The recent 2019-20 coronavirus outbreak (SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19) is definitely having a large impact on the travel and airlines. Whether you’re currently travelling or planning to travel there are many different aspects that may affect you, including suspended flight services and country travel restrictions.
Flight Suspensions and Reduced Services
Many airlines have reduced or suspended flights to some of the worst affected areas and due to weak demand. Some airlines have even reduced lounge and inflight offerings. This information is rapidly changing so be sure to check with your airline directly to see what changes they have put in place!
Check out the OAG blog for more stats.
Besides airlines suspending and reducing services it is also important to follow the current travel restrictions. Many countries have blocked entry from virus-affected countries or require quarantine upon arrival. IATA has a great list that summarizes most of the current travel restrictions. However, the list may not always be up to date so always double check with official information for any countries you plan to visit.
Keep track of the restrictions using our Travel Ban Tracker
There is a lot of information available online (both good and bad). Be careful with social media or mainstream news as they may be publishing outdated information, incorrect facts, or even fake news. Stick to official government information or other widely regarded reputable sources. Some sources you may want to consider:
- Latest numbers: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
- Detailed data: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019-20_coronavirus_outbreak
- Official statements from WHO: https://www.who.int/
Rebook or Cancel
If you want to rebook or cancel a flight your airline might offer free changes or refunds. You’ll find plenty of information on forums such as FlyerTalk or BusinessClass. Also make sure to check with your airline directly for the latest information since they are constantly updating their policies as the outbreak evolves.
Given that many people are avoiding travel at the moment, you can leverage this to your advantage. Airports, lounges, and flights are much less crowded at the moment. You can find some good last minute or premium flight deals as airlines are struggling to sell tickets, and award availability is way up!
- Award deals: https://awardfares.com/
- Discounted business/first flights: http://www.premium-flights.com/
- Last minute deals: https://www.secretflying.com/
For example, SAS flights between Copenhagen and Tokyo, a route that usually has very few business class award availability, currently has nearly 160 business class awards throughout March, which is unheard of. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the new CPH-HND route that start during the end of may which currently has no business class awards (likely blocked because it’s a new route).
If you do plan to take advantage of the current situation, just be sure to stay safe and be prepared for sudden last minute changes in flight schedules and travel restrictions!