As we approach the third year of the pandemic, it is safe to say that we have learned to be more careful and flexible in our plans. And with the omicron variant dominating the headlines, travel rules and Covid concerns will likely continue to change month-to-month in 2022.
That said, vaccines and boosters are widespread, international borders are opening (although some are also closing) and countries, airlines and hotels now have systems in place to welcome visitors safely despite frequent pivots. .
We are adjusting to life in a world with COVID-19, and the travel and tourism industry is primarily open to those who are ready.
2022 Travel Outlook
If you’ve been to the airport recently, you’ve noticed people moving around again. Even with the rise of the omicron variant, air travel is on the rise every day, with trip numbers approaching what they were before the pandemic.
Despite growing concerns about new variants, research shows that travelers still view the future with optimism. Destination analysis— a research firm that studies the impact of the coronavirus on people’s perceptions of travel safety — recently reported that Americans’ travel outlook for 2022 was “promising,” with 76% of U.S. travelers in a state ready to go. A third of US travelers say they will do more leisure travel in the next year, and nearly 25% say they plan to increase their international travel.
And it’s not just individuals who feel optimistic. Many airlines are finally pulling planes out of storage and relaunching international routes we’ve all missed. As Australia finally opens up after two years of border closures, Qantas has restarted many of its long-haul flights, including their most popular routes to Sydney from London (LHR) and Los Angeles (LAX).
How to Take 2022 Travel Deals Now
With more routes reopening and airlines scrambling to fill their planes, now might be the time to book a flight, especially if you can get your hands on a coveted deal for international summer travel. .
Domestic travel is less risky
Travel is unlikely to be restricted between states, so it may be a good idea to buy domestic tickets when you find a reasonable price. If you’re planning on going to a popular destination like Florida, New York, Las Vegas, California, Hawaii, Texas, or a national park, you’ll want to book early. The same applies if you book with points; award availability will be competitive for flights and accommodation.
Research international travel requirements
Although international travel during the pandemic is unpredictable, it is possible to book travel in 2022 outside of the United States. Just do your research and make sure you’re protected.
As more and more countries are “open” to travellers, each has its list of rules and requirements, and they are all subject to change. Most countries require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before entry, and many require you to complete government-issued travel attestation forms.
It is certainly easier to travel abroad if you are fully vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated and still plan to travel (despite current CDC guidelines to delay travel until you are fully immunized), you will need to exercise double due diligence in transit and at your destination and be prepared for numerous nasal swabs. Some countries will not allow any unvaccinated visitors to transit or enter, while others will require a more stringent quarantine or testing requirement for those who are not fully vaccinated.
Prepare for the worst
Above all, you must be prepared to rotate your plans at any time; you never know when illness or downtime may prevent you from taking flight. If you can afford to add travel insurance to a non-refundable flight, it can give you peace of mind; just make sure the insurance covers covid related cancellations.
Trust your instincts
Traveling in 2022 is possible, but it’s not the best choice for everyone. Always put your health and safety first and acknowledge your comfort in the face of risk. If you’re not ready for international travel, domestic travel is perfect. And if you’re not ready to fly yet, it’s always good to take a road trip and stay close to home. Do what’s best for you as we adjust to what the new year brings.
Booking trips that you can cancel or postpone
For travel in 2022, never forget that change is our new normal. Organize your trip as if you had to cancel it at the last minute or even change it along the way.
Read the fine print
Make sure any flight or hotel room you book is flexible, changeable and refundable. If you are booking with your credit card points, check the rules of the credit card, hotel or airline program through which you are booking to ensure that you can redeem your points and adjust your route. And if you’re spending a lot of money on a tour, cruise, or other prepaid adventure, do your homework and get travel insurance.
Book directly with the airlines
If you can, book directly with airlines or hotels whenever possible, rather than through a third party (like Expedia or Kayak). It’s not that third-party sites don’t have great deals, they just make it harder to get a refund or undo a change.
Most airlines still have flexible change policies for domestic and international tickets from the United States, unless you book the base fare or discounted fare. Of course, the rules will likely keep changing, so be sure to check before you buy.
Airline cancellation policies
|Alaska Airlines||Cancel non-refundable reservations and have the funds deposited in My Wallet or use the value in exchange. No cancellations on Saver tickets except within 24 hours of booking.|
|American airlines||No change fees for domestic, international short-haul and certain international long-haul flights on Premium Cabin, Premium Economy and Main Cabin fares. Basic Economy fares purchased on or after April 1, 2021 are not refundable or changeable.|
|Delta Airlines||Cancel any ticket in the main cabin and above for a Delta eCredit valid for one year. Basic Economy tickets remain non-modifiable and non-refundable.|
|JetBlue||No change or cancellation fees on rates, except Blue Basic.|
|South West Airlines||Southwest does not charge a fee to change or cancel a flight in most cases.|
|United Airlines||United Airlines has permanently waived change fees for flights within the United States, or between the United States and Mexico or the Caribbean, and for international travel originating in the United States. All other international travel will not have a change fee if ticketed before January 31. 2022. Basic Economy tickets can only be changed if issued before December 31, 2021.|
Review your travel credit card strategy
After a long travel hiatus, it makes sense to make sure your travel credit card rewards strategy is optimized. A year-end rewards audit is a good way to jog your memory of where you’ve been hiding all those points you’ve earned.
Also, it might be time to upgrade the cards you let expire because you weren’t using lounge or baggage benefits. Personally, I’m back to enough domestic travel that I’m ready to restock the Business Platinum Card® from American Express. I downgraded the card in 2020, but am ready to access the American Express Centurion Lounge network again.
You can also take advantage of an airline or hotel card sign-up bonus, many of which are worth enough points to get you at least one domestic round trip anywhere in the United States or a few free hotel nights for your first trip in 2022.
The bottom line
Covid is still with us and is probably here to stay. Yet planes are still full, business travelers are back in the skies, and there are deals to be had as travel and tourism return. If we’ve learned anything, we all know that we can never know for sure what the new year has in store for us. But it’s my biggest wish for all of us that 2022 will be an amazing year to get back to the type of travel that works best for each of us.