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COVID-19

Budget airlines may have an advantage as people seek low-cost leisure escapes

Meghan McCarty Carino Apr 5, 2021
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Low-cost carrier Frontier is banking on an expected increase in domestic travel. Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Budget airlines may have an advantage as people seek low-cost leisure escapes

Meghan McCarty Carino Apr 5, 2021
Heard on:
Low-cost carrier Frontier is banking on an expected increase in domestic travel. Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images
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The weather is warming, the days are getting longer and the CDC has said fully vaccinated people can travel with low risk to themselves, which could signal a brighter summer for airlines. The low-cost carrier Frontier banked on that sense of optimism last week becoming the second discount airline to go public this year.

What do these no-frills airlines have to offer? Well, if you want a snack, you’ll probably pay for it. A checked bag? That’s extra. And don’t even think about choosing your seat until you’ve shelled out some more.

“The base airfare you buy includes your seat and the seat belt and nothing else,” said travel analyst Henry Harteveldt. He said low-cost carriers focus on shorter-haul domestic destinations, a good thing right now.

“There’s still a lot of short-term planning going on,” Harteveldt said. “Many international destinations that are normally popular with American travelers are still off-limits to us.”

And air travel will be about leisure trips instead of business travel for the foreseeable future, said airline consultant Jay Sorensen.

“Business travelers are obviously more concerned about comfort and convenience, whereas leisure travelers have a preponderance of concern for low prices,” Sorensen said.

One drawback for low-cost airlines in the COVID era? They often depend on packing flights as tightly as possible.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

How long will it be until the economy is back to normal?

It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening, but we’re not entirely out of the woods. To illustrate: two recent pieces of news from the Centers for Disease Control. Item 1: The CDC is extending its tenant eviction moratorium to June 30. Item 2: The cruise industry didn’t get what it wanted — restrictions on sailing from U.S. ports will stay in place until November. Very different issues with different stakes, but both point to the fact that the CDC thinks we still have a ways to go before the pandemic is over, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who used to work at the CDC and now teaches at Boston College.

How are those COVID relief payments affecting consumers?

Payments started going out within days of President Joe Biden signing the American Rescue Plan, and that’s been a big shot in the arm for consumers, said John Leer at Morning Consult, which polls Americans every day. “Consumer confidence is really on a tear. They are growing more confident at a faster rate than they have following the prior two stimulus packages.” Leer said this time around the checks are bigger and they’re getting out faster. Now, rising confidence is likely to spark more consumer spending. But Lisa Rowan at Forbes Advisor said it’s not clear how much or how fast.

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