Travelers Wave Goodbye to Cheap Pandemic-Era Flights

NOTD - 18.6%

That’s how much the price of a plane ticket rose in April alone, showing that the pandemic era of dirt-cheap flights has come decisively to an end. 

Airfare rose 18.6% in April on top of a 10.7% increase in March and is now up 33% since April 2021, according to an index reported Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was the highest monthly increase ever in the bureau’s index, which goes back to 1989 and measures costs for both domestic and international flights.

Passengers have noticed. Higher airfare was a major reason customer satisfaction among air travelers plummeted in a J.D. Power survey released Thursday. Soaring ticket prices came as a rude awakening for travelers who had gotten used to the near-empty planes and low fares of the pandemic era, the company said.

The cost of air travel plunged in April 2020 when the pandemic hit because of stay-at-home mandates and other restrictions on both domestic and international travel. The opposite has happened this spring with the end of most restrictions and the desire of many people to begin traveling again. On top of that, airlines are being hit with higher costs for jet fuel. The war in Ukraine has disrupted oil supplies and exacerbated an already existing imbalance between supply and demand, causing the price of oil, which is used to make jet fuel, to shoot up. And airlines are still dealing with staffing shortages and crew members missing work because of COVID-19.

“You've got really vigorous demand as people return to doing things that they've missed out on during the pandemic, which is travel. But at the same time, the constraints of the pandemic are still there,”  said James Knightley, chief international economist for ING. 

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Diccon at dhyatt@thebalance.com.

Want to read more content like this? Sign up for The Balance’s newsletter for daily insights, analysis, and financial tips, all delivered straight to your inbox every morning!

Article Sources

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. ”Consumer Price Index Summary - 2022 M04 Results.”

  2.  Bureau of Labor Statistics. ”Measuring Price Change in the CPI: Airline Fares.”