To see this in action: I have a client that wishes to go to Sweden in September when the COVID-19 threat is still possible but hopefully mitigated at least. Ticket prices were half what they normally would be. After careful research, I found that one ticket on those dates to their desired location was refundable. The price difference between the refundable and non-refundable ticket was less than 20%.
Because I am not just an agent but also a travel counselor, when the client told me she could get that low, mostly refundable, ticket with her points (non-airline specific points), I was happy to tell her to do it. Not only did she reduce her liability in cost by over 80%, she differed that cost through credit card points.
While the agent in me would’ve liked the sale, the counselor loved finding such a great solution on this particular COVID19 gamble.
However, this trend has continued into South America and Africa as well, I just found refundable vs nonrefundable tickets with major airlines for less than a 5% increase in cost. Covid-19 may make travel insurance a bust, but airfares with penalties like this do not need to be insured. While many fares are still nonrefundable, I have never before seen so many great values on refundable or mostly refundable tickets.