The Cost of Plane Tickets Seems to Finally Be Going Down

After a summer of travel chaos, our pockets might see some relief.

Editor's Note: We know COVID-19 is continuing to impact your travel plans. Should you travel now, be sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC's latest guidance on domestic and international travel as well as local requirements, protocols, and restrictions for both your destination upon your arrival and your home city upon your return. Be safe out there.

For most of 2022, we've been writing articles warning about the summer price hike for airfare, trying to highlight deals where we find them and help travelers navigate the chaos of flying. But, like some hopeful experts predicted earlier this year, there seems to finally be some respite from the sky high prices. According to a report by the New York Times, flights really are getting cheaper.

Flight prices actually began their downward trend in the late spring. Overall, airfare costs fell 1.8% between May to June, one of the only consumer costs to lower as inflation overall reached a record-setting 9.1%. Then, between June to July, fares fell by 7.8%. The NYT attributes the dramatic drop of jet fuel prices to the significantly lower ticket prices, coupled with the close of the summer travel rush. 

Even the higher prices of airfare throughout the year didn't discourage travel—the rising trend of revenge travel meant that people were committed to flying no matter what it costs. That gave airlines additional leverage to raise prices.

Hopper released a report earlier in 2022 predicting that fares would decrease by the end of July—and, according to CNBC, the average cost of domestic roundtrip flights dropped from $413 in May down to $375 by July 14. In August, the average round-trip fare is predicted to drop to $286.

So far, airlines have had to balance the customer demand for traveling with the companies' own capabilities with handling a high volume of passengers. Nearly every major US airline has cut a significant number of flights from their schedules, in order to adapt to shortages of workers and massive delays at airports.

With these reduced schedules, and the ongoing inflation, it's not likely that fares are going to go too much lower than the July price drop this year. With fewer flights on the schedule, there may still be higher prices to make up for airlines not reaching full capacity.

If and when demand dies this year, airlines won't be in as much of a position to charge more for tickets. "Right now people just have money to burn," Adam Thompson, founder of consulting firm Lagniappe Aviation, told CNBC. "Once people no longer have money to burn, you have to convince them they want to buy your product."

All that being said, don't expect everything about flying to return to normal anytime in 2022. Airline executives predict that we won't return to pre-pandemic versions of flying until Summer 2023.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.