We analyzed flight search demand from international origins to the US for the three weeks prior to Trump's inauguration through Feb. 22nd to look for early indications of the impact of Trump's presidency on travel.
- Flight search demand was weakest on the day the travel ban was announced (down 17% compared to Obama's final two weeks in office).
- We've seen larger declines in flight search demand corresponding to dates when the executive order has dominated the news cycle, most recently around the time of Trump's recent press conference (down 9%) and Florida campaign event (down 13%).
- Demand has recovered slightly since the travel ban has been overturned but it is still well below expected levels.
- The decline is broadly based, with 103 of 122 countries where we have significant data showing a drop, averaging about -22%. China is among the largest drops, more than 40% down.
- Searches from restricted countries continue to decline. Flight search demand from countries suggested as potential additions to the restrictions have recovered slightly from their lowest point.
- Demand from Russia to the US is still well above normal (up 66%), and does not appear to be a normal seasonal effect.
Figure 1: Daily variation in flight search from international origins to the US, adjusted for day-of-week seasonality, compared to the same dates in 2016.
As you can see in the graph above, demand varied within about a 5% band until the Wednesday after the Inauguration (Jan 25th), bottoming out on the Saturday that the travel ban was announced (down 17% compared to Obama's final two weeks in office). Flight search demand is still below normal as discussions continue around travel restrictions, most recently around the time of Trump's recent press conference (down 9%) and Florida campaign event (down 13%). Although international flight search demand somewhat recovered after the temporary halt, it is still below normal (down 2%).
Last year, we saw only a 1.8% decline for the comparable time period which suggests the change is not a simple seasonal effect. International to the US demand fell about 5% over a comparable period in 2015 compared to the 17% it fell this year. Also, in 2015 only about 55% of countries showed some decline with 45% showing an increase, compared to the much broader-based decline this year with 77% dropping. This, along with the fact that the affected countries showed even stronger declines this year, further suggests there is more than a simple seasonal variation going on.
Figure 2: Weekly average searches to the US from countries on the banned list (top), and several other countries that some have argued would have made more sense to ban (bottom). We receive no data for Yemen, and very little for Somalia, Syria and Libya.
The data utilized for this study comes from Hopper's real-time "shadow traffic" containing the results of consumer airfare searches. Hopper collects, from several Global Distribution System partners, ten to fifteen billion airfare price quotes every day from searches happening all across the web.
We analyzed flight search demand (flight search queries) for flights to the US originating in 122 countries where we have significant data coverage, starting three weeks prior to Trump's inauguration to look for early indications of the impact of Trump's travel policies.