Business travel

Airfares drop for 2022 due to Omicron, lack of business travel: experts

  • Airlines are cutting fares as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads and business travelers stay at home.
  • Discounted rates can be obtained to popular vacation destinations including Hawaii and Latin America.
  • Sales of unannounced fares may also result in better savings than sales of published fares.

Major airlines have unveiled sales throughout December and reduced fares in hopes that more Americans will fly after the holidays. And while flight sales are common, what makes the latest deals stand out from the experts is how much some airlines are willing to offer.

“The airline industry is one of the business world’s finest examples of the fundamental laws of supply and demand in action,” Henry Harteveldt, Travel Analyst and President of Atmosphere told Insider. Research Group. “It’s a very soft time for airlines between, say, January 5 and Presidents’ Day weekend.”

Airlines are now also having to contend with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and the fact that fewer business travelers than expected will fill their airplane cabins. As a result, domestic flights get the best deals, as testing and vaccination requirements are limited when traveling between states with no chance of being stranded abroad.

“Airlines know that January and February are two of the least popular months for year-round travel,” Scott Keyes, a professional flight deal tracker and founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told Insider. “If I am an executive of an airline, I am terrified that I will not be able to sell these seats in early January.”

One of the best sellers Keyes has seen in recent weeks has been from Hawaiian Airlines, in which round-trip plane tickets between Hawaii and the West Coast cost just $ 123. Even at the time of writing, rates for Hawaii can be had for under $ 200 from cities across California.

Low-cost airlines, already known for their low prices, are also jumping on the sale train. Frontier Airlines is currently offering a one-time purchase promotion for members of its Discount Den membership program until December 17th and Avelo Airlines is offering a 50% discount code that is only valid on December 16th.

But bargains have been easier to find in recent weeks, whether or not a sale is in progress.

JetBlue Airways is in the middle of a three-day sale in which fares start at $ 49 one-way from New York to destinations like Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. Other JetBlue routes, however, are seeing unannounced sales in which a one-way ticket from New York to Boston can be purchased for as little as $ 29 one-way.

Travelers can use resources like Google Flights or a subscription service like Keyes’ Scott’s Cheap Flights to find unannounced sales.

International destinations with little or no entry requirements related to COVID-19 also experience high levels of discounts. Fares to countries in Latin America where no COVID-19 test is required to enter, including Mexico, Costa Rica and Colombia have sold for under $ 200 on major airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue, among others.

However, all international travelers arriving in the United States must still present a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of their flight departing.

Europe is a region seemingly immune to the fare cuts, which Harteveldt attributes to the ever-changing travel restrictions in place on the continent.

“Airlines are realizing that with all the restrictions in place… travel beyond vacations.

Travelers also enjoy an unprecedented level of flexibility when booking airline tickets, as most full-service US carriers have eliminated change fees on some tickets. A flight booked now in regular economy class or higher for January may be changed at a later date; however, travelers will have to pay a fare difference which may be larger if air fares increase in the new year.

Travelers will ultimately need to assess whether the cheap fares are worth traveling amid the spread of the Omicron variant, in what Harteveldt calls the “price of courage.”

“Airline ticket sales reflect the confidence of airlines in the consumer market and what these very low airfares tell me is: Airlines are nervous about whether people will be ready to travel after the end of the season. vacation, ”said Harteveldt.