LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — With the holiday season fast approaching, you may be wondering does it make sense to travel again?
The travel industry is offering deep discounts – and unprecedented flexibility.
Kinsie and Jake Flame have always had a passion for traveling.
Itching to see the world again, the couple decided to book a family vacation to Mexico for thanksgiving and Paris for Christmas.
“Our airline tickets were a really great price,” she said. “All four of us to Paris for $1,500…you can’t beat that.”
Right now, France isn’t allowing Americans into the country, but the Flames are hopeful that will change before December.
“So we are the point that if we don’t get to go, that’s just the way it is. We will go next year and just re-book those flights,” Kinsey said.
This month, United, Delta, American and Alaska announced that they will no longer charge hefty change fees, even on budget fares- whether a country is closed or you have a change of heart.
Scott Keyes, founder of ScottsCheapFlights.com, says travelers are starting to book again, incentivized by incredible deals going all the way into the summer of 2021.
“People are very worried about booking future flights right now because there is so much uncertainty about what will the pandemic look like this Christmas, this New Year’s into 2021,” he said. “And airlines know this.”
Hotels are also eager to earn back your business.
Melissa Wu of Woodlyn Travel says resorts desperate for business are getting creative. Some are offering a new perk called “school-cations”.
“They’re offering enhanced internet, they’re offering on-set tutors and after distance learning is over, they are offering after-school programming,” she said. “All while the parents are able to enjoy themselves or work remotely as well.”
But what if you book a trip and then you get sick, or the pandemic worsens?
Wu says standard travel insurance won’t cover a pandemic, but “cancel for any reason” insurance will.
“If you get sick and don’t feel like going, that’s okay, that’s covered,” she said. “If you have a hair appointment and you don’t want to go any longer, that’s okay, it’s covered too.”
But it will cost you – about 10 percent of the purchase price. And Keyes cautions, while airlines are waiving change fees, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to cancel without penalty.
“You are not able to say, ‘I don’t want to travel because it’s not looking good, can I get a refund please?'” he said.
If you’re worried about safety, experts say airplanes are only about 50 percent full, down from 90 percent pre-pandemic. And hotels are often leaving rooms vacant for a night in between guests to allow for a deeper clean.
Wu says you can always just dip your toe in the water.
“Book it now,” she says. “Book something refundable, so that if the price changes, and it increases, you’ve locked in the lower rate.”