I was surprised to see a jump of about 40,000 passengers passing through TSA checkpoints yesterday, compared to the week prior. Numbers had been trending down and they haven’t broken any pandemic records in almost two weeks.
FYI: The TSA’s pandemic record is 2,227,704 on July 18th and the all-time TSA record is the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019 at 2,870,764. Yesterday’s numbers were 2,198,585 and seven days earlier were 2,159,300.
And you know these are almost all leisure travelers. Joe Brancatelli (@joesentme), the prolific business travel writer tweeted this morning, “Business travel ain’t back. There wasn’t a single Globalist at the Hyatt Place LaGuardia last night, the front desk told me.” (FYI: A Globalist is someone in the top tier in the World of Hyatt loyalty program.)
He’s right and unfortunately, I’m pretty sure the Delta variant is going to put a huge dent in the travel industry’s hope for the successful return of business travel this fall.
Just this week, some businesses announced they are delaying opening up their offices. Facebook, Google, The New York Times and Twitter are among them. “A Twitter spokesperson tells CNBC Make It that “after careful consideration of the CDC’s updated guidelines, and in light of current conditions, Twitter has made the decision to close our opened offices in New York and San Francisco as well as pause future office re-openings, effective immediately.”
This is bad news for the travel industry. A friend of mine who works for a huge company says they aren’t traveling until workers return to the office.
More proof that business travel isn’t coming back in September? This week, Delta announced they are extending elite status and loosening basic economy restrictions. They wouldn’t be offering this if they thought travel was back to pre-pandemic levels. No way.
I personally don’t know of any business travelers who have hit the road again with any frequency … or at all, really. Do you?