• A number of air carriers, like Southwest Airlines, are offering cheap and discounted flights right now to encourage travelers to lock in holiday bookings.
  • Industry executives in recent days, such as top leaders at airlines like JetBlue and Allegiant, said they’re increasingly bullish on holiday travel trends right now.
  • However, this comes as the coronavirus pandemic is still raging in the US — and setting new records.

Southwest Airlines is one of several carriers right now that are offering a slew of cheap flights and fare sale deals timed to the holidays.

Southwest, for its part, is currently running a sale on flights with one-way fares as low as just $49. You’ve only got until Thursday night to lock in your purchase, however, and 21-day advance purchase is required. The airline’s fare sale page has all the details, which you can find here, and the discounted fares are good for travel within the continental US between November 17, 2020, and March 4, 2021 (there are different eligible dates for international travel).

This comes as the industry itself is seeing promising signs of a resurgence in airline travel, with the evidence pointing toward what looks to be a rebound in time for the holidays. Of course, that’s not necessarily a trend worth celebrating — there’s still a pandemic going on, remember?

Over the last few weeks, there has been considerable media attention given to the question of whether or not it’s safe to travel by air. In my opinion, though, not enough consideration is being given to the travel realities that occur outside of a plane. To wit: I’m willing to grant you that planes are pretty safe to be in right now.

But if you think it’s safe or okay to travel right now in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, answer me this — how did the coronavirus that originated in China make its way around the world if there are no risks associated with travel?

I’m not talking about whether planes are some kind of COVID-19 petri dish. What we’re really talking about is the fact that they convey asymptomatic people from one point to another, where those people can infect other individuals.

This dichotomy is something we continue to see as the coronavirus pandemic lingers, even from people who accept the conventional wisdom about the virus — they understand that the virus is still a very real and present danger, but they still try to get away with as much of their normal life as they can, regardless.

“Based both on what our customers are saying and what our customers are doing, we see a clear divergence in terms of their attitudes toward the pandemic and their intentions towards leisure air travel,” Scott DeAngelo, chief marketing officer for the budget air carrier Allegiant told USA Today. “That is to say, customers believe the situation may once again be getting worse, but their leisure travel activity or their travel booking intent remains largely unchanged.”

Heck, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes was so upbeat and so optimistic about the level of holiday travel that he thinks the industry will see that during his company’s most recent earnings presentation to investors a few days ago, one analyst asked if his comments were drafted before the recent coronavirus downturn in the US.

Last week, the US set a new seven-day record for new COVID-19 cases, with almost 482,000 recorded per Johns Hopkins University data.

“I am not planning to travel this Thanksgiving unless we see significant improvements” in COVID-19 trends, Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s Public Health Commissioner, said at a news conference a few days ago. “I would encourage you — especially if you normally are getting together with people who are older or have underlying health conditions — to think seriously about whether this is the year for travel.”

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.