Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

Skyscanner Reads the Tea Leaves on How Americans Will Travel This Year

New report reveals travel trends for summer 2021 using in-depth data and insights

April 28, 2021

Surveys are pouring in for how Americans will travel this summer – where they will go, what will they do, how much they will spend. Skyscanner’s Horizon Report is another in the stack but as one of the world’s largest online travel companies, travel data and insights on the hottest traveler trends for summer 2021 actually hold weight. This one-off, survey of over 5,000 people worldwide provides insights into the hearts and mind of travelers right now, which, in the time of COVID, may be all we have.

The Moving Up Mindset: High Time to Upgrade

• US travelers are choosing to “upgrade” their travel, opting for fares on average 20 percent more expensive than the lowest shown to them for their route, suggesting they are selecting fares with added extras such as flexibility or higher green or covid safety credentials.

• When asked which factors would make them pay for a more expensive flight over a cheaper one, 27 percent said they wanted to upgrade/splurge on their fare, and 28 percent said they’d pay more for flexible travel.

• US travelers are spending less on air travel, with the average fare purchased coming in at 21 percent less than it did pre-pandemic.

“There has been a real shift in the importance of price and value for US travelers. They are spending – on average – less per fare in 2021 than they did pre-pandemic, due to lower prices and a shift to domestic and short-haul travel. However, they are getting more out of each fare by generally ‘upgrading’ from the cheapest option, prioritizing a direct route, flexible fare, a preferred airline or airport of choice over the lowest price. In short, they are spending less and getting more for their money, and we expect this to continue into 2021 as travel providers compete for bookings,” said Mark Crossey, Director of Sales at Skyscanner Americas.

Increasing Confidence in Planning Travel 

• The average booking window for US travelers looking for travel in Summer 2021 is 64 days, suggesting increasing confidence.

• The most popular travel summer months for US travelers are May and June in line with the booking horizon.

• More travelers are looking at trips in May and June than in 2019, with keen vacationers reacting to positivity with the US vaccine rollout.

• 57 percent of survey participants said that they were planning a trip over 14 days in length and 56 percent said they were doing so because they wanted an extended vacation

• 29 percent of survey participants said they will use their next trip to go somewhere they are allowed to travel to (e.g. within the travel corridor).

“Where the pandemic drove people to wait and book their travel very close to their departure date due to uncertainty, we are now seeing this regulate and trend towards a more ‘normal’ timeframe. This is a great display of confidence that travel will return as people once again feel more comfortable enough to plan ahead. This confidence is being driven by a mixture of factors, including the massive efforts being made by carriers to make booking a flexible trip easier and assurances on protected fares,” said Crossey.

• More than half of US survey participants (54 percent), surveyed by Skyscanner in conjunction with OnePoll stated they would be happy to carry digital health information if it allowed them to travel.

• The most popular deterrent for survey participants when considering travel in 2021 was the need to quarantine in any way.

• 30 percent of survey participants said for their next vacation they would be looking to avoid cities/crowds (e.g. the destination makes it easier to social distance).

What’s Hot?

“Our data for 2021 shows that ‘the rise of the second-city’ is going to be a key theme of summer travel,” said Crossey. “This trend has been noted by carriers and vacationers alike, with new airlines emerging to serve smaller routes in the domestic US, and airlines moving capacity to support increased travel to domestic hotspots like Martha’s Vineyard, Jackson Hole and Nantucket.”

Top Family Destinations in 2019 Vs 2021