The British are coming: Here’s why you should lock in your fall travel plans now

Sep 23, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

With very few exceptions, international travelers have been banned from entering the United States during the pandemic.

But the restrictions on these travelers, which have been ongoing since March 2020, will finally end in November. That’s when the Biden administration will allow fully-vaccinated travelers to enter the U.S. for leisure purposes. Travelers will still need to show a negative COVID-19 test but won’t have to quarantine upon arrival.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter

The ban was initially put in place by then-president Donald Trump and then extended monthly by President Biden to slow the virus’ spread. But the ban, according to travelers and travel providers, decimated the industry and unnecessarily separated family and friends. There were also calls for reciprocity, as the United Kingdom and much of the European Union allowed Americans to enter their countries earlier this summer.

The U.S. travel industry had long lobbied to ease the ban, saying it cost the U.S. economy $1.5 billion in spending from Canada, Britain and the EU per week. After the announcement, the industry leaped with joy, with destinations like New York City calling the lifting “critical” to the city’s recovery.

The relaxing of the travel ban means families separated for more than 18 months will be able to reunite. Travel demand may also pick up in the coming months. And — according to travel experts — international tourists are already planning their fall, winter and spring travel.

Here’s what you need to know when drafting your travel plans.

Initial data shows Europeans are searching for travel

New York City NYC skyline
New York City skyline (Photo by TomasSereda/Getty Images)

Several experts have told TPG in recent days that it’s much too soon to know whether there’s been a big jump in Europeans booking travel to the U.S. yet. However, travel analysts note that Europeans are searching for travel to the U.S., even if they haven’t booked yet.

Initial data from several sources, like Google Travel, indicate that foreign travelers are searching for trips. Searches for terms like “flights to New York” from the U.K. spiked shortly after the White House’s announcement.

TPG senior editor Ben Smithson, based in London, says he’s already noticed a sense of excitement from Europeans following the news that the U.S. would end its travel ban.

“Shares in airlines like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have soared on the announcement,” Smithson says, “and both airlines have warned of longer than usual wait times as British and other European travelers call in to redeem all of those travel vouchers from previously canceled trips.”

Smithson says European travelers — trying to escape the bitter cold — will likely flock to warmer destinations, such as Orlando, Miami and Los Angeles. However, Northeast U.S. destinations are popular among many Europeans, even during the winter holiday season. Smithson says some travelers will likely make their way to cities like New York during winter holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

According to data from the travel site Skyscanner, visitors to the site’s U.S. platforms were 20% higher the day the announcement that the travel ban would be lifted, compared to the previous week. And travelers from the U.K. and Germany, in particular, are chomping at the bit to travel to the U.S. Visitors on Skyscanner’s U.K. and German sites rose by 74% and 28%, respectively, immediately following the announcement.

“With the option for transatlantic travel now open, we expect a large portion of these searches to convert to bookings very quickly, as friends and families make plans to be reunited and vacationers head to their favorite spots,” said Martin Nolan, traveler rights expert at Skyscanner, in a statement.

But Europeans aren’t the only ones searching for fall destinations in the U.S. American travelers are, too — and they’re also interested in many of the same destinations as Europeans.

According to Tripadvisor, which just released a Fall Travel Index, more than half of Americans say they plan to travel this fall. The report notes that U.S. travelers are also comfortable spending more and traveling with more people on their trips. The average price for trips booked by Americans this fall is $776, compared to nearly $600 for international travelers.

“Americans are spending significantly more on travel than the rest of the world,” said Val Anthony, the lead research analyst at Tripadvisor, in a statement. “This could be a result of more family trips: ‘Family hotels’ are the most popular hotel style, while pools and ‘family rooms’ are among the most popular hotel amenities being searched on Tripadvisor in the U.S. right now.”

According to the report, big cities make up half of the top 10 most popular destinations this fall. The most popular destinations are Las Vegas, New York City and Orlando. However, a few smaller cities like Nashville, the heart of American country music, and Virginia Beach, driving distance to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, also made the list.

There will likely be some competition for hotel rooms and airplane seats this fall, and experts suggest not waiting to book travel.

Flight prices won’t increase — but don’t wait to book

Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

Scott Keyes, the founder and “chief flight expert” of the airfare deal subscription company Scott’s Cheap Flights, doesn’t think flight prices will increase significantly after the announcement. And while he predicts there will be enough hotels and airlines to meet the demand of foreign and domestic travelers, Keyes doesn’t suggest travelers wait until the last minute to book travel.

“People from Europe, China, United Kingdom and elsewhere have not been allowed in the U.S., and there has been a huge pent-up demand for travel from folks who live in those places,” Keyes said.

In fact, if you haven’t shored up your travel plans, you’re already behind the curve. That’s because last-minute flights are (almost) always going to be pricier than average. There’s one other factor: The reopening falls just weeks before the start of the U.S. holiday season, which is likely to push last-minute flight and hotel bookings higher — if they even are available.

One piece of advice for travelers? Stop what you’re doing and start planning your fall and winter trips.

“The best time to book your Christmas and New Year’s flights was three months ago,” he says. “The next best time is [now], and the worst time to do it is a few weeks before travel.”

Featured photo by Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.