Traveling for spring break? Book now, Hopper says
Airfare for March, April up 20% from 2022
If someone hasn't booked spring break travel, do it now, according to the travel app Hopper. Already elevated ticket prices are going to climb as people get into the busy travel season, given that demand continues to outstrip capacity.
Hayley Berg, lead economist at travel app Hopper, told FOX Business that demand has already driven airfares on average 10% to 30% higher compared to pre-pandemic times, and it doesn't appear to be letting up either – even with the higher than normal prices.
Not only that, but more travelers are also opting to buy trip protection and travel insurance, which is only adding to their overall trip costs.
As of Monday, the continued surge in demand for travel has driven prices for domestic airfare trips in March and April to an average of around $270 per ticket, Berg said.
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That's already about 20% higher compared to 2022, when airfares were still pretty depressed. However, it's only 5% higher compared to pre-pandemic times, according to Berg.
Still, the sticker shock for travelers who looked at prices or went away at the last minute last year is "very real," she said.
"Prices are a lot higher than what they saw last year or in the last three years," Berg continued.
In fact, prices to the most popular spring break destinations, such as Europe, the Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Central America, compared to 2022 and to pre-pandemic times are up "significantly," Berg added.
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For instance, Europe is up about 15% compared to 2022, though that's far below areas such as the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, which are up about 60% versus last year and about 30% versus 2019.
In the first few weeks of June, prices are expected reach a peak of $350 on average for a domestic flight. That's the highest it's been in the past five summers, barring 2022 when prices notched an average of $400.
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Berg warned that air fare will likely remain high until more low-cost carriers enter the market and there's relief on jet fuel prices as well as an increase in supply.
"The good news is there are some carriers that are offering better prices or at least … prices in line with what we have seen historically because they've added more capacity than they used to have," she said.
Berg's advice is to book as far out as possible, which travelers haven't been doing. Hopper has noticed that travelers have been booking two weeks closer to their departure dates for domestic trips and five weeks closer for international trips compared to pre-pandemic times.
"If you don't start monitoring prices or even … looking at potential travel dates until two months before your trip, you're not going to see any low prices," she said.