According to travel booking app Hopper’s new Consumer Airfare Index, domestic airfare will increase 7% monthly through June, reaching 2019 levels by April 2022.
This isn’t that surprising since it’s all about supply and demand. Right now, many Americans are spooked by COVID so they’re holding off on booking. However, if you want to save money, now is a great time to start pricing out fares, setting fare alerts (here’s how to set a fare alert) and if the price is right, booking them.
Here are some takeaways from the Consumer Airfare Index:
When are people planning to travel?
Domestic: The weekend following Valentine’s Day and mid-March appeared to see higher than expected domestic search volume. This might suggest a rough timeline for when travelers are expecting the situation with the Omicron variant to improve domestically.
International: For international destinations, it seems travelers are generally eyeing mid-March. Canada was one of the only international regions seeing earlier demand for February.
How much will it cost to fly?
Current Pricing: Domestic airfare is relatively low at just $234/round-trip and international airfare is at historical lows for January at just $649/round-trip.
Domestic Forecast: We forecast an average 7% increase in domestic airfare each month until June (topping out at $315/round-trip), with the highest increases in March. We expect to see 2019 prices around April 2022.
–International Forecast: We expect airfare to increase an average of ~5% each month until June topping out at $830/round-trip, with the most significant increases between now and March as demand recovers following the Omicron variant wave.
Where are travelers going? (most popular searches)
Domestic: Orlando, FL (#1), Las Vegas, NV (#2), and Miami, FL (#3) topped the most popular destinations in searches for domestic flights.
International: London, UK (#1), Cancun, Mexico (#2), and Paris, France (#3) topped the most popular destinations in searches for international flights.
I believe that domestic airfares will increase each month and that airfare prices will be at 2019 levels if not higher this summer so again, it’s a good time to buy. As I’ve written in the past, if you’re planning on traveling internationally, I wouldn’t book an international carrier but rather a domestic carrier. This way, if you have to cancel your flights you don’t have to worry about the money going to waste as you can always use the flight credit to travel domestically.
Also, last week, Delta Air Lines came out offering customers the flexibility to rebook their ticket through December 31, 2023 and travel throughout 2024. So, if your plans change, it’s basically a no-lose situation since they’ve done away with change fees (except on the basic economy tickets.)