Book your holiday travel early if you don’t want to pay sky-high fares.
The cost of holiday flights will hit a five-year high this year, according to the latest analysis by fare-tracking platform Hopper released Monday.
“Significant factors including jet fuel prices, fewer flights scheduled and two years of pent-up holiday travel demand will combine this year to drive Thanksgiving and Christmas airfares to their highest in the last 5 years,” Hopper lead economist Hayley Berg said in its 2022 holiday travel outlook report.
The cost of plane tickets has skyrocketed in recent months even as travelers contend with a wave of flight disruptions and cancellations. As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, airlines are scrambling to meet higher demand despite shortages of pilots and flight crews, higher fuel costs and other supply chain difficulties.
The disruptions have been worst during peak holiday travel weekends such as the Fourth of July and Labor Day, each of which produced a spate of cancellations at airports across the country.
Domestic flights over the Thanksgiving holiday are selling for an average of $350 per ticket this year, according to Hooper’s data. That figure marks an increase of 43% compared to last year’s holiday price and 22% compared to the pre-pandemic holiday travel season in 2019.
Prices are steeper for international fliers, with an average price of $795 per ticket this Thanksgiving – up 41% compared to last year.
Tickets are even more expensive over the Christmas holiday, with the average domestic airfare selling for $463 per ticket through mid-September. Christmas plane tickets are 39% more expensive than they were last year.
For international travelers, Christmas plane tickets are costing a whopping average of $1,300.
Fliers who book their trips early tend to see the largest savings, according to Berg.
“Despite significant travel recovery since the peak of the pandemic, travelers continue to plan trips closer to their departure dates than prior to the pandemic,” Berg wrote.
Higher airfares have remained a major burden on household budgets as inflation surged over the last year. Airfare showed signs of improvement in July, decreasing 7.8%, according to federal data.
However, airfare costs were still up 27.7% compared to the same month one year earlier.
The Biden administration has stepped up pressure on US airlines to address worsening flight conditions. Several carriers recently updated their customer service plans to make clear that flyers are entitled to free meals and lodging in the event of lengthy delays or cancellations that are the fault of their airline.
As The Post reported, travelers have also experienced an increase in mishandled baggage incidents over the last year, with American Airlines and Alaska Airlines among the worst offenders.