Book right now for summer if you haven’t already.
Airfares are astronomical this year. From December 2021 to December 2022, airline prices have shot up 28.5% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The result? Fliers are paying through their teeth for their seat on a plane, especially for international destinations.
There are multiple factors affecting the price rise. Inflation is one of them. Although it’s below 5% for the first time in two years, it’s still pinching consumers. High jet fuel prices have impacted ticket pricing as well—which accounts for roughly 25% of airline operating costs. There is of course the persistent problem of fewer pilots and airline staff, which also contributes to the skyrocketing demand-supply issue.
According to flight booking app Hopper, flights to Europe and Asia are the highest they have been in five years. Passengers are paying more than 36% than last year for European destinations and more than 62% for Asian destinations compared to pre-pandemic.
Related: 12 European Cities Will Be Overcrowded This Summer. Go to These Instead
On the flip side, airfares for domestic flights have dropped as much as 20% compared to last year.
Scott Keyes, founder of Going.com, tells Fodor’s that demand for Europe is up 20% compared to 2019, while domestic travel is down by 2% this year. “Travel during the height of the pandemic was characterized by outdoors and distance—think camping in Montana, beaches in Florida. In 2021/2022, as people got vaccinated and Covid restrictions began to unwind, the first trip many folks took was closer to home—domestic travel, or Mexico/Caribbean. But this year, a lot more folks are comfortable taking a ‘big’ trip for the first time since the pandemic began. That’s why demand to Europe is way up this year, and driving higher fares, while domestic travel is lagging a bit.”
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Best Deals for Summer
It’s already too late to think about Europe for summer (unless you’re ready to pay big bucks or fly out in September). However, you still have lots of choices closer to home.
Keyes shares that the best deals right now will take you to cities in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean, “Travel to Canada is still down 20%, leading to great fares even to popular summer destinations like Calgary for Banff National Park, where flights from across the U.S. have been under $300 roundtrip even for last-minute summer travel. Similarly, flights to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have dipped under $250 from many mainland U.S. airports, including summer dates.”
On the Hopper app, you may still be able to snatch round-trip tickets for this summer from San Francisco to Vegas for $66 or Miami to San Juan for $124.
2023 Summer Travel Tips
Plan Right: Summer flights are not all equally as expensive, Keyes says. You might still be able to find a relatively cheaper airfare (for summer) in the first two weeks of June or the last two weeks of August. Hopper advises travelers to book mid-week flights to save up to $56 per domestic ticket.
Fly Direct: Flight disruptions are again expected this summer. Not only are airlines short-staffed, there’s huge consumer demand. And the aviation industry may be heading into more upheaval if pilots strike, which they’re threatening to do at several airlines. So, plan for chaos by booking direct flights and taking the first flight out—these are your best bets against delays and cancellations.
Related: What Are The Chances of a Pilot Strike This Summer?
Additional Tools: If you’re looking at a good deal but don’t have concrete plans, you can use Flight Freeze on the Hopper app. You can also get Flight Disruption Guarantee to ensure you’re not left stranded after a cancellation or missed connection.
Book Separately: Look for one-way flights, Keyes suggests. When you do that, you’ll be able to see a cheap outbound flight from United and a cheap inbound flight from Delta.
Use Points: Another thing he mentions is using your points, which are often at their highest value when you’re booking last-minute. “If you’ve got a stash of points or miles lying around, check how many it would cost to get that same domestic flight. You’ll often find it’s a much better value when cash fares are inflated, as they usually are in summer.”