VIRGINIA/DC – Residents of northern Virginia and DC are excited about the upcoming summer and plan to travel both domestically and abroad, despite high gasoline and jet fuel prices, according to a new AAA Travel survey.
More than 50% of DC-area residents surveyed said they plan to travel more this summer than last year, and many say it will be their first major summer trip since the COVID pandemic began. -19 two years ago.
Of residents surveyed, only 15% said they were staying home or unsure of their summer travel plans. Within that group of people, about 25% cited gas prices as the main factor influencing the decision, according to poll results released Tuesday.
For residents who said they planned to travel more this summer, 50% said it was because their personal concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic have eased. About 20% of residents said it was because travel issues eased in their planned summer destinations.
“The results of this new AAA Travel survey indicate that COVID concerns have eased significantly and the majority of Washington, D.C. residents are considering getting away from it all despite gas prices,” said Ragina Ali, Door -says AAA Mid-Atlantic, in a statement Tuesday. .
The AAA survey was conducted by Public Policy Polling, which interviewed 603 DC-area residents on April 8-9. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.
On Monday, a federal judge in Florida struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide mask mandate for all forms of public transportation, including planes, trains and buses. Individual airlines are still allowed to require their customers to wear masks on flights.
READ ALSO: Mask mandate for mass transit in VA, DC overturned by federal judge
But major US airlines, including Delta and United, eliminated mask requirements on Monday shortly after the decision was announced. The decision drew cheers from some travelers and raised concern from others, who believed the CDC’s mask mandate on planes would remain in effect until at least early May.
The judge’s decision is likely to increase the number of Americans traveling by air. Airports were already experiencing a strong increase in travelers in March and April before the judge issued her decision on Monday to overturn the CDC’s mask mandate.
With the increase in passenger numbers, however, headaches are expected to get worse at airports, with longer queues at security and more flights canceled due to a lack of staff.
Airline ticket price inflation, like that of consumer goods, is having a greater impact on consumers’ purchasing power than a few months ago. In March, airfares were 20% higher than 2019 levels, according to a new Adobe Digital Economy Index Reportwhich tracks US domestic flight booking data online.
“Consumers have seen online prices for physical goods rise now for 22 consecutive months, according to Adobe’s Digital Price Index, and inflation is also becoming more important for services,” said senior analyst Vivek Pandya. for Adobe Digital Insights, in a press release. . “The unleashing of pent-up demand has been a major driving factor as the desire to travel by air returns more aggressively than expected.”
But in the longer term, higher airfares don’t have a big impact on travel plans. Domestic bookings for summer travel from June to August are increasing, according to Adobe Digital Insights.
For those planning to travel by car, more than 60% of DC-area residents said gas prices weren’t even factored into their trip planning, according to the AAA survey.
In addition to hitting the beach or traveling across the country, many respondents said they plan to travel overseas this summer.
“While domestic travel will dominate, it’s interesting to note the number of people who are also considering overseas travel. This is something we haven’t seen since 2019,” said Ali of AAA Mid- Atlantic.
According to AAA, more than 70% of DC-area residents are planning a trip of 50 miles or more this summer. Nearly 30% of area residents are planning their first major summer trip since before the pandemic.
According to the survey, nearly 55% of DC-area residents plan multiple trips, and of those who do travel, more than 40% plan international trips.
About 25 percent said they are taking fewer or shorter trips because of gas prices. More than 10% said they would adjust their budget for accommodations or restaurant meals due to gas prices.