Booking flights right now is the topic I get asked about more than any other. There's so much uncertainty at the moment, it’s key to make sure any travel plans are tentative. Book in pencil, not in pen.
There’s a unique opportunity-for now. Before Covid, it would cost $200 or more to change your travel dates. But desperate for new bookings, almost all airlines are automatically waiving change fees on new bookings, even for basic economy fares. This is a great opportunity that hasn’t existed for decades. You can lock in fares while they’re low and decide later whether to keep the dates or push them back.
Though predictions are hard, especially about the future, my guess is that these free changes on new bookings aren’t likely to last much longer. While you can change your travel dates for free, be aware you’d still have to pay any fare difference. That’s not the same as being able to get your money back.
Last-minute flights are much cheaper right now. Though I’m not usually a fan, it's good to know that last minute fares are way cheaper than you will usually find. In ordinary times, airlines raise last-minute fares to take advantage of business travelers who typically book late and are less price sensitive. But with business travel virtually non-existent, airlines are offering last-minute flights that are very affordable.
So even if you’re like me and rarely consider last-minute getaways, it’s much more affordable now than it used to be. However, make sure your hotel reservations are refundable. Having a flight booking that’s flexible won’t do you much good if your hotel reservations aren’t.
Having a trip to look forward to is fun and important. When researchers studied how people enjoy travel, they made this conclusion- on average, we get more joy before a trip than during one. Having something fun and exciting to look forward to is important in the best of times, but it’s especially important now during the not-best times. Even if it’s planning a far-out trip for summer 2021, don’t forget how much joy the anticipation can bring!