One year of COVID: Airlines offer cheap deals to entice people to fly

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The travel industry has taken one of the biggest hits from the pandemic.

Despite billions of dollars from federal relief packages, analysts said it could be years before airlines recover and see the profits they were making pre-COVID.

At the start of the pandemic, one of the most common complaints the Troubleshooters received involved airline and travel refunds for trips that were canceled or had to be postponed. But now, there is a silver lining for consumers in deeply discounted pricing as airlines try to entice people to fly again.

"There's no doubt that airfare right now is at record lows," said Scott Keyes founder of Scott's Cheap Flights.

Some of the best prices: Philadelphia to Miami round trip for $61, Philadelphia to Denver round trip for $59 and round trip to St. Thomas for $172.

Keyes said the fares are great but only available for a short time.

"If you wait until May to make your flight bookings and to make your travel plans for this summer chances are there's not going to be any cheap flights left," he said.

He said as more people get vaccinated, more people are booking travel.

"If you look at flight search data over the past week every single day has set a new record in terms of the number of flight searches since the pandemic began," he explained.

If you do book travel now, Keyes said there are a couple of things to remember.

"There's no longer a penalty right now to change the dates of your booking, you know, if you book a flight in June you can push it back to August or September without having to pay the normal penalty to do so," he said.

But if the fare on the new date is more expensive, you will have to pay the difference.

And be aware that free changes are not the same as free cancellations. If you cancel a flight you won't always get your money back.

"In order to get free cancellations you have to have purchased a much more expensive fare called a refundable ticket," he said.

Also do be mindful that international travel may remain restricted for some time and some destinations may require a vaccine passport.
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