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Travel as we know it has been completely disrupted by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. From total lockdowns in nearly every country on the planet to unprecedented international restrictions on air routes and traveler mobility, nothing on the travel industry is the same post-COVID.
You may have heard rumors that flights are cheaper than ever at the moment. You may also have heard that travel is more expensive and more difficult than it has been in years. Confusingly, both answers are true, depending on the destinations or routes you are evaluating. Airlines have been hit hard by the uncertainty of this time and are trying to figure it out as they go.
So what should you do to plan your future trips? Here are some considerations to keep in mind when planning your next trip.
How have flights been impacted by COVID-19?
International flights were impacted by two major developments.
When the virus first struck, many governments around the world initially banned foreign airlines from operating flights to and from their countries. As a result, the airlines themselves have cut several routes to save on operating costs.
Even with people traveling again, the impact of the coronavirus lockdown remains; some routes operate even less frequently than before, people are required to wear masks at airports and on board and many destinations have started requiring travelers to provide medical proof of good health before traveling.
All of these factors combined have created several disruptions in travel, including massive airline layoffs, frequent flight changes, aircraft rescheduling and swaps, and increased attention to improving sanitation and cleanliness routines. .
Is it safe to fly during the pandemic?
After COVID, there are two ways to think about safety when traveling. The first is the most obvious: it is important to take care of your health, especially since there is no vaccine yet.
The second security consideration concerns your financial investment; flights, hotels, rental cars and excursions that you may have booked but now need to cancel or postpone. Unfortunately, thousands of people have discovered the hard way that most travel insurance plans do not cover pandemics. So, when planning a trip after COVID, make sure you know your options for reimbursement or future travel credit.
Tips for Safe Travel During COVID
If you are planning to travel right now, here are the precautions to consider.
- Know your airline’s health and hygiene restrictions. You may need to bring test results that show you are negative for COVID.
- Check out your local destination’s guidelines on masks, social distancing, and other safety protocols. These can vary by destination and are updated frequently, sometimes even daily.
- Find cancellation and refund policies for every step of your trip, from flights and hotels to rental car reservations. Many companies offer generous change or cancellation policies during that time, so make sure you know the rules in case something happens and derails your plans at the last minute.
- Carry hand sanitizer and wipes to protect yourself as much as possible.
- Many airlines require masks on board and some, like Philippine Airlines, even require face shields. Know the rules: Most airlines allow you to remove your mask for short periods of time, such as when drinking coffee or water.
- Allow an additional 20-45 minutes in your airport routine to give yourself plenty of time to go through security checks.
- Maintain safe social distances where possible.
At the arrival
- Follow all guidelines for on-site arrival testing, wait times, and any quarantine instructions.
What cheap flights are available at the moment?
We have seen inconsistent prices for international flights this year, which makes sense given that American travelers are barred from entering many countries around the world.
There have been great fares, such as business class deals between Mexico City and Cape Town for a $ 600 round trip. But many other routes have become much more expensive and time consuming than usual. It is not uncommon to see an itinerary that would normally cost less than $ 2,000 with a single stopover now costs $ 4,000 with two or three one-way stopovers.
However, 2020 has turned out to be a fairly good year for domestic flight offerings. We’ve seen low-cost airlines offer flights starting at $ 11 one-way and even include free companion tickets for those fares. Meanwhile, you can find great deals on international flights, like New York City to Los Angeles and back, for under $ 100 round trip.
Should I book flights now?
It’s a great idea to delivered travel now, especially if you can find a good flight deal. Whether or not you should take a trip now is another story and will depend on many factors, including the risks to personal health and the health of others. But with many great refund and cancellation policies, it’s risk-free to plan for future adventures.