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Consumers aren’t paying more at the gas pump alone. Rising jet fuel costs and increasing demand for travel are driving up domestic and international airfares — in some cases by double digits. In February, airline fares in the U.S. rose 5.2 percent, according to the latest Consumer Price Index, and it’s gotten worse since then.
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According to Hopper, an airfare comparison tool, round-trip airfare to Mexico and Central America is 17 percent higher month over month in March, and flights to Canada are up 9 percent. Domestic airline tickets, meanwhile, are 13 percent more expensive.
It makes sense. Jet fuel is the second-highest expense for airlines, after labor, representing about 30 percent of the industry’s expenditures. Cost increases are generally passed along to consumers, and with the price of jet fuel rising 30 percent so far this year and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine still a few months away, consumers should prepare to pay even more for flights.
“Domestic airfare is up about 23 percent year over year,” says Hayley Berg, head of price intelligence at Hopper. “There’s increasing demand compared to 2021. The other piece is jet fuel. Even before the crisis in Ukraine began, jet fuel prices are double what they were at this time last year.” The good news is that there are ways to save on airfares. Here are four strategies.
Be flexible where and when you travel
Being flexible can go a long way toward saving money. Flying during off-peak times, heading to less popular destinations and visiting cities in the off-season can reduce the cost of airfare. “Let the price decide where you travel,” says Kathleen Peddicord, founder and CEO of Live and Invest Overseas. “You can go to Skyscanner, for instance, type your city into the ‘from’ box, type ‘everywhere’ into the ‘to’ box, and sort the price from lowest to highest.”
According to FareCompare, the cheapest days to fly within the U.S. are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For European flights, aim for Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Flights with a stopover may be an inconvenience, but they tend to be cheaper.