Adobe Digital Economy Index: Domestic flight bookings back to pre-pandemic levels

The Adobe Digital Economy Index continues to track the airline recovery, with new data on US domestic flight bookings online. Adobe provides the most comprehensive report of its kind, measuring direct consumer transactions from 6 of the top 10 US airlines and over 150 billion web visits, reporting on online spend, booking growth, pricing trends, and top destinations domestically.

In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel virtually came to a standstill overnight. By June 2021, as restrictions eased and vaccinations ramped up, demand began to increase. In that month, domestic flight bookings were only 5% below the comparable period in 2019. But with the sudden rise of new COVID-19 variants, the airline recover was all but derailed. Coming into the new year, however, consumers have turned a corner.

Domestic flight bookings in February 2022 drove $6.6 billion in online spend, 6% above 2019 levels (compared to February 2019 spend). This represents an 18% increase from the month prior ($5.6 billion in January 2022). ItI's well above what consumers spent over the holidays ($5.5 billion in November 2021, $3.2 billion in December 2021) when concerns over Omicron dampened demand. In all of 2021, domestic flights drove $56 billion in spend online — 57% more than 2020 but 26% less than 2019.

As demand picks up, prices have been rising as well. In February 2022, prices were 5% higher compared to 2019 levels. Contrast this with January 2022, where prices were 3% lower than 2019 levels. Inflation in ticket prices have been a contributor to the uptick in online spending — while revenue is up 6% versus 2019 levels, as cited previously, actual bookings are up just 4%.

“The Adobe Digital Economy Index has been monitoring the airline recovery on a weekly basis, and in the second week of February 2022, we saw domestic bookings and revenue surpass 2019 levels for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst for Adobe Digital Insights. “This is a major turning point, and it shows a level of consumer confidence we’ve not seen in many months.”

Based on arrival sites, we’re sharing the top 10 domestic destinations for those traveling from March 2022 to May 2022. For the first time, Belgrade in Montana (home to the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport) tops the list, followed by 2021 favorites in Florida and Hawaii.

Here are the top 10 destinations based on lift, not volume:

  1. Belgrade, Montana
  2. Fort Myers, Florida
  3. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
  4. Palm Springs, California
  5. Kahului, Hawaii
  6. Orlando, Florida
  7. Tampa, Florida
  8. Lihue, Hawaii
  9. Pensacola, Florida
  10. Honolulu, Hawaii

Looking farther out, domestic bookings have not yet picked up for Memorial Day weekend travel. Bookings are down 18% over the comparable weekend in 2019. Consumers are indeed planning ahead, however, with bookings for summer travel (June 2022 to August 2022) only down 3% over 2019.

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Methodology: The Adobe Digital Economy Index offers the most comprehensive set of insights of its kind, based on analysis through Adobe Analytics that covers over 150 billion visits to travel, leisure and hospitality sites — measuring transactions from 6 of the top 10 U.S. airlines (more than any other technology company).