Cheap flights are everywhere because of the coronavirus

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Domestic and international air fares continue to fall as airlines deal with declining bookings and rising cancellations amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Delta Air Lines said on Tuesday that travel demand had dropped so much in the past week that it expects a third of seats to be empty this month on flights within the United States – previously the market most immune to viral fallout.

Here is an example of round-trip airfare examples we found on Google Flights for trips in April and May:

  • San Francisco to New York (JFK): $192
  • San Jose to Austin: $157
  • San Francisco to Denver: $150
  • San Francisco to Los Angeles: $87
  • Oakland to Los Angeles: $80
  • Oakland to Seattle: $177
  • Oakland to Houston: $137
  • San Francisco to Honolulu: $269
  • San Francisco to Chicago: $237
  • San Jose to Boston: $257
  • San Francisco to Nashville: $318
  • Oakland to Orlando: $215

Although it may be tempting to participate in these offers, keep in mind that the The CDC has issued a warning for “vulnerable populations” to avoid non-essential travel, including long plane journeys, and congested spaces.

This warning is issued especially for the elderly and sick people.

The CDC has issued travel alerts for South Korea, China, Italy and Iran.

Also due to the outbreak, some airlines are applying stricter refund policies, but are waiving change fees more easily.

For example, United Airlines has changed its refund policy for schedule changes. While their policy stated if the airline could not find you an alternative flight within two hours, you would be eligible for a refund, as long as it is within that 25 hour period.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue also announced changes to their ticket fee change and waiver policies.

However, some airlines are reducing their flights in the face of the epidemic.

Delta, the world’s largest airline by revenue, said it would cut international flights by 20% to 25% and cut US flights by 10% to 15%, roughly matching cuts previously announced by United Airlines. CEO Ed Bastian said the airline is “ready to do more” if the outbreak develops.

The airline is cutting spending, including freezing hiring, delaying voluntary pension contributions and suspending stock buybacks.

American Airlines said it would cut international flights by 10% this summer and cut US flights by 7.5% in April. It delayed the training of new pilots and flight attendants.

United said it arranged $2 billion in additional bank borrowings to preserve financial flexibility – boosting liquidity from $6 billion to $8 billion.

Airlines are also evaluating their assets – planes, engines, spare parts and other items – to determine what could be used as collateral for further borrowing, if needed.

The drop in demand that started in Asia accelerated in the United States about two weeks ago, when the virus spread outside Asia, notably to Italy. It was felt by both business and leisure travelers.

Hauenstein said demand has fallen more sharply on the West Coast — Washington state and California have suffered larger outbreaks — than on the East Coast. He said younger people were more willing to continue flying; people over 55 less willing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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