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Flights are cancelled, airlines are hard to reach and like it or not, many customers are stuck with vouchers, even when they were legally entitled to refunds. If that newly acquired voucher is burning a hole in your proverbial travel pocket, try to put it out.

With few exceptions via flash deals, airlines aren’t putting out their best offers right now, and the very very best aren’t expected to come for months, or more. Those hoping to immediately liquidate future vouchers are all too often ending up on the hook for fare differences on future travel, many of which won’t exist later.

The simplest way to put explain it is to borrow from sports terms. Airlines are playing brutal defense right now to stay alive, but will be able to get a transition offense going when clarity around a window when travel is advisable again, is nearer. When they do, and schedules ramp back up with too many seats left unsold – that’s when the bargains will follow in wider form.

For now, fewer flights means higher fares and no incentive to drop prices.

people sitting in a terminalUnless your plans involve travel in late 2020, or ideally into 2021, there’s no rush to spend an airline voucher right now. Keep an eye on pop up sales, be sure to track prices on Google Flights, but expect prices to drop once an “end date” is more in sight.

Airlines will need to boost their balance sheets when travel returns, and they’ll use low fares to tempt you out of hibernation. It’s worked before, and ultimately it will work again. At the same time, if you see an offer you deem fantastic for travel in late 2020 or into 2021, don’t miss out on principle.

If you’re unsure of future dates, just don’t feel pressure to use a voucher now. And if you are unsure of future travel dates, using miles is a better way to put a holding place in action, since full refunds of points are much easier to come by.

Even the least customer friendly vouchers offer six months to make a booking. And that’s a huge distinction. You must book by then, but not travel by then. Save the vouchers for a date in the future, or at least wait until we know a recovery is coming. If the airline goes bust in the meantime, you wouldn’t be flying anyway – would you?

There’s no need to burn it now when airline prices are inflated during this defense period, and doing so will most likely cost you extra money. Hold onto to what you’ve got, unless something seems too good to be true.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I’m glad to hear your point of view on this. I have to say, though, that the current change fee waiver tempts me! I often find that I need to tweak travel dates. Any guesses how long the airlines will keep offering the waiver??

  2. What are your thoughts on the Hawaii for £1100 offer on American from Europe for spring 2022

    In your own, albeit expert, opinion do you think we MAY see something better (like with stop overs) and from easier cities for those of us in the UK (like Dublin or even Manchester)?

    Obviously, heavily caveated that no one can predict the future…

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