5 things to know about the future of air travel from Czechia

As destinations around the globe are opening, we spoke with industry insiders to find out what to expect when booking this summer and beyond.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 21.02.2022 16:00:00 (updated on 17.04.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

With omicron numbers falling and travel restrictions being lifted around the globe, it feels like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for those who’ve kept a low travel profile in recent years.

The Czech population is definitely looking ahead to the summer travel season. According to new data from the Čedok travel agency, sales of summer travel packages are 50 percent higher than they were this time of year in 2019.

Tickets are cheaper, now, too. Data from travel search engine Kiwi.com reflects an average CZK 1,900 price decrease compared to pre-pandemic fares in 2019.

We asked travel industry insiders how skyrocketing inflation and pent-up demand will impact future travel from the Czech Republic and if now is the right time to buy tickets for future trips. Here are their tips for how to navigate the rapidly changing situation.

1. Airfare is still on the cheap side, but won't be for long.

Josef Trejbal, sales director at Letuska.cz told us, “Ticket prices are still low. Current price promotions include a return ticket from the Czech Republic to the US for CZK 7,000 or a return ticket to Thailand for CZK 10,000.” His advice? Book now if you want to secure cheap tickets before the market responds to renewed demand. 

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Vladimíra Dufková, a spokesperson for Smartwings takes a similar view. “We expect a strong summer, so booking your tickets in advance is definitely a good idea,” she told Expats.cz. Among Czech travelers, the most popular destinations for flight bookings are currently exotic getaways like Dubai, or European favorites such as Rome, Malaga, and Barcelona.

2. Travel with confidence, but buy with flexibility.

As pandemic restrictions are lifted across the world, confidence in air travel is returning. A poll from Kiwi.com found that 60 percent of Czechs now consider travel to be safe again. But that doesn't mean it'll be any less complicated.

The silver lining? The unpredictability of Covid restrictions means airlines are more flexible than they used to be, says Dufková.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, most airlines decided to eliminate rebooking fees, meaning booking a flight has become a lot more flexible than it once was. We know that flexibility in making travel plans remains important for our customers," she says.

Smartwings has repeatedly extended the possibility of changing travel dates free of charge, Dufková said. Currently, all existing and new individual bookings made before March 31, 2022, with a travel date on or before March 31, 2022, can be exchanged for free. The replacement flight can take place up until October 31, 2022.

Emirates and Lufthansa have also updated their booking policies, though the specifics of rebooking and cancelation rules vary from airline to airline.

While such policies help alleviate some worries about changing restrictions or testing positive before a flight, Trejbal does recommend arranging travel insurance in advance of your trip.

3. Popular expat destinations are still remaining cautious.

While recent weeks have seen many EU destinations scrapping arrival restrictions just in time for spring and summer travel, other countries are exercising caution.

Entry to the US remains subject to having a negative Covid test taken within a day of the flight departure.

The UK has already lifted all Covid measures domestically, and all testing or quarantine obligations have been dropped for fully vaccinated arrivals, who must fill out an arrival form. Australia will only open to vaccinated travelers on Feb. 21, entry requirements will vary from state to state.

Popular EU holiday destinations such as Spain, Portugal, Croatia, and Greece have scrapped testing requirements for fully vaccinated travelers. While interest among Czech-based travelers is particularly high in the Maldives, the UAE, and Turkey these countries still have some entry conditions.

4. Limited flight schedules could continue to cause complications.

One lingering problem for those jonesing to travel is the limited number of scheduled flights. Budget airline Ryanair is currently only operating routes to three UK destinations, although Jet2 recently launched new routes to the country. Direct flights from Prague to the US won’t restart until May.

Trejbal says the number of flights departing from Prague is set to increase significantly "It is possible to take a direct flight from Prague to more than 80 destinations. However, this number will increase systematically."

For destinations where connections have already been restored, ticket prices have yet to make their inevitable upward adjustment for increased demand. But for those looking to visit destinations where flights are yet to be restored, waiting for more flight options might bring benefits both in cost and convenience.

5. Booking last-minute is no longer necessary

Having to cancel flights on short notice during the pandemic has left many travelers reluctant to book holidays far in advance, leading to a trend of last-minute bookings which in many cases can lead to steeper fares.

That trend has begun to reverse according to Kiwi.com “Looking at bookings from the Czech Republic since the beginning of the year, a third of travelers booked between three weeks and two months in advance, showing that the preference for last-minute travel is now in decline,” said Nina Černá, spokesperson for Kiwi.com.

As Covid numbers drop and restrictions loosen around the world, experts say tracking flights and monitoring the changing prices is the best way to ensure you are getting the best deal when booking flights.

Trejbal adds that price is always proportional to demand for flights which is seeing rapid growth in recent weeks. He recommends looking for future flights as soon as possible to beat predicted price hikes.

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