Most Americans who are traveling for the holidays haven’t been out of town since pandemic hit, survey suggests

There’s no place like home for the holidays — especially if you can get there via your preferred means of travel.

A new study suggests that a many Americans will soon be traveling out of town for the first time months and apparently will opt to fly instead of drive. 

More than 55% of Americans surveyed in a new report from travel-booking app Hopper said they would be traveling during the November and December holiday months for the first time since the coronavirus became widespread in the U.S. this year. 

Hopper surveyed 892 people in September and found that 52% of Americans also said they planned to fly instead of drive for Thanksgiving, with 74% saying they planned to fly during the December holidays. 

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If accurate, the survey is good news for the struggling airline industry, which was hit with a turbulent 2020 as nationwide shutdowns affected both international and domestic travel, and fewer customers were willing to take flight during the COVID-19 pandemic. And the flight forecast is still weary — domestic air travel was still down 62% and international air travel was down 79% compared to the same time a year ago, according to industry group Airlines for America

Still, Americans appear to be interested in venturing far out of town for the winter. The Hopper survey found that 32% of people said they’d be willing to hop on a one- to four-hour flight, while 25% said they would take a longer cross country flight between four to eight hours. What’s more, 21% said they would also take an eight-hour flight or longer. 

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While road trips were on the rise during the summer, fewer of the survey respondents were eager to drive long distances during the holidays, with just 14% saying they’d be willing to drive more than four hours away this holiday season. 

Fifty-two percent of Americans said they planned to fly instead of drive during the holidays. (iStock). 

Fifty-two percent of Americans said they planned to fly instead of drive during the holidays. (iStock). 

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To promote health and safety, more airlines have been offering pre-flight COVID-19 tests. American Airlines, United Airlines and JetBlue announced they would launch preflight coronavirus testing in travel hubs like the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Hawaii. 

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News of Hopper’s survey comes on the heels of a separate study, out earlier this week by the Department of Defense, that suggested a travler’s risk of contracting COVID-19 was “virtually nonexistent” if everyone wears masks during the flight.