The Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets

Dear TAs,

You should advise your clients to book their future travel now.  If they (or you!) are planning a vacation, holiday travel, and even a business trip, consider reserving flights right now.

Increased demand for flights is a very positive sign for the travel industry, but there are several reasons why there may soon be a shortage of available flights, resulting in higher prices and seat shortages.

With the increase in vaccinations and the loosening of travel restrictions worldwide, airlines have suddenly been overwhelmed with large numbers of leisure passengers eager to escape it all. They’re headed to beaches, mountains, theme parks, and to visit family and friends they have missed seeing throughout the pandemic.

Even without the normal number of business travelers as in years past, U.S. airlines are finding themselves with load capacity on domestic flights comparable to those of 2019; pre-pandemic. 

Right now, business and international travel are still down around 70% from 2019 levels. This will be changing now that the list of countries welcoming Americans continues to grow. With increased demand, ticket prices are rising from their pandemic lows, but have not yet reached 2019 ticket prices. This too could change quickly.

Many airline employees were let go or took early retirement as a result of the pandemic. Airlines are dealing with a pilot shortage. Larger airlines that operate several types of aircraft and are coping with limited flight simulator time to retrain their pilots on different aircraft. The shortage of pilots who are up to date in their training may affect flight scheduling during the second half of this year. The demand for trained airline personnel such as pilots, mechanics and other technicians is expected to negatively impact ticket prices for several years.

Another factor that will affect ticket prices is rising fuel prices. Mid-June, the per-gallon price for jet fuel was more than four times higher than at its lowest point during the pandemic, late April 2020. Fuel and labor are airlines’ biggest expenses, and when they go up, higher fares often follow.

So, if you want to travel during the holidays, don’t wait a minute more. You and your clients should purchase your airline tickets now, otherwise you’ll be missing a great trip.

See you somewhere, soon!

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