Planning a spring break trip during the pandemic? Here’s what you need to know about flights

Southwest Airlines kicked off 2021 with a spring fare sale with tickets as low as $29 one way.

Spirit Airlines’ website invites travelers to “Say hello to savings this spring,” touting fares as low as $62 round trip.

And Las Vegas is readying the scaled-down reopening of select party pools and nightclubs and the resumption of full-time operations at resorts that have reduced hours this winter.

The second spring break season of the coronavirus pandemic is here, and with it hopes of a return to travel, at least for those who have been vaccinated or were already infected, are encouraged by the trend in case counts and willing to take a risk, or are simply suffering pandemic fatigue. 

The winter storms walloping most of the country this month are sure to prompt even more Americans to start searching for flights.

Airlines and other travel businesses aren’t expecting anything close to a return to 2019 travel levels this year, but executives say they are encouraged by early signs of an uptick in demand for spring break. 

“Our survey data shows (customer) sentiment is at the highest level it’s been since we began tracking the data last spring,” Matt Klein, chief commercial officer for Spirit Airlines, told investors in mid-February.

Travel during the long Presidents Day/Valentines Day weekend supports the optimism: passenger counts topped 1 million on Thursday and Friday and exceeded 900,000 on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. There have now been 19 days during the pandemic when traveler screenings exceeded 1 million, all but one since Thanksgiving. (In a typical year, daily passenger counts top 2 million.)

This despite the repeated U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice to  avoid travel. 

“First and foremost, I would really encourage people to not travel,” new CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing earlier this month.

For those planning spring break trips by air, here are 9 things to keep in mind

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