Holidays: Mike Gooley gives advice on booking travel in 2021
The travel industry is starting 2021 in a very different way to the year previous. Following the coronavirus pandemic, the way in which we travel around the world has changed forever.
Unprecedented travel restrictions combined with new Brexit travel regulations, Craig Ashford, Director of Marketing and Communications at TravelUp has offered advice for Britons looking to “reduce risk” when it comes to future holiday plans.
Though travel is currently off the cards due to global lockdown restrictions, border closures and travel corridors, there is hope the mass vaccination push will help return life to some form of normality; and with that holidays.
However, despite the fact many flights may not be departing right now, Mr Ashford suggests it could be the best time to start making plans.
“Uncertainty about travel means that prices are currently very cheap,” he told Express.co.uk.
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“Airlines are trying to stimulate the market so there are some phenomenally low rates.
“As confidence returns the total number of airline seats will remain the same, so the cost will rise.
“My strong advice is to book now, especially if you have a particular dream holiday or trip in mind. It is a great time to consider that trip to Florida with the kids or to go to South Africa or on safari.”
He continued: “There is not a huge amount of booking activity at the moment.
“The the appetite is not there for many summer holidays. That means prices are low.
“But once the vaccine programme is rolled out more widely, and more travel corridors are opened up with testing, capacity is going to disappear pretty quickly.”
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Along with a rise in demand, Mr Ashford also foresees airlines hiking up prices after a year spent mostly on the ground.
“Let’s be honest, they have not had a good year and they will be keen to recoup losses. So once demand comes back the prices will soar,” he said.
“There is no point waiting to book nearer to departure time nowadays. “Years ago there were low-cost carriers, charters and scheduled airlines – and they were using different price matrixes.
“The low-cost carriers would start off cheap and then get more expensive as you got closer to the departure date.
“The other airlines would reduce their prices to fill the empty seats. Now they all use the same model – they get more expensive.
“They all work on the basis that it’s the people who really need to travel who are booking so close to departure. So there is no point waiting any more.”
Mr Ashford also points to the huge array of deals hoping to encourage customers to book for the future.
“The other thing to consider at the moment is that you can get a great deal and just put a deposit down. You don’t have to pay much to secure the flight and accommodation,” he said.
“Then you will have months to pay it off before you depart. With the additional flexibility available in booking terms, that helps to provide some confidence.”
Though there is still no certainty as to what may lie ahead, the travel expert believes booking in advance is relatively “low risk”.
“There are so many airline policies out there now that offer changes free of charge,” he said.
“You would be able to amend your booking and push it back even as far as 2023 if necessary or cancel it completely.
“Many operators and package holiday providers are also offering these sorts of deals.
“There is a risk that the flight will be cancelled but if that happened you would also get your money back.”
While many Britons are eagerly anticipating their next vacation, Mr Ashford offered a prediction as to which age group may be first to pack their bags.
“I think the first people to start booking holidays will be the under 75s once they get vaccinated,” he said.
“Those people have been at home for months, they are retired and can travel outside the school holidays – but they will be keen to live their lives and enjoy bucket list experiences.
“That will extend to the wider population as more people get vaccinated.”
For those who do decide to take the plunge and bag a deal now, travellers should still be cautious of any sudden changes which could occur.
“The other thing is to always check flights 72 hours before departure,” he warned.
“Airlines and travel agents are getting better at notifying people.
“We have introduced a system for people to receive an email when anything changes. But mistakes can happen.
“Make sure you check your flights. After the 72-hour point has passed, flights are unlikely to change. There might be a delay when you get to the airport but the chance of a cancellation is slim to none.”
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