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Airlines, Cruise Lines Raise Fares In Anticipation Of Post-COVID Travel Boom

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CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg discusses the rapidly rising prices for traveling as the pandemic starts to die down and how there's still confusion over vaccine passports,

Video Transcript

ELIZABETH COOK: With more people getting vaccinated and more places relaxing health guidelines, it's just a matter of time before airports are packed yet again. CBS News Travel Editor, Peter Greenberg, joins us with what to expect this summer. Peter, thank you for joining us.

PETER GREENBERG: You got it.

ELIZABETH COOK: So are you seeing more bookings and more expensive rates for hotels? Are things ramping up?

PETER GREENBERG: Things are definitely ramping up. I'll give you an example. Three or four weeks ago, a one-way airfare from New York to Los Angeles, nonstop on American Airlines, was nothing but $92. Today, that same airfare is $203, still a far cry from the $290 it was in 2019.

A Miami to San Francisco nonstop fare a month ago was a ridiculous $31. It's now $178. So the airfare and hotel rates are going up at about 7% a week, but that's compounded. So yes, the fares are definitely going up.

ELIZABETH COOK: So how likely are we to see the use of these vaccine passports in the near future? And can you explain how that works?

PETER GREENBERG: Well, I wish I could explain how it works because the technology is supposed to work that it will contain all of your medical records, your vaccination records, your testing records, your medical history, if you will. There are about 40 different entities right now, ranging from individual foreign countries and private sectors to airlines that are developing these digital documents. However, there's no one set of standards that's been accepted, no one universally-acceptable reader to be able to update it, to verify it, to make sure you can't forge it. And we have to get everybody in the same room to be able to see if they're going to accept it.

Now, what you do have right now, if you've gotten your vaccination, is your card from the CDC that says you've gotten either the two doses of Moderna or Pfizer or the one dose of Johnson & Johnson, and most countries are accepting that as proof of vaccination for the moment.

ELIZABETH COOK: Hold on to those cards. They are gold. How about the cruise industry? Carnival reported today bookings are rising at a record pace. Cruises still need clearance now from the CDC. Are you seeing the pent-up demand?

PETER GREENBERG: Oh, I'm not only seeing it, we're recording it. It's not a question of the cruises need permission from the CDC to sail. They only need permission from the CDC to sail from a US port.

So what are the cruise lines doing? They're not waiting anymore for the CDC to give them that approval. They're physically repositioning their ships to foreign country ports where they'll be homeported-- Bermuda, Bahamas, St. Lucia, Iceland, Israel, the United Kingdom. And they'll neither cruise from a US port or go to a US port, and therefore, their sales are going right through the roof right now.

And to give you an idea of the pent-up demand, three weeks ago, one cruise line put their 2021 and 2022 World Cruises for sale. That's their most expensive item, where the minimum cruise fare for a 107-day cruise is $40,000 a cabin. It sold out in one day.

And last week, Silversea put on their Grand Voyage for 2023. The minimum cabin price was $74,000. It sold out in three hours.

ELIZABETH COOK: That's incredible. People obviously very eager to get back to traveling. All right, Peter. Thank you so much for joining us.