Before the pandemic, work and school schedules largely determined American travel patterns. But now that people can work and learn from anywhere, every weekend can be a holiday. This trend could help airlines manage capacity better and offset demand during peak holidays while giving crews more flexibility with vacation time.
Holidays are no longer fixed guideposts
People used to take a day or two off around a major holiday weekend (like July 4th) because it wasn’t socially acceptable to be in the office those days. Without the urgency to return home, though, there have been fewer spikes and slumps in travel volume.
- Spirit Airlines joked that September was the only month with six weeks since it began on August 15th when kids returned to school. But the days when a big drop-off follows summer travel are gone.
- Fall 2022 was a boom for US airlines as people continued to travel since they could stay connected to work. This fall is likely to be strong as well… even after the summer months see an increase in travelers.
It’s time to wing it
While the airline industry is still figuring out post-pandemic travel patterns, they have identified a few major changes.
- When holidays de-peak, consumers could pay a tighter range of fares. Rather than one person shelling out $2,000 for a ticket and another paying $200 for the same flight, everyone is spending around $500.
- With fewer peaks (and a fall season that doesn’t drop off), airlines might have an easier time scheduling maintenance on planes that would otherwise be unavailable.
- As travel demand smooths out, more crews could take vacation time when they want to — as opposed to when they have to.
Once the airline industry adapts to this new normal, the sky’s the limit for their employees, processes, and revenue.