A Spring Break break
Traveler volumes dip during lull in school recesses; plus, we're featured!
In last week’s outlook, we noted some flattening of the 7-day moving average of TSA screenings. We went on to wonder if the deceleration was just a blip, with traveler volumes soon to resume their climb à la March 2021; or would it nose down—aligning itself with 2019. If the latter were to verify, we thought TSA throughput would be approximately 2.29 million travelers on Friday. The outcome?
Early returns from this week1 further support the case that 2022 is more closely following 2019 patterns. While a return to more “normal,” pre-COVID travel behavior is reassuring in many respects, it does introduce some question as to where the surge of revenge travel is. We would have expected kid-less travel to more fully offset the ebbs and flows of schools’ spring recesses. This weekend figures to be the trough (but not the end) of school break-synchronized travel, with just 11% of higher education and 7% of municipal school districts’ recesses2 starting or ending.
With 2019 pointing to a 3.7% decline in TSA screenings this weekend—and the 7-day moving average looking to flirt with pre-Spring Break levels—we’re going to keep our head down on data science work. That said, we will craft some tweet-size outlooks as appropriate. These pared down outlooks are enabled3 by the fact that the national weather forecasts contains no showstoppers. We’ll be keeping an eye on:
Low pressure lifting through eastern Canada on Friday will produce stubbornly high winds across the Northeast (attn: EWR itineraries) in its the wake. Its trailing front stalls across the southeastern US, with scattered showers across Florida (MIA) and the Gulf Coast (MSY hosts the Final Four) through Saturday.
A series of systems are forecast to bring increasing chances for rain to the Pacific Northwest (SEA) and modest snow to the Intermountain West (SLC).
We’re also keeping a nervous eye on BA.2, however case counts4 remain well off their levels from the eve of the sick call-induced holiday meltdown. Even absent elevated sick calls, however, airlines have again been prompted to offer incentive pay—this time in an effort to bridge hiring sprees and Network Planning aspirations.
We expect traveler volumes will soon turn upwards again: spring recess for 8 of the 20 largest municipal school districts begins the weekend of April 9. We’ll resume our regularly scheduled programming next week, provided that we don’t hear from readers that they prefer this new format [where we set the table via Substack then tackle individual airport dynamics on Twitter].
We were excited to learn that Substack featured our blog on their homepage. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true—we wouldn’t have been selected if it weren’t for our readers, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts. If you’ve been thinking about sharing our blog with somebody, now could be an especially good time!
The 7-day moving average ticked down 0.4% after Sunday, the second biggest decrease since a tough comp versus President’s Day weekend
954 colleges and universities tracked by StudentCity; top 20 US school districts Wikipedia’d by us (7% reflects number of students).
We’ve also been a little unsure of ourselves on Twitter recently (read: less active). What amounts to brand-building felt a bit dodgy against the backdrop of—and prevailing tone around—the Ukraine-Russian war. While we recognize this tragedy is far from over, we’re making a concerted effort to wade back into the Twitter pool.
The Northeast, where Omicron’s first variant initially exploded sits at 11 cases per 100,000 (up 22% since last week; as of Mar. 28). On 22 December 2021, Northeast cases per capita were 86. Source: New York Times