Why I Am Still Not Buying Long-Haul Tickets

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We are now on month six of the estimated 18 to 24 month long global COVID-19 pandemic that started in Asia late 2019, hit Europe in February, moved to North America a month later, and is now ravaging countries in Latin America and Africa.

Most of long-haul travel came to a complete halt in March sans few repatriation flights due to countries closing their airports even for transits and all the travel and entry bans in place.

Now that the first wave of COVID-19 is just about behind for many of us, airlines have started to reintroduce flights, and many are eager to buy reasonably priced premium tickets for trips later this year or 2021. I am not, and here is why.

1. Multiple Waves

We may have multiple waves of COVID-19, and it could end up being one of the rotating coronaviruses.

2. Schedules

Airlines are still selling tickets to flights they know for sure won’t take place. It is unclear what routes will be in place later this year or in 2021.

3. Travel & Entry Bans

It is not clear how long it will take countries to ease the entry requirements beyond regional “bubbles”.

4. Insurance

States may require very high insurance coverage that also includes repatriation. Also, insurance coverage could exclude specific countries and illnesses.

5. Airlines

We will see more airlines collapse. There is simply not enough demand out there to keep them all alive.

6. Hotels

Many hotels have adjusted their processes in a way that makes them less hospitable for us, and some may end up closing permanently, especially if we get multiple waves.

7. Hospitality

How many are willing to put up with inferior traveling (land transportation, airport and in-flight) and destination experience?

Conclusion

I wouldn’t hesitate to buy tickets on short notice to close-by destinations with open hotels and where the likelihood of catching COVID-19 is low. I am not, however, and neither should you be buying speculative premium tickets for travel later this year or the first half of 2021.

It is still unclear how this will play out, including what airlines will survive, what routes they will operate, and whether you are welcomed at the destination, both entry and hospitality-wise.

I would write off 2020 entirely when it comes to travel, and wouldn’t plan big trips before the second half of 2021 at the earliest.

It is deplorable how badly many airlines have handled these ticket refunds for flights that they have canceled, thinking that it is THEIR money that we have no rights. I have very little faith left with many airlines today.

This uncertainty kills me. It would be one thing to know for sure that we are back to “normal,” but knowing how long this may take is quite depressing.

And yes, I was in the Falklands earlier this year.

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