The coronavirus has turned the airline industry upside down over the last few months, and a dramatically reduced flight schedule remains in place for all U.S. and foreign carriers. Of course, fewer flights means fewer seats available, but you’re probably figuring that since there will also be fewer travelers, you won’t have difficulty finding a seat(s) at a reasonable price for your annual Thanksgiving getaway to visit friends or family.
Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to how airlines will be handling the expected increased surge of passengers in late November, but if you want to be assured of not being crammed into an aircraft without the social distancing that’ll make you more comfortable in terms of personal space and increased COVID safety, you’ll want to book your flights as soon as possible. Granted, the increase in holiday bookings won’t be like the historical norm, but with fewer flights meaning fewer seats, there is no time to waste if you want to be able to get out of town.
All carriers are adjusting their inventory based on the latest booking patterns, so higher demand routes will obviously offer more flight options. If you live in a spoke market, i.e. Duluth, LaCrosse, Fargo, you can safely assume that your choice of flights will be more limited. If your origination airport is the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), you should have an abundance of Delta non-stops from which to choose, as well as flights from United, American, Spirit, Frontier, Sun Country, Alaska and Southwest Airlines. But keep in mind, with Delta and Southwest restricting how many seats they offer on each flight with middle seats blocked at least through January 6, 2021, the prime flights will fill up quickly.
According to Hopper’s Holiday Travel Confidence Report, 55 percent of those surveyed indicated that Thanksgiving will be their first time flying since COVID19 appeared on the world stage. Overall, just 39 percent of people are planning a Thanksgiving getaway, far below historical norms, while another 21 percent said that they usually travel at this time of year, but in 2020 will be staying home.
But don’t let these survey results keep you from making your reservations soon. Airfares will be going up as the peak Thanksgiving travel dates quickly approach. More and more potential travelers will decide to fly next month, relying on airlines to get them to their destination safely by requiring masks for everyone, as well thoroughly cleaning their aircraft to prevent the pandemic from throwing a wrench into your plans.