• Amy Kaufman Relihan

TO FLY OR NOT TO FLY...


As we continue through this unchartered water known as COVID-19, air travel has changed considerably. Many airlines are on the brink of financial ruin. There has been a 34% increase in airline passengers since April 2020, however, air travel, as compared to the same timeframe in 2019, is down 43%. With the future of air travel still unknown, many airlines are lobbying the Federal Government for financial help, which they desperately need if they are to weather this storm.


The middle seat saga continues among the airlines. Several US airlines have vowed to eliminate the middle seat (it is still there, but no one will be sitting in it) however, there a few airlines vowing to fill planes to compacity as best they can. If you are looking for less crowded flights, you are in luck. Currently the majority of flights are only filled at 47%. Mostly because people are just afraid to fly. In order to take advantage of lower passenger counts, I suggest you look at the online seat map when you are booking your flight to see how full a flight is and travel mid-week, avoid the weekends, Monday and Friday. All airlines and airports do require all passengers to wear a mask. No mask, no flight!


If you are looking for cheap fares, you will definitely find them. Prices right now are down 38% on average as compared to the same time last year. This time of year is typically a good time to search for great fares because of kids in school and less travel until Thanksgiving. You may, however, get a good deal for holiday travel if you are planning to see family or friends this holiday season. The current average price for a domestic roundtrip ticket is $176, last year it was $282. In addition, many airlines have eliminated change and cancellation fees in hopes to get people back on-board with no financial risk. Will the lower ticket prices and no fees be enough to entice passengers to fly again? Time will tell. Buyer beware....what you are saving in cost you will lose in convenience. Airlines are currently only flying 50% of the flights they flew last year.


Is it safe to fly? While the airlines tout their HEPA filters, which scrub more than 99 percent of germs in the air, there has been very little data on the risks of catching COVID-19 in-flight, even as evidence emerges that respiratory droplets containing live virus may linger in the air in indoor spaces. To date, no super-spreading events have been traced to a flight. There is still much debate among the 'experts' as to whether or not COVID-19 can be spread on a plane. Many doctors and specialists have stated that attending concerts, sporting events, mass gatherings are far more dangerous than flying.


Like you, dear reader, I too am anxious to get on with traveling and collecting experiences to exotic and faraway lands. I am also like you when I say that I am very concerned about flying. To be completely truthful, I am also not interested in wearing a mask for any length of time. That's not to say that I do not believe that wearing a mask is the right thing to do, I simply find them uncomfortable and makes the traveling experience less fulfilling.


I believe that the time to feel free to travel is not far off. In the meantime, dream and plan today, travel tomorrow.

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