The latest federal inflation report released Tuesday shows that airfare fell by 8.8% from July to August. That's just the latest month-over-month decrease for average airfare over the last few months, and the steepest drop yet. And at a time when many Americans are still paying higher prices elsewhere, the sharp decline in flight prices stands out.
This dip in flight prices comes at a time when overall inflation is stabilizing across the board, from gas prices at the pump to used cars. But it also coincides with the normal changing of the season for travelers: As summer winds down and families get back to school and fall routines, travel demand is dropping from record-highs. And that means the equally record-high fares airlines were charging just a few months ago have to come down.
That's a boon for travelers: Cheap flights are coming back, and the latest data proves it. But those numbers are no surprise to us here at Thrifty Traveler. Our team searches all day, every day for the cheapest domestic and international flights to send to our Thrifty Traveler Premium members. After a summer of eye-popping fares, we noted that flight prices were dropping starting in July – especially for domestic fares. And that trend continues today: We expect average airfare to continue dropping this month and perhaps later into 2022.
Of course, this doesn't mean that the unbelievable pandemic airfare bargains are back in the mix. Despite the latest drop, the federal data shows average airfare is still up compared to a year ago. But a decrease is a decrease – and a decrease is worth celebrating.
So what does a 8.8% drop mean for travelers on the hunt for a good deal? For starters, it means cheap domestic flights under $100 have returned after disappearing earlier this year. That makes fares to Los Angeles (LAX) as low as $87 roundtrip (yes, roundtrip) a reality.
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Just a few months ago, domestic flights under $300 were hard to come by – let alone sub-$200! But domestic flight prices are one of the biggest bright spots in this new trend – and not just to the west coast, but the east coast, too.
Earlier this summer, many late summer and early fall flights to Florida clocked in at $400 roundtrip – or much more. Paying just $96 is a downright steal, and this fare Raleigh (RDU) was just one of dozens of cities nationwide that benefitted from prices dropping below $150 roundtrip when we first sent it to Thrifty Traveler Premium members.
Want to head overseas? There's relief on transatlantic fares, too. Even pre-pandemic, finding a $500 roundtrip fare to Athens (ATH) was a tall task. But that's just what we found a few weeks back, and it was one of several cheap flights to Greece we've seen in recent weeks.
Fares over to Dublin (DUB) have gotten even cheaper than that – even on nonstop flights – meaning you've got more money in your pocket for a pint (or three) of Guinness. Plus, the U.S. dollar pulling even with the euro means your dollar goes even further once you're there!
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Even flight prices to somewhere as far-flung have been dropping. These roundtrip fares to Sydney (SYD) are typically $1,400 or more, but last month we found flights nationwide for $800 or less!
And if you're hoping to score a cheap getaway somewhere this fall or winter, you're in luck: Flight prices down to Mexico have been dropping, too. Just take this $228 roundtrip fare down to Cancún (CUN), for instance.
We've said it before and we'll say it again (and again and again): Cheap flights are making a comeback.
We're not back to normal yet, but after a summer of unthinkably expensive flights, things continue trending in the right direction. While a 8.8% drop in average flight prices might not sound massive, it means cheap domestic flight deals are back on the menu. It means cheap flights to Europe are much easier to find. And it means there are more cheap flights in everyone's future.
Plus, we're betting that this trend only continues through the fall and into the winter.