Can you change your Christmas flight because of the new omicron variant?


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Many who’ve booked airline tickets for the upcoming Christmas holiday may want to check that twice this year with word of the new coronavirus variant.

It’s known as the omicron variant and may be more contagious than the delta variant which caused a surge in cases over the summer.

“So, there’s a lot of uncertainty right now,” says Willis Orlando from Scott’s Cheap Flights. “Folks who were anxious just a week ago to get back out there and see family and see the world are all of a sudden pumping the brakes a little bit.”

Orlando says international travel quickly dropped about 10 percent because omicron was discovered in Africa. He says domestic travel may drop as well although throughout the pandemic that tended to pick up again much faster.

If you have purchased a ticket, you may have options, especially if it was a bit more expensive than the basic economy class.

“One of the things we like to remind people is that throughout the pandemic, most major airlines, in fact, every major airline, decided to waive change fees on tickets above economy class,” he says.

So that means “above economy class” should allow you to change dates and or get a voucher from the airline.

He also says three airlines — United, Delta and Southwest — have taken the additional step of offering no fees to change your ticket to basically all ticket holders, including those with the cheap economy class fares.

“So, if you had a Christmas flight planned and now you don’t want to take it on one of those airlines, you do have no change fees and you can change your ticket without penalty,” said Orlando.

He also says if you are still planning on buying a ticket and considering travel insurance to make sure you read the policy carefully. Orlando says not all companies are still covering a COVID-related cancellation.

“So the last thing you want to do if you’re nervous about COVID and nervous about the new variant is to buy travel insurance only to find out it covers everything but a COVID-related change,” said Orlando. “So, read the fine print, some may cover it but many may not.”

Orlando does say for those who feel confident traveling that there are still some good fares to be had but says you need to book in the next week to get them.

Orlando says he would be comfortable flying over Christmas, that he is vaccinated and has had a booster shot. He also points out that all airports and airlines require masks, so says that an airport is one of the more safe public places.

“But in the end, it’s up to the individual traveler to evaluate their tolerance for risk and how they feel about these things and their own health and make a decision that way,” says Orlando.

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