When Can We Travel Again? Get to Know From the Experts on the Use of Travel Credit Cards
Recent relaxed flight and hotel cancellation policies mean now may be a good time to plan a trip – just pay close attention to travel requirements at your destination.
By Clint Henderson | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
4 Min Read | February 1, 2022 in Travel
Travel is back in a big way – especially leisure travel. While COVID-19 variants have slowed the recovery in travel, it’s still on the upswing.
In fact, as of mid-2021, all major U.S. airlines reported that travel demand was improving, day after day. And the airlines are moving to encourage that demand by making it easier and less costly to change or cancel tickets.
All this comes as more and more international borders are being thrown open to Americans, and most U.S. states have ended major travel restrictions.
New research into consumer sentiment details out that recovery. Although not everyone is ready to take back to the skies just yet, people are clearly warming up to the idea.
According to a recent survey by The Points Guy, 70% of Americans say they feel comfortable traveling right now to a different city. Forty-five percent say they are fine with domestic flights and 37% say they are OK with taking an international flight.
Recent stories clearly show that many Americans are traveling. In fact, some destinations – like Hawaii and parts of Montana – have been grappling with the effects of overtourism. And as TPG has reported, there have been ongoing shortages of rental cars, hotel rooms and workers.
That’s partially because many Americans are focusing on domestic travel, visiting national parks and popular warm weather destinations that are closer to home.
The international and business travel recovery is happening, but at a much slower rate. In fact, ongoing uncertainty has had some countries even re-imposing some restrictions on tourism. But here, too, it’s mostly good news. Once you do your research, know the rules, and prepare to take to the skies, it’s not that difficult to make that bucket-list trip happen.
It does get complicated to keep up, but check out our deeply-reported, country-by-country guide to coronavirus reopenings for all the latest details.
A few notes of caution here. Countries may continually reconsider travel restrictions, so know before you go. Most likely, if you are fully vaccinated, you’ll be fine – even if some spots reimpose strict entry requirements. If you’ve chosen not to get vaccinated, though, you may have fewer options in the near-term.
Still, existing policies are always subject to change – sometimes with little notice. Once you’ve booked your trip, it’s critical that you stay informed and can react if new travel restrictions are imposed.
So you are finally ready to take the plunge and book that trip of a lifetime. What if you change your mind at the last minute?
There is great news here too. Weaker demand coupled with travel providers eager for business have made it easier to cancel trips.
In short, the consumer is back in the driver’s seat.
Most major airlines in the U.S. are now permanently waiving change and cancellation fees, a customer-friendly trend that took off in the fall of 2020. That means if you decide to cancel your trip, you may not lose the value of that ticket. For example, you may receive a voucher that can be used toward a future trip.
And if you want to change that ticket, almost all the major players in the space will now accommodate you – with minimal out-of-pocket cost. That’s whether you use a credit card to pay for the ticket – ideally one that will earn you bonus points on airfare purchases – or redeem points or miles.
Even basic economy tickets are largely salvageable from some carriers these days, while most hotels are allowing cancellations up until 24 hours before the stay as well.
The Points Guy does suggest, however, that you read the fine print and make sure these more relaxed booking rules apply to your trip before you hit “purchase.” And, if you book directly with the airline or hotel, you may have a stronger case for getting a cancellation refund than if you used a booking site or aggregator.
Increasingly, you can book with confidence knowing even in the worst-case scenario you won’t lose your hard-earned money.