If you’re looking to get a good deal on a getaway, the time to book is coming sooner than you might think. The travel company Hopper recently released its quarterly Consumer Airfare Index Report, which found that flight prices are expected to rise back to pre-pandemic levels this year.
In January, the company saw that domestic airfare is now relatively low at $234 for a round-trip ticket, and with record-breaking lows for international airfare at just $649 for a round-trip. However, that number is expected to change soon as more and more people feel comfortable traveling and destinations loosen pandemic-related restrictions. For its six-month forecast, the company believes there will be an average increase of seven percent in domestic airfare each month until June, up to $315 round-trip, with the highest increases in March, paving the way for 2019 prices around April 2022. Hopper also believes that there will be about a five percent increase each month until June, topping out at $830 for a round-trip international flight. Expect this to happen between now and March as the travel industry recovers from the Omicron variant wave.
There are a couple of factors leading to the rise in prices. Jet fuel prices increased 60 percent in 2021, and higher rates are expected to continue. Additionally, airfare tends to peak in the summer because of seasonal travel demand. Last year, fliers began traveling more after the vaccine rollout in March, but since that is not a factor this year, prices will likely rise when they usually do, starting in February. Of the 2.1 million domestic seats available, plane occupancy remains down 16 percent from January 2019. And of the 308,000 seats for outbound international flights from the US, capacity is down 28 percent in January 2022 compared to January 2019.