$120 for roundtrip airfare: Millennials and Gen Z travel despite coronavirus

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A young woman at an airport. Photo credit: Pixabay.

The outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is changing the lives of many people. This weekend, many US airports faced a rush of travelers trying to return home from abroad. And the federal government wants Americans to cancel non-essential travel. But that’s not stopping some young adults and college students from taking advantage of low airfare and cheap hotel deals. 

KCRW’s Cerise Castle spoke with some people who were actually planning trips and vacations in the midst of this global pandemic, and says that many young people aren’t able to afford vacations without these significant price breaks. 

Joel Rodriguez, a student at Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL, told her that he has always wanted to go to New York City. 

“It's always been so expensive, like just the airfare alone. I'm like, okay, that's not even including like AirBnB, food, Ubers and stuff. It would take me a while to save up,” he says. “Now that I was looking, I think it was Spirit where it was only like $120 for a round trip. I was like, that's extremely low, I should take the opportunity.”

Castle says that traveling during a pandemic goes against the advice of government leaders and health officials. People like Rodriguez may not be severely affected if they contract COVID-19, but there are other risks. 

Dr. Michael Wikes, a UC Davis physician and KCRW contributor, says that young people are a low risk-group, but they could easily infect more sensitive populations. 

“The fear is that when they come back, when they're on a plane, they'll be sitting with grandmothers and people that may be not as healthy as they are. …  They're going to be putting people at risk,” Wilkes says.

Castle says that the spread of coronavirus can be viewed like a math problem. If the number of cases  keeps doubling every three days, there would be about 100 million cases in the United States by May. We can slow that down if we all practice social distancing.



Larry Perel


Cerise Castle