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Why many Americans are booking holiday flights despite the coronavirus pandemic

Flights home for the holidays might be fuller than anticipated amid a global pandemic, as Americans grow restless from months of quarantining and time spent apart from families.

Airlines and travel industry experts have seen spikes in holiday travel booking during the third quarter and into the fourth quarter as more consumers become more comfortable with flying. And it might have something to do with people simply being tired of not having anyplace to go, industry executives and experts say.

“Pandemic fatigue is absolutely promoting holiday air travel, and that includes flight bookings,” Eric Jones, co-founder of The Vacationer, a travel website, told Fox News on Wednesday.

“Many people have been in quarantine and away from friends and family for many months, so they are willing to take a calculated risk and get on an airplane with proper precautions during this year’s holiday season,” he added.

Budget airline carrier Allegiant Air told investors Wednesday that customers are more optimistic about leisure travel, USA Today reported.

“Based both on what our customers are saying and what our customers are doing, we see a clear divergence in terms of their attitudes toward the pandemic and their intentions towards leisure air travel,” Scott DeAngelo, Allegiant’s chief marketing officer, said, as reported by USA Today. “That is to say, customers believe the situation may once again be getting worse, but their leisure travel activity or their travel booking intent remains largely unchanged.”

The airline in its earnings report last week revealed it has seen a jump in average daily gross bookings, from a little more than $2 million per day during the third quarter to more than $3 million per day currently in the fourth quarter.

And JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes told investors the New York City-based airline is optimistic about steady holiday bookings improving while discussing its third-quarter earnings.

More airlines have expanded coronavirus testing in international destinations ahead of the holiday season, as well. American Airlines on Monday announced passengers traveling to Belize, Grenada, St. Lucia and the Hawaiian islands will now be able to get tested for COVID-19 before they fly starting Nov. 16, with plans to roll out in more destinations. It’s an expansion of a program launched last month, offering testing to those traveling internationally to Jamaica and the Bahamas through a partnership with LetsGetChecked, an at-home health care testing provider. 

The holiday travel season comes on the heels of coronavirus cases spiking across the country, with many states still upholding quarantines and restrictions for travelers coming in and out of state. What’s more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also advises against large-format in-person gatherings for the holidays, suggesting that traveling can increase the risk of contracting or spreading the virus.


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