Although air travel has gradually made a comeback since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers continue to navigate the virus — and the price changes that come with it.
According to the Consumer Airfare Index Report, released by travel app Hopper on Wednesday, both domestic and international airfares are currently at record lows but are expected to rise in the first half of 2022.
Courtesy of Hopper
Currently, at around $649 roundtrip, international airfares are lower than they've ever been in January while at $234 roundtrip, domestic airline ticket prices are near historic lows as well.
However, even though it's not unusual for flight prices to dip after the holidays, Hopper is expecting ticket prices to rise much faster than usual at an average of 7% a month through June when customers can expect to pay around $315 roundtrip domestically. The hike in fare prices may be due to the omicron variant subsiding and as spring break travel is on the horizon.
In fact, the steepest single-month increase — around 11% — is expected in March, just in time for spring break.
As for those looking to leave the states, Hopper expects international flight prices to rise at a slower rate when compared to domestic airfares but still faster than usual at a 5% a month increase through June with peak fares estimated at approximately $830 round trip.
"Prices have been especially volatile between the delta and omicron variant waves, swinging nearly $200/round-trip twice over four months," Hopper said in its report, noting that airfare prices typically rise around 2% a month going into the summer months.
Fortunately, average airline ticket prices are expected to catch up to pre-pandemic levels around April, the company found.
When it comes to the destinations themselves, domestic search trends among Hopper users included flights to Orlando, Las Vegas, and Miami while those looking to fly international were searching for flights to London, Cancun, and Paris.
As for vacation spots on the rise, the travel app found that there was increasing interest in Reno, San Jose, and Kansas City. Internationally Hopper found that Dublin, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago were the highest trending destinations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also made last-minute trips or booking within a shorter time window. Hopper users looking to book a domestic trip are searching about 35 days before departure while those looking to travel internationally are searching for a flight about 55 days before leaving.
"Few travelers are willing to make a bet this early on booking an international trip later in the year," the report noted.