With unprecedented global travel restrictions in place and airlines grounded in every corner of the world, prices are actually increasing.
Airlines from Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific and British Airways have suspended over 90% of their scheduled flights. Other major carriers including Emirates have entirely grounded their fleet.
However, there are still airlines plying the skies, particularly on domestic flights in the U.S. and China. With strict entry restrictions on international travelers, the vast majority of international flights have been suspended.
With news last night that China is to ban international arrivals as the country some travelers are rushing to book last minute flights.
Analysis from the Chinese booking website Trip.com has shown that many economy class fares are selling for the price of business class seats.
Flight prices have increased by as much as 150% since March 1 according to the flight comparison website.
Due to a substantial decrease in supply airlines have been increasing the prices of flights, and some customers have reported one-way fares from Auckland, New Zealand to London for as much as NZD $33,000 (USD $19,000) in economy.
Trip.com are also reporting substantial flight price increases for flights from South Korea and Japan to China.
With airlines putting on several repatriation flights to return passengers home during the COVID-19 pandemic it seems as though consumers are having to pay increased fares. United Airlines operated a flight from Lima, Peru to the U.S. this week and aims to operate further repatriation flights for American citizens.
The U.A.E carrier, Etihad Airways, is also operating a repatriation flight for citizens from Washington D.C. tomorrow, although ticket prices are unclear at this time.
Many airlines are offering refundable booking guarantees for future flights that may be further disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak. With carriers desperate to bring in future revenue, future flights are a key strategy for airlines to bring in future bookings, with the certainty of refunds should plans be disrupted.
EasyJet launched their Autumn and 2020-21 Winter sale early in a bid to generate cash flow, however, other carriers have been slow in refunding already canceled flights, despite booking guarantees.
My personal experience with British Airways has been that they are not offering cash refunds. Instead, the U.K. carrier is offering vouchers for future travel. Other passengers have reported that after 10 days the carrier has still not refunded or credited canceled flights.
With so much uncertainty surrounding future flight bookings and the easing of travel restrictions, it is prudent to check the cancelation policy of carriers for upcoming or new bookings later in the year.