Airlines Courting Leisure Travelers
With business travel at historic lows, airlines are looking to leisure travelers to fill their planes. In addition to the previously announced elimination of change fees, airlines are adding new routes, pitching discounted fares and offering incentives to those wanting to get away after months of isolation due to COVID-19.
American Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines are offering more flights to Mexico, Latin America and/or the Caribbean.
United Airline spokesperson Christine Salamone said, “Ninety percent of customers who book on United.com are now leisure travelers, and we’re seeing that these customers are more open about the destinations that they would like to visit.”
United has responded to the demand by introducing “Explore Destinations,” which is an interactive tool on its website that enables those interested in leisure travel to see the lowest fares for cities across the country to many destinations in a single view. Users can decide where to vacation based on the best deal or they can sort by specific interests, such as by brewpubs, national parks or snorkeling.
Officials at Delta Air Lines say that customers are traveling on shorter notice, often booking a week or 10 days in advance so that they can avoid Coronavirus hot spots.
Vasu Raja, chief revenue officer at American Airlines, said that he is seeing more customers under age 40 with most traveling for leisure. And those customers are less interested in airline loyalty programs.
So, even though many people still worry about the COVID-19 pandemic, those who are flying are feeling more respected and appreciated by the airlines.