Flight Prices Hit Record High and Raise Red Flags for Summer Travel

How rising inflation and increased demand could make for a chaotic travel season.

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By Amanda Breen • May 12, 2022

Amid the pandemic, airline passengers have had to contend with a lot: Covid-19 concerns, of course, but also pilot shortages and service disruptions on what seems like a regular basis.

But things are getting even more complicated ahead of summer travel season, as flight prices soared a record 18.6% month over month in April, per the Labor Department's consumer price index.

Related: Will the Online Travel Industry Recover From the Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic?

According to the same report, the index for all airline fares skyrocketed to 33.3% over the past year — the largest year-over-year increase since the period that ended in December 1980. What's more, these record-breaking price hikes coincide with rapidly climbing inflation and the summer travel months, with travel and tourism in the U.S. expected to reach pre-pandemic levels, The New York Times reports.

Additionally, Christie Hudson, a senior public relations manager for Expedia, told the Times that travelers are expecting a different kind of experience. "Travel is no longer just about "going somewhere,'" Hudson said. "Coming out of such a long period of constraints and limitations, 2022 will be the year we wring every bit of richness and meaning out of our experiences."

But it seems like the airlines themselves are wringing out every bit of richness too — from their customers.

Related: American Airlines CEO: Company Will Not Enforce Vaccination Policy for Employees

And the demand is there for it: Per Fox Business, Delta reported its highest booking volumes ever last month, and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said that travel demand is the "strongest" it's been over the course of his 30 years in the industry.

For now, it seems like the best thing travelers can do to safeguard their wallets is plan ahead and buy plane tickets as early as possible.

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a features writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate of Barnard College and recently completed the MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts during the 2020-2021 academic year. 

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