Cheap Flights Are Tempting Right Now, But Should You Wait Before Booking?

Photographed by Anna Jay.
Whenever you start to hear about a wave of flight deals, it's hard to suppress the urge to jump online and book as soon as possible. Right now, however, airfare is discounted thanks to the rapid spread of coronavirus, which means you might want to think twice before automatically taking advantage of the deals.
For help understanding the airfare discounts that are available right now and whether it makes financial sense to book travel at the moment, we turned to Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of The Points Guy to find out what you need to know about buying plane tickets right now. He advised that travelers can still book to select locations, but it's important to be cautious and understand the financial risk since you might have to change your travel plans last-minute.
You may have heard that due to coronavirus, plane ticket prices are down, but is that just hype? Turns out, it's not. "Airfare is definitely lower right now," Kelly tells Refinery29. "Flight, hotel, and cruise deals are plentiful, but each traveler needs to make up their own mind about these specials." (You can find information on travel advisories from the CDC, here.) Kelly says the Points Guy team has found a lot of deals using cash, or miles and premium award space for upgrades all over. There are also a lot of domestic mileage deals at the moment, according to the expert, but again, he recommends using extra caution when booking.
According to Kelly, there are certain areas that are seeing the greatest airfare discounts as a result of the coronavirus. "Flights to Europe are very cheap for this summer. Many flights are at least $150 lower than they usually are," he explains. But it's not just European vacations that might be more affordable. The Points Guy team has been seeing deals from the U.S. to Mexico and the Caribbean as well.
From a health perspective, it is, of course, risky to take certain international trips right now and Kelly points out that those who are elderly or have a compromised immune system should also reconsider taking domestic trips. However, The Points Guy team is still recommending several trips within the U.S. and to some local international destinations to those who are healthy. They also suggest taking advantage of the deals by staying at a local luxury hotel for a "close-to-home travel treat."
As for booking flights now for future travel, Kelly offers the following advice, "You could tentatively book some late summer or early fall international travel since the U.S. airlines are offering flexible cancellation policies," he explains. "Make sure it is indeed fully refundable or buy cancel any time insurance," the expert adds.
Airline cancelation & change policies
In light of coronavirus news, many airlines have instituted new flight change and cancelation policies, which you should familiarize yourself with before booking travel. Here are some of the new policies from several major airlines:
American Airlines is waiving change fees for all tickets purchased between March 1, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. CT and March 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. CT for travel between March 1, 2020 and January 30, 2021.
Delta is waiving change fees for all tickets issued between March 1 and March 31 for travel between March 1, 2020 and February 25, 2021.
JetBlue is waiving change and cancel fees for customers traveling March 10, 2020 through April 30, 2020.
United Airlines is waiving change fees for tickets issued between March 3 through March 31, 2020. Customers will be permitted to change to a flight of equal or lesser value up to 12 months from the original ticket issue date. 

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