How COVID-19 Has Changed Flight Costs

COVID-19 decimated the travel industry. At different times in March 2020, airline passenger traffic was down more than 90% compared to the previous year, and although the numbers have improved, they are still not close to pre-pandemic levels.

From waived cancellation fees to lower fees, airlines have struggled to recover from financial losses incurred in 2020. However, not all of the changes have been positive.

While you can change your flight at will, potential fare increases, COVID testing requirements, and even quarantine mean your vacation or business trip may face challenges you haven't faced before.1 As part of "Our Travel Money ", a series from Navigating Today's World of Travel, this story will tell you what to expect when it comes to the cost of flying.

No airfare for changes or cancellations

When the pandemic hit in full force, most major airlines temporarily waived change or cancellation fees. This was true for the major US low-cost airlines, including:

  • United
  • Delta
  • American
  • Alaska
  • JetBlue
  • Spirit
  • Border

United, American, Delta, and JetBlue eliminated these fees for most fare classes but reinstated them to basic economy fares effective March 31, 2021. Alaska has permanently terminated change and cancellation fees for all classes of seats. Frontier and Spirit ended the change fee waivers for all rates on March 31 and April 4, 2021, respectively.

The change and cancellation fee waivers were great news, as these fees can reach $ 200 (depending on the airline), plus additional costs if you book a new ticket that is more expensive than your old one.

Airline baggage fees

While COVID didn't get rid of the cost of baggage fees the way it did change and cancellation fees, airlines have tried to make their baggage policies easier to understand.

American Airlines simplified some of its baggage fees to help simplify pricing for customers. JetBlue changed its basic economy class carry-on right to reflect United's right: passengers can own a personal item, but not carry-on baggage. Southwest, always the exception, still allows all passengers to check-in two bags for free.

Many airlines offer credit cards that will give you a free checked bag regardless of what fare you have booked, even basic economy when booking with the card. These airlines include Alaska, United, Delta, JetBlue, and American.

Lower rates

The overall cost of flights dropped dramatically throughout 2020. Los Angeles International Airport, for example, experienced a 24% drop in fare (nearly $ 80) on its average domestic flight between the first and third quarters. 2020, from $ 328 to $ 249. New York Kennedy International Airport fell 28%, from $ 388 to $ 281.

While this has been a boon for those who flew during the pandemic, travel experts do not expect these low fares to be kept. When the pandemic started, airlines were doing everything they could to promote travel, according to aviation analyst and Skift editor Brian Sumers.

This was especially true as cases increased across the country. Summers said passengers used to be able to identify access points based on ticket prices.

However, as airlines have cut their hours, fewer seats are available for purchase. Industry trends indicate that air traffic is growing, and as more Americans are vaccinated they are expected to increase. Airlines are regaining their pricing power and those incredibly cheap deals from a few months ago are gone.

COVID test costs

While the lack of exchange rates and lower airfares may have motivated some travelers to take off, there are new costs associated with travel during the pandemic.

Many other countries require a negative COVID test before entering, with the requirement of knowing how recent these tests must be. Some airlines and airports have launched initiatives to meet these requirements, but tests cost up to $ 200 at airlines and $ 261 at airports.

The United States requires all airline passengers arriving in the U.S. from a foreign country to provide proof of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of departure for anyone 2 years of age or older, or COVID-19 recovery test.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about How COVID-19 Has Changed Flight Costs

Source: Thrifty Traveler

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