Travellers worldwide are cancelling trips over coronavirus fears — but millennials are snapping up cheap flights despite the risks, and it says a lot about who they are as a generation

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Millennials are booking cheap coronavirus flights for a vacation. FLAVIO LO SCALZO/Reuters

Coronavirus is ruining a lot of travel plans.

But not for some millennials. While many people are cancelling, rescheduling, or changing trips, the younger generation is taking advantage of cheap flights, reported Ben Kesslen for NBC.

In a time when coronavirus has decimated air travel, airlines are dropping prices and offering flexible ticket policies to some locations. The 20-somethings Kesslen spoke with said they want to capitalise on this for various reasons: to explore new destinations, enjoy a vacation, or see family.

“I feel like if the coronavirus would get even more serious and like wipe out a large amount of people, I might as well be somewhere having fun,” Ashley Henkel, who booked flights to Vancouver, New York City, and Portland, Oregon, for the summer told Kesslen. She had ruled out summer trips for cost reasons until coronavirus hit and made them cheaper, according to Kesslen. There is “no fun in staying at home and being all worried,” she said.

As of Wednesday, the World Health Organisation officially declared coronavirus a pandemic. While those 60 and older are at greater risk of becoming ill with coronavirus than younger folks, that doesn’t mean young people are completely immune to the virus – especially if they have underlying health conditions.

Many millennials have taken to the internet to parody their generation’s desire to travel in the time of an international crisis.

Millennials are all about experiences

Millennials seeing the coronavirus era as an opportunity to travel says a lot about their generation’s lifestyle.

They have come to define the experience economy, in which they prefer to spend their money on experiences like travel over material things. In fact, travel is one of the main forces motivating millennials to earn a paycheck.

“Millennials are motivated to work in order to pay for basic necessities and to earn money to travel, more so than making money to pay off debt or save for retirement,” Business Insider’s Liz Knueven previously reported.

It’s partly why they’re the generation driving the most growth in the travel industry. They take more vacation days than any other generation – 35 days a year – and are more willing to spend more on a vacation, according to a Travelport survey.

While they’re willing to spend more, they want their dollars to stretch as far as possible. Millennials want the most bang for their buck when spending, so they look for more budget-conscious options than their parents did when travelling. It’s all about doing a lot and experiencing more. One way they try to keep costs down is by staying at more affordable places like Airbnbs or sharing rules.

It also apparently means booking cheap flights, even if it could increase their risk of getting infected with the coronavirus.