Skift Take

While destinations in Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean are still the top choice for many spring breakers, cities in Europe are also becoming popular options.

Every March and April, thousands of college students descend upon beaches in Florida, Mexico or sometimes even the Caribbean. 

That may be changing. 

While destinations like Orlando, Las Vegas and Cancun are still some of the most popular spring break destinations for most U.S. airlines, cities in Europe are slowly growing in popularity. 

United Airlines reported that 30% of Gen Z travelers who booked trips with the carrier were flying to destinations abroad. The same number of people flying to Fort Lauderdale — one of the most popular spring break destinations — are also flying to London, United said. 

Tokyo has returned to the carrier’s top 25 destinations for spring break for the first time since 2019. Between March and April, United expects to fly a total of 21 million passengers for spring break, a 10% increase from last year. 

For JetBlue, which flies to London, Paris and Amsterdam year-round, Europe is turning out to be a popular option for spring breakers. 

Andres Barry, president of JetBlue vacations, said he saw an uptick in customers buying vacation packages to Europe during the spring break travel period. He added that JetBlue Vacations, which bundles hotels, car rentals or cruises into airfare, is primarily popular with the carrier’s routes in Florida, Mexico and the Bahamas. 

“We’re definitely seeing that naturally without us yet promoting packages to Europe,” Barry said. 

Demand for International Travel Stays Strong

Since the pandemic, airlines have reported experiencing a boom in demand for international travel. That boom has, in part, been fueled by “revenge travel,” where travelers were willing to spend more on vacations and flights since they were unable to do so during the pandemic. 

Executives at United and Delta Air Lines have said they’ve seen strong bookings for transatlantic travel, particularly for the summer — one of the busier travel periods in the industry. 

United chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella said places in southern Europe like Spain and Italy have become year-round destinations for the carrier. Delta president Glen Hauenstein previously said bookings to Europe through April were “pretty exciting.”

And the appetite for international travel is so high that even booking patterns have changed. Barry said the bulk of spring break vacations were booked during Black Friday after Thanksgiving, and now JetBlue Vacations is focusing on summer travelers. 

“I do think that the longer booking curve is a signal that [travelers are] learning that you gotta book early to get the exact dates you want and the property that you want,” Barry said.


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Tags: delta air lines, jetblue, spring break, united airlines

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