COVID-19's Impact on Travel: A Look at the Data COVID-19's Impact on Travel: A Look at the Data

COVID-19's Impact on Travel: A Look at the Data

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March 2020 certainly came in like a lion, especially for travelers and travel companies. COVID-19 all but shuttered the travel industry this spring. While travel has loosened up a bit since then, we wondered, just how much have AwardWallet members been affected?

Tracking Your Trips with AwardWallet

In addition to tracking all of your points, Awardwallet can also help you stay on top of your travel reservations. To see your upcoming travel, just click “Trips” at the top of your account. The best (and easiest) way to make sure all your reservations get added is to connect the email where you receive travel confirmations. We will also add reservations automatically if we detect them in one of your connected loyalty accounts.

AwardWallet Travel Data

To find out how travel plans have been impacted by COVID-19, we took a look at how many trips users added to their timelines before and after the pandemic took hold. We thought it would be cool to share how travel has changed for our base of over 650,000 users worldwide, so we compiled aggregate data for flights, hotels, and car rentals.

The interactive chart below shows the number of reservations per 1,000 users. So when you see that there were 1,535 flights in December of 2019, this means that the average AwardWallet user had just over 1.5 flight reservations that month. You can look at the statistics “By Type” by clicking on the different boxes for Air Trips, Hotel Stays and Car Rentals. Also, AwardWallet Plus users can dig even deeper into the data to see how different travel providers are being affected during this tough time.

You are welcome to reference this data or share screenshots of the above chart. If you do so, please credit AwardWallet as the source and include a link to this page.

Key Takeaways

Air Travel

Not surprisingly, the data shows that air travel took a huge hit in April, May, and June. As you can see, there was only one flight reservation for every three AwardWallet members in the month of May. That's almost a 78% reduction in flight reservations from the 12-month high in December 2019. The number of travel reservations did pick up a bit with the start of the summer travel season. However, July 2020 data shows that reservations were still down over 70% from December 2019.

Hotel Stays

The statistics for hotel stays and car rentals mostly track what we saw for the airlines. Perhaps reflecting the flood of U.S. road trip photos I see on social media, hotel stays are increasing at a faster pace than the air trips. April was the lowest point (we hope) with an 80% decline from last August's high of 1450 reservations. The 603 hotel reservations tracked in July 2020 were more than double those held in April. Despite positive trends, we have a long way to go before travel returns to anything that looks like “normal”.

Car Rentals

Car rentals are also down, but by a much smaller percentage than air and hotel. From a high of 419 reservations in August 2019, April 2020 showed a 79% decline in car rental reservations for AwardWallet members. Like we saw with hotel stays, car rentals have doubled in the past few months. We hope that health conditions across the U.S. can support the continued return to more normal travel activity.

AwardWallet Plus

Only AwardWallet Plus members will be able to dig into the data sorted by travel provider. However, we can give you a couple of quick insights! Airlines that primarily fly domestic routes, like Southwest, Alaska, and JetBlue, have been less harshly affected. With so many international travel restrictions on Americans, it makes sense that carriers with lots of overseas routes are taking a bigger hit.

We also found that airlines that block middle seats (Southwest, Alaska, and Delta) don't seem to be doing much better than airlines that don't (like United and American). It will be interesting to see if that trend holds as travel picks up. If it does, we wouldn't be surprised to see changes to those middle seat policies.

Our Take

We will continue to watch the data to see what AwardWallet members are planning in the coming months. We hope you will also explore the data as it is updated. Let us know in the comments which data points and trends jump out at you!

4.6 / 5 - (9 votes)
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  • Patricio Garcia Bes says:

    unfortunately the situation is preoccupying worldwide, I am sure that the industry will reinvent itself and we will have a future scenario different from what we lived in the past. I hope everything works out quickly.

  • What’s is valid for Delta should be also valid for other airlines.
    Some differences depending on the share between international and domestic flights of each airline.

  • Hopefully the aviation industry and the car rental industry can be reinvented to create attractiveness for frequent travelers.

  • Maria Elisa Alonso says:

    sadly, I think the data will keep getting worse until a vaccine comes out

  • Actually, I don’t know how long we will stay in this “new normality”. I honestly think that traveling anywhere around the world will be more difficult than before. I truly hope we can start flying again as soon as possible for the sake of all. We can’t stay under this new conditions much longer.

  • It is terrible as the COVID-19 impact on the aeronautical equipment. Let’s hope the vaccine arrives quickly and the skies normalize.

  • It’s odd that car rentals didn’t go down so much – maybe more people trying to do road trips?

    • The answer there looks to be yes. Here are survey results – from travel center company Pilot Flying J – I saw in late May: “Almost half (44%) of the survey respondents said that they used their time in quarantine to plan future trips, with 88% having at least one exciting trip already mapped out for summer.”

  • Covid let us have been isolation with other peoples. Hope all of us will be okay and hope all of flight/travel people will be earn money by another way.

  • So sad to see the effect this virus has had on the travel/hospitality industry. Hoping things will improve greatly in 2021 and beyond.

  • LIsa Neilson says:

    I’m amazed the figures are that good and we probably will be in this state for 6-9 months longer.

  • This graph perfectly depicts why the travel industry needs help right now. I read that AA is “temporarily” eliminating like 10 or 15 airports from its domestic portfolio due to the losses incurred by the pandemic. I really hope this doesn’t leave a permanent mark on the travel industry; I had just started figuring out how to work the system and had just started planning out all the places I wanted to go…

  • Huge impact, hope to recover sooner than expected though I don´t see coming back to normality next year

  • Hope to see the tourism industry back and running again with all the precautions needed.

  • I’ve been hearing a lot about people renting hotels for parties since rates are so low. I wonder if that contributes to the hotel numbers above. But also, along with numbers of stays, what about total hotel revenue? I can it be affected too since rates are lower.

  • Not surprising, but fun to see this data nonetheless. Interesting takeaways.

  • I wonder once times goes on if we’ll see a difference between carriers that block center seats and don’t? I can see that quite a few businesses might go to online conferences for some meetings but there will still be a lot that has to be done in person.
    I’m curious how the holidays will do for flights, hotels and car rentals. I would love to see all of that on a graph.

  • Today travelling by car have more sense than by plane, provides better social isolation than being in a plane with at least 100 persons

  • Vaccine can be help us recover from COVID-19. Air Travel was impact everyone who loved go to another country. I’d like to go to Thailand.

  • Hanna Murry says:

    What’s sad data for COVID-19, I am so want to go to travel to Europe. Hope all will be getting well soon.

  • My wife and I were affected returning from out vacation in May this year. The airline we traveled with stopped flying to the destination forcing us to rebook return flights at extra costs. The only offer was the unused portion of the ticket be used for a future travel credit.

  • To make things worse. I was affected this spring coming home from a vacation. The airline I was traveling with stopped flying to the destination forcing me to rebook my return trip which increased my costs greatly.

  • These are very, very interesting numbers. Driving vacations, car rentals and hotel stays are in the cards for this year and, in my opinion, probably next year as well.

  • I really hope international travel can resume soon…let’s hope for the best.

  • Interesting to see that number of flights is pretty much flat after collapsing and that hotels and car rentals increase since collapse. I just assumed that everything would stay low but seeing increase in hotel usage is interesting. I wonder how short-term rentals compares and if hotel usage is increasing due to fear of cleanliness of short-term rental spaces.

  • It is very true that due to COVID-19 practically the entire travel industry is in a great recession.

    Months go by and each time, they are affected: travelers, hotel industry, airlines, also members of some system of awards for traveling.

    Luckily AwardWallet helps the travel community …

  • The virus has devastated the whole travel industry including travel agencies.

  • The level of intercontinental air travel right now is probably what it was during the 1950s.

  • Yeah not much of surprise- travel is down haha! Great time to get rewards though!

  • Problem is even if domestic air travel recovers somewhat in the next few months, international travel won’t.

  • No surprise with this data. I dont see this changing/getting back to normal for quite a while.

  • Many countries, such as Argentina, still have their borders closed. Even if I wanted to fly, unfortunately I couldn’t.

  • I’m surprised that travel was as high as it was in March. People must not have been taking the coronavirus seriously. It’s not like it was unknown at that point.

  • Interesting. I’m surprised “airlines that block middle seats (Southwest, Alaska, and Delta) don’t seem to be doing much better than airlines that don’t (like United and American).” A nice addition, for the longer term, would be cruise ship activity, if AwardWallet tracks it.

  • wow, but it will be better

  • With business adapting to work remotely and learning how efficient it is, I can’t see things ever returning back to anything like previous levels of travel.

  • I do not think that things will return to “normal” until 2022 the soonest.

    • I think once the vaccine is available that will flag the return to normal. When will that be? My guess is early 2021 (fingers crossed!)

  • Maybe I’m just a visual person, but the data seems more devastating to me when I see the graphs. The drop off is very dramatic. I’m be happy when we have a vaccine and things begin to normalize.

  • Interesting analysis. As an essential worker with a new contract, I’m about to add to the numbers in all three major categories. It will be interesting to follow the data.

  • No surprises here other than auto rentals.