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For all prospective travelers there is now opportunity in travel that has not previously existed.
Over the span of a few short weeks, travel drastically changed. Before Coronavirus spread around the globe and flights were canceled, travel was at an all-time high. Airlines could not hire pilots fast enough and flights were frequently overbooked. Tour operators were popping up left and right, Airbnbs were getting booked up months in advance, and new travel credit cards just keep on coming.
A startling contrast to today’s world where travel is all but non-existent and tour operators are having a hard time staying afloat. While the Coronavirus pandemic is not going to end life as we know it, it has been the cause of many flights being cancelled and ushered in a new global travel paradigm. A paradigm that will have lingering effects years into the future.
While we’re not quite out of the Coronavirus situation yet, the global outlook is improving. As we approach the summer many people are starting to ask what it might look like to take a trip or go on vacation. Perhaps the bigger questions on everyone’s mind are related to how safe it will be to travel. Given the uncertainty and the possibility of flights being cancelled, does it even makes sense to book flights and hotels in the future?
While no one has all the answers, experts have weighed in on the situation. The picture is starting to become a bit clearer on the possible risks and rewards travelers face if they were to start booking their trips.
Coming to the end of the worst of it
So long as proper containment of the virus continues and social distancing stays in effect the worst of the virus looks to be behind us. But even though the pandemic is slowing, the true damage to the global economy and travel industry is not yet apparent. Many travel companies operate on razor thin margins so there are many likely to not survive the year, even if conditions drastically improve.
Risk of flights being cancelled?
In the current atmosphere of uncertainty booking a flight brings more inherent risks now than it did in the past.
Is this enough to recommend everyone to stay home?
Not necessarily, but there are some new dynamics at play that travelers should be aware of.
Under the federal CARES Act airports and airlines received a boost to their funding. This helped to offset the costs of the pandemic and to prevent a full-on airline volatility event. One of the stipulations of this aid is that airlines must keep flights going and there will be no major layoffs or furloughs. At least till October. However, there is still a chance for normal flights to be cancelled due to the rapidly developing situation and no guarantee that all traditional routes will be serviced.
Other travel businesses are also reacting and hunkering down due to the Coronavirus. Flight insurance companies are primarily interested in protecting their businesses so many Coronavirus related claims are not covered. As various health authorities have issued advisories regarding the coronavirus many travel insurance companies are considering it a “foreseen event.” This means their coverage will not apply.
The excluded coverage include:
- Losses from trip cancellation
- Delays resulting from the virus.
Many insurance companies may allow customers to defer their coverage to a future trip if they are holding off travel. But there is not guarantee your insurance company will still be around when you decide to travel.
Speaking of Airline volatility…
Isolated hotspots of the virus still exist
Even if you manage to book your hotel and land a flight there is still an inherent risk of contracting the virus wherever you go. While there are locations more severely affected than others, most places still carry a risk. Traveling through areas with high foot traffic will make you more susceptible.
Lack of stability in the industry in general
With financial difficulties and lack of travel because of coronavirus there is a general instability in the travel industry now. This instability means many tour operators are not going to make it to 2021. Booking a trip too far in the future might mean you are booking an experience with a company that may not exist by the time you get there.
The Bright side
There is a positive side to the instability in travel, however. With reduced income, many travel companies are now rolling out the red carpet for prospective clients. Resorts and hotels are upgrading bookings and including complimentary services because they need an inflow of customers to stay afloat.
In fact, lots of rewards credit cards are even adjusting their bonus categories and welcome offers to cater to the new spending habits of their consumers. So, if travel on a budget, now is the perfect time to book premium accommodations because of discounts.
The budget travel opportunity
Flights are deeply discounted due to the virus. Just like with hotels, many business and first-class flight tickets cost about as much as a traditional economy ticket. And even at the low prices the airlines are having a hard time filling up seats so are having to fly with a nearly empty aircraft.
For travelers who value a more premium travel experience, now is the perfect time to take advantage of the low prices and high availability of business and first class seats.
Do not be surprised though if your departing and arriving airports are almost empty inside or look like ghost towns. While social distancing is in effect most people are trying to avoid airports. Businesses inside the airport such as gift shops and restaurants may be closed. This prevents travelers from lingering around the airport and increasing the chance of a coronavirus breakout.
Pros and Cons of travel
- Cheaper airline tickets on planes that are almost empty
- airlines received government funding, so they must keep some routes open
- Hotels are inexpensive now
- Hotels are rolling out the red carpet for those who do book with them
- Little to no crowds at popular tourist attractions
- Destination may be partially or fully closed
- Risk of being stranded if traveling overseas
- Businesses are first and foremost going to protect themselves – insurance and travel companies are not looking out for your financial risks
- Airports can be hotspots for catching the Coronavirus if crowded
Popular travel destinations have less crowds
Once you arrive at your destination you might find the lack of people out and about will make your vacation easier. Travel destinations that are usually busy or in high season have significantly less people and little to no crowds at all. Just make sure to plan ahead and know what is open before you arrive. Many theme parks are closed and at places like national parks, not all their services are up and running.
Traveling while there is a global pandemic brings about an inherent risk that does not normally exist under “standard” circumstances. Every traveler is going to have to decide for themselves if they are willing to take that risk. for those that do, mitigate as much of the risk as possible. For travelers who normally travel on a whim it is advisable to take extra time in planning the details of your trip. Do this to avoid having any unnecessary exposure to situations that endanger your health.
For all prospective travelers, there is now opportunity in travel that has not previously existed. You can have incredible experiences at very affordable prices. Travel has changed. But it is still realistic to plan that trip you may have been putting off for the last several months.
If you need some extra help setting up your trip or are looking for more peace of mind when traveling we can help.
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