While I have never been much of a gambler, some are saying the odds are good that international travel will make a big comeback in the second half of 2021. Kyle Potter of Thrifty Traveler explains in an interview with Minnesota news outlet KARE 11 that "as you look far out into 2021, the second and third quarters of the year, there’s confidence that people are actually going to be able to take the trips that they book. Airlines and travel companies are saying that, for the first time in many, many months, they’re seeing people book those trips 10 or 11 months out."
Overall, most travel experts predict a much quicker return for U.S. domestic travel but expect a continued rocky path for international travel in the semi-near future. However, many airlines are offering flight deals that come with free change and cancellation policies. Potter continues: "Almost every major U.S. airline, even some of the minor ones and even some of the major international ones, are saying, ‘As long as you book with us by the end of January or as far out as March 2021, we will allow you to change that ticket for free, or you can cancel it and get a voucher for your ticket.' There’s just that unprecedented level of flexibility. You don’t have to be taking a huge gamble if you’re booking a trip for later in 2021."
Another really interesting perspective is shared by Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines in this interview with Fortune. They have managed through this most challenging time by cutting costs by 50% and maintaining customer confidence. He feels an increase in federal support in fighting the virus will lead to a quicker return to normal travel.
For further support of this perspective, the CNN article below shares the opinion of Paul Charles, founder and CEO of London-based travel consultancy The PC Agency. He is predicting that we'll start to see things pick up from May onwards as vaccine rollouts have their impact and we see infection rates drop globally.
Until destination cities across the world are able to enjoy more stable environments with reduced quarantine measures, increased testing capabilities and improved data sharing, seamless international travel won't be springing back. However, the extended forecast is optimistic! Until then, bring on the rapid antigen testing, travel bubbles and immunity passports?
The number of people busting out of their countries will start creeping up this spring and rise higher by mid-year, travel industry experts predict, as vaccines and risk-based safety measures are rolled out more widely and spiking coronavirus cases around the world begin to fall once again.