UNDATED -- The whole world seems to be on hold right now as we try to get a handle on the coronavirus and that is crippling the travel industry.

Editor-In-Chief of Thriftytraveler.com Kyle Potter says the number of people traveling by air is down 96 to 97 percent compared to the same time last year, with some planes flying at just 10 percent full. He says airports are ghost towns in the United States and across the world.

So what does that mean for those of us who would like to book a vacation for some time down the road? Potter says some flights are cheap right now with airlines desperate to book passengers.

In general flight prices are fairly cheap and we're not just talking getting on a plane next week but even for flights as far out as into March of 2021.

If you want to take a chance and book a flight for later this year or early next year, Potter has some advice for you.

First, book with an airline that offers free change and cancellation. Most major airlines in the U.S. are doing this right now if you buy a ticket before the end of May.

Second, pay with a credit card instead of your debit card. It will be a much easier path to getting your money back if the airline ends up canceling your flight.

And third, hold off on other non-refundable purchases on things like hotel accommodations or tours until you're sure your trip is actually going to happen at the time you want.

He says the airlines have had the ability to scale back flights having grounded more than half their planes. But he says downsizing is something the hotel industry can't do.

Hotels don't have that luxury, they can't just suddenly pull back how many rooms they have.  So I do think it's certainly possible that hotels may be quite a bit cheaper than what maybe we're accustomed to for the foreseeable future as travel finds it's new normal.

Potter says when we do start flying and getting on cruise ships again the process for boarding will likely look a lot different.

In the wake of September 11th, we really saw the growth of the TSA and the security screening procedures.  I wouldn't be surprised if we started to see more health screening procedures coming out of the coronavirus in all aspects of the travel industry and certainly in regards to cruises.

Potter says airlines have gotten a package of more than $50 billion in aid from the federal government to help pay their bills in the short term.

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