As the industry’s fortunes improve, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport hopes to enjoy profitability.
San Jose International Airport Communications Manager Jill Stone advises travelers to check with airlines directly for the latest itinerary updates before hitting the terminal.JW_PNW Shutterstock
Expect long lines at the airport this holiday season, a hopeful sign that things are returning to pre-COVID normalcy after years of turbulence.
The commercial airline industry suffered great economic losses throughout the pandemic, due to flight restrictions and overall fear of flying. According to the trade association Airports Council International, global air travel numbers aren’t expected to reach 2019 levels for another two years at least, despite steadily growing demand post-COVID. The association’s October advisory predicts that 6.8 billion travelers will board planes this year, representing a loss of 33% compared to the projected baseline, which is 74% of 2019 levels.
While airline financial performance is expected to improve in all regions of the world this year, according to the International Air Transport Association, North America is the only region expected to return to profitability.
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport expects to enjoy some of that profitability, said airport Communications Manager Jill Stone, adding that the airport does “expect to be busy during the upcoming holiday season.” The airport has seen numbers gradually increase—300,000 passengers passed through its gates from Nov. 19 through Nov. 28 last year, and the airport expects even more this Thanksgiving holiday.
High-volume passenger predictions are supported by airfare ticketing app Hopper. Based on a sitewide survey, Hopper says that “more than half of Americans plan to travel for one or both of the holidays this year, with 70% of travelers planning to visit friends and family.”
Stone said that passengers should prepare accordingly.
“While we expect flight operations at SJC to be smooth during the holiday season and winter months, disruptions are always a possibility,” she said. “As always we suggest travelers check with their airline directly before heading to the airport for the latest updates to their itinerary. When heading to the airport, be sure to allow plenty of time as lines may be longer—especially as more people are coming back to air travel than have in the past couple years.”
She recommends arriving two hours early for domestic flights, and three hours early for international flights. COVID vaccine requirements still vary by country, so travelers should check with their airline and the public health authority at their destination for applicable details and safety requirements.
Unfortunately, higher demand leads to higher prices. CBS News reported that this was the biggest complaint from flyers this year—trumping concerns over rapidly changing safety precautions, delays and cancellations, and less-than-agreeable passengers that seem to have dominated social media lately.
Still, with gas prices trending well above the national average in the Golden State, Californians may opt to fly rather than drive this holiday season.