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A Guide to Air Travel in the Era of Covid

Health & Gender Policy Brief #134 | By: S Bhimji | September 27, 2021

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Policy Summary

Ever since the Covid pandemic started in early Jan 2020, airlines had lowered airfares, removed many of the cumbersome fees, and even started to provide snacks for economy passengers. And better still, the planes were less than 20% full, and often passengers had the entire row of seats to themselves. Cheap airfares across the country were readily available 24/7. 

And many people took advantage of the low airfares and the best part was that there were no lines at the TFSA checkpoints, the check-in counter, or boarding the aircraft. So has anything changed with the airl

Policy Analysis

For those expecting cheap airline travel in 2021, you are going to be disappointed. Almost every  airline lost billions of dollars in revenue last year but this is going to change in 2021. Now that mass vaccination has started, Americans who have been holed up in their homes for over a year are starting to travel. 

Most airlines have increased the number of flights from major cities and the dreaded TFSA checkpoints lines have started to get longer. Searches for cheap airline fares on google are at an all-time high. But unfortunately, for the most part, the low ticket prices of 2020 have gone up in every category. And while the hated baggage fees have not seen a return, it is only a matter of time. 

With the acceleration of the vaccine program, the airlines are already seeing heavy bookings for the holiday season, especially within the country. And as the Covid restrictions ease, the demand for air travel has started to rise and the airlines no longer feel they need to slash airfares.

The few deals available today are slightly better than those available during the precovid era but only for those who wish to travel midweek. Despite recommendations from the CDC that Americans delay trips, the number of passengers is gradually increasing each week. The airlines have taken note of the rise in Americans who want to travel and want to make up for the lost revenue in 2020. So do not expect fares to drop anymore. 

So should you start flying?

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Americans tend to have short memories; during the height of the Covid pandemic, thousands of flights were canceled and many people only got vouchers or coupons from the airlines instead of money. Thousands of others lost money on their hotel reservations, pre-booked wedding halls, cruises, safaris, car reservations and much more. 

The tourism industry is still fragile and now many parts of the globe, including our neighbors to the north, are dealing with outbreaks of Covid variants, which appear to be harder to treat. Job security is still an issue for many people and unemployment remains high. If you plan to go outside the US, be fully aware that many countries have made quarantine mandatory, at your expense. And when you return back to the US, you will have to show proof of a negative test, even if you have been vaccinated.

The time is too early to start spending; instead, people should be saving. Plus, almost every week there are reports of rowdy and drunk passengers who refuse to abide by the airline rules, causing long delays.

For those wishing to chill out at international beach resorts, the best advice is to go somewhere local by car. And if your locality does not allow you to chill out during the hot days, invest in an AC; and if you cannot afford that, then you need to be saving money instead of flying. 

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on image to visit resource website.

Federal Aviation Administration: https://www.faa.gov/

Transport Security Administration: https://www.tsa.gov/

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