Increasing vaccination rates, decreasing COVID-19 rates in many places and the loosening of travel restrictions have already led to an upswing in air travel in recent months, and this trend is poised to continue into the summer.
This is certainly good news for the airline industry, which suffered big losses amid the pandemic. “We’re starting to see light at the end of this very dark tunnel,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told investors in April, USA Today reported. But this may not be the best news for travelers looking to score flight deals.
“With the rates of vaccines increasing, fares are skyrocketing this summer,” said Alex Miller, founder and CEO of the travel site UpgradedPoints.com. “In many respects, a lot of deals have passed.”
On the plus side, Miller doesn’t expect fares to reach pre-pandemic levels just yet.
“I do not believe they’ll fully reach 2019 levels due to international demand being suppressed, but we will come close — perhaps over 80% — due to pent-up demand,” he said.
If you want to secure the best prices on summer travel, the best time to book is now, Miller said.
How To Save on Summer Travel
Even though you may not be able to get the extremely discounted fares that were available during the height of the pandemic, there are still ways to save on flights this summer.
First, be strategic about when you fly. Consider booking your travel during the season’s “shoulder weeks” — “early June and late August, when children are still typically in school,” Miller said. This is when you’ll be able to get the cheapest flights. Avoid flying around the Fourth of July, when prices tend to be at their highest.
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Other ways to save? “Set alerts for fare drops, which you can do on sites like Kayak.com,” Miller said. “Consider alternate airports — instead of flying into small cities, try more urban, larger airports. Subscribe to websites such as The Flight Deal, which regularly publish new deals.”
You should also look into travel package deals, said Andrew Lock, travel industry expert and presenter at The Travel Pro Show.
“Airlines are offering particularly good deals on travel packages right now, that is combined air/hotel and sometimes car rental too,” he said. “Sometimes these offers are cheaper than the airfare alone! To find the best deals, I recommend searching your preferred airlines. Also, register for promotional emails from those airlines so you’ll be the first to know about any sales.”
Other Expenses You May Want To Consider
Even if you are vaccinated, you may want to take extra safety precautions while flying — which can mean additional costs to purchase supplies. In addition to a face mask, you may want to purchase a face shield or glasses for extra protection. You should also bring hand sanitizer to disinfect frequently while making your way through the airport and while on the plane. Also, you might want to bring your own blanket and pillows, as airlines are typically not offering these on flights for sanitary reasons.
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