It’s the season of fun – unless you’re trying to buy a plane ticket.
High inflation and pent-up demand following pandemic-era travel restrictions will affect flight prices for the rest of the year — just as people in the United States prepare to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.
A round-trip ticket for a domestic flight in the week before the Thanksgiving holiday is $398, up 30% from 2021 fares and 33% from 2019 fares, according to data from the Hopper Inc. It is a mobile travel application. Average round-trip fares for international destinations over the same time period are now $1,033, which is 17% higher than 2021 fares and 29% higher than 2019 fares.
Hayley Berg, chief economist at Hopper, said there are several different reasons for the rise in airfares this year luckincluding aviation fuel prices, rising labor costs, and more stringent travel demand.
Jet fuel prices are up nearly 90% compared to 2019 levels, and Berg estimates that about 10% of that increase is passed on to consumers. Travelers are also more likely to stick to flying home to see their families, compared to a summer trip when they may have more latitude to choose the dates of their trip.
“We have a large number of people who want to book tickets for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said.
Many Americans are facing those higher prices firsthand as the country prepares for its busiest travel season since the coronavirus hit the US in early 2020.
Between November 23 and November 27, approximately 4.5 million people are expected to travel to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, according to travel group AAA. This is 8% higher than in 2021, and only 1% lower than the travel numbers for 2019.
Two million passengers have passed through TSA checkpoints every day since November 17. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects to screen 2.5 million passengers on Sunday of this week, after the Thanksgiving festivities. That number would be higher than 2021 levels, but still below the historic high of 2.9 million in 2019, according to the agency.
So even though inflation is forcing many Americans to reconsider their spending habits, it seems travelers aren’t holding back on their travel plans.
“All the research that we’ve done, and that we’ve seen coming from other industry leaders, is families are swapping expenses on consumer goods for travel expenses while they’re tightening their budget,” Berg said.
AAA predicts that 2022 will be the third busiest year for Thanksgiving rides since 2000.
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