Flight bookings see significant jump in March as vaccine rollout continues

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Flight bookings surged in March as an increasing number of consumers continue to get vaccinated and regain confidence in travel, according to new data. 

Bookings grew 111% throughout the month compared to the weeks leading up to the vaccine rollout, between Nov. 30 and Dec. 13, according to Adobe. 

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As more people continued to get vaccinated, travel confidence increased. Bookings spiked in March when compared to the first two months of 2021 – 60% higher than in February and nearly 80% higher than in January. Hotel bookings reflected the same trend, with the industry experiencing an increase of 41% compared to February and 54% compared to January, according to Adobe. 

Consumers are also gaining confidence in committing to future trips and are booking flights nearly a month (about 26 days) in advance. 

A traveler walking down the aisle of a commercial airplane. (iStock)

"This is up from 20 days in July 2020, when travel happened more out of necessity," Adobe said. 

Regionally, however, Adobe's data revealed that residents from the Northeast were "more hesitant to travel" compared to other areas of the country. Bookings originating from the area were 56% of pre-pandemic levels in January 2020 compared to 63% in the West, 70% in the South and 75% in the Midwest. 

However, the Northeast is also seeing an increase, about 3.2%, for every 1% increase in vaccinations, according to Adobe. 

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Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) continues to report increased traffic at airports nationwide. 

Since March 11, airports have seen more than 1 million people pass through security checkpoints nationwide each day, far surpassing the lows of last April when passenger volumes were down 96%. It was a level not seen since the 1950s, according to Airlines for America, the industry trade group representing major U.S. carriers. 

Although air travel has spiked a few times throughout the year, mainly around the holiday season, it's still far below pre-pandemic levels. 

For example, flight bookings are down 22% and hotels are down 18% compared to March 2019, Adobe said. 

Still, the uptick in numbers recently is a welcome relief for the battered industry that has lost billions in revenue over the past year. For instance, the six biggest U.S. airlines lost $34 billion in 2020, and Southwest suffered its first full-year loss since Richard Nixon was president. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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