Winter has taken a toll on both domestic and international travel, with November showing a 19 percent decrease in domestic flight bookings and a 16 percent drop in purchases of international flights. Cuba, however, was a bright spot internationally with bookings up 190 percent in November after US travel restrictions were relaxed.

Following the end of summer in August, domestic flight bookings dropped by 16 percent and international flight bookings decreased by 20 percent in September. Bookings then stabilized in October, but November brought forth large decreases again, possibly due to customers having booked holiday travel in advance.

November’s top ten domestic travel destinations

Every month, we analyze flights booked by US residents on Expedia, Orbitz and United Airlines to shed light on the top ten domestic and international destinations by month-over-month changes in booking activity. This time we found that Northeast cities and Midwest destinations saw their lowest flight bookings of the seven months we have analyzed thus far. A cold front that reached these East coast and Midwest destinations may be to blame.

Louisville, KY claimed first place with a 73 percent increase in flights booked MoM, and was the only domestic destination to show an increase in bookings in November. Nine-out-of-ten domestic destinations that made the list saw decreased booking activity in November. Six of the nine were East Coast or Midwest destinations.

As for the other three: Burbank, CA saw a 62 percent decrease in flight purchases from October. Sarasota, FL saw 57 percent decrease in flights booked MoM, after coming in first for increased booking activity in October. Finally, Oakland, CA saw a 52 percent decrease in flight purchases during November.

# Destination MoM Changes
1 Louisville, KY 73%
2 Burbank, CA -62%
3 Sarasota, FL -57%
4 Richmond, VA -55%
5 Buffalo, NY -53%
6 Wichita, KS -52%
7 Burlington, VT -52%
8 Oakland, CA -52%
9 Dayton, OH -52%
10 Providence, RI -48%

November’s Notable mention goes to Hawaii as flights to both the Big Island and Maui saw at least a 15 percent increase MoM.

Top ten international destinations for MoM changes in flight purchases in November

Travel to warmer climates remained the dominant factor in international travel in November. The only two destinations to increase in MoM flights booked were Cuba and Guatemala, both located in the subtropical region above the equator, yet convenient for US travelers.

During November, flight bookings to Cuba were up 190 percent and flights to Guatemala saw a 55 percent MoM increase. All the rest of the world, specifically Eastern Europe, South America and the Middle East saw sharp declines in flights purchased during November. Flights to Turkey and Argentina saw significant decreases MoM, with purchase volumes in November far below their seven month average.

Four countries that saw large MoM increases in flights booked in October, showed decreases in November. These include Netherlands Antilles, October’s leader for MoM increases in flight purchases, as well as October’s runner-up, United Arab Emirates, along with Brazil and Vietnam.

# Country MoM Changes
1 Cuba 190%
2 România -58%
3 Argentina -57%
4 Netherlands Antilles -58%
5 Guatemala 55%
6 Ukaraine -55%
7 Vietnam -53%
8 Turkey -51%
9 United Arab Emirates -47%
10 Brazil -46%

Bottom line: November’s bookings showed large decreases in flight bookings by US residents. However, November’s data did reflect travel to traditional winter sport destinations, something we expect to see over the December holidays and into the new year. Last-minute holiday bookings will also show up next month in our December report.

Traveling or not, wherever this holiday season finds you, we wish you and your family peace and happiness now and in the New Year!