Book Now, Travel Later: COVID-19 is Driving Flight Deals for 2021 & Flexibility
covid-19 flight deals

Book Now, Travel Later: COVID-19 is Driving Flight Deals for 2021 & Flexibility

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The rapid spread of coronavirus has had travelers, airlines, and the whole world understandably on edge for the past six months.

But with all that anxiety, there’s an upside. We’ve seen airlines slashing prices on select routes in the last several months with some unbelievably cheap flight deals, both domestic and international. And these deals aren’t for now as coronavirus is running rampant, but stretching out into peak summer 2021 when the outbreak may (hopefully) have subsided. We’re talking $98 round-trip flights to Puerto Rico and half-off fares to Greece and the rest of Europe. 

covid-19 flight deals 

Still, it’s difficult to plan future travel with all this uncertainty. That’s why it’s so critical that airlines are giving travelers some unprecedented flexibility to change plans amid all this uncertainty. All three major U.S. carriers (Delta, American, and United) are all granting free changes to tickets booked now for future travel. And even international carriers are starting to follow suit.

It all adds up to a relatively risk-free opportunity: book a cheap flight now, and change or cancel later if need be.

We won’t fault you if you decide to put travel on hold and stay home – that’s a personal decision. You should trust the judgment of public health experts like the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as your doctor. We’re no experts on public health, and there’s no telling how long or far this outbreak may spread.

But cheap travel favors the bold. And if you’re willing to be a bit bold, this time of uncertainty may be your best chance to book your next trip risk-free.

Cheap Fares to Destinations Open to Travelers

While it feels like our options as travelers shrunk to nothing overnight, don’t give up hope. There are still some countries welcoming U.S. travelers. And flight prices have dropped to encourage visitors.

Take these cheap fares to Mexico, for example. In the past few weeks, we’ve found fares from $300 roundtrip to Cabo and Cancún. These crazy cheap fares had almost daily availability through June 2021, including the holidays! When have you seen flights to Mexico over New Year’s this low?

covid-19 flight deals 

Read up on why we think it’s safest to book future travel on U.S. airlines these days…

Would you rather use up some of those SkyMiles burning a hole in your pocket? We found some of the lowest award fares into Cancún (CUN), Puerto Vallarta (PVR), and Cabo (SJD) that we’ve ever seen! Round-trip flights to Mexico typically cost over 40,000 SkyMiles, but we found fares starting at just 12,000 SkyMiles. And the flexibility of booking with SkyMiles is even better – you can cancel any booking made by Sept. 30 and get your miles back free, no questions asked!

This SkyMiles flash sale was available through peak season from every U.S. airport (including yours!) Premium members got this instant deal alert:

covid-19 flight deals 

Read more: Are Delta SkyMiles the Best Way to Book Flights Right Now?

Looking to venture a little further? Turkey is open to U.S. travelers, and recently, we found half-off fares from New York City (JFK) to Istanbul over the holidays. If you’ve been looking for the perfect excuse to cross Turkey’s hot air balloons off your bucket list, this is it!

If you’re itching to get out but would rather stay closer to home, we feel you. Thrifty Traveler Premium now includes domestic flight deal alerts, and we’re finding some crazy cheap fares to the most stunning U.S. destinations you’ve got to see.

We’ve recently found flight deals from 100+ departure cities to these domestic destinations:

  • Vail, CO under $199 (Peak Ski Season)
  • Zion Nat’l Park under $198
  • Big Sky & Yellowstone under $197 (Spring 2021)
  • Death Valley / Lake Mead / Lake Havasu under $198
  • Orlando, FL under $198 (thru June 2021)
  • Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks under $198
  • Garden of the Gods under $197 (thru June 2021)
  • Kentucky Bourbon Trail & Mammoth Cave under $199
  • Charleston, SC under $198 (Xmas & NYE)
  • Lake Tahoe under $197 (thru March 2021)

Thrifty Tip: Stay up-to-date on domestic travel restrictions with our state-by-state guide.


Plan Your Summer 2021 Travels Now…Risk-Free

We know it’s hard enough to plan for next week, let alone summer 2021.

But with flight deals this cheap and airlines offering unprecedented flexibility to change or cancel your flight, there’s never been a better time to book future travels risk-free. And the sales have only gotten better and more frequent as the coronavirus outbreak has hammered airlines.

Case in point: Flights to Tokyo during peak summer are often easily $1,000 or more. We recently found fares under $200 roundtrip to Tokyo for Cherry Blossom season and peak summer 2021! American Airlines followed these cheap fares into a far war, bringing sub-$250 flights to Osaka and Tokyo from even more cities. We can’t make these fares up!


Another shocking find? A round-trip flight to Europe during peak summer typically costs $1,000 – or more. We sent Thrifty Traveler Premium members an alert with fares to several European cities (Amsterdam, Rome, Paris, London, Venice, and Dublin to name a few) from as low as $219 roundtrip – the lowest prices we’ve ever seen. The best part? These flights were available from May – July 2021.

covid-19 flight deals 

The future travel deals didn’t stop there. We’ve found rare sub-$500 flights to Bangkok…


Half-priced flights to Bali – a notoriously expensive destination for flights – through May 2021…

covid-19 flight deals 

Rare cheap fares from Delta hubs to Hawaii for spring break next year…


And even dirt-cheap business class lie-flat seats to the Azores in Portugal!

book now travel later 

Don’t know what the future may hold for summer 2021 travel? Neither do we! But that’s where fee-free changes and cancellations come in.


Extra Flexibility from the Airlines

To convince wary travelers to continue booking flights, airlines have removed a much-hated fee: change fees.

Changing your plane ticket typically costs at least $200 for domestic travel – and much more for international flights. United, Delta, American, JetBlue, Alaska, and even some major international carriers have all waived those fees for flights booked by the end of September – for any future travel dates! And Southwest never charges those fees.

If you’re eyeing a discounted fare for a trip in the future, these free waivers are a big source of comfort.

You can book one of the slew of recent flight deals with confidence, then change for free down the line if the evolving coronavirus situation affects your plans. You can change flights and simply pay the fare difference or, in most cases, cancel and get a voucher for the value of your ticket.

Read our full guide to how major airlines are handling coronavirus waivers.


Bottom Line

It’s an uneasy time to book travel. No one knows how long the coronavirus outbreak will drag on or where it will stop. But there’s no doubt about one thing: Airfare pricing is plummeting to encourage sales.

These kinds of savings from as far out as May 2021 and through the peak summer are not the norm. When we see prices this low as far out as summer 2021, we know something is up.

Snag a Thrifty Traveler Premium deal for next summer, now!


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