Spring break travel to top pre-pandemic levels

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 8:49 AM CDT
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(CNN) - The spring break travel rush is on, and the surge in demand is raising concerns as the industry continues to struggle with staffing shortages and aviation incidents.

The Federal Aviation Administration is already warning of a shortage of air traffic controllers that could cause increased delays at New York’s three major airports this summer, where the air traffic control facilities are only 54% staffed.

“We’re seeing it, we’re seeing it with delays, we’re seeing it with cancellations. That is leading some travelers to say, ‘You know what? I would travel more if we could fix that air travel experience,’” U.S. Travel Association CEO Geoff Freeman said.

Spring break travel is expected to top pre-pandemic levels. The latest figures from the travel website Hopper show many travelers are concerned about flight disruptions.

Hopper says 20% of its spring break travelers are buying extra trip protection.

Airfare prices are up 4% compared to 2019.

Even still, industry figures say 158 million Americans will fly for spring break. That is an average of 2.6 million travelers each day.

“We’re expecting this spring break to likely break records for the number of travelers who are getting out there and how much they’re spending, given the huge demand coming out of the pandemic,” Hopper’s lead economist Hayley Berg said.

The top destinations this year are Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Miami.

In Miami, airport demand is 20% higher than in 2019. That is so high that officials are asking people to show up three hours before a domestic flight instead of the typical two hours.