SPRING BREAK GETS SHRUNK THIS YEAR — HOW TRAVELERS SHOULD ADJUST
This winter’s vicious snow and ice storms forced school systems and universities to cancel classes for days on end. Now, it’s time to make up the missed hours and some places are doing so by cutting into spring break.
That’s causing headaches for individual travelers and families as they make their plans for March and April, and they have to come up with strategies to get the most out of shortened holid
2014 Spring Travel Strategies
On top of that, Easter and Passover fall late this year, meaning many airlines and resorts are already expecting traffic to be down compared with 2013. And, one new survey shows a number of travelers would rather put off their spring trips until summer, rather than schedule two vacations a relatively short time apart.
Earlier this month, school officials in Philadelphia announced that students would have to attend classes on April 15, 16 and 17, cutting into what was supposed to be a week-long spring vacation. The district has missed six days this year due to snow, but only baked one extra snow day into its calendar. School officials might ask Pennsylvania for a waiver from the required 180-day calendar, so that students don’t have to keep attending classes until late in June.
Currently, Philadelphia’s last day of class is scheduled to be June 19.
The Pennsylvania requirements have prompted Northampton Community College in Bethlehem Township to completely cancel its spring break. Meanwhile, students from Arkansas to New Jersey and Kentucky are also being told that they’ll lose spring break days due to the winter storms. In just one single week this month, the storms caused 13,400 flight cancellations, according to USA Today. Data isn’t in from the federal government yet for January and February, but December was a mess for the airlines, especially those flying out of Chicago Midway Airport.
Spring break has traditionally been a time when families from the north drive or fly to warmer climates, while masses of college students descend on beach resorts for continuous carousing. A March holiday is particularly popular with baseball fans, who flock to Arizona and Florida to see their favorite teams.
Many may not be making the trip this year, however, because of the late Easter and Passover holiday dates. This year, Easter falls on Sunday, April 20, while Passover begins on the night of April 14. That’s well after the time when ball players break camp and head north.
Jenny Dervin, a spokeswoman for JetBlue Airways, said the carrier was already anticipating its travel during March to be down. JetBlue focuses much of its leisure traffic on vacation destinations in Florida and the Caribbean. “March year over year revenue comparisons will be negatively impacted by the shift in the Easter and Passover holidays from March last year to April this year,” Dervin said in an email. “Historically, this holiday shift has impacted our year over year PRASM (passenger revenue per available seat mile) by approximately seven to eight points.”
Many family travelers say they’ll skip a spring holiday and save up to take a summer trip. A new survey by Travelers United (formerly the Consumer Travel Alliance) demonstrates the wariness with which families are viewing a spring vacation.
- Fewer than two-thirds of travelers surveyed said they would travel this spring. That compares with more than 80 percent of families that expect to go somewhere this summer.About 17 percent of the travelers in the survey say they won’t go anywhere unless they find a good deal. By contrast, only 14 percent of summer travelers say they’ll be holding out for a deal.
- Among spring travelers, just 10 percent said they’d book a place based on an anonymous social media review. The summer travelers are much more willing to book based on social media recommendations, with 16 percent more willing to trust sites like TripAdvisor that allow anonymous comments.
- Spring time travelers and summer vacations have one thing in common: they’re already dieting now so they can afford a binge when they get to their destination.
Travelers United’s ombudsman, Christopher Elliott, said that with the pent up demand for warm weather travel, the summer could be one of the busiest travel seasons since the recession. He offers tips for spring and summer travelers in his new book, How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler, due out March 3 from National Geographic Books.
Written by Micheline Maynard, a Forbes contributor.