Book flights now to travel before airfares kick in

If you’re planning to travel this year and haven’t bought plane tickets yet, new research shows you’d do well to do so now. The Omicron variant may have caused complications during leisure travel, but experts are now predicting that it will soon reach its peak in the US.

Demand for air travel is predicted to come back strongly and with it the high airfare rates. But rising demand won’t be the only factor driving ticket costs up, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) latest consumer price index (CPI) rose seven percent in the past year and continues to climb. That is the fastest annual rise in inflation in 40 years.

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Travel app Hopper, which released its Consumer Airfare Index this month, predicts that prices for domestic airfares will rise seven percent each month until June 2022, reaching the level of 2019 in April.

“The sharp increase in airfare also takes into account that airfares are currently unusually cheap (even taking into account seasonality) due to lower demand in the Omicron variant,” Adit Damodaran, an economist at Hopper, told me. to fortune.

He pointed to increased demand, seasonal fluctuations and the increased price of jet fuel contributing to the predicted increase in airfares. The price of jet fuel is currently $2.56 per gallon, the highest rate since 2014.

“Over the course of 2021, we saw a 60 percent increase in jet fuel prices from $1.34 per gallon at the start of the year,” Damodaran said. “We expect higher jet fuel prices to contribute to higher consumer rates for 2022.”

In January 2022, the average price of a domestic round-trip flight in the US (regardless of destination or place of origin) hit a near-record low of $234, while the average cost of an international round-trip flight hit an all-time low of $649.

Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told Fortune that his company’s analysts expect to continue to see great deals on international flights, at least this winter, although the average price for airfares in 2022 will likely be more expensive than in 2021. .

Looking for airline tickets.
Search for flight deals. (Photos via iStock/Getty Images Plus/Sinenkiy)

And, as noted in the site’s State of Cheap Flights 2022 analysis report, a boom in last-minute flight deals is expected to continue. While in pre-pandemic times last minute flights were usually more expensive, airlines are now cutting last minute prices to fill empty seats.

“Airline tickets are the most volatile purchase most Americans make, and while many people are overpaying for flights this year (and thus increasing average airfares), that doesn’t mean cheap flights will disappear,” Keyes said.

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