Call it revenge journey.
Nearly two years after COVID-19 first reared its head in the US, Southern Californians are looking forward to vacation trips they’ve canceled or put on hold IEighty year
Despite a restored mask mandate, social-distancing guidelines and the spread of the Omicron version, commuters say they are eager to get out of the city.
It is expected to be the region’s third busiest holiday travel season on record.
about 8.8 million will travel
Figures from the Automobile Club of Southern California show that about 8.8 million Southland residents are expected to take vacation trips this year – a 37% increase over 2020 and just 6% less than 2019.
The Auto Club predicts that 7.8 Southern Californians will travel by car, 771,000 will fly and another 213,000 will use other modes of transportation, such as trains and buses or cruise ships.
Philomena Andre, president of the Auto Club’s travel products and services, said this time last year many were wary of travel as a new wave of the pandemic without widespread vaccination availability.
But this time things are different.
“Following vaccination for most people, travelers are aware of the continuing need for caution and the new Omicron version, but are more confident in taking long-awaited family vacations,” Andre said in a statement.
Gas prices and airfares are high
Those hitting the streets will face the highest holiday gas prices ever. On Friday, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in California was $4.67 – $1.46 higher than a year ago, according to price tracker GasBuddy.com.
According to the Auto Club, the top five destinations for Southern California travelers are La Vegas, San Diego, Anaheim, Grand Canyon and Yosemite.
Gas prices are high, but airfares will leave an even bigger hole in travelers’ pockets. Hopper, an airfare tracking app, said the average domestic airfare for holiday travel this year is $390, up 55% compared to 2020 and comparable to 2019.
The Tyler Accord is already facing airfare inflation. On Thursday morning, the 31-year-old Reseda resident arrived at LAX two hours early for a flight to Chicago and later to Seattle to visit family.
“I am very surprised how much it has increased,” he said. “A roundtrip flight to Seattle is usually around $220, but this time it’s over $600. I wasn’t planning on spending that much to fly this year. I think it’s a Christmas gift.” Will reduce my ability to buy.”
airports will be buzzing
Los Angeles International Airport officials estimate that 3.5 million passengers will pass through the airport during the winter holiday travel season, which began on Thursday, December 16, which runs through January 3.
This is almost double the 1.85 million passengers passing through LAX in 2020, but less than the 4.5 million passengers in 2019.
The busiest days at the airport are expected to be December 17, 19, 26 and January 2, with over 200,000 people visiting each day.
Ontario International Airport is expecting over 271,000 passengers over the winter holidays, or 93% of the number of passengers traveling via ONT during the same period in 2019.
Officials at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana said the airport is expecting an increase in air travel based on data from past holidays. The airport said passenger traffic during the period from December 5 to December 11 reached 96 per cent of its level during the same period in 2019.
San Clemente resident Eva Kohn and her family took off on a holiday ski trip in Park City, Utah, last weekend.
Caution was top of mind for Cohn, her husband and two teenage children. All of them have been vaccinated and are also wearing N-95 masks for the plane ride. Kohn said his family’s avid skiers would order takeout once they hit the slopes.
“The Omicron data is too early to know if it is really that light,” she said.
Her workspace is helping to develop antimicrobial coatings that she will use on her masks for trips there and home. But for now the holiday spirit is high.
“I’m always excited to go to the mountains and be in the snow,” Kohn said. “The mountain sights really get me in the holiday spirit.”
LAWA spokeswoman Heather Montgomery said one of the biggest challenges for commuters out of LAX is finding parking.
“There has been a change this year,” he said. “More people are driving to LAX and parking instead of dropping off a shuttle bus, Uber or a friend. This has led to very full parking garages, especially on weekends. Everything was full on Thanksgiving weekend.”
Montgomery said travelers can avoid that worry by reserving parking space ahead of time.
“You enter your flight information and it will suggest where you can park, with pricing for all,” he said. “You can even get a discount depending on how far in advance you book it.”
Jen Scheeter of West Hills isn’t planning on traveling this holiday season, although she recently took an overseas excursion.
“I went to Italy in October and felt very safe because I was vaccinated and had a booster shot,” she said. “I had a COVID test on the way and on the way, but I didn’t know what to expect now with the new variant exploding cases.”
US air travel is bouncing back
On a broader scale, the AAA predicts that more than 109 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more between December 23 and January 2, an increase of about 34% from 2020. This will take this year’s nationwide numbers to 92% of 2019 levels. ,
“With vaccines widely available, the conditions are very different and many people feel more comfortable with travel,” said Paula Twidel, senior vice president of AAA Travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an interactive map with recommendations and information about restrictions for international travel.
Isolated cases of air travelers refusing to wear masks have surfaced on social media in recent months, and Mongomari said anyone attempting to do so would face dire consequences.
“I think by now most people are at the point where they understand that this is a federal law issue,” he said. “If you are not wearing a mask then you are not boarding the plane. And you have to deal with the FAA if you refuse to wear it during flight. The fines associated with non-compliance are very high. ,