Last-minute Christmas flights down 15% from 2021: Hopper
54M people are estimated to travel between Dec. 18 and Jan. 3, Hopper said
Last minute Christmas airfare costs are down nearly 15% compared to a year ago, according to travel app Hopper.
As of Tuesday, round trip domestic airfares for the holiday are averaging roughly $339, 11% below pre-pandemic prices, the travel app reported. International round trip tickets were sitting at $1,360, up 1% from 2019.
Hayley Berg, lead economist at Hopper, said there are a few reasons why prices are down compared to a year ago, including capacity.
"Domestic routes airlines have rebuilt back to 96% of the capacity (seats available to book) which they were flying in 2019," Berg said. There is now 18% more capacity over the Christmas through New Year's travel period compared to a year ago and 4% more compared to 2019, she added.
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The caveat is that prices are expected to rise between $5 and $10 per day in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Tickets are estimated to peak at over $400 for round-trip domestic airfare at the very last minute, Hopper said.
Hopper estimated that 54 million people will fly out of U.S. airports around the nation between Dec. 18 and Jan. 3, a 20% increase from the same period last year.
The busiest days to depart are estimated to be Dec. 22 and Dec. 23. The most hectic travel days to return from a trip is expected to be on Dec. 26 and Jan 2, according to Hopper.
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If you are looking to book a last minute trip, schedule the earliest flight available because you’re less likely to be impacted by delays, according to Hopper. This is especially important given the expected surge in travel.
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"As always, get to the airport early and if you can, add in a buffer day to your Christmas travel plans," Hopper said.