Impact of COVID-19 pandemic will alter future of flying, travel

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It may be quiet at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, but industry experts say many are keeping an eye on flight deals for when it’s safe to travel again.

"Having a trip to look forward to is an escape. It’s a way to deal with the fact that we’re all stuck inside. We’re all doing our best to make it through this, these are real tough times," said Scott Keyes, Founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights.

However, it doesn’t mean now is a good time to impulse-buy affordable flights.

Keyes said it’s best to book a flight at least three to four months from now and to pay attention to the fine print for refunds and cancellations, which is different for every airline.

"As long as you book far out, as long as you’re aware as to when the funds need to be used by, you should be in good shape to take advantage of the uniquely cheap flights that we’re seeing now," said Keyes.

There’s a unique brand of flight deals that’s a direct result of the pandemic. Peak summer or peak holiday travel dates are cheaper than ever because airlines want to bring customers back. And with so many airlines changing schedules and canceling flights more and more because of COVID-19 cases, many are making mistakes online, accidentally posting and selling tickets for lower prices.

Keyes said it’s also important to know your legal rights, established by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Most notably, if the airline cancels a flight that’s coming in or out of the United States, they legally owe travelers a cash or credit refund, and travelers don’t have to settle for an airline credit voucher.

"And obviously that’s a pretty important difference because if you’re going down to the grocery store, you can’t pay for your food with a Delta gift card. You need cash to do that," said Keyes.

If the airline makes a significant schedule change by delaying the flight or changing a non-stop flight, travelers may be eligible for a cash or credit refund when canceling.

"Know your rights. Know when you’re eligible for a cash refund and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and demand it when you are in that position," said Keyes.

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