Skift Take

In Skift's top stories this week, major U.S. airlines didn't hesitate to lift mask requirements, travel numbers in Japan begin steadily rising, and a hotel in South Carolina offers insight on how to create a disability inclusive workforce.

Throughout the week we are posting original stories night and day covering news and travel trends, including on the impact of coronavirus. Every weekend we will offer you a chance to read the most essential stories again in case you missed them earlier.

Japan Finally Shows Signs of Recovery: Skift Travel Health Index: Poor travel performances in Russia and China, which did not come as a surprise, suppress an otherwise strong continuation of travel’s recovery in March 2022 that finally saw Japan make some gains, according to our Skift Travel Health Index.

United, Delta, American, Other U.S. Airlines Quick to Drop Mask Mandates After Judge’s Ruling: Florida federal judge and Trump appointee has liberated the U.S. airlines from the tyranny of having to enforce mask mandates. The five largest U.S. airlines didn’t wait long, dropping their mask requirements within hours of the judge’s ruling.

Forget 2023 — Travel Agents Are Booking for 2024 on Inflation Worries: Travel agents are loudly telling their customers time is of the essence in regards to booking. There’s no telling how expensive travel will become as fuel prices show no signs of falling yet.

Dear Travel Leaders, Sustainability Is Not a PR Exercise: When is the travel industry as a whole going to prioritize sustainability by deed and not word? Time is running out and the complacency and greenwashing around climate action from aviation and cruise, as well as the ongoing lack of better options for the rising conscious consumer are alarming. Most are back to business as usual — and it’s scary as hell.

American Airlines Wants U.S. to Drop International Flyer Covid Test Requirements: American Airlines considers pre-departure testing rules for U.S.-bound travelers the biggest hindrance to its international recovery. And while executives won’t say if they will go away in May, they are bullish about a surge in both leisure and business travel.

FILA, Toy Story, and Hello Kitty Latest to Jump on Hotel Branding Trend: To lose connection with your customer is to lose meaning in your message. After a time of social-distancing, brands are coming up with ways that bring them closer to their consumers than ever before.

Companies Still Snub Airbnbs for Biz Trips: New Deloitte Study: Don’t underestimate the power of big chain loyalty points, which business travelers will be keen to start collecting again to fund their next vacation.

Demand for Off-Peak Travel Rises in Post-Pandemic Recovery: Pent-up demand is so strong that off-peak travel bookings are higher for both pre-summer weeks and midweek days. During the first travel industry earnings call for 2022, Delta Air Lines said yields for off-peak travel are improving as travelers move from the most popular travel times. Expect to hear more of that from travel executives this year.

Pandemic Sparks Glamping 2.0: Incorporating the great outdoors indoors comes at a high cost — but ultimately with a high return on investment for hoteliers, and their guests.

South Carolina Hotel to Offer Case Study for Hiring Workers With Disabilities: Many travel companies want to foster a workforce where everyone, regardless of circumstances, can thrive. But many companies wonder how to go about doing this. The example of The Shepherd Hotel in Clemson, South Carolina, suggests one path.

Tags: airbnb, airlines, american airlines, climate change, covid-19, delta air lines, disabilities, glamping, hotels, inflation, japan, Mask Mandate, pandemic, skift travel health index, sustainability, travel agents, united airlines