BusinessWhen should I book a flight?

When should I book a flight?

If you’re anticipating packing your bags for a much-needed vacation this year, you will want to brace for some sticker shock. Along with the warmer weather, the increasing willingness of Americans to venture maskless into public spaces, and the beginning of many college spring breaks, travel is on people’s minds.

In new quarterly findings, travel company Hopper reports the average price of a round-trip ticket to be at $330—up 40% from the start of this year. In its latest consumer index report, the booking website says this is the highest price for a round-trip ticket it has collected thus far.

Hopper, which has made strides during the pandemic as it has expanded its predictive technology, foresees travel prices increasing to $360 in May, then tapering off once the summer season officially starts in June. International round-trip prices will stay relatively stable until June, when Hopper predicts they will rise 15%.

February data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that airline fares were 12.7% more expensive than the previous year. Prices in other areas remain at historic highs, as inflation persists.

In this vein, jet fuel prices have been on the rise, shifting along with the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The average price for jet fuel has hit a record according to Hopper’s data, which is likewise up 40% from the beginning of 2022. Increases in jet fuel prices, with a slight lag, can pass on increases to travelers. Hopper notes that jet fuel is the second leading cost for airlines, behind labor.

Earlier in the pandemic, business travel took a backseat for many seasoned fliers, with companies of varying sizes realizing the happy consequence of a smaller carbon footprint. And for travelers who are also wary of congested airports, Hopper notes that demand begins gaining around the summer holidays, but it also predicts a demand “cluster” popping up in the middle of April. So if you want to protect your psyche and wallet, book for late-summer.

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