If you’ve booked a flight recently, this will not shock you: airline ticket prices are up. What might surprise you, however, is just how much they’ve risen since before the COVID era.
A new study out Thursday by Adobe shows that airfares increased 24% from Oct. 2019 to Oct. 2022.
“After record spending on physical goods in the first two years of the pandemic, we see consumers shifting more significantly towards services such as air travel,” Adobe Digital Insights lead analyst Vivek Pandya said in a statement. “We expect the momentum to carry through the holiday season, even as prices remain elevated above pre-pandemic levels.”
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For travelers, this means you need to be ready to shell out more if you’re determined to fly around the holidays.
How much are holiday airfares?
Online travel booking platform Hopper said last month that domestic plane tickets around Christmas were averaging $463, and projected that number would only rise as the holiday drew closer.
According to Adobe, higher prices seem to have discouraged some people from traveling but allowed airlines to reap their financial rewards.
“Domestic flight bookings for Thanksgiving week (trips landing between Nov. 19 and Nov. 24) are down 7% compared to this point in 2019 (through the end of October).” Adobe’s study said. “Spend is up 3%, however, showing the impact of higher fares.”
Airlines post record profits
Most U.S. airlines recently announced their third-quarter financial results, and many executives touted extremely favorable revenue.
“Pricing remains in the airlines’ favor,” Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research, a travel industry strategic research firm, told USA TODAY. “They’re able to charge the prices they want. The market seems to be willing to pay that, at least for now.”
He noted, however, that with the specter of recession looming and companies continuing to hesitate on business travel, that dynamic could change before long.
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“The research we did in early September shows that passengers are very concerned about inflation and they are likely to cut back on their 2023 leisure travel spending,” Harteveldt said. “For consumers, the good news here is if demand falls off airlines inevitably become more aggressive with their pricing, and if jet fuel prices fall, that also gives airlines more wiggle room to play around with pricing.”
Booking tips for travelers
If you haven’t booked your holiday travel yet, you may be at risk of missing the best airfare deals.
USA TODAY recently published a full catalog of tips for holiday travel booking, but here are some of the key points:
- If you can be flexible in your travel dates, you’re more likely to find better deals
- Book flights that depart early in the day to minimize your risk of delays or cancellations
- Price tracking tools on various booking platforms can help you figure out if the price is fair
- Buy your plane tickets about a month before departure