improve performance, reduce cancellations
A JetBlue plane. CEO Robin Hayes pledged Tuesday to take "swift and significant action" to get the airline's cancellation-plagued operation back on track.
JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes pledged Tuesday to take "swift and significant action" to get the airline's cancellation-plagued operation back on track for the summer flying season.
JetBlue canceled 10% of its scheduled flights during the first three weeks of April. And schedule disruptions this month will take a 6% toll on JetBlue's pretax income margin for the second quarter, the airline reported during an earnings call Tuesday. As a result, JetBlue won't reach profitability this quarter, though it expects June to be a profitable month.
During the call, JetBlue president Joanna Geraghty attributed the troubled operation to a combination of elevated pilot attrition; disrupted pilot training during the winter omicron surge; staffing shortages among air traffic control and the airline's contractors; and severe weather in the Northeast and Florida.
Reducing capacity growth plans
Two weeks ago, JetBlue said it would reduce its schedule by 8% to 10% through the summer to help improve operations. The carrier was more specific on Tuesday, laying out a revised full-year capacity expectation of flat to 3% more than it flew in 2019, compared with its earlier expectation of being up 11% to 15% over 2019.
Reducing capacity, JetBlue said, will add more buffer room throughout the day to make up for operational difficulties and will put less stress on crew resources. In addition, Hayes said that JetBlue will build more resilience and redundancy into its operation at New York JFK, where it will operate approximately 190 flights per day this summer.
Also at JFK, JetBlue said it will redevelop a portion of its Terminal 5 lobby to add more kiosks and open additional space for customers.
Reducing aircraft utilization
With pared-down system capacity, JetBlue plans to reduce its aircraft utilization by double digits for the remainder of the year, chief financial officer Ursula Hurley said. It plans to use the additional fleet flexibility to have more ready spare aircraft on hand in cases of disruptions, and to get ahead of planned aircraft maintenance.
Investing in tech to improve hold times
JetBlue also promised it would reduce call-center hold times by investing in online chat capabilities and support via Apple's iMessage and making improvements in self-service capabilities on its website. In addition, it said it would have its largest ever customer support team in place this summer.
A pledge to improve Newark
Finally, JetBlue said it has trimmed some of its planned growth at Newark to ease congestion there.
Scott Kirby, the CEO of Newark hub heavyweight United, last week called out JetBlue and Spirit specifically, saying their operational failures at Newark were making it more difficult for other airlines to adhere to their own schedules at the capacity-constrained airport.
Few details on the Spirit merger
During the earnings call, Hayes offered little comment on the progress of negotiations with Spirit over a potential merger.
"Our team is working very diligently and very hard to move things along with Spirit," he said, before stating that he wouldn't say any more on the topic.
JetBlue reported a net loss of $255 million for the first quarter. The carrier's first quarter revenue of $1.74 billion was in-line with analyst expectations, according to the investment site Seeking Alpha.
JetBlue stock had plummeted close to 9% in early afternoon trading.
(Photo by mvaligursky/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)
Beginning Sunday, May 1, fully vaccinated visitors flying into Fiji will no longer be required to produce a COVID-19 pre-departure PCR or Rapid Antigen Test, the Fijian Government announced on Friday.
The change applies to all international visitors entering Fiji by air or sea and is a move that is in line with best practice entry requirements among highly vaccinated communities. It will save costs for travelers and make traveling to the Pacific Island destination easier.
From Sunday, May 1, all visitors aged 16 years and above must be fully vaccinated. This change comes as more children globally have access to vaccinations and is to support not only international travelers but Fiji’s local communities. In addition, as of May 1, all international travelers entering Fiji will now only need to follow the below entry requirements:
Be fully vaccinated if they are 16 years old and above with a Fiji recognized dose
Book an in-country COVID-19 RAT prior to departure to Fiji. The test must be completed within 48 – 72 hours of arrival into Fiji. These can be booked at entrytestfiji.com
Have trusted travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage
Brent Hill, Tourism Fiji CEO said, “This is yet another significant step for Fiji, making it easier than ever to travel to our idyllic shores from around the globe. The Fijian Government has continued to respond to data and science, and moved quickly to make these changes, as more countries around the world also relaxed their protocols. There has never been a better, simpler time to come to Fiji than now.”
Known for its white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and year-round tropical warmth, Fiji has welcomed more than 100,000 international visitors since its borders opened back up in December 2021.
Learn more and view the most up-to-date travel information at fiji.travel
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (Photo by LindaYG/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)
Los Cabos Tourism Board has announced a record 13 percent growth in domestic and international visitors during the first quarter of 2022, a surge fueled largely by the destination’s swift response to the pandemic and strict health and safety protocols enforced over the past two years. In 2021, Los Cabos welcomed an approximate 2.8 million travelers achieving a complete recovery of its tourism activity. In March 2022, the destination recorded nearly 325,000 tourist arrivals, with a record increase of 18 percent in arrivals when compared to 2019.
Los Cabos’ business model combining private and public funding allowed the destination to focus on the implementation of state-wide safety measures, heighten its health and security protocols, and enhance its marketing and communication strategy to keep visitors, consumers, industry partners and the local community informed throughout the destination’s phased recovery. The strategic approach led to a significant surge in demand, especially from affluent travelers, which has cemented Los Cabos’ position as Mexico’s popular travel destination.
The U.S. is Los Cabos’ top priority market and American travelers represented about 98 percent of all international travelers that visited Los Cabos in 2021, defying national trends by driving a 5.4 percent growth in visitation from the market. The growth in tourist arrivals led to an expansion of the Los Cabos International Airport, which will increase connectivity with the U.S. by 30 percent to accommodate the steady demand of American travelers. Los Cabos has over 500 weekly flights connecting 26 cities in the U.S. with the destination. A projected growth of 1.3 million seats is expected to be added during the first half of 2022.
Los Cabos Tourism Board forecasts bookings to the destination will remain strong during the spring travel season, with a projected increase of 11 percent in anticipated bookings for the month of April, 22 percent in May and 10 percent in June.
The destination welcomed over 325,000 travelers in March 2022, a record visitation representing an 18 percent increase when compared to 2019. There was 70 percent average hotel occupancy in Q1 of 2022, with an average hotel daily rate of $455, the highest in Mexico. The destination saw a 5.4 percent increase of U.S. travelers in 2021 when compared to 2019, surpassing arrivals of international travelers nationwide and leading the recovery of international travel. There was a 31.6 percent projected increase in seats to Los Cabos from the U.S. over the next six months when compared to 2019. Air connectivity is increasing mainly from Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Denver and New York.
Los Cabos witnessed close to 80 percent growth in arrivals of international travelers via private aviation in 2021 when compared to 2019, representing 26 percent of all air travel activity. Interestingly, 98 percent of all international travelers come from the U.S., Los Cabos’ priority market.
Along with this impressive growth, residents report a change for the better. In a recent report, 58 percent of Los Cabos residents believe that with the tourist growth of the past five years, there is greater awareness in the care of the environment, and 54 percent report more protection of natural resources and regulation on the subject.
This response comes as two new funding measures were announced: The Environmental Sanitation Tax and the Embrace It Contribution. The Environmental Sanitation Tax, led by the municipality of Baja California Sur, calls for approximately $1.69 daily per room, to be collected from visitors by hotels, timeshares and lodging facilities across the destinations. The funding is set to go into effect on June 1, and will support government investment on environmental infrastructure, sustainability practices, and safety and security, among other projects.
Additionally, the reinstatement of the Embrace It Contribution went into effect earlier this year. Initially launched in 2019 under the name Fund for a Sustainable Baja Sur, the program was paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was reintroduced in February 2022 as the Embrace It Contribution. All international travelers visiting the state of Baja California Sur for more than 24 hours are asked to contribute approximately $20 to support key initiatives needed to support statewide infrastructure, social projects and the overall economic progress of the people that live and work in Los Cabos. Contributions can be made via the state’s website or at the kiosks installed at SJD International Airport.