Cost of Flying Drops, for Now

Domestic flight capacity is back at pre-pandemic levels
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2023 1:28 PM CDT
Cost of Flying Drops, for Now
An American Airlines plane lands at Logan International Airport in Boston.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

The cost of flying has come down considerably in recent weeks but the bargains aren't going to stick around forever, travel industry experts say. According to flight-booking app Hopper, the average round-trip airfare in the US dipped to $257 in the last week of July—lower than in the same period in 2019, and down more than 14% from the Fourth of July weekend, when the average was $300, the Washington Post reports. International airfare has dropped, despite a what JetBlue described in a recent earnings report as a larger than expected "shift of pent-up COVID demand to long-haul international markets."

The cost of flying in the US soared last year amid a surge in demand and a shortage of capacity, along with a spike in fuel prices, the New York Times reports. Capacity is now back at pre-pandemic levels. Katy Nastro at Going, a cheap-flight alert service, tells the Post that many people were startled by high prices when they flew in the US last year. " After people took that first domestic trip, a lot of them overpaid and were like, 'Whoa, sticker shock. I might be more price-conscious looking forward."

Hayley Berg, the lead economist at Hopper, says domestic airfares generally dip in August and start to rise again in the fall as the holidays are approaching. She says that while international airfares are likely to come down as capacity increases, some of the pre-pandemic competition from low-cost carriers has gone. "A lot of these airlines were the first to leave and have not come back," she says. "That is an important ingredient in getting those low prices." (More airline industry stories.)

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