Airfare Prices are Skyrocketing but Here are Ways to Book Cheaper Tickets for Summer Trips
As inflation remains at a near a 40-year high, consumers must navigate around the rising costs of food and fuel. Air-fare travel is also going up and the price of tickets have even outpaced inflation.
The consumer price index for airline tickets has shot up by 25%, the largest jump since the Federal Reserve of St. Louis began tracking the index in 1989.
This past April alone, airfares spiked 18.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and average airfare between June and August is up over 34% compared to that in 2019, according to the trip-planning app Hopper.
The IATA has reported that the price of jet fuel has increased by nearly 150% in the last year. This, along with the pilot and flight attendant shortage and higher labor costs, has led to the increase in ticket prices.
According to Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group, travel demand has come roaring back, but seat capacity is still down 6% compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
Harteveldt has showed that they expected high ticket costs to last throughout the summer as oil prices continue to climb. The good news is that there are several tools available to help travelers save money on their future trips.
These 10 little known tips could generate tremendous savings on air fare costs.
1. Consider using a travel agent. Travel agents can provide plenty of useful information about ever changing travel restrictions and can also help you save a decent amount of money by booking vacations packages. Harteveldt told Select he’s seen discounts up to 10% off retail prices simply by booking through an agent, especially since “not all fares are publicly available.” People with AAA or AARP memberships are also given complimentary travel agent access. If you happen to have a Costco membership, consider visiting the Costco Travel website for more deals.
2. Plan and be flexible. One of the smartest ways to save money is to plan vacations months ahead. It may also be beneficial to choose alternative airports for a cheaper fare. Driving or taking a train to a nearby airport to get a better airfare price could pay off. Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, has told Select that booking within the “Goldilocks windows” gets best pricing. For domestic travel this means 1–3 months ahead and for international travel it is 2–8 months ahead.
3. Look at Budget airlines. The United States now has six low-cost carriers: Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Allegiant Air, Breeze Airways and Avelo Airlines. While extras such as carry-on-bags will need to be paid for, you might save hundreds of dollars.
4. Travel abroad. Domestic travel prices are surging, which makes it an even more ideal time to consider that trip abroad. According to Keyes, the Covid-19 mandates in place for American travelers are helping to keep international travel down 20-40% compared to pre-pandemic levels. He specifically recommends Europe as a place to travel for the best savings now. Plus, the dollar to euro exchange rate is currently at its most favorable point in years.
5. Redeem points and miles. Now is one of the best times to be redeeming points and miles that have been earned by traveling previously. It’s also a good time to see if your credit cards have any travel rewards available on them. If you don’t have such a credit card, check to see what welcome bonus frequent flier credit cards are now offering.
6. Use alternative fare comparison sites. Big-name flight comparison sites such as Travelocity and Orbitz may not be the way to save the most. Instead, use alternative sites such as Airfare Watchdog. This handy free service regularly checks fares and emails updates when it finds cheap fares. Bing Travel search also provides interesting insights with its travel Price Predictor. You can set your route and dates, and Bing will tell you if now is the time to buy, along with how much the fare could change and how confident it is that this will happen.
7. Try One-Way Airfare. Booking round-trip airfare used to be more affordable than one-way tickets, but that is not necessarily the case today. You may come out on top by booking your tickets “to” and “from” with different airlines.
8. Shop midweek. Many airlines release sales on Tuesdays and Wednesdays since they are the least popular days of the week people are shopping for flights. “Monday night is when the major airlines announce sales. This triggers airlines to try to match those sales on Tuesday,” Rick Seaney, CEO and co-founder of FareCompare.com says.
9. Be a flight nanny. For those who have childcare experience, becoming a nanny on a flight may be the easiest way to travel. Parents can sign up at Nanny in the Clouds if they need help caring for their child or children while checking bags, getting settled, and in the air flying. For you, simply type in your flight information and see if there are parents in need of an extra hand. From there, you set your wage and are paid while you fly.
10. Travel the redeye or a flight with multiple stops. It may be late, but booking a red eye flight is most likely going to be significantly cheaper. Flights with multiple stops will also cost less and might save you hundreds of dollars.
Airfare prices may be expensive this year, but this list proves that there is plenty of advice about how to find cheap flights this summer, from being flexible in your dates to check nearby airports.