Airfare is cheaper than usual right now: how long it’s expected to last

Business

People arrive and depart from the airport ahead of Memorial Day weekend Friday, May 28, 2021, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

SAN DIEGO — Travelers might want to grab their airline tickets for upcoming trips now — experts say prices are lower than usual, and they won’t last for long.

According to the travel research website Hopper, prices for holiday travel are expected to be at their lowest in mid-September. “For those ready to book, take advantage of the cheapest fares available now, particularly for the Christmas holiday,” the site’s 2021 Holiday Travel Guide Report reads.

Hopper says that the roughly 10% drop in airfare prices aligns with “typical seasonal demand,” but reports also indicate that a drop in business travel could be driving down prices.

As Business Insider notes, major corporate players including Google have been keeping employees at home and holding off on building back out their travel budgets as the delta variant sweeps the U.S.

“As the summer comes to a close and leisure travelers hibernate for the fall, airlines are facing a shortage of business travelers that would normally help fill the gap until the Thanksgiving or Christmas travel season,” BI’s Thomas Pallini writes.

But that holiday season will be upon us before we know it, Hopper notes, driving back up prices.

Researchers advise booking no later than Halloween for the best prices on Thanksgiving travel, and no later than Thanksgiving for Christmas travel.

Average domestic roundtrip airfare for Thanksgiving was anticipated to be around $300 this year, up from pandemic-stricken 2020 but about 11% lower than 2019.

As a contrast, domestic roundtrip flights for Christmas have already reached higher levels than at this time in 2019, according to Hopper.

“With domestic airfare for Christmas at around $430/round-trip, airfare is up 71% from 2020 ($250) and up 10% from 2019 ($390), suggesting airlines may be anticipating stronger Christmas travel relative to Thanksgiving,” the website’s holiday travel report notes. “With Christmas travel, the best deals tend to appear rather early at around 100 to 90 days in advance.”

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