Vacation flights would be the most costly in 5 years as fears of a pandemic ease

Los Angeles, CA – November 23: A passenger is hugged while being picked up amid a long line of travelers waiting for rides after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport’s Terminal 1 on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 for the Thanksgiving Holiday has arrived in Los Angeles.

Allen J. Cockroaches | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

If you’re thinking about flying over Thanksgiving or Christmas, get ready to pay.

Flights for the holidays will be the most expensive in five years, fare tracker Hopper said Monday.

The average domestic fare for travel over Thanksgiving is $350 and international round-trip flights average $795 — both representing a 22% increase compared to 2019 before the Covid pandemic, Hopper said.

Domestic round-trip tickets over Christmas, which falls on a weekend this year, are nearly a third more expensive than 2019, averaging $463, while international tickets are up 26% to $1,300, according to Hopper’s data.

Traveling on high-demand days, like the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or the days leading up to Christmas, always demands higher prices. Travel experts recommend flexibility and travel outside of the busiest travel days.

But Brett Snyder, founder of travel website Cranky Flier and former airline executive, warns that cheap fares could be hard to find any day this holiday season as airlines have tightened their control over how many seats they sell.

“Airlines are so much better at this now,” Snyder said. “Now they just fly a lot fewer flights on Christmas Day. If it’s cheaper, it’s not significantly cheaper.”

Many of the factors that contributed to a chaotic summer for air travel — a shortage of planes, staff and a training backlog — are not going away immediately, which will limit flight capacity going forward. It also means that prices are likely to remain elevated even though they are already below year highs.

Hopper’s lead economist, Hayley Berg, recommends booking holiday travel no later than mid-October, saying: “If you see a good price, even a price that you think is reasonable, we encourage you to book.”

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