As much of the U.S. approaches some of the coldest weeks of the year, we were curious to see what Americans have planned for the upcoming Presidents’ Day weekend. Is Omicron keeping travelers at home, or is the need for some sunshine driving Americans to hit the road?

TripIt analyzed U.S. origin flight reservations made by our TripIt users for Presidents’ Day weekend and compared the findings to equivalent booking periods in 2021 and 2020.

We found that while airlines will be busier than they were last year (more than 3x as many travelers), the weekend doesn’t appear to be breaking records the way other recent holidays have.

Current Percentage of  Reservations Compared to Years Prior

2022 Flights (All) 2022 Flights (Domestic) 2022 Flights (Int’l)
Compared to 2021 364% 354% 411%
Compared to 2020 41% 42% 40%

When looking at flight volume for Presidents’ Day weekend 2022, and comparing it to volumes for the same weekend in 2020 (by all accounts, the last majorly traveled holiday weekend before we went into lockdown), flight bookings are about 40 percent of total 2020 volume. 

A few factors explain why holiday weekend travel will not reach the same highs as others in the recent past.

“We know from our recent survey that more than half of all travelers (53 percent) had travel plans impacted by the Delta variant, resulting in canceled and changed plans, loss of money, and likely lots of disappointment,” said Jen Moyse, Sr. Director of Product for TripIt from Concur. “Given the sustained uncertainty around COVID—and the arrival of new variants, in particular—it’s possible that travelers decided that the risk was too great to plan or move forward with a trip in mid-February.”

In addition, Presidents’ Day and Valentine’s Day have fallen on the same weekend over the past several years—giving travel numbers a boost. But, this year, the holidays fall on separate weekends. 

Thus, while volumes may be down compared to pre-pandemic levels, they are up compared to last year when we were in the thick of our first COVID winter and vaccine rollouts were just beginning.

Warm-weather destinations preside

The top 25 list is full of warm-weather destinations, which is no surprise to those in the throes of winter. Twenty percent of domestic flights are heading to Florida, 14% are heading to California, and 7% will touch down in Texas. However, there are certainly travelers who are eager to embrace winter weather too, with destinations like Denver, Salt Lake City, New York City, Chicago, and Seattle expecting plenty of inbound flights, as well.

2022 Ranking City, State 2021 Ranking Rank Change (2021 to 2022) 2020 Ranking Rank Change (2020 to 2022)
1 Orlando, FL 1 0 2 1
2 Las Vegas, NV 5 3 1 -1
3 Phoenix, AZ 3 0 3 0
4 Denver, CO 2 -2 4 0
5 Los Angeles, CA 11 6 6 1
6 Salt Lake City, UT 4 -2 13 7
7 Miami, FL 8 1 14 7
8 Cancun 6 -2 23 15
9 Fort Lauderdale, FL 7 -2 10 1
10 San Diego, CA 23 13 11 1
11 Tampa, FL 12 1 15 4
12 Dallas, TX 13 1 4 -8
13 San Francisco, CA 39 26 8 -5
14 New Orleans, LA 22 8 17 3
15 New York, NY 26 11 9 -6
16 Kahului, HI 10 -6 29 13
17 Austin, TX 16 -1 18 1
18 Fort Meyers, FL 9 -9 24 6
19 Chicago, IL I 18 -1 7 -12
20 Atlanta, GA 19 -1 12 -8
21 Honolulu, HI 14 -7 27 6
22 Seattle, WA 20 -2 16 -6
23 Palm Springs, CA 40 17 40 17
24 Houston, TX 31 7 21 -3
25 Nashville, TN 24 -1 22 -3

As for who is most eager to get a change of scenery? We expect to see the most departures from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) (#1), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) (#2), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) (#3), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) (#4), and Denver International Airport (DEN) (#5).

Winter weekend travel tips

From Jen Moyse, Sr. Director of Product, TripIt from Concur

Travel during the winter months has always been tricky, not to mention added considerations with COVID-19. Whether for a long weekend or winter getaway, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Flying in the winter months comes with more risk than other times of the year thanks to the potential for weather events. Build buffer time into your trip to allow for these potential hiccups. Consider leaving a day earlier (Wednesday evening instead of Thursday morning for example), and try not to have any important events on your calendar for the day you return should you face delays or cancellations on either end. For your return flight, keep a close eye on the weather. Winter weather could impact your travel to the airport, especially if you’re staying far away. Consider departing for the airport extra early on the day of your flight or staying at a hotel near the airport the night before. 
  2. Long weekends can provide just the boost you need between more significant trips, as long as they are done right. Make the most of your time by booking the first flight out in the morning, which is also a good way to avoid the impacts of rolling delays. To avoid coming home to stress, consider staying at a vacation rental with a washing machine so you come home with one less chore to do, and order groceries for delivery online so you return home to a fully loaded fridge.
  3. Keep a COVID-19 test close by. Whether traveling internationally (when travelers must take a test no more than one day prior to their return flight to the U.S.), or within the U.S., testing is a good idea, as you certainly don’t want to travel anywhere if you are positive for COVID-19. A TripIt survey from this past fall found that of those who traveled in the past six months, 29% took a COVID-19 test for their trip. Now that tests are even more readily available, and reimbursable through private insurance, we expect that percentage to increase. Schedule an appointment to get tested at a local facility (be sure to schedule in advance) or get some rapid tests to take before you leave and to bring on your trip should you start to feel unwell.
  4. Planning your first international trip since the pandemic started? Cheers to adventure! But remember that things have changed a lot in the past two years. Use TripIt to review local infection and vaccination rates, as well as restrictions and regulations at the location. TripIt Pro users can search this information before they book so they can make the best decision for their trip. 
  5. Travel costs are up, but there are a few ways to save on an upcoming trip. One option is to set flight alerts or subscribe to airline newsletters to receive notifications of travel deals. Several airlines offer flight deals throughout the year. For flights within the U.S. TripIt Pro monitors for ongoing changes in price and sends you an alert when a potential airline credit or refund may be available. 

Methodology: TripIt looked at  U.S. origin round-trip  flight reservations made between January 24, 2021, and January 24, 2022, for travel during  the Presidents’ Day weekend holiday (Thursday, February 17 – Tuesday, February 22, 2022), and equivalent booking periods  in 2021 and 2020. Reservation data in TripIt is provided by users and is booking provider agnostic.

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