How Are Transatlantic Flights Still So Full?!?

How Are Transatlantic Flights Still So Full?!?

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I’m not sure I can really make sense of the travel landscape anymore…

Transatlantic demand still through the roof

Back in June I wrote a post entitled “The Summer Of Non-Existent Airline Award Seats.” I’ve been monitoring award availability religiously for 15+ years, so I think I have a reasonable perspective on demand trends and award availability.

As I’m sure so many people can relate to, this past summer was simply unprecedented when it came to travel demand, especially across the Atlantic. As the world continued to open up, people were ready to travel like it was 2019, and then some.

Common scenes at airports this summer

I’ve booked thousands of award tickets in my life (mostly for others), and I had never seen as little award space across the Atlantic as we saw this past summer. Almost all my tricks and strategies, including waiting until the last minute, proved less fruitful than ever before.

The way it has historically worked, Labor Day marks the end of the busy summer travel season for leisure demand, as kids go back to school. That’s when the passenger mix shifts from leisure travelers to business travelers.

I figured award seats would be much easier to come by, but even now in the second half of October, I’ve never seen a fall season with so little premium transatlantic award space. Here’s the thing — it’s not that airlines are suddenly stingy with award availability, but rather I’m seeing flight after flight more or less sold out in business class.

Yes, we’re even talking jets with 50-80 business class seats, where you could historically easily snag an award at the last minute. And let’s not even talk about first class award availability (primarily on Lufthansa), where I’m seeing flight after flight either sold out or with just one seat for sale.

How are transatlantic flights still so full?!

Can someone help me understand who’s traveling?

You’d think that there would be a lot of factors pushing transatlantic demand down:

  • Business travel still hasn’t fully recovered compared to pre-pandemic, at least according to most insights I’ve seen (though it’s moving in the right direction)
  • With the USD so strong and the EUR and GBP so weak, you’d think that US-bound demand would be way down, as traveling to the United States is much less affordable for Europeans right now
  • With the number of Americans who traveled to Europe this past summer (many for the first time), you’d think that they got it out of their system, and wouldn’t be traveling right now
  • With kids back in school, that largely takes family travel out of the equation
  • Many airlines have restored pre-pandemic levels of transatlantic service for this fall, so it’s not even that capacity is way down, and that’s just causing flights that do operate to be full

Is there some major factor I’m missing here? The only theory I can come up with is that a lot of these travelers are people who booked their tickets several months ago, and that this is part of the same travel craze we saw over the summer. Maybe these are some of the leisure travelers without kids who decided not to travel to Europe this summer, and instead waited for the fall, hoping things would be quieter and cheaper.

I can’t help but wonder if this current level of demand is simply never going to stop, or if it’s going to fall off a cliff shortly:

  • I have to imagine there has been a decrease in new bookings originating in Europe, given the currency situation
  • Once we get into November and December, there are fewer leisure destinations in Europe that people visit, especially coming from the United States; in October you can still go to just about all hotspots (it’s an ideal time for France, Greece, Italy, Spain, etc.), while a lot closes and becomes less pleasant in the coming weeks
  • While demand is still robust right now, I find it interesting how Lufthansa recently suspended several transatlantic routes for the winter season, suggesting to me that demand isn’t looking so good in the future
  • Then there’s the bigger picture question of the overall economy; personally I’ve assumed a big adjustment would be coming sometime soon, but here we are
Is some Lufthansa first award space too much to ask for? 😉

Bottom line

There was a lot of talk about how transatlantic demand would drop off after Labor Day, as people go back to school, and the traditional summer travel season ends. However, that doesn’t at all match what I’m observing, based on both revenue and award availability trends.

I’m still seeing transatlantic flights full in a way I’ve never seen before this time of year, particularly in premium cabins. I’d love to hear what OMAAT readers make of this, and if this matches what others are seeing.

At this point I’m not sure if demand is just never going anywhere, or if we’re in for a big adjustment shortly, as we get into November.

What’s your take on how full transatlantic flights are right now?

Conversations (161)
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  1. Of course Guest

    Transatlantic is not the worse for premium award availability; look at Europe to Asia and you'll see it's much worse, unfortunately.

  2. Chris C Guest

    My wife and I just got off a flight from Barcelona to Atlanta. There were a TON of older people who looked to be in their 70s and 80s and many of them appeared to know one another. Also saw a large tour bus unload at BCN as we got there. Perhaps these tour companies pushed out the trips to later Oct anticipating the Summer surge you referenced. Not many scheduling commitments to work around...

    My wife and I just got off a flight from Barcelona to Atlanta. There were a TON of older people who looked to be in their 70s and 80s and many of them appeared to know one another. Also saw a large tour bus unload at BCN as we got there. Perhaps these tour companies pushed out the trips to later Oct anticipating the Summer surge you referenced. Not many scheduling commitments to work around for the retired audience.

    Just an antidotal theory - and yes, our plane was completely full.

  3. Deccno Guest

    From my personal bubble I can see an extreme pent-up demand. People are doing those USA holidays they planned on doing sometime. The pandemic changed perspectives, people want to go while they can.

  4. Tom Guest

    On the other hand many people are deterred by the huge increases in hotel and restaurant prices. So even if you can get a decent fare on a flight to, say, London, you are facing paying $500 for a hotel that was $200 3 years ago. Whilst restaurants there want $100 a head for anything decent.

    That effect is probably putting a lid on demand. No point in a cheap flight to somewhere that is going to cost you a grand a day in expenses.

    1. Firsttotheleft Guest

      That hotel was $200 last December…
      To be fair London is the most expensive big tourist city in Europe. almost anywhere else is far more reasonable. Hotels are really high right now though everywhere.

  5. tassojunior Guest

    In spite of the increased demand airlines:
    1) Still have the smaller planes they substituted during lockdown
    2) Still have not restarted flights suspended during covid
    3) Are still cutting off seasonal flights on schedule
    =packed fall.
    Winter will collapse as normal. Already some routes are.

  6. Ted Guest

    We just got back from a Trip to Italy (Rome and Tuscany) in early October - it was packed everywhere we went. America is definitely traveling to Europe right now. I think people want to take their trips that have waited for the past 2+ years and also strong US dollar and theory that things would be calmer and more pleasant now that summer is over. The weather was pleasant but everything else was nuts....

    We just got back from a Trip to Italy (Rome and Tuscany) in early October - it was packed everywhere we went. America is definitely traveling to Europe right now. I think people want to take their trips that have waited for the past 2+ years and also strong US dollar and theory that things would be calmer and more pleasant now that summer is over. The weather was pleasant but everything else was nuts. I had booked a return from AMS-SFO for business and changed to LHR-JFK-SFO to avoid the mess at AMS, but it cost 108,000 AA miles for Business each (KLM flight was 98,000 flying blue miles) - basically double what it normally costs and I felt lucky to find two seats. The Hyatt Tribune in Rome was sold out and the list I saw printed out at breakfast was half Globalists. It is a very busy time right now due to COVID delayed travel - it is NOT at at all the usual Fall travel lull. I guess if you want to go now, you have to pay up.

  7. Weymar Osborne Gold

    Just thought I'd throw my own data point out there. I made a round-trip award booking from the US to Munich at the end of September, with the outbound being DAY-ORD-MUC on September 24 and the return being MUC-FRA-EWR-CMH on September 28. I only booked those tickets on September 22, so just two days before my departure. I had other TATL options as well, including Austrian from VIE to all of IAD, EWR, and ORD...

    Just thought I'd throw my own data point out there. I made a round-trip award booking from the US to Munich at the end of September, with the outbound being DAY-ORD-MUC on September 24 and the return being MUC-FRA-EWR-CMH on September 28. I only booked those tickets on September 22, so just two days before my departure. I had other TATL options as well, including Austrian from VIE to all of IAD, EWR, and ORD and LOT out of WAW, although the connections to and from Munich were very inconvenient so I didn't look further into those options. I did find that Oneworld and SkyTeam availability was much worse, but I had plenty of options on Star Alliance.

    1. Weymar Osborne Gold

      I also figure it's worth noting that I had empty seats next to me in Business Class both ways.

  8. Lune Gold

    A lot of other commentators have mentioned economic reasons why TATL flights are so full right now (pent-up demand, people cashing out gains from the stock market / real estate / cryptos, etc).\

    But I'd like to point out another factor: for ultra-long haul destinations, most people can fly east or west. For example, to go to India from the US, it's about the same time going east through Europe / ME or west through...

    A lot of other commentators have mentioned economic reasons why TATL flights are so full right now (pent-up demand, people cashing out gains from the stock market / real estate / cryptos, etc).\

    But I'd like to point out another factor: for ultra-long haul destinations, most people can fly east or west. For example, to go to India from the US, it's about the same time going east through Europe / ME or west through Asia. And going to Australia is similar dynamics.

    When TPAC capacity is basically nonexistent, a lot of transiting passengers have to go through Europe. That TATL business class seat might not be taken by a new leisure traveler. It might be someone who usually takes Cathay to Bangalore who must now transit through FRA or LHR.

  9. Emily Guest

    My business travel did not cease nor lessen during or after the pandemic. The same is true for friends and colleagues from my industry. If anything, business is up post(ish)-pandemic so travel for work has increased beyond the level pre-pandemic. I suppose that there are many who do fall in the same category as me.

    1. Nelson Member

      "travel for work has increased beyond the level pre-pandemic."
      Well, lucky for you but that's certainly not the case in Europe.

  10. Xaver Mooshammer Guest

    My very personal idea: It's still a supply shortage. LH at least had cancelled 1000s of flights earlier this year, due to lack of workforce, on board and on ground. Quite a few of them will have been to north america. The 380s are returning only now. Similar for AMS and LHR. I don't think a few Norsk 320s to DUB can make that up...

  11. Aman Guest

    I reckon we will see an adjustment. When I flew from Doha to Geneva a few months ago, I noticed a change in the passenger profile vs pre-pandemic- fewer business travellers. What we are seeing is pent up demand that will dissipate.
    Also the reduction in business travel demand will be a structural change. Let’s not forget also that many airlines have yet to restore their full pre-pandemic capacity due to operational reasons or...

    I reckon we will see an adjustment. When I flew from Doha to Geneva a few months ago, I noticed a change in the passenger profile vs pre-pandemic- fewer business travellers. What we are seeing is pent up demand that will dissipate.
    Also the reduction in business travel demand will be a structural change. Let’s not forget also that many airlines have yet to restore their full pre-pandemic capacity due to operational reasons or quite simply to optimise yields and profitability.
    From India, fares to the US and Europe are already back to pre-pandemic levels November onwards.

  12. Maryland Guest

    It's the new roaring 20's. Spend it fast while you've got it. And in this century the *investments* are in experiences and yourself. Hoping history does not repeat.

  13. Mike Guest

    Here’s a tip - book your ticket starting in Europe .
    I booked Dub to San in April round trip on AAL in biz class for $1500 USD round trip.
    I’m paid for one way to get to Dub, used miles for the 4 th leg coming home on my second trip in September.

  14. David Statham Guest

    I simply couldn’t afford to travel to the USA for a holiday at present due to the fx rate

  15. Anthony Diamond

    I see a lot of mention of "inflation." Inflation is only an issue if you don't have the money in real terms to spend. Much of the traveling public has money, miles, travel credit, access to credit, etc. So in that environment, "inflation" may accelerate travel (you want to spend your money before the cost goes up) and shifts spending (to Europe, etc). Inflation is driving prices for hotels and travel up, and availability for...

    I see a lot of mention of "inflation." Inflation is only an issue if you don't have the money in real terms to spend. Much of the traveling public has money, miles, travel credit, access to credit, etc. So in that environment, "inflation" may accelerate travel (you want to spend your money before the cost goes up) and shifts spending (to Europe, etc). Inflation is driving prices for hotels and travel up, and availability for points redemptions down, much faster than it will actually destroy demand.

  16. Firsttotheleft Guest

    Heathrow passenger cap hasn’t helped.
    Just got back from three weeks in uk, France, Italy - all in major cities. Zero travel or luggage problems. Everything full and very busy. Lots of Americans. Florence was like New Orleans Mardi gras packed.
    No problems getting reservations at top restaurants. Luxury goods stores eager to sell. Strong dollar a huge godsend. Still not a Rolex available anywhere - Checked about a dozen dealers in every...

    Heathrow passenger cap hasn’t helped.
    Just got back from three weeks in uk, France, Italy - all in major cities. Zero travel or luggage problems. Everything full and very busy. Lots of Americans. Florence was like New Orleans Mardi gras packed.
    No problems getting reservations at top restaurants. Luxury goods stores eager to sell. Strong dollar a huge godsend. Still not a Rolex available anywhere - Checked about a dozen dealers in every country and airport.
    Got Room upgrades at a couple 5 star hotels out of seven. Plenty of staff everywhere.
    Cant wait to go back, thankfully have reward BA club suites in April. Usually only go if we can snag first.
    Flights 110% full. Cant even buy first class. That’s different.

  17. 9volt Member

    A lot of it can be attributed to vouchers, travel banks, and miles that were redeposited due to cancelled flights and closed countries from the pandemic. Now that everything is basically back open, passengers are resuming their postponed travel using their vouchers and what not.

  18. chris New Member

    There are multiple data points but more remote work and homeschooling than ever are probably high up on that list.

  19. Sam A Guest

    Forget about award seats, I can't even pay full freight to buy a seat in First - you think it's maybe an error and there will be an upgrade available at the airport. Nope, every seat in every cabin is full. And I'm now paying more for Business than what I used to pay for First.

  20. DirectAisle Guest

    Ben,

    I was also shocked when looking for LH availability via any NA hub to FRA or MUC in late Sep. Day of, literally as I was heading to the airport one seat opened but nothing like the usual set your swiss watch by it 10 days out.

    Its insane.

  21. Andy 11235 Guest

    Yeah, remember for three years Americans were trapped in their own country. Not only are we finally able to travel, but the government printed thousands of dollars and airdropped them into our bank accounts. Sure, inflation is soaring, but that's only because the economy is still strong, and families have three years of travel savings to splurge. In the chaos of the summer, I saw many coworkers postpone travel to the fall, under the assumption...

    Yeah, remember for three years Americans were trapped in their own country. Not only are we finally able to travel, but the government printed thousands of dollars and airdropped them into our bank accounts. Sure, inflation is soaring, but that's only because the economy is still strong, and families have three years of travel savings to splurge. In the chaos of the summer, I saw many coworkers postpone travel to the fall, under the assumption that even if it were busier than usual, airports would at least be functional. Add into the equation the relative collapse in value of the euro and pound, and it really should come as no surprise that flights to europe are still packed.

  22. JuanL Guest

    It's not only an increase in demand. It's also a decrease in available flights. For instance a few years ago it was easy to find multiple carriers flying from Atlantic Canada to England and do a little deal shopping. Now it's basically just West Jet and Air Canada and West Jet doesn't fly there over the Winter months. We had no choice this year except Air Canada.

    1. Santastico Gold

      Forget about flights. European cities are packed like never before. You can’t get a reservation at good restaurants, hotels are sold out, streets are jam packed. Americans are traveling like there is no tomorrow. And BTW, nobody wears a stupid mask in Europe, different them many zombies still wearing in the US.

    2. Jason Guest

      Why are you judging people who desire to protect themselves? It’s all about personal choice and comfort levels and personal experience. Why do you have to be ugly about it? And I’ve been in Europe for 2 weeks. I’ve seen plenty of people, including the czech-born tour leader on the river cruise I’ve been on, as well as plenty of the European staff on the ship, wearing masks now and then. I don’t wear a...

      Why are you judging people who desire to protect themselves? It’s all about personal choice and comfort levels and personal experience. Why do you have to be ugly about it? And I’ve been in Europe for 2 weeks. I’ve seen plenty of people, including the czech-born tour leader on the river cruise I’ve been on, as well as plenty of the European staff on the ship, wearing masks now and then. I don’t wear a mask but I have no problem with people who choose to for whatever reason they choose. Who are you to judge then? Why be nasty?

  23. Santastico Gold

    Just came from a week in Paris for work. Unbelievably busy. Americans everywhere as well as Chinese. Hundreds of people in line outside designers stores in the rain waiting hours to spend thousand$ on those stores. Restaurants fully packed and impossible to get a reservation. Hotel was sold out and got zero upgrade as a Hyatt Globalist.

    1. Air Mika Guest

      Chinese? Aren’t many cities going in and out of lockdowns?

      International flights from China are a fraction of what they used to be and ridiculously expensive.

      I didn’t expect Chinese travelers…

    2. Jason Guest

      I’ve seen a ton of Korean visitors during my last two weeks in Europe. Maybe you’re confusing the two? Some Singaporeans, but nowhere near the numbers of Chinese travelers that were common pre-Covid.

  24. Leo Liang Guest

    Well, last CAN-AUH flight in J only got 1 pax

  25. Jason Guest

    I’ve been in Europe for 2 weeks, 1.5 of which has been on a luxury riverboat cruise with my parents who are retirees. The whole tour is full of retirees. They all paid cash for biz class flights from the US. I’m seeing the same thing on all of our stops. So it’s a lot of this. We started in Rome 2 weeks ago and the city was absolutely packed with tourists from all over....

    I’ve been in Europe for 2 weeks, 1.5 of which has been on a luxury riverboat cruise with my parents who are retirees. The whole tour is full of retirees. They all paid cash for biz class flights from the US. I’m seeing the same thing on all of our stops. So it’s a lot of this. We started in Rome 2 weeks ago and the city was absolutely packed with tourists from all over. This particular river tour has a lot of people whose trips were rescheduled 2 years for covid. So you’re seeing a lot of that. Wealthy retirees. A big component of this. I’ve been monitoring award availability for my return to the US this weekend and they’re starting to open a little up but definitely close in and sparse.

  26. Chris Guest

    I fly on UAL as a space available pass rider most of the time. I just returned from Madrid to San Francisco in the 2nd week of October and standby was crazy. There were no seats for several days. Forget even dreaming about business class.
    I was so thrilled when I got the last seat on a Monday....a center seat in the 2nd to last row!

  27. Experienced Traveller Guest

    Airlines want cash to make up for last 2 years , so they are not focused on giving award flights and have plenty of passengers for now . People have cash from no flights over 2 years , for now , but wait till 2023 , situation will change as inflation is biting especially in Europe . In 2023 demand will drop and flight prices reduce slightly , depends on oil price

  28. Mr Kenneth Michael Hughes Guest

    Just had 2 weeks in Croatia and a week in Bosnia, lots of American tourists .

  29. Tim Guest

    One of the main reasons is that airlines are still not running full schedules and where they are the frequency is less. Equally they are using smaller planes. One isolated example. BA used to run two flights a day from London to Philadelphia. At least one of these was a 747. Now they have only one flight a day which is a 777-300. Assuming the plane was reasonably full this is 350 seats a day...

    One of the main reasons is that airlines are still not running full schedules and where they are the frequency is less. Equally they are using smaller planes. One isolated example. BA used to run two flights a day from London to Philadelphia. At least one of these was a 747. Now they have only one flight a day which is a 777-300. Assuming the plane was reasonably full this is 350 seats a day missing in two directions. This is almost 2500 per week in each direction. Now start multiplying this around the world.

    The same is true in flying from Europe to Australia or New Zealand. How many flights each week would have gone via Hong Kong or China - and they have been none for some 2 years. This has taken thousands of seats out on a daily basis - Cathay had at least 4 or 5 flights a day from HK to Australia and Auckland alone!

    In the US flights have continued to be cancelled for all sorts of reasons and capacity limits at Schiphol airport amongst others all add up to keeping flight prices up and available seats down. The airlines have little incentive to change while they get billions of dollars in support from governments to protect jobs and then lay off experienced staff to cut costs and boost profits. Then they suddenly find when travel comes back they do not have enough staff and the ones they do have do not have the experience to cope.

  30. Dan Guest

    I work in the airline industry and I’m so confused, too. All I hear on the news is “INFLATION!!!!!” yet people are spending money like it’s nothing

    1. George Romey Guest

      Correction, they're spending all that available credit limit on their credit cards.

  31. Nightliner Guest

    It's not only TATL - I've looked into availability at TK flts now for weeks to SE Asia....weirdly Y is wide open while C shows 0 often in all classes (paid, that is, not looking at awards here).

    Don't know what's happening...

  32. John D Guest

    Booking for next July/August to the UK. Pricing and award availability are off the charts, literally. You’re ‘spot on’! All changed since Covid. Gotta be ‘fleet of foot’ and willing to find unusual itineraries. Who would have thought SFO to YVR to LGW?
    Gonna try Air NZ’s ‘Skycouch’ idea. Half the cost of Business between SFO and AKL but at the price Business was pre-Covid. Write about the Air NZ CEO saying it now costs double to fuel a B787 than before Covid.

  33. YY Fung Guest

    Ben, it’s not only the transatlantic, but also transpacific. The ward tickets from NA to Asia experience the same situation.

  34. Todd Guest

    Hey Ben,

    I am sure you would award space in coach, oh wait your a snob you don’t do coach

    1. Colin Guest

      It’s your. Not your.

    2. Bob Brooks Guest

      Lol, I see you corrected it below but oh my goodness this was hilarious seeing you trying to tell someone off and failing so badly. Made my day, thank you for YOUR efforts

  35. InLA Guest

    We’ve just completed 2 months of travel in Europe through many, many countries. The simple answer is that there are a ton of Americans, like us, traveling everywhere. They are all catching up on two years of trips, cruises, etc., that were cancelled due to Covid. It should level off, but maybe not until AFTER next summer. There was so little capacity this summer that the spill over will go through next summer. So it’s...

    We’ve just completed 2 months of travel in Europe through many, many countries. The simple answer is that there are a ton of Americans, like us, traveling everywhere. They are all catching up on two years of trips, cruises, etc., that were cancelled due to Covid. It should level off, but maybe not until AFTER next summer. There was so little capacity this summer that the spill over will go through next summer. So it’s better to book now for next summer. But you are still going to have hun now for the bargains for next summer and be flexible.

  36. Darren C Diamond

    The answer? Because Asia, Oceania, South America, and Africa were closed in the Spring and Summer, with some countries still not opened. Americans all flocked to Europe, overwhelming the tiny continent.

    Europe opened up early, so I took Business class flights in May, then June, then July.

    Once hotels and resorts fully reopen in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, etc., TPAC and southern TATL flying will be back to normal, probably by February.

    1. Nelson Member

      Don't know about Asia and Oceania but untrue for Africa and certainly not South America. Flew both several times without any problem.

  37. CPDC10-30 Guest

    Prague is absolutely full of Americans right now. Mostly folks 50-60+.

  38. Dan C Guest

    Could it also be that with covid some small segment of the population is unwilling to spend a long-haul flight in economy (whereas they otherwise were willing to in 2019 and prior)? I could easily see some people rationalizing paying up for J given the additional personal space and perceived reduced risk.

  39. Lou Guest

    I'm 26 and thanks to this blog have 10 separate 9+ hour saver business segments booked the next 365 days. There are probably thousands of other readers just like me, and supply is limited.

  40. Chase Guest

    Does Asia being partly/largely closed off have anything to do with it? If Americans and Europeans couldn’t until very recently fly to Japan or Taiwan and with China still being closed all the demand for those destinations has to go somewhere?

  41. David Guest

    My wife an I are a couple of folks making life harder for the rest of you....we are paying to fly trans Atlantic Business Class these days...we didn't in the past . A few reasons:
    1. For us, economy class has gotten SO horrible that it became the most miserable and stressful part of any trip. We dread it.
    2. When we did start to travel again, when the pandemic was winding down,...

    My wife an I are a couple of folks making life harder for the rest of you....we are paying to fly trans Atlantic Business Class these days...we didn't in the past . A few reasons:
    1. For us, economy class has gotten SO horrible that it became the most miserable and stressful part of any trip. We dread it.
    2. When we did start to travel again, when the pandemic was winding down, we rationalized it was slightly safer to upgrade to business class rather than being elbow to elbow with several hundred people...and the experience was so superior that we can't go back behind the curtain again, even if it means cutting a few corners elsewhere.
    3. Pent-up travel demand also means pent-up travel budget. We retired 5 years ago and gave ourselves a generous travel allowance...since we weren't able to expend those funds until recently we have a lot of flexibility now. And, other than 2023 our retirement nest egg has done pretty well, which has allowed us to spend more on airfare than we ever imaged we would.

    I think our story is the same as a lot of old fogies....the airlines are delighted to sell us business class ticket rather than to give them away, and if you plan well enough ahead you can ride up front for a reasonable unreasonable amount of money (i.e R/T SFO/Rome for $2200).

    So, sorry you guys...I guess.

  42. CXTraveller Member

    I booked back in Feb this year for the Sep 2022 flights for two in biz class IAH-CDG-WAW on Air France at the lowest possible miles easily, and at that time, I didn't book the return since I wasn't sure I wanted a 1 week or 2 week trip. Fast forward to May-June this year, I decided to do 2 weeks and started looking for the return flights - couldn't find any reasonable rates. At...

    I booked back in Feb this year for the Sep 2022 flights for two in biz class IAH-CDG-WAW on Air France at the lowest possible miles easily, and at that time, I didn't book the return since I wasn't sure I wanted a 1 week or 2 week trip. Fast forward to May-June this year, I decided to do 2 weeks and started looking for the return flights - couldn't find any reasonable rates. At the end, I booked premium economy on BA.

    My observation is that there're more leisure travelers on biz class than ever before, and I believe one of the reason (addition to all the ones mentioned by others already) is that people wanted to avoid sitting close to strangers for hours on a plane when traveling; thus, folks are more willing to spend a bit more to be more comfortable.

    I'm starting to look for next summer flights to Europe. Wish me luck!

    1. Harry Guest

      My very recent experience with Flying Blue, you better track the calendar to the minute your date comes available and book. Also I took the position of having several gateway cities in mind either Air France or KLM. My thinking positioning flights whether outbound or return would be cheaper than the transcon part. Now you do have some taxes, but not that bad. Good Luck!

  43. Andrew Guest

    Hi, its still post pandemic travelling. People are splurging on flights now just because they have been inside for a couple of years.
    Travelling will change a lot in 2023 when people run out of money due to inflation, higher interest rates, etc.

  44. Nate Guest

    Maybe it's too many people with points chasing too few biz class award seats.

    If so, then I would get ready for point deval.

    Similar to lounge overcap. Too many people with lounge access built up during covid with cc signups chasing too few lounges. So they devalued and are continuing to devalue lounge access overall since raising prices won't fix.

  45. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Round Trip from DFW to Geneva through Madrid on Iberia booked through AA directly was over $16,000 for Business Class. That's LUDICROUS. And last month RT DFW to Zurich through PHL was over $14,000 for Business Class. PURE INSANITY.

  46. Anthony Joseph Guest

    Ben, there are a couple of things in your article that are not totally correct.
    - with IATA rules, airfares cannot fluctuate solely on currency exchange rates. You purchase a fare in the local currency of the point of origin. You, yourself have taken advantage of the drop of currency value to the USD in places like Egypt, Turkey, Sri Lanka.
    - The advantage is for the US residents since all the world...

    Ben, there are a couple of things in your article that are not totally correct.
    - with IATA rules, airfares cannot fluctuate solely on currency exchange rates. You purchase a fare in the local currency of the point of origin. You, yourself have taken advantage of the drop of currency value to the USD in places like Egypt, Turkey, Sri Lanka.
    - The advantage is for the US residents since all the world currencies (except Swiss and Singapore) have gone down and so when thy go overseas, the prices, when compared to USD are a bargain. Euro and British pound countries are a bargain...
    - Airlines are deliberately controlling the number of flights to manage profitability.
    - there are more "bean counters" at airlines and hotel chains making decisions without understanding the repercussions of customer loyalty. For eg. Look at how American Airlines has annihilated the FF management team whereas lot of old timers left in frustration.

  47. Engel New Member

    Flew AMS>PDX last week and there were over 100 empty seats. That doesn't speak to the number of available "award" seats, but the plane was anything but "jam packed". KLM was doing the leg work for Delta in AMS and I asked about cost to upgrade to Delta One (Upgrade wait list showed 9 empty seats). The snotty KLM gate agent barked "We never sell upgrades on the day of travel". Sorry I asked.

  48. MattyFL Guest

    I’m flying to Heathrow return next week. Out on Sunday and return on Wednesday. Plenty of open seats in business in both directions. This is all on AA. In fact the return from lhr to jfk has all but a handful of seats taken in business. This is the 777 with first class. I was able to use AA systemwide upgrades to confirm the seats as well. On my particular travel dates, the particular Ord>lhr...

    I’m flying to Heathrow return next week. Out on Sunday and return on Wednesday. Plenty of open seats in business in both directions. This is all on AA. In fact the return from lhr to jfk has all but a handful of seats taken in business. This is the 777 with first class. I was able to use AA systemwide upgrades to confirm the seats as well. On my particular travel dates, the particular Ord>lhr and lhr>jfk flights were the only ones with confirmable upgrade availability.

  49. Peter Guest

    Flying to London in December on AA from Los Angeles 777-3 looking at the seat map today business looks like it’s probably no more than 20% full. Coming back on AA from Paris to Dallas. I would say it’s about 50% full. But of course there’s no awards seats available on stingy AA. I think that you may be right that demand is about to fall off a cliff.

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @Peter

      That is still 2 months out. Business class will be full closer in. Don’t worry.

    2. D3kingg Guest

      @Peter

      You will definitely be flying in economy

  50. glenn t Diamond

    With air travel going gangbusters, and likely to continue that way for some time, the airlines and hotels are surely refilling their coffers rapidly with inflated prices, and (profitable) reduced services.
    The public are largely patient with lack of service, but for how long?
    The "due to covid" excuse is looking tired now and those businesses will need to step things up sooner rather than later.

  51. Drank Sinatra Guest

    FWIW, as a Delta Diamond I cannot even find award space from IAD-PDX for my wife and I over Christmas.

    United wants 400k-ish miles for 2 people in F on the same route.

  52. FFups Guest

    Went to Munich for extended time and was able to snatch up a business class award for Denver-Munich flight (since new United route), but was luck and totally full. Same on the way back 1.5 month later. So little award ability. And when booking with you pay $1,200 RT for Sea-Muc but like $400 RT Muc-Sea. I always knew there was price differential based on starting point, but 3 times? That's crazy!

  53. Guest Guest

    A banking of tons of points via sign up bonuses during during Covid?
    Home improvement projects, etc, while in lockdown. My 2 cents.

  54. Rob in Miami Guest

    AA JFK CDG packed in premium cabin! 2 months in advance.
    they just dont have many flights now

  55. MARK KERNAGHAN Guest

    Myself and three pals went to Scotland and Uk for 6-10 days. Oct 5 to Oct 16. Leisure travel. Air Canada red eye 2350. Was full flight. 777-300. My return 777-300 was full also. Crazy full.

    Still good service but too many people

    Had a great trip weather was great.

  56. JoeSchmo Guest

    I should also note that I just booked a biz class ticket for my mom yesterday from Europe to Boston without trouble and there were 2 seats available.

  57. JoeSchmo Guest

    It's b/c the hotel pricing is absurd in the US now and there's better values in Europe, both b/c of the EUR being down a bunch and also the hotels not charging absurd prices. Mystery solved

    And FYI - I found a great award from the US to Greece with a short connection for the island I wanted to visit this summer for two people.

  58. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Flew to Zurich last month on AA, JAM PACKED noth ways. Flying to Zurich through Madrid on IB in 2 weeks, JAM PACKED also. No upgrades or anything. Business fares nearly $15,000 RT in both instances.

    1. Andy Diamond

      East coast to Zurich is definitely still two flights down from pre-pandemic supply (LX: minus 1 JFK daily; DL: minus ATL). AA is actually back to pre-pandemic capacity (1 daily PHL-ZRH), but further back they had two daily (1xJFK, 1xDFW). So I do think it's a supply problem.

      Also, while the Swiss Franc lost slightly against the Dollar, the change is much smaller than for the Euro against the Dollar, so I don't think westbound...

      East coast to Zurich is definitely still two flights down from pre-pandemic supply (LX: minus 1 JFK daily; DL: minus ATL). AA is actually back to pre-pandemic capacity (1 daily PHL-ZRH), but further back they had two daily (1xJFK, 1xDFW). So I do think it's a supply problem.

      Also, while the Swiss Franc lost slightly against the Dollar, the change is much smaller than for the Euro against the Dollar, so I don't think westbound demand (out of Switzerland) is really affected.

  59. Aruni Guest

    I spend 3 months each year in Germany.
    Seats are hard to come by on Lufthansa because they do NOT have the personnel so a lot of flights are cancelled. I managed to get a return flight Munich to London(economy) for $800(normally $250.
    They are actually slapping on an extra $1000 on certain flights to discourage people from flying.

  60. Stuart Guest

    In Vienna now for work and it's absolutely packed with Americans. I've never seen anything like it. The dollar strength must have something to do with it. You can't even get a dinner reservation here at many places that over the past two years have been easy walk-ins.

    As well, I don't believe it's going to "fall off a cliff" as you said. I spoke with a manager at the hotel I regularly stay...

    In Vienna now for work and it's absolutely packed with Americans. I've never seen anything like it. The dollar strength must have something to do with it. You can't even get a dinner reservation here at many places that over the past two years have been easy walk-ins.

    As well, I don't believe it's going to "fall off a cliff" as you said. I spoke with a manager at the hotel I regularly stay at here and she said, "Bookings are so strong the next 6 months that the upgrades I have been accustomed to may not happen in the future. Advance bookings are even stronger than in 2019."

  61. Ryan R Guest

    I just went to Europe for the first time in 3 years a few weeks ago -- that was when I was able to align my pent up demand with the chance to take some time off work. I was able to find biz award availability (LH and SQ) without too much trouble, but everything was indeed quite full. And the streets of Europe were overflowing with Americans, even in early October.

  62. CJK New Member

    I flew from JFK to Stockholm on Sept. 1 on Finnair. Business class was full except for 1 seat. When I asked to purchase the seat, the cost was 6,000 USD. I backed out. The older lady in back of me purchased it. When I boarded the plane, Business was full, Premium Economy was full. Economy had 48 seats open. I had a window seat and no one next to me the whole flight. The...

    I flew from JFK to Stockholm on Sept. 1 on Finnair. Business class was full except for 1 seat. When I asked to purchase the seat, the cost was 6,000 USD. I backed out. The older lady in back of me purchased it. When I boarded the plane, Business was full, Premium Economy was full. Economy had 48 seats open. I had a window seat and no one next to me the whole flight. The woman who I befriended in the AA lounge took a middle row all to her self to lay and sleep. There were many rows like that in the back of the plane and 4 people took full advantage of that. Returning home was Oslo to Chicago on Finnair. I asked to purchase a Business class seat. It was wide open. It was Finnair's newest iteration of their Business class and it was superb. The cost for the upgrade was 500 USD for Business. When I boarded there were 20 empty Business class seats and 10 empty Premium economy seats for a Friday Sept. 9 flight. Economy was 95% full. The head flight attendant named Christoff made sure he spoke to every business class customer (all 12 of us) and we spoke about business, the future of Finnair, the financial straits the airline is in, and the cancelation of the Oslo to Chicago flight starting in Nov. 2022. Finnair did nickel and dime me on seats. When I first purchased the tickets via American Airlines I had no choice in picking my Finnair seats even through the AA website. I called Finnair directly and I picked my seating while I looked at their website which was not very accurate. For a basic window seat to assign myself cost 55 Euro each way. To pick a exit seat would have cost me 150 Euro extra. In trying to keep my 675.00 roundtrip fare to Europe inexpensive I still ended up paying $1200.00 for ticket in the end but 1 leg was Business class. When Lucky asks why he's having issues booking an upgrade seat with points later in the travel season, it's because of travelers like me and so many other travelers not caring how much it costs for a ticket because they want to make the most of their vacation at what ever cost they can. They would rather add to their credit card just for the experience. This was my first international trip in 2 years and I did treat myself with an A.A. lounge experience and a Business class seat. My trip to the Philippines will have the same mindset but I already paid for my Premium Select for $1,225 from Fort Lauderdale to Manila. Just an FYI, it is no longer Labor Day that ends the summer travel season. For the past 4 to 5 years it changed to Mid-October as the end of the summer travel season. I have seen many kids still in Europe and many baby boomers going abroad during this time. The airlines know this also and have kept the ticket prices up.

    1. Mick Guest

      $6k wtf? For a squished cabin on a reasonably short flight. I’d stop at maybe $800 for that. It’s one nights sleep. In a fairly rubbish seat.

    2. LiveHawaii Guest

      I've yet to see an $800 transatlantic fare for a seat up front. $1500 min seems to be a more realistic expectation.

  63. Henry Guest

    I would use myself and my colleagues experiences to comment on this. The first thing is the way we work changed: more people become traveler or locum workers or are able to work from anywhere, before covid, I rarely see anyone live in Italy but work in the rural areas of the US, now I saw some of my colleagues work here for a few week then go back to Italy, even some of the...

    I would use myself and my colleagues experiences to comment on this. The first thing is the way we work changed: more people become traveler or locum workers or are able to work from anywhere, before covid, I rarely see anyone live in Italy but work in the rural areas of the US, now I saw some of my colleagues work here for a few week then go back to Italy, even some of the cases, weekly back and forth. The amount of money they could earn during one week is doubled as they are in great need. Many of my colleagues quit their full time job to become part-time workers or become locum workers, thus they also have more time to travel. Many of us also felt it is important to travel as much as possible as we all learned a lesson from this pandemics-you never know when you cannot travel any more LOL. So from May to Aug, I travelled almost 8 weeks with 3-4 trips. Of course, the amount of flights/seats were certainly decreased compared to the pre-pandemic level, it makes travel or to find a seat really difficult or even challenging. I cannot say for transatlantic, but for the flight in/out of my home, it has been decreased to a level with the capacity of 1/10 to the pre-pandemic era. Regarding the choices of travel destinations, China is still closed with Japan and other countries just open their doors, some countries in either isolation or war, transatlantic travel seems the very few of the options available.

  64. Eli Guest

    I also think that much more people fly business these days since so many people have accumulated points.

    I have seen in Amex accounts an average of 5 million points and some even close to 20 million.

    So some people don't even care they just book with Amex travel and they get back the 35%

    Just another point

  65. Anthony Guest

    One more, and then I will shut up - it seems like every month there is a "fall break," "winter break," a newly highlighted religious / ethnic holiday (in addition to the traditional Christian and Jewish holidays, I am seeing more schools highlight Muslim and South Asian ethnic holidays), etc. You have MLK, President's Day, Chinese New Year, Easter, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, July 4, Labor Day, Columbus Day, etc. A lot of school holidays that...

    One more, and then I will shut up - it seems like every month there is a "fall break," "winter break," a newly highlighted religious / ethnic holiday (in addition to the traditional Christian and Jewish holidays, I am seeing more schools highlight Muslim and South Asian ethnic holidays), etc. You have MLK, President's Day, Chinese New Year, Easter, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, July 4, Labor Day, Columbus Day, etc. A lot of school holidays that let the family take the kids to travel. There are simply more travel days now than ever.

  66. Anthony Diamond

    Also - there won't be any "adjustment" in November, outside of normal seasonality. Vacation travel will be absolutely nuts around the holidays. You could see a traditional slowdown (outside of ski destinations) in mid January through President's Day

  67. Phil in ATL Guest

    I think it's a couple of things. First, the pent-up demand from Covid is streched out further across the calendar with limited, persishible services/products like airline seats. The planes were so full this past summer that many gave up and booked for the autumn instead.

    Second, you are probably looking at a solid data point of the great retirement. Many, many boomers were slow to retire and then Covid either forced thier hand or...

    I think it's a couple of things. First, the pent-up demand from Covid is streched out further across the calendar with limited, persishible services/products like airline seats. The planes were so full this past summer that many gave up and booked for the autumn instead.

    Second, you are probably looking at a solid data point of the great retirement. Many, many boomers were slow to retire and then Covid either forced thier hand or nudged millions of them into finally stepping down from their jobs. This massive generation now has retirement money (many of them have golden parachutes with defined benefit programs unlike most Gen Xers and below) and they now suddenly have lots of time on their hands for the first time in their lives.

  68. Bgriff Guest

    "With the USD so strong and the EUR and GBP so weak, you’d think that US-bound demand would be way down, as traveling to the United States is much less affordable for Europeans right now" -- you get that Americans who fly to Europe also have to fly home, right?

  69. Steven Sorko Guest

    We've flown three times since last Oct from Vancouver to Paris on Air France and beyond with one flight coming back on KLM: Oct/Nov 21, May/July 22 and Sept.22. In all cases the flights were full in Business Class. I am not certain but most were Canadian residents, however, that is only based on who I met and languages I heard. On this last flight to Paris, our seats were screwed around by 3 aircraft...

    We've flown three times since last Oct from Vancouver to Paris on Air France and beyond with one flight coming back on KLM: Oct/Nov 21, May/July 22 and Sept.22. In all cases the flights were full in Business Class. I am not certain but most were Canadian residents, however, that is only based on who I met and languages I heard. On this last flight to Paris, our seats were screwed around by 3 aircraft reassignments and we had an old 777-300R with 2-3-2 seating. We got moved from two window pods to and aisle and a middle in 2-3-2. The flight had lots of nice aisle and window "SINGLE" seats 24 hours before so I figured I was safe moving our middle to an aisle thinking it would be the last seat to go and we'd have extra space. Well I was very wrong. Air France upgraded other passengers and filled every seat. Premium Economy was also always filled on every flight as well. Also tons of kids and babies in Business Class (very well behaved) coming home from Paris in early July; all Canadians.

  70. Nik Guest

    How about “remote work” being a huge factor here. Presumably those with lots of disposable income, enjoy a new lifestyle where they can work from anywhere.
    Let’s assume business travel is back 60-70%, I’d think the remainder could easily be filled with higher income people, with the ability to work remotely and who take advantage of that. That can easily account for the difference in space for Business Class.
    That being said, seat...

    How about “remote work” being a huge factor here. Presumably those with lots of disposable income, enjoy a new lifestyle where they can work from anywhere.
    Let’s assume business travel is back 60-70%, I’d think the remainder could easily be filled with higher income people, with the ability to work remotely and who take advantage of that. That can easily account for the difference in space for Business Class.
    That being said, seat capacity for premium cabin is still much lower than it used to be. Like LH moving from A380, A340 and -8, to an A350 and a A330. I’ve seen this especially from West Coast cities. The F capacity is basically half what it used to be.
    And then comes executive travel. Those who usually would pay full fare J. With business cabin filling up, those likely move up a class.
    I think those are some of the reasons we see those cabins fill up, almost consistently this year.

  71. Dunc Guest

    The number of flights is not back to normal, while a few and only a few may have some frequencies back. No Chinese airline and Cathay just ramping up, like 2024 before we are back to normal. The seats plummeted the retirement of most 747s happened during the pandemic. Then all the retirement crowd went crazy just in case a new variant came along " better do it now". No we are nowhere near normal...

    The number of flights is not back to normal, while a few and only a few may have some frequencies back. No Chinese airline and Cathay just ramping up, like 2024 before we are back to normal. The seats plummeted the retirement of most 747s happened during the pandemic. Then all the retirement crowd went crazy just in case a new variant came along " better do it now". No we are nowhere near normal have you seen the short notice J fares to Australia like 20-30K from LHR that more than offsets the strength of the USD. People just wanna travel NOW on limited seats and they are prepared to pay!

  72. LEo Diamond

    People are willing to spend more on travel now, especially on premium services such as business and first.

  73. NZ787 New Member

    Peak summer demand was impossibly insane this year, I think there's some spillover into an "extended summer" (helps that warmer weather is sticking around longer into the fall)

  74. S Gold

    Does the remote work thing really make sense? I am a fully remote worker and it hasn't impacted my travel at all. I still have to take leave to work, I can't work outside my designated area, and I doubt many places let people work from overseas. I know for my organization if I logged in from an overseas IP address I would be fired instantly.

    I think it's just trips that were delayed...

    Does the remote work thing really make sense? I am a fully remote worker and it hasn't impacted my travel at all. I still have to take leave to work, I can't work outside my designated area, and I doubt many places let people work from overseas. I know for my organization if I logged in from an overseas IP address I would be fired instantly.

    I think it's just trips that were delayed due to Covid all happening this fall. Even flights that look empty at booking a month out still fill up, it's wild. I hope it gets back to a slower place. I miss the LHR-IAD UA flights where there were five people total in J!

    1. S Gold

      Obviously meant take leave to travel*

    2. Jake212 Guest

      @S

      Not sure if you work for some incredibly secretive or in a role that’s classified and requires security clearance, but even then that wouldn’t make sense as to why you’d be fired for logging on to an international IP because you’d have a work VPN you’d be required to use whether you’re in the US or abroad.

      Your story just doesn’t add up.

    3. KB Guest

      It varies. I work for a large company which has strict restrictions on working outside the country (just a few days, approval required).

      My previous job (last year) didn’t care at all. The only memo they sent was basically “Umm… you can’t *move* to another country without telling us”. No one cared if you were gone for a few weeks as long as you did your job.

      I have friends which work for smaller firms...

      It varies. I work for a large company which has strict restrictions on working outside the country (just a few days, approval required).

      My previous job (last year) didn’t care at all. The only memo they sent was basically “Umm… you can’t *move* to another country without telling us”. No one cared if you were gone for a few weeks as long as you did your job.

      I have friends which work for smaller firms and they are constantly traveling, logging in to work during US hours. One has basically been touring the world since early last year.

    4. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      I tried that in 2019 before it was cool. I spent three weeks in Indonesia, thinking it wouldn't be hard to get a lot of work since the time difference just means waking up earlier or staying up later. It became a nightmare after a week. I couldn't imagine having to do that all the time.

    5. 305 Guest

      Zero IP tracking or anything at my small company remote gig, but a single phone call to my cell and the international ring back tone would be a definite giveaway. I’m vacationing abroad, but keeping my travel while working to domestic spots.

    6. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Nothing you wrote seems like it couldn't be overcome with careful scheduling + a VPN.

      This year I made Platinum on DL, and Gold on AA just due to being able to more-or-less travel whenever I wanted. Work productivity has gone through the roof, because I don't want to be sitting at a laptop when on a beach or when my friends are going out to some exotic restaurant-- so I get everything done early.

      ...

      Nothing you wrote seems like it couldn't be overcome with careful scheduling + a VPN.

      This year I made Platinum on DL, and Gold on AA just due to being able to more-or-less travel whenever I wanted. Work productivity has gone through the roof, because I don't want to be sitting at a laptop when on a beach or when my friends are going out to some exotic restaurant-- so I get everything done early.

      Work from home has been the best thing ever for my stress and travel life!

  75. Adam Guest

    From UA earlier today:

    The company believes there are three durable trends for air travel demand that are more than fully offsetting any economic headwinds: air travel is still in the COVID recovery phase, hybrid work gives customers the freedom and flexibility to travel for leisure more often, and external supply challenges will limit industry supply for years to come.

  76. Anthony Diamond

    I also think you underrate the impact of the lower Euro and Pound, and the impact of inflation in the US. You can eat a great meal in Spain, Italy, even France these days for about 70-80 euro for two people. In the US, that meal would cost $125 or so, before tip, these days. A week or so in Europe looks cheap in that context. Combine that with flexible work arrangements, no reason not to fly to Europe in October and November.

    1. LEo Diamond

      Had a feeling of this when travelling to Thailand from Singapore, the food was so cheap and the service was so good. It's like comparing United and SQ.

    2. Mick Guest

      We have been slowly travelling back to australia from the USA as a family of five and I can agree on the great meal sentiment. But I would say in Italy you can easily eat superbly for a family of five for 80 euros :). But yea it is very cheap. Croissant and coffee 2.20 euros all in in Italy.

      We spent three months in Europe and it was not nearly as busy as...

      We have been slowly travelling back to australia from the USA as a family of five and I can agree on the great meal sentiment. But I would say in Italy you can easily eat superbly for a family of five for 80 euros :). But yea it is very cheap. Croissant and coffee 2.20 euros all in in Italy.

      We spent three months in Europe and it was not nearly as busy as the media made out. Mind you we avoided a lot of the mega tourist cities. Eg we went to the Amalfi but stayed 10 mins from Sorrento and had a brilliant air bnb on the beach with views of Capri for 300 euros per night. We day tripped to Sorrento and it was terrible. Filled with tourists. Ditto Capri. I know for a first class travel blog air bnb and smaller cities don’t hit the reviews as much as the four seasons Capri etc.

      We are now in Asia after a week in Dubai and there are almost no tourists. Vietnam is very relaxed.

      In terms of flights we flew Düsseldorf to Dubai and then Dubai to Saigon (both on emirates) and managed to upgrade both very cheap economy flights to biz (a380 and 777). And that was for five of us. So outside of the transatlantic it is starting to open up a bit.

      I’d say there is always a lag in sentiment from both sides (airlines and customers). In March 2022 I still had my choice of award seats for five to Europe (I booked quite a few of them) for June and July 2022. American had 5-6 seats constantly on its flight from nyc to Doha. Then poof almost overnight everyone decided things were safe again and hit the travel button. It will surely slow down as interest rates and inflation start to hurt.

    3. Nelson Member

      Two questions;
      -How school holidays work out where you live? (3 months in Europe, then Dubai, now Asia...)
      -Are there still vacancies open at your work? (not kidding)
      Have a great time!

    4. Mick Guest

      Hi Nelson! It’s because we are moving from the USA back to Australia. So the school year ended in June and the kids will start school in January. They are all under 12 so we took the opportunity and went for it! We do schoolwork each day.

    5. Paul Guest

      What about all the planes that are still in storage and pilot shortage. Airlines are back in the black so why would they sacrifice profits for better customer choice. Too cynical?

  77. pstm91 Diamond

    I work in luxury travel and will have noticed the following points:
    - First and foremost, yes, it has hardly slowed down since summer. Not as many last-minute requests like this summer, but still unbelievably busy.
    - Family travel has not slowed, despite school starting. Parents are very okay with their kids missing some school to travel.
    - Lots of trips were pushed/delayed due to COVID, and many of those rescheduled dates...

    I work in luxury travel and will have noticed the following points:
    - First and foremost, yes, it has hardly slowed down since summer. Not as many last-minute requests like this summer, but still unbelievably busy.
    - Family travel has not slowed, despite school starting. Parents are very okay with their kids missing some school to travel.
    - Lots of trips were pushed/delayed due to COVID, and many of those rescheduled dates are this fall and into early 2023.
    - It will not slow down until at least next fall. We already have tons of 2023 requests, especially for places that are just reopening, such as Japan. Obviously it will be crazy during the summer again and then who knows after that.
    - Clients are looking further out now and asking about places they did not typically used to. Having travel cut off during COVID seems to have really made people realize that they should take advantage of the ability to travel, and not just head to the same places every year.
    - even booking FAM trips is tough since airline space is so tight. I'm about to head out on one and it took lots of tinkering and working with the airline for them to approve the space, so don't think you're alone in it!

  78. Anthony Diamond

    You could extend this comment to planes in general. Flights and hotels are full, and "leisure travel" is at about 125% or more of pre-Covid levels. Business travel is still down, but not as much as you would think. Travel demand is going up, not down, and I expect it to continue. Whatever societal or macro factors are in play, I don't think it really stops for the next few years.

  79. lyslee0 New Member

    Booked an award flight ("comfort plus") about 9 months out of October 2022 trip. Flew ATL->MUC, AMS->ATL open-jaw round trip. Coming back from Schiphol, there were 1 hour security lines. From what I can tell, besides returning Americans, there were a lot of Europeans on the flight either taking a quick vacation or visiting family. Not to many kids - so school was not a problem for them.

  80. john Guest

    hello ben,
    good reporting as usual, why not fly in coach? would it be the end of the world?

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      Coach is vile.

      You new here?

  81. Noa Guest

    The comment view is extremely sensitive to touch on mobile phone, opening up the reply box just while scrolling.

    Change it to just hitting reply button on mobile?

    1. At Guest

      Try scrolling with your left hand

    2. LEo Diamond

      Thx for the comment, I have the worst phone ever designed for both-hand use......

  82. DenB Diamond

    I question the assertion that capacity is back to prepandemic levels. I also notice that the problem seems concentrated in the US3 more than AC, which has great availability at utterly unaffordable prices (in points). My sense is that overall carriers are actually offering fewer seats and getting good money for them, so why make them available to people like us?

  83. Alex H Guest

    Alot of people put off flying from the tail end of 2019 (just when things were starting) until end of 2021. So I guessed that in the meantime, they didn't spend their money at all, used all the crazy offers with credit cards to accumulate points and thanks to alot of points bloggers etc.. had the same idea. We went to Greece early September.. flight was full of young ppl and elderly crowd as well....

    Alot of people put off flying from the tail end of 2019 (just when things were starting) until end of 2021. So I guessed that in the meantime, they didn't spend their money at all, used all the crazy offers with credit cards to accumulate points and thanks to alot of points bloggers etc.. had the same idea. We went to Greece early September.. flight was full of young ppl and elderly crowd as well. Economy tickets were about $800-$1800 vs $400-$700 previously. April of 2023 looks like things are tapering off a bit even in premium cabins around the $3k range which is about normal. Guess people will have to pay up now ...

  84. Creditcrunch Diamond

    For me I booked 6 reward flights during the post pandemic special offers with both VS and BA. I’ve completed 4 with 2 to go up to April 23 which was the end of the booking window for these types of bookings. I would have a guess come Spring 23 things will be more clear on what travel will look like. We are already seeing airlines like VS scaling back summer 23 schedules as they can clearly see full revenue fares are going down.

  85. Brad Guest

    I was a VVIP corporate travel arranger for a number of years. I did the CEO's....
    Every year, after Labor Day in the USA, corporate travel went NUTS until about the first week in December. I think all of these comments are valid. I recently had difficulty booking a family member J Class of AF from ATL to NAP. REVENUE !
    In short I think ALL OF THE ABOVE is true, and remember that airline seats are designed to be sold, rather than awarded.

  86. Jason Brandt Lewis Guest

    Well, we’re here (Spain) after flying Iberia Business Class on points…

  87. Sam Guest

    This is all flights.. have you seen the airfares in the us? 3x what they should be. That’s what happens when the government pays people not to work

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Non sequitur much?

    2. John Guest

      @ConcordLady

      Why do you exist?

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      To lord over the likes of you, why else?

  88. Nicolas Guest

    One explanation: flights within Europe, to Asia, Africa and Middle are super pricy while flights from Europe to the US are super cheap. Going to Bali would cost 2000 usd in economy, going to NYC would cost 500 usd in economy, so for 2 people, even with the higher hotel costs, its much cheaper to visit the US. Also some destinations have closed in Europe (Russia and Ukraine of course but to some extent also the baltics, Poland, Hungary)

  89. CaveDweller Guest

    Book 12 months Out like I do then cancel simple.

    1. Nelson Member

      Don't know how it works at your place but here in Europe before Covid you could book up to 12 months before travel return, but since Covid most Airliners reduced those times, some up to max 3 months in advance.

  90. Paul Car New Member

    I am attending Bauma construction show in Munich next week. 650,000 attendees. LH YVR-MUC almost full every day with expert flyer alerts set for 2 seats this Friday. Out of nowhere the J cabin is half full with award seats available. It worked out well for but I had 80 alerts set for any Star Alliance J awards from YVR to Germany. With 2 days to go only a handful came back so far.

    Don't...

    I am attending Bauma construction show in Munich next week. 650,000 attendees. LH YVR-MUC almost full every day with expert flyer alerts set for 2 seats this Friday. Out of nowhere the J cabin is half full with award seats available. It worked out well for but I had 80 alerts set for any Star Alliance J awards from YVR to Germany. With 2 days to go only a handful came back so far.

    Don't forget Octoberfest, the good weather (all ready mentioned)and the sea of points built up over Covid.

    1. Nelson Guest

      Octoberfest ended 03OCT.

  91. ben Guest

    i've noticed the same as you EuropeUS and EuropeLatin America. but i'd ask - have airlines restored total number of seats / capacity TATL? on a few routes I'm familiar with, like PAR-BOS on DL/AF what used to be 3x daily even in the fall is now 2x daily on smaller planes. AF PAR-IAD used to be 2x daily with one A380. now half of the week AF is 1x daily and no A380, only B77W and A350.

  92. Steve Guest

    You, The Shill Guy and others made the points and miles game too popular. Just check out all the Americans in PP lounges now in the US and in popular European countries that Americans frequently visit. Would make sense that a good chunk of those people would also figure out how to book award seats and/or use services to book them.

    That said, you also have people who had to re-book trips from 2020 and...

    You, The Shill Guy and others made the points and miles game too popular. Just check out all the Americans in PP lounges now in the US and in popular European countries that Americans frequently visit. Would make sense that a good chunk of those people would also figure out how to book award seats and/or use services to book them.

    That said, you also have people who had to re-book trips from 2020 and 2021 to 2022 and may have decided to wait for fall instead of going in the summer as well as also having a lot more people working hybrid/remote now who can travel more freely than before.

  93. Alonzo Diamond

    I think people are trying to cling onto something rational on why award seats aren't available when in reality, it's very simple. The points and miles game is closer to the end, than to the beginning. Airlines and hotels have caught onto the game, more so airlines, and have adjusted pricing and availability accordingly. Just days ago, I searched using Lifemiles for award space on Turkish and United. Nothing. 1-2 years ago, tons of space...

    I think people are trying to cling onto something rational on why award seats aren't available when in reality, it's very simple. The points and miles game is closer to the end, than to the beginning. Airlines and hotels have caught onto the game, more so airlines, and have adjusted pricing and availability accordingly. Just days ago, I searched using Lifemiles for award space on Turkish and United. Nothing. 1-2 years ago, tons of space from multiple airports. Welcome to the new normal that ain't changing.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      There's only so much for them to "catch on," before they kill their own golden goose.

      People will quit caring, if the program becomes too destroyed/unusable/worthless, and then what happens to the millions upon millions of dollars airlines get for selling miles/points?

      Thus, like just about everything related to this industry: it'll ebb and flow in cycles.

    2. John Guest

      @ConcordCat

      You're a genius! Can I send my sons to your school?

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Meh, may as well, though won't do much to allay your apparent obsession with me....

  94. Donna Diamond

    Having just returned from Italy and having made three TATL flights in the past 90 days, my observations were that the business class sections were full of older, mostly senior citizen couples on leisure travel. It was nearly impossible to find a hotel room in Rome last week. The Americans I’ve met in France and Italy were thrilled about the strong dollar and how “cheap” everything was. My guess is that people are spending less...

    Having just returned from Italy and having made three TATL flights in the past 90 days, my observations were that the business class sections were full of older, mostly senior citizen couples on leisure travel. It was nearly impossible to find a hotel room in Rome last week. The Americans I’ve met in France and Italy were thrilled about the strong dollar and how “cheap” everything was. My guess is that people are spending less on hotels and food and other purchases and therefore more willing to pay more for business class. My prediction is that next year will be more like 2019, as a result of increased capacity, less interest in leisure international travel, and probably a weaker dollar.

  95. Matt Guest

    Ben - maybe too many people (like yourself) took advantage of promotions like the Simply Miles donation one and now have literal MILLIONS of miles to burn and those people are just using them? With so many miles out there are we really that surprised saver award space is hard to come come by?

  96. Michael Guest

    I've also had a terrible time with trans pacific award availability. Had booked flights to CNX one way on EVA that they cancelled that we had booked at reasonable award rate. Just had to rebook at 180k United miles EACH for ONE WAY for 3 people. I've never ever paid that much for an award ticket. Took my miles down to a value of about 2.5 cents each.

  97. Bob Guest

    The weather is quite good in Paris and France this week, and expected so untill the end of october.

    21° celsius in paris today and I have been told 30° celsius in Biarritz in the afternoon.

    There is the fashion week also. And I hear a lot of american in the streets.

    My two cents.

    1. Sam Guest

      Fashion week in Paris was several weeks ago, and I dount that thisweek's weather impacted award booked in the past.

    2. Mike Guest

      Today was the first truly nice day in Paris. For most of the last week it was cloudy and/or rainy.

  98. Mark Guest

    A 50% recovery in corporate travel can mean 100% or more recovery to Europe since Asia is probably in the 5-10% range. It’s almost certainly corporate traffic along with a small increase of leisure people willing to pay for business class. That means far fewer saver award seats to go around during traditionally off-peak times.

  99. Justin Guest

    A few theories from my own circumstances:
    -People sitting on huge amounts of points built up over the past few years from credit card purchases (I'm at my largest points balance ever)
    -Could this be now more of a supply issue than demand? Given labor shortages, is the aggregate supply of seats back to pre-pandemic levels? (At my mid-sized home town in Canada (1.5mn metro), many airlines and routes have yet to return...

    A few theories from my own circumstances:
    -People sitting on huge amounts of points built up over the past few years from credit card purchases (I'm at my largest points balance ever)
    -Could this be now more of a supply issue than demand? Given labor shortages, is the aggregate supply of seats back to pre-pandemic levels? (At my mid-sized home town in Canada (1.5mn metro), many airlines and routes have yet to return with smaller capacity aircraft and fewer frequencies too)
    -The continuing closure of China and only recent re-opening of Japan and Hong Kong had cut off a huge area of travel for many U.S. customers so they divert travel to elsewhere (I used to travel to South East Asia annually and I've noticed the absence of Chinese airline business class supply has really affected the market dynamics for pricing trans-pac)

  100. ConnGator Guest

    It is partly caused by the airlines. Delta canceled/moved my flights to and from Florida to consolidate two half full flights two one (over) full flight.

  101. Ken Guest

    I usually book trips within North America with cash and intercontinental trips with points, so I haven't been watching intercontinental cash prices much. But for trips within North America, it feels like airlines have priced them very aggressively (ie, high) up until about 1-2 weeks before departure. Then the price almost falls off a cliff. For example, I recently did a trip to Costa Rica and one united flight I was tracking consistently cost about...

    I usually book trips within North America with cash and intercontinental trips with points, so I haven't been watching intercontinental cash prices much. But for trips within North America, it feels like airlines have priced them very aggressively (ie, high) up until about 1-2 weeks before departure. Then the price almost falls off a cliff. For example, I recently did a trip to Costa Rica and one united flight I was tracking consistently cost about $600-$800 per person one way up until about a week before departure, at which point it started to fall. By about 3 days before departure, It was barely over $300. So I think that in some cases airlines are overplaying their hand a little bit and trying to exercise a bit more pricing power than they actually have. Or maybe they've just decided that such extremely aggressive pricing works out in their favor more often than not. It certainly is rough on consumers though.

    As for intercontinental award space, about a month ago I actually managed to book British airways premium economy with Alaska miles to return to the US West Coast a little bit after New Year's. Now a word space is much scarcer.

  102. brianna hoffner Member

    Are you seeing any drop-off in demand after January (when lots of people are predicted to lose their status due to pandemic era courtesy extensions coming to an end)?

  103. Ned Member

    I think you also need to consider that many people are still sitting on huge stacks of points accumulated during the pandemic. Especially with the inflationary environment (and anticipated corresponding points devaluations) people are booking for the sake of deploying their points before it's too late. Combine that with flexible refund/change policies...people are probably booking award trips speculatively a year out just so they can camp on the space before it disappears. I'd imagine your...

    I think you also need to consider that many people are still sitting on huge stacks of points accumulated during the pandemic. Especially with the inflationary environment (and anticipated corresponding points devaluations) people are booking for the sake of deploying their points before it's too late. Combine that with flexible refund/change policies...people are probably booking award trips speculatively a year out just so they can camp on the space before it disappears. I'd imagine your proven strategies will begin to bear more fruit in the back half of 2023.

  104. George Romey Guest

    ALL FLIGHTS are full, mostly with leisure travelers. You can fully expect the announcement "this will be a completely full flight." So far people either have the money or they have credit cards.

    Now if this supposed "great recession" does come about demand will nose dive. And you will see airlines (getting the double whammy from reduced partner income-the real driver of profits) broke and begging for bailouts. Like back in March and April 2020...

    ALL FLIGHTS are full, mostly with leisure travelers. You can fully expect the announcement "this will be a completely full flight." So far people either have the money or they have credit cards.

    Now if this supposed "great recession" does come about demand will nose dive. And you will see airlines (getting the double whammy from reduced partner income-the real driver of profits) broke and begging for bailouts. Like back in March and April 2020 flying will actually be pleasant. Until capacity gets gutted like a pig.

  105. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    On Delta, nonstop flights anywhere from the United States to Europe outside London and Amsterdam were full. Global upgrade certificates basically wouldn't clear on any route. Award prices were absurd. Like 600,000+ plus Delta miles for business-class.

    At the same time, nonstop flights to Amsterdam and London on Delta from the United states were not nearly as full. Global upgrade certificates were eligible to clear at the time of booking on just about every...

    On Delta, nonstop flights anywhere from the United States to Europe outside London and Amsterdam were full. Global upgrade certificates basically wouldn't clear on any route. Award prices were absurd. Like 600,000+ plus Delta miles for business-class.

    At the same time, nonstop flights to Amsterdam and London on Delta from the United states were not nearly as full. Global upgrade certificates were eligible to clear at the time of booking on just about every route Delta flies.

    I wonder if all the summer delays and cancellations at Amsterdam and London caused Americans to book their transatlantic flights through Paris and other airports that didn't have bad publicity.

    The big problem with full flights is EU 261 compliance in business-class and premium-economy when something goes wrong. A Delta out-station like Zurich has a lot of problems if there's a cancellation. They have to spend a lot of money on rebooking passengers to another carrier or make them stay in Zurich for a couple of days until a seat opens up.

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      I should clarify this has been my experience over the past two months, booking three separate international flights on Delta and either buying business-class or using upgrade certificates.

    2. Ned Member

      I don't know - I may be wrong, but I get the sense that the average leisure traveler isn't aware of the operational breakdowns at particular hubs. They go to Expedia and click the lowest number.

  106. hp12c Member

    I too am perplexed by this. Both award and cash fares are nonexistent/incredibly expensive. The only thing I can think of is that since more people are working remotely there's simply more opportunity to travel. Remote work doesn't explain how there are so many people with $4k+ to drop on business class tickets to Europe and $1k/night for hotels, but I think it could be driving more trips outside of the traditional travel windows.

  107. Icarus Guest

    People with children are restricted to travelling during school vacation. Those without kids avoid those periods as they have far more flexibility.

    1. ECR12 Guest

      but that pattern is true every year and there isnt a lack of award availability in other fall seasons...

  108. Wside Guest

    Maybe the missing thing here is there's still reduced capacity at airlines so the flights are more full but there's not as many of them?

  109. iv Guest

    Maybe people wanted to avoid the summer crowds and scheduled their travel during what was once known as "off peak"?

  110. Never In Doubt Guest

    "With the number of Americans who traveled to Europe this past summer (many for the first time), you’d think that they got it out of their system, and wouldn’t be traveling right now”

    They did not, in fact, “get it out of their system”.

    The GBP & Euro being at historic lows means it’s time for Americans to shop & party across the pond!

  111. leol Guest

    Maybe because transpacific is way down, and people want somewhere to go?

    1. Adobo Guest

      TransPacific is just as bad or worse, all the way till April...At least, for J Class and up award travels...

    2. Ed Guest

      Could it just be a lot of planes are sitting on the ground as well? China Eastern / Southern are operating once a week to LAX. A lot of people are taking alternative airlines to get to Asia.

    3. DenB Diamond

      But Transpacific has constrained supply (fewer flights than prepandemic), unlike Transatlantic.

    4. Adobo Guest

      Most transpac carriers have already recalled most of their stored fleets from AUS and CA storage fields since 3 months or so ago...The main problem is all those crewes, cockpit and cabin, that they've let go during the pandemic and cant lure them back or cant hire/train or find new personnel fast enough...

    5. rdover1 Guest

      West Coast to Singapore right now biz is in the $8k range and up to $26k on SQ. Hotel rate in SG that were normally ~SG$200 are now SG$750. High demand and limited supply. Not all the old capacity (due to staffing challenges) has returned and we have a blip where a lot of big corporation travel has only just opened up (relatively) just as back to office is still in transition for many.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Jason Guest

Why are you judging people who desire to protect themselves? It’s all about personal choice and comfort levels and personal experience. Why do you have to be ugly about it? And I’ve been in Europe for 2 weeks. I’ve seen plenty of people, including the czech-born tour leader on the river cruise I’ve been on, as well as plenty of the European staff on the ship, wearing masks now and then. I don’t wear a mask but I have no problem with people who choose to for whatever reason they choose. Who are you to judge then? Why be nasty?

4
pstm91 Diamond

I work in luxury travel and will have noticed the following points: - First and foremost, yes, it has hardly slowed down since summer. Not as many last-minute requests like this summer, but still unbelievably busy. - Family travel has not slowed, despite school starting. Parents are very okay with their kids missing some school to travel. - Lots of trips were pushed/delayed due to COVID, and many of those rescheduled dates are this fall and into early 2023. - It will not slow down until at least next fall. We already have tons of 2023 requests, especially for places that are just reopening, such as Japan. Obviously it will be crazy during the summer again and then who knows after that. - Clients are looking further out now and asking about places they did not typically used to. Having travel cut off during COVID seems to have really made people realize that they should take advantage of the ability to travel, and not just head to the same places every year. - even booking FAM trips is tough since airline space is so tight. I'm about to head out on one and it took lots of tinkering and working with the airline for them to approve the space, so don't think you're alone in it!

4
TravelinWilly Diamond

Coach is vile. You new here?

3
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