AUSTIN, Texas — If the coronavirus pandemic has you feeling isolated and makes you want to practice social distancing somewhere else, there are a lot of cheap roundtrip flights out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Thinking of checking out the South Florida beaches while you maintain a six-foot distance from everyone? It'll only cost you $43 if you fly with JetBlue.
About a month ago, the cheapest roundtrip flight from AUS to FLL and back was $126. To LAX? You would've had to pay $216, according to Skiplagged.
While it sounds like you're getting a good bargain, you shouldn't book these cheap flights right now, according to Keith Waldon, the owner of Departure Lounge, a luxury travel agency in Austin.
"Selling travel is our livelihood, and with that said, we are not recommending that anybody fly anywhere that is not an emergency right now. We just don't recommend it," Waldon said. "As much as everybody loves a travel bargain, I think, right now, we all need to stay home."
Waldon told KVUE he wouldn't be surprised if the federal government issued further restrictions over the next week or so.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of State issued an advisory, warning all U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel "due to the global impact of COVID-19." The department warns many countries are experiencing outbreaks, leading to travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn't typically issue travel advisories within the U.S., according to its website, but it warns crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase your chances of getting COVID-19.
Those guidelines warn that traveling to an area where COVID-19 has been community spread increases your chances of getting it. The agency also warns that attending conferences, visiting shopping malls, or using public transportation may expose you to the coronavirus.
If you must travel -- for an emergency, as an example -- the CDC recommends having a plan in place in case you're asked to self-monitor and avoid contact with others for 14 days if you get sick or come in close contact with someone who is infected.
You also risk having your flight canceled and your trip ruined, as American Airlines, United and Delta announced this week they're canceling thousands of flights and grounding hundreds of planes due to low travel demand because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to USA Today.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport shared the following statement with KVUE about its operations:
"Like other airports, AUS is currently experiencing a significant decrease in passenger volumes and we understand concerns surrounding travel at this time. We ask our passengers to utilize their best judgment when making decisions about whether or not to travel. Should they choose to, AUS is open, safe and operating normally. The AUS team is working around the clock to ensure enhanced cleaning operations and continuity of our services for everyone who needs to access the airport.
For information regarding changes to air service, passengers are encouraged to contact their airlines. General information can be found here.
For the latest on COVID-19 related news at AUS, visit this page."
Waldon said you're much better off booking trips for the fall or next year, instead of booking one within the next few months.
"We've been busy booking trips for the fall and for next year. Some people are still going forward with summertime booking," he said. "I think that, right now, is kind of the question mark. Will things be cleared up enough for people to make their summer trips? There's just no way to know right now."
If you decide to book a trip later this year, Waldon recommends you use a travel advisor so that you're not stuck waiting on hold while trying to get a refund for your flights and hotel rooms.
"We have access to the platforms and the files to take care of things for our clients so that the client is not stuck on hold," he said.
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