SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As COVID-19 rapidly spreads around the world, some people are taking advantage of coronavirus-induced travel deals to do some world traveling of their own.

The novel coronavirus has caused many people to abandon their travel plans, canceling flights and hotel accommodations without rebooking. According to the International Air Transport Association, airlines alone could lose as much as $113 billion in sales, while hotels are estimated to suffer losses of $30 billion worldwide.

"The most significant effects on the travel industry have been on business travel and leisure travel is closely following behind," said Paul Dhadda, Chief Executive Officer of Exquisite Travel Group. "My travel agency has had approximately 10% of trips cancel and approximately 15% delay or postpone finalizing trips until they feel more comfortable and travel restrictions have been lifted."

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However, there is a silver lining for those with wanderlust. 

Many travel services are slashing their rates in order to make up for these last-minute cancellations. Already, some brave travelers are taking advantage. 

"Customers booking now are booking discounts across the board from cruises, airfare and hotels," Dhadda said. 

Some airlines have substantially reduced airfare, while hotels are offering exclusive deals for those who feel comfortable traveling.

"We have had numerous inquiries for promotions due to the coronavirus but it has been a mix of requests," Dhadda said. "There are clients looking to take advantage of the added values and discounts, as well as clients reaching out to plan their regularly scheduled vacations."

There are even some travel agencies that are specifically targeting travelers who are searching for travel deals due to coronavirus. According to PlanMoreTrips.com, which has a page set up specifically for coronavirus flight deal alerts, "Super cheap airfare + forced to 'work from home' + no tourists at major sites = best time to travel in decades."

"At the end of the day, we're confident the travel industry will be back to normal in due time," Dhadda said. "But for the time being, we recommend our clients seek out the facts and turning to us, their travel advisers, for guidance."

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Here are some examples of cheap one-way airline tickets out of Sacramento International Airport anytime in the next 6 months using Google Flights:

  • Sacramento to Los Angeles - $38
  • Sacramento to Las Vegas - $22
  • Sacramento to New York - $48
  • Sacramento to Seattle - $38
  • Sacramento to Dallas - $38
  • Sacramento to Orlando - $58

International flights are also significantly cheaper:

  • Sacramento to Barcelona - $264
  • Sacramento to Paris - $256
  • Sacramento to London - $264
  • Sacramento to Tokyo - $477
  • Sacramento to Cancún - $101
  • Sacramento to Rio de Janeiro - $443

There are some things to take a note of before booking that trip, however. The CDC has issued a warning to avoid nonessential travel, especially long plane trips and crowded spaces. 

Is it worth the risk? 

It mostly depends on what you feel comfortable with and your risk tolerance. If you are elderly or have underlying health issues, it is much safer to stay home. 

At the same time, there is very little risk of any communicable disease being transmitted on board an aircraft. Airline cabins carefully control airflow, with modern re-circulation systems and high-efficiency air filters. 

According to the World Health Organization, "during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, the risk of transmission of the disease in aircraft was found to be very low." 

SARS is a similar disease to COVID-19, both of belonging to a group of viruses that primarily attack the respiratory system. 

BACKGROUND: 

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask. The CDC says the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low.

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