2020 Vacation Journey Airfares, Security Measures and When to E book

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Thanks to the pandemic, vacation trips will look different this year. Find out when is the best time to book flights and what flight prices and security measures will be during the 2020 holiday season.

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F.For many Americans, the 2020 holiday season will mark the first time in months that they will take a trip away from home. According to a recent survey by travel booking site Hopper, 55 percent of respondents said the holidays are the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Just don’t expect the usually crowded airport terminals this season. While passenger numbers have grown steadily since U.S. travel screeched to a halt at the start of the pandemic in March, less than half of the travelers who would normally fly at this time of year are currently boarding airplanes. The U.S. Transportation Administration (TSA) reports that on October 11, 2020, nearly 1 million travelers (984,000) passed TSA checkpoints – the highest number of leaflets since the pandemic started – but that’s far less than 2.5 million per year before.

The TSA issued a notice to travelers ahead of the busy Labor Day weekend in September discussing the security measures in place for air travel across the country.

“For travelers who have not flown since the beginning of the pandemic, the TSA checkpoint experience will be significantly different compared to last year,” said TSA administrator David Pekoske in a statement.

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To reduce the spread of COVID-19, TSA officers wear face masks and gloves at all airports and face shields at some airports. Plexiglass signs have been installed at security checkpoints, socially distant signs remind travelers to keep a safe distance of two meters from each other, and checkpoint surfaces and equipment are cleaned and disinfected regularly, reports TSA.

Passengers should expect shorter waiting times in security lines – up to half the time compared to last year. TSA recommends arriving at the airport one to two hours before departure, as “the overall time in the verification process will be shorter,” reports the agency. In earlier days, TSA recommended arriving at the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.

Travelers are asked to wear a mask at the airport, but may need to temporarily remove it to verify their identity while going through security.

If some air distance is a priority for you, five US airlines are still blocking the middle seats. Delta will block middle seat selection and limit the number of customers per flight until at least January 6, 2021. Alaska will block middle seats until at least November 30, 2020. Southwest has an open seating policy and limits the number of seats sold. JetBlue has implemented a blocked seat policy through October 15, 2020 and has not yet announced whether it will be extended to the holidays. Hawaiian is also blocking the middle seats and has not set an end date for its policy.

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All major US airlines – including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Southwest Airlines – have mandatory mask policies with strict enforcement rules.

For up-to-date health and seat blocking policies, Expedia’s booking tool has a built-in security feature that allows users to hover over each airline when searching for flights to see which seats are blocked, periodically sanitize aircraft, need masks, and preflight temperature checks and limit the passenger capacity.

Will vacation flights be cheaper this year? When to book and what to expect?

For those looking to be with friends or family during this holiday season, the good news is that ticket prices have come down significantly. Domestic Thanksgiving airfares are down 41 percent this year compared to 2019, averaging $ 173 round-trip, according to Hopper. Domestic flights for the Christmas season are down 40 percent year over year this year to an average of $ 222 round-trip.

According to the flight and hotel booking website, Kayak is about to enter the sweet spot when is the best time to book. Based on vacation travel search trends in 2019, Kayak found that prices actually went down about 40 days before the holidays (around mid-October) and stayed low until two weeks before departure, so through early November for Thanksgiving and early November December for Christmas. Hopper agrees that the best deals for the holidays are now, and recommends booking Thanksgiving and Christmas flights through Halloween.

β€œThanksgiving and Christmas domestic prices are historically low compared to previous holiday periods. At such low prices [we recommend] Track vacation prices now and buy as soon as you see a good deal, “says Hopper in his 2020 Holiday Guidance Report.

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For those looking to book but also want the option to retreat if they get cold feet, keep in mind that the majority of US airlines have cut their exchange fees. As of last month, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines permanently eliminated their flight change fees. The milder guidelines for exemption from the coronavirus change fee, which apply to all domestic and international flights and all travel classes, were extended to the end of the year. Southwest has not tracked change fees for a long time.

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