Vaccinated and agitated? Here are 8 cheap flight deals from Tampa Bay.

Whether you’ve received your second shot or are feeling more locked in than ever, Scott Keyes has advice for those who want to travel to 2021: Buy your tickets now.

“You have yet to see all of the pent-up travel demand released,” said the founder of transaction tracking site Scott’s Cheap Flights. “There’s still a ton of room to grow, and it’s just starting to come out. There are still plenty of cheap summer flights available right now, but if you wait to book your flight until May and hope to travel in the summer, your chances of getting a summer flight aren’t expensive at that time are not very good. . “

After 12 disastrous months for the airline industry due to the coronavirus pandemic, people are flying again. Mainly inside and outside Florida.

Searches for flights to and from Tampa have increased steadily throughout 2021, according to Kayak.com, with searches for the week of March 7 only 14% behind in the same week. two years ago – faster pace of recovery than in most cities. About 84% of all Americans plan to travel in the next six months, according to travel and tourism specialist Longwoods International. This is more than at any other time of the pandemic.

“The wave of travel we all thought was coming is now really visible in the data,” Keyes said. “This is in the process of becoming a reality. “

Passengers walk to an escalator near the SkyConnect area of ​​Tampa International Airport on March 11. [ DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times ]

Tampa International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport are both getting ready. The two airports recently announced new seasonal nonstop flights, including some to first-time destinations, and both recently held job fairs for hundreds of concessions, jobs in the field of security and airlines.

Tampa International recently predicted it could accommodate up to 65,000 visitors per day during peak spring break days, less than a typical year, but well above most days in recent months. . St. Pete-Clearwater spokeswoman Michele Routh said that although passenger numbers are still down a bit, the airport actually has more flights scheduled for March than in 2019 or 2020.

Just because people are more willing to travel, right, right?

In its most recent travel guidelines, released on February 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still encourages people to stay home, “even if you are vaccinated.” If you are eligible for the vaccine, the agency recommends waiting two weeks after your second dose before traveling, as it takes time for the body to protect itself after a vaccination. Those who travel should always follow masking and social distancing guidelines.

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“What we’ve seen is that we have flare-ups after people start traveling,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said at a recent press briefing. “We saw it after July 4, we saw it after Labor Day, we saw it after the Christmas holidays. Currently, 90 percent of people are still unprotected and have not yet been vaccinated. So we are really looking forward to updating these guidelines because we have more protection in the communities and in the population. “

Passengers line up in the United Airlines ticketing area at Tampa International Airport on March 11.
Passengers line up in the United Airlines ticketing area at Tampa International Airport on March 11. [ DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times ]

So far, the lack of new guidelines has not stopped people from purchasing discounted tickets. And the airlines are pushing them to do it. Most have waived change and cancellation fees for flights booked through the end of March, Keyes said.

“There is a really narrow window for a win-win,” he said. “You can not only lock in the cheap fares, especially if you are hoping to travel this summer, but you also have the option to change your dates later without having to pay the normal penalty of $ 200, $ 300, $ 400.”

With more seasonal flights returning in the spring and summer, here are some discounted destinations available from Tampa and St. Pete-Clearwater. All prices do not include fees and are subject to change.

Dallas: Texas was among the first states to open, removing capacity restrictions and statewide mask mandates. Several airlines offer discounted flights to cities like Austin and San Antonio, but Spirit Airlines beats them all with non-stop spring flights between Tampa and Dallas starting at $ 30 each way, with discounts for members who reduce them even more. Prices start to increase significantly in June.

Newark, New Jersey: Spirit offers ridiculously low one-way fares from Tampa to a number of cities, including Cleveland ($ 22), Chicago ($ 23), and San Juan, PR ($ 45). Nothing, however, beats the flight to Newark Liberty International Airport, where we recently saw one-way flights listed for under $ 18. New York is still relatively restrictive, from a business standpoint, but at the cost of a decent strip loin, it’s a tough deal to pass up.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Allegiant Air recently announced a new non-stop route from St. Pete-Clearwater to Portsmouth, a historic port city within 60 miles of Boston and Portland, Maine. Wednesday and Saturday flights begin June 2. Last week there were still a few dates with one-way flights starting at the $ 59 introductory price. Most were higher, but all were under $ 115.

Travelers collect their luggage at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport on March 11.
Travelers collect their luggage at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport on March 11. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

Denver/Vail / Breckinridge: Colorado has slowly relaxed collection restrictions, which are largely set by individual counties, but it’s also a viable destination for those looking for outdoor pursuits. Frontier Airlines offers daily flights between Tampa and Denver, some for less than $ 80 round trip. Keyes recently saw indirect American Airlines flights between Tampa and Vail, Colorado for as little as $ 175 round trip.

Bozeman, Mont.: If you’re looking for an outdoor space, you could do worse than Yellowstone National Park, about an hour and a half from Bozeman Yellowstone National Airport in MT. Over the past week, Delta offered select round-trip flights to Montana for less than $ 170.

North Carolina: Amid its long list of offers, Allegiant is offering low prices on one-way flights from St. Pete-Clearwater to Raleigh / Durham ($ 54), Greensboro ($ 42), Asheville ($ 37) and Charlotte ($ 34). $). Nearby, Knoxville, Tenn. ($ 45) and Greenville / Spartanburg, SC ($ 45) are not far away. Prices and dates vary by city, so check Allegiant’s flight deals page often.

Las Vegas: Nevada’s hospitality industry has been plagued by a lack of tourism during the pandemic. Eager to bring back locals from the outside, the state relaxed capacity restrictions from 35% to 50%, with casinos extending their hours of operation and even hosting smaller shows. Last week, Frontier offered round-trip flights between Tampa and Vegas for around $ 100. Spirit has offered nonstop flights from Tampa to Vegas starting at $ 65, and well below for stopover options.

Costa Rica: International travel is always a risk, Keyes said, summer flights to Europe appearing particularly risky. But one low-cost destination from Tampa that caught his attention was an indirect flight to Costa Rica via American Airlines for $ 300. Incoming international flights require proof of a negative COVID-19 test no more than three days before boarding for your return, so plan accordingly.