It’s been, well, an odd summer travel season: road trips have seen a resurgence, most international travel is off the menu, and many popular US destinations for Americans require a 14-day quarantine upon arrival (hello, New York and Hawaii).
Now, with the end of summer right around the corner (it’s been a long March!), we wondered if US travelers might make one last grab for a hint of summer vacay normalcy. But where do Americans go when the usual locales are off limits? Turns out, wherever they can.
Labor Day Weekend Flight Destinations
We analyzed the top 100 destinations for US-origin roundtrip flight reservations made from Jan 1 – Jul 30, 2020, with a travel date between Sep 4 – 8, 2020, and compared that to an equivalent booking and travel window in 2019.
Here’s a look at the top 25:
While large metros continue to rank in the top flight destinations, more interesting is how destinations have shifted in popularity YoY:
While big metros like NYC, SF, Chicago, LA, and ATL still rank in the top 25 destinations, each of these cities have dropped in rank, most notably NYC, which dropped 14 spots — from No. 5 for Labor Day travel in 2019 to No. 19. (Newark dropped 43 spots, from No. 17 in 2019 to No. 60 this year.)
As to be expected, destinations where travel for Americans has been restricted or which have been hit hard by the pandemic have seen some of the largest drops on the list:
Destinations with the biggest rank place increases? Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii dominate the list. (United Airlines recently announced increased service to Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii, despite Hawaii’s two-week quarantine, which is in-place through Sep 1).
Florida this year is claiming the lion’s share (plurality) of Labor Day flight reservations, with 12 percent of all plans including a destination in the Sunshine State. In 2019, Florida’s share of LDW flight reservations was 4 percent, representing a 200 percent year-over-year increase.
The Caribbean and Mexico
After spending the majority of last year recovering from hurricane damage, many Caribbean and Mexico destinations are allowing Americans to visit with the caveat that visitors adhere to strict COVID policies, such as Aruba, which requires in-flight masks and a negative PCR test within 72 hours prior to departure or at arrival.
Originally due to start on August 1, a pre-travel testing program was pushed back and is now scheduled to begin on September 1 (as with the Caribbean, out-of-state travelers will need to show proof of a valid COVD-19 test within 72 hours of departure and show proof of negative result in order to avoid a 14-day quarantine). Meanwhile, United’s announcement that it was planning to increase its services to Hawaii in September is bolstered by the 50 percent YoY increase in flight booking share for Labor Day Weekend travel.
Labor Day Weekend Hotel Destinations
So, what about accommodations? With fewer travelers flying and an increase in road trips, we wondered if hotel reservations might show a more varied destination list than in years prior. As with flights, we analyzed US hotel reservations made from Jan 1 – Jul 30, 2020, with a travel date between Sep 4 – 8, 2020, and compared that to an equivalent booking window in 2019.
We found that Florida cities dominated that list, as well — nabbing 5 out of the top 10 spots, with four (Orlando, Lake Buena Vista, Bay Lake, and Kissimmee) located in the immediate Disney World vicinity. In 2019, only Orlando cracked the top 10.
Methodology: TripIt analyzed the top 100 destination cities for US-origin RT flight and US hotel reservations made from Jan 1 – Jul 30, 2020, with a travel date between Sep 4 – 8, 2020, and compared that to an equivalent booking and travel window in 2019.
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