In the past three weeks, things have started to look more promising for the tourism industry. COVID-19 cases are dropping in many places and vaccinations are accelerating.
As a cautious optimism has set in, airlines have seen an uptick in bookings from leisure travelers and people wishing to reconnect with loved ones after enduring over a year of the pandemic.
“I think as more people are getting vaccinated, we’re starting to see travel demand start to pick up, especially from people who received that second dose of the vaccine,” Steven Swan, senior director of strategic planning and airline partnerships at Southwest Airlines said.
Southwest and other airlines have been preparing for the moment when travel might return, strategically adding routes and destinations, especially from Phoenix. Now they’re watching to see how that plays out.
“We’re starting to see more broad-based demand return,” Swan said. “Phoenix still is, you know, a very bright spot in our network. It was pre-COVID. It’s held up better during COVID, and it’s definitely come back strong as people start to travel again.”
While some of those routes are designed to bring in travelers who desire a vacation in the Valley, many others have been added for Phoenix residents looking for summer escapes. To help with your post-pandemic travel planning, here are some of the new flights airlines have added from Phoenix.
The primary carrier at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in east Mesa, ultra-low-cost Allegiant has added these destinations:
- Traverse City, Michigan (restarting service suspended during the pandemic).
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming
- San Diego
- Santa Maria, California
Helpful hint: You can save money by buying your ticket at the airport. Right now, Allegiant has an agent available for in-person purchases from noon to 1 p.m. Sundays at Gateway.
It’s not a new service, but Alaska Airlines has extended its service between Anchorage and Phoenix year-round.
Starting this summer, American Airlines, the largest carrier at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, will increase the frequency of its Hawaii routes. Since returning last fall, American’s Honolulu and Maui flights have been operating once daily. On May 6, the Maui route will increase to twice daily, and on June 3 the Honolulu route will do the same.
American will extend its seasonal service to Loreto, Mexico, through June 2 and to Guerrero, Mexico, through Sept. 7.
On June 3, the airline will launch service to:
- Idaho Falls
- Eureka, California
- Bozeman, Montana (this will be a seasonal route)
On May 6, American will resume seasonal service:
- Nashville, Tennessee
- New Orleans
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
And on June 3 to:
- Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
- Madison, Wisconsin.
Frontier has added flights over the past year to attract Valley residents looking for a low-cost escape to California. The ultra-low-cost carrier’s new California cities from Sky Harbor over the past year include:
Southwest Airlines has been really active in the past year, adding new services to prepare for post-pandemic travel.
The airline started new flights from Chicago O’Hare, Colorado Springs and Palm Springs, California, to Phoenix.
Southwest also expanded Phoenix as an international gateway by adding flights to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, Mexico.