Travelers heading home for the holidays will finally have some respite from ultra-expensive airfares this year as prices have plummeted, new data shows.
The cost of a round-trip domestic flight this Thanksgiving is $248, down 9 percent on last year and 10 percent from 2019, according to travel app Hopper.
For Christmas, Americans face paying $313 for a domestic flight on average, a fall of 18 percent from last year and 15 percent below 2019 prices.
Inflation figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released today observed a similar trend. The cost of airfares fell by 13.2 percent between October 2022 and October 2023, the data shows.
The decline suggests that the post-pandemic travel boom – which saw prices shoot up to record highs – is finally beginning to cool.
Travelers heading home for the holidays will finally have some respite from ultra-expensive airfares this year as prices have plummeted, new data shows
Kyle Potter, executive editor of travel blog Thrifty Traveler, told the New York Times: ‘In a lot of cases, we’re seeing some of the lowest fares that we’ve seen really since travel started coming back after the drop-off in 2020.’
Typically, airlines lower their fares when demand is slowing. But research by Airlines America – cited by the NYT – shows nearly 30 million passengers are set to travel by flight this Thanksgiving.
It represents a 9 percent increase from last year and 6 percent above pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
[item name=module id=119913159 style=undefined /]
But demand across the calendar year outside of holidays is falling, the NYT reported.
While the largest US airlines appear to have continued thriving, smaller carriers have reported disappointing financial results between July and September.
For example, JetBlue Airways lost $153 million in the third financial quarter. In the same period last year, it made $57 million in profit.
JetBlue’s president and chief operating officer Joanna Geraghty said in an accompanying statement that ‘industry capacity is outpacing domestic demand during off-peak travel periods.’
The airline said average fares dropped more than 12 percent in the third quarter when compared to the same period in 2022.
Meanwhile Southwest Airlines’ third-quarter profits fell 30 percent to $193 million. Executives said it was scaling back its growth plans because of a slowdown in business travel.
Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Southwest Airlines had the highest proportion of complaints per the number of passengers, according to latest data from the Department of Transportation
Huge mounds of lost luggage were left at baggage carousels after Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights in December last year
CEO Robert Jordan told CNBC at the time: ‘The whole sector is under pressure obviously. Costs are rising, and a lot of that is labor cost.’
At the same time, competition among airlines is mounting which is also helping to drive down fares. Aviation data firm Cirium found that airlines have scheduled a record 259,8 million seats for domestic flights in the final quarter of 2023.
It marks an 8 percent increase on the number of seats available last year.
The findings come after it was reported that customer complaints to airlines nearly doubled in the first three months of the year compared to the same period in 2022.
The Department of Transportation said it received 24,965 complaints about airline service, up 88 percent on last year.
Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Southwest Airlines had the highest proportion of complaints per the number of passengers, according to the data.
Frustrated consumers filed another 6,712 complaints in April, up 32 percent from a year earlier, and 6,465 in May – an increase of 49 percent.
The Department admitted that data about consumer complaints has itself been delayed due to the high volume of reports being processed by government bodies.