Have you not got around to going on summer vacation? It’s time to book your trip as airfares are rapidly dropping to pre-pandemic levels.
AAs the demand for summer travel dwindles, Americans who stick with an outing in late August or after Labor Day will be rewarded for their patience.
Domestic airfares will drop to $286 round-trip later in August, a 25% drop from the peak price of $400 for summer flights in May, according to Hopper’s third-quarter travel index, the online booking platform. Average airfare stays at or below $300 through September, before starting to rise in October and November, eventually peaking at over $390 for last-minute vacation bookings in mid-to-late December.
That brings prices back in line with 2019 levels, said Hayley Berg, Hopper’s chief economist and author of the report. Late summer airfare rates typically drop between 10% and 15% between late August and early October as demand for the back-to-school season in the US slows.
So what’s causing airfares to go down so quickly? To a large extent this is a market correction. “Prices this summer were above normal seasonal price increases due to high jet fuel prices and pent-up demand resulting from two depressed summer seasons, and because passenger demand peaked earlier in the summer than in a normal year,” Berg said in her report. .
Meanwhile, other factors continue to exert upward pressure on airline tickets. Jet fuel prices have risen rapidly this year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), jet fuel on the US Gulf Coast is on average 85% higher than in 2019 and 86% compared to 2021.
And passenger capacity is also lower compared to pre-pandemic levels. “Domestic available seat capacity in July was about 95% of 2019 levels, averaging 2.7 million available seats per day compared to 2.87 million per day in 2019,” notes Berg.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is consistently screening 10% fewer travelers than in 2019, exceeding pre-pandemic volume in just a handful of days this year, during the long Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends.
As airfares drop, beach destinations top Hopper’s trending list for domestic travel, with all cities in Hawaii (airfares average $500 or less) and Hilton Head, South Carolina ($315 round trip) in the top three destinations. for the fall. Mountain towns are also on the rise, with Jackson, Wyoming ($460 round trip) the destination rising fastest in popularity this fall.