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How Air Travel Has Changed During COVID-19, According to The Points Guy

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Illustration for article titled How Air Travel Has Changed During COVID-19, According to The Points Guy

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Air travel has changed a lot during the pandemic, according to Brian Kelly, better known as The Points Guy, the CEO and founder of the travel website of the same name. Between travel restrictions, airlines cutting down on routes and the number of flights, and concern over the spread of the virus inside airports and airplanes, flying in 2020 looks pretty different than it did even one year ago. But believe it or not, not all these changes are bad, Kelly tells Lifehacker. Here are some of the ways that COVID-19 has altered air travel, both for better and for worse.

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Fares are exceptionally low

If you’ve booked a flight during the pandemic—or at least searched for one—you probably noticed that the base fares have been unusually low. The Points Guy has teamed up with Hopper (a data-driven website that analyzes travel prices and advises users on the best time to make bookings), and after analyzing billions of fares, found that domestic travel in the United States has 25% lower fares year-over-year, Kelly tells Lifehacker.

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But be aware that flights aren’t necessarily cheaper in all markets. “Airlines are in the process of right sizing the supply and demand,” he explains, “but in general, it’s been a good year for cheap fares.” Also, consumers should keep in mind that it’s typically only the base fare that’s advertised—meaning that they’re still responsible for paying for baggage fees or priority boarding.

There has been a major increase in domestic travel

According to Kelly, domestic travel accounts for about 90% of travel in the United States at the moment. While part of that has to do with the fact that we’re still not permitted to travel to many countries around the world, it’s also a matter of flexibility.

“Now, all domestic tickets have free changes,” Kelly explains. “This is something that I would have never thought would happen, just because simply the airlines make so much money out of fees. So with that, the reason they’re doing that is to instill consumer confidence to book in such a rapidly changing environment. So it’s a big win for consumers too—you can book with confidence.” It also means that if the fare goes down, you can cancel your original tickets and rebook the cheaper flight and get a voucher for the difference on most airlines, he adds.

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There are a lot of new public health precautions

So far, about half of US carriers have taken steps to socially distance before, during, and after flights, Kelly says. For example, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines are all currently blocking the booking of middle seats—at least through the holiday season. And at this point, all major domestic airlines require passengers and crew members to wear masks throughout check-in, boarding and the flight itself—in addition to installing improved air filtration systems, and more thoroughly cleaning aircraft between flights.

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Also, most airlines are now boarding from rear-to-front. “This is a big change from before,” Kelly says, “because it wasn’t nearly as orderly as that.” The same goes for getting off the plane. “People used to always push ahead, and now the airlines are actually deplaning in rows and policing it—some better than others—so that people aren’t scrambling over each other.”

Travel has become more civil and humane

After traveling extensively throughout the pandemic—both domestically and internationally—Kelly says that in his experience, air travel has become more civilized. “There are less people in airports and on planes: people focused on following the rules and being civil,” Kelly says. “When I first started traveling [during the pandemic] I thought it would be crazy, but there are actually some bright sides to this. Who knows if they’ll last, but I have seen more humanity in travel in 2020.”

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There has been a shift in travel coverage

Pre-pandemic, The Points Guy website typically focused on aspirational luxury travel, but now, Kelly says safety is their main concern. The aim of their current coverage is to help decrease the anxiety surrounding travel, by providing information on topics like how to stay safe on a plane, and what would happen if borders close while you’re abroad and you’re stuck in another country.

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“I think our main focus has been how do we responsibly get people traveling again, and give them the right information,” Kelly says. “We are pro-travel, for sure. But we’re also very cautious—we’ve had doctors [provide input on travel safety] and we’ve done a lot with just getting people comfortable with travel.”

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

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Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

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