Travel agent groups have been chatting online about concerns over 2021 ticket prices on the already beleaguered, here’s what they’ve been saying.
What Agents Are Seeing
Travel agents have reported in various online groups that prices they are seeing for customer trips in 2021 are much higher than expected. Some agents are looking for replacement itineraries for canceled 2020 trips, others are optimistic about the vaccine.
Agents seem to be the most surprised by premium international rates that exceed expected ranges based on historical rates despite shockingly cheap domestic travel.
Walt Disney Resorts and theme parks in the United States with the exclusion of California have high interest for the coming year.
Why This Might Be The Case
Some routes I researched appeared to verify the claims. Hong Kong from the east coast was about 15-25% higher this year in business class than last year, though coach was cheaper. To South Africa, I found the same slight increases over last year’s numbers despite more direct flights like the one Matthew just flew.
Agents have been asking how this could possibly make sense given the historically low demand. To me, it seems quite clear. Inventory will be substantially lower than it has been in the past, not least of which on long haul international flights. Airlines are more likely to add back capacity only as and when it is entirely necessary instead of flying routes without substantial demand. Less seats to sell, higher prices per seat would seem to be the order of the day.
Why It May Be Premature
Near term flights show price incentives to book, and airlines could be postering. If any number of conditions (vaccine, antibodies, masks, shutdowns, herd immunity, etc.) work and Covid-19 infections decrease, airlines will be all too happy to add flights back in a new landgrab for routes and customers.
It also depends on whether the market responds to price incentives. Aspects of the US market indicated whether the risk of seeing family and contracting/transmitting the virus was a substantial threat, it wasn’t enough to keep them home for Thanksgiving even without price concessions. Covid-19 fatigue may set in. Even the Denver mayor urged people not to travel… from the airport for a non-essential trip to see his family. Fathers like him may decide that seeing family is essential.
If demand increases, so will frequencies creating more open seats to discount and return prices to 2019 levels or below.
Travel agents have discussed that they are seeing higher ticket prices in 2021. It’s likely due to low available inventory until flights get added back. If mitigation efforts lower Covid-19’s infection rate, more flights will return to the schedule possibly lowering ticket prices. However, if there is no change, those who travel, even with a vaccine may pay more for the privilege in 2021.
What do you think? Will ticket prices be higher in 2021 or is this just an aberration?