Flight deals available across the country from $35 for the second half of 2020
Right now we are all sticking close to home due to COVID-19, but most of us are dreaming of a time when travel will again open up. While no one knows exactly when it will be safe for some to embark on leisure travel, it's still fun to dream, plan and potentially even book something with flexible change and cancellation rules.
With that in mind, here is a sampling of one-way paid and award flight deals we are seeing for the second half of 2020.
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Editors note: Do not book travel unless you fully understand the penalties around changing or canceling if the COVID-19 still situation warrants such measures in the second half of the year. TPG does not recommend leisure travel at this juncture, but we are crossing our fingers for later in 2020.
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Flights deals currently available
Dallas - Los Angeles: $46
You can find nonstop flights at this price on both American Airlines and Alaska Airlines into mid-November. These are basic economy fares; expect full economy fares to start $20 to $30 higher each way.
New York - Los Angeles: $51
This is the price for connecting Spirit Airlines flights across the country, available until mid-November. If you'd prefer a nonstop flight on an airline such as United, those prices start around $100 for the second half of the year.
Related: 23 fun things to do in Los Angeles for every type of traveler
Houston - New York: $56 or 6,500 United miles
This is a basic economy fare on United with many dates available each month until mid-November 2020. Add $30 per direction for a regular economy fare.
Related: Where to use hotel points in New York City
New York - Miami: $35
Nonstop, basic economy flights from New York to Miami on American Airlines are available into mid-November from $35, with regular economy starting about $15 more each direction.
Chicago - Orlando: $37
Prices on this route for basic economy can be found from $37 to $49 each direction on a variety of dates into mid-November on both American Airlines and United. If you're all right with a low-cost carrier, Frontier has an even larger variety of dates from $37 each direction.
Atlanta - Orlando: $49 or 4,000 Delta miles
Prices on this route start around $49 into October and can be found from $63 on JetBlue and Delta through the end of the schedule. If you want to use miles, prices start at 4,000 Delta SkyMiles or around 4,800 JetBlue points. If a low-cost carrier is fine, Spirit can get you there for $26 each way into September and $38 into the fall.
Related: Guide to visiting Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney World
Seattle - Las Vegas: $49 or 4,000 Delta miles
On both Alaska and Delta, nonstop basic economy flights on this route start at $49 until early September. After that time, prices start at $63 each way on those carriers into Feb. 2021.
Hawaii: around $100 or 7,500 Delta miles
In November, one-way flights to Hawaii from gateways like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Phoenix are going for around $100 per person on American, Delta, Hawaiian and United. Cash fares hover in this range throughout the end of the year on select dates. If you want to fly to Hawaii from Houston, Dallas, New York or Chicago, it'll cost a bit more, but flights can be found from $150 to just under $200 each way (even on those longer routes) into mid-November.
New York - Aruba: $86 or 11,500 United miles
This leisure route is normally pretty darn pricey, but it is quite affordable with cash or United miles into mid-November from United hubs like Newark and Houston. Full economy tickets are available for just $10 more each way. Prices from Houston start at around $96 in cash or 10,500 in United miles.
Related: Hawaii or the Caribbean: Which should you visit?
NYC - Athens: $282 (round-trip)
While this list mainly focuses on closer-in destinations, there are deals to Europe available. For example, Delta and United have flights for $282 to Athens (round-trip) into mid-October. Expect to spend $100 more for full economy tickets. If you want to wait longer than October to put something on the books, prices rise to the mid-$300s on a variety of airlines through the end of the year.
How to find flight deals
The above is just a sampling of what we're seeing, and it's highly likely the routes you are most interested in aren't on this list. That's not a problem if you know how to search for your own flight deals, and here are some of our favorite tools for doing so.
Explore with Google Flights
Start exploring at Google Flights. You can search flights to your dream destinations from multiple airports to help you spot the best deal. Or, you can search from your destination ("Where from?" field) to any gateway in the United States by typing "USA" in the "Where to?" field. You'll get a map showing the cheapest flights to airports around the country.
Related: How to be an advanced user of Google Flights
Decide if you'll pay with cash or points
When you find an airfare deal, you'll need to decide if the deal is best on cash or points. That's a personal decision that only you can make (and conserving cash right now isn't a bad plan). However, some would say that these prices are so low that it would be a shame to "waste" miles or points unless the award deals are correspondingly low — and sometimes, they are. We found that the frequent flyer programs that are the most dynamically priced are currently the ones with some of the best award prices.
Related: Should you use miles or cash to buy airline tickets?
Understand cancellation policies before buying an airline ticket
Finally, before buying any airline ticket in the current realities, understand the cancellation and rebooking policies for the carrier you book. Airlines have been adjusting their policies to be more friendly for future bookings, but what that means can vary from airline to airline, and they may differ depending on whether you used cash or miles. While you're now often able to rebook an airline ticket for a future date without a change fee, just remember that you'll likely still be on the hook for any fare difference from your old ticket to the new one.
Related: Airline coronavirus change and cancellation policies
If you're booking an airline ticket with points or miles, here are the best ways to avoid change and cancellation fees on award tickets. You can also factor in using a credit card with good built-in travel insurance (though that doesn't kick in simply because you choose not to travel.)
No one can guarantee when we'll be able to travel. The coronavirus situation is fluid with no firm end date in sight — yet. If you're willing to make some speculative bookings for the second half of this year, you could end up traveling and having a fantastic time — or you might need to cancel or rebook as the months tick by. Go into each reservation with your eyes open and a firm understanding of the cancellation/rebooking terms.
Let us know in the comments below if you decide to book something for late this year or early 2021.
Additional reporting by Andrea Rotondo