Given that the cost of living seems to be on an endless uphill trajectory these days, travelers are likely wondering how to budget for any trips they want to take in 2023.
To offer an idea of what to expect, travel pricing app Hopper just released its first-quarter airfare index for 2023, forecasting how flight prices will evolve over the next several months.
Unfortunately, if you were hoping for a reprieve from the steep airfare costs we’re currently facing, it isn’t great news. In fact, in terms of travel pricing, Hopper’s report revealed that last month’s airfare pricing was almost 20 percent above that of January 2022, while hotel rates were more than 50 percent higher.
Still, despite consumers’ collective sticker shock in the face of current economic conditions, airfare prices are actually six percent lower than pre-pandemic levels, Hopper said. The research suggests air ticket prices will continue to rise as we head into the warmer seasons, but does forecast that they’ll at least remain lower than last summer’s peak prices.
“Though prices are expected to remain lower than 2022 levels for late spring and summer, airfare is expected to be higher than pre-pandemic levels, as costs remain high and demand continues to outstrip airline capacity,” Hopper said in its report.
U.S. domestic airfare is expected to increase by about five percent this month, rising to an average price of $277 for roundtrip travel, and then continue climbing into spring and summer.
It’s speculated that the month of May will bring some of the highest domestic flight prices, at an estimated average ticket price of $348. That represents an increase of 10 percent over 2019’s pre-pandemic counterpart, but a fall of 11 percent from the same period last year.
Although Hopper anticipates average domestic fare costs hitting about $350 this summer, that figure is still 11 percent lower in comparison to the same period last year, when it reached roughly $400.
The report attributes the ongoing ascent of airfare prices to an unfortunate combination of three factors: inflation continuing to drive up costs in general (including jet fuel), surging consumer demand, and airlines’ still-reduced supply of equipment and operational capacity.
While flight prices for late spring and summer are expected to remain under 2022 levels, airfare is still expected to be higher than it was pre-pandemic. Industry conditions haven’t changed much since, “A perfect storm of, pent-up demand, low airline capacity and surging jet fuel costs drove airfare to record highs in May and June 2022,” Hopper wrote.
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