Airline Ticket Prices Are Coming Down to Earth

Domestic airline prices are on the decline in 2023, finally retreating after spiking just a year ago. International fares are still high.

A plane on US dollars with the word sale.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After soaring in 2022, prices for domestic airline tickets are on the descent. In June 2023, airfares had dropped by 8.1% from May and by 18.9% over the previous 12 months, according to the June Consumer Price Index (CPI) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Booming supply and changing demand are the two key drivers of the decrease, says Scott Keyes, founder of Going, a website that provides airfare alerts and information. 

“While 2022 was characterized by pilot and plane shortages, airlines have been making steady progress on both fronts this year," Keyes says. "More capacity is getting added to the flight system every month, and because aircraft have gotten significantly larger on average over the past decade, the number of available seats is already higher today than pre-pandemic.” 

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And passengers are less willing to pay inflated ticket prices than they were in the summer of 2022, he says, when many of them were embarking on their first trip in years following the pandemic.

International travel still pricey

International travel is another story. Over the summer, the average airfare to Europe was nearly $1,200 per ticket—the highest price in the past six years, according to travel-booking site Hopper. Flights to Asia had an average ticket price of more than $1,800. To save money, Hopper advises flying midweek, vacationing in the fall shoulder season, and traveling to more off-the-beaten path destinations, such as Reykjavik or Dublin.

Planning holiday travel

It’s likely that domestic airfares will continue to sink through the rest of 2023, says Keyes. But prices still tend to run higher in peak holiday periods. To watch for low fares, you can enter your itinerary at sites such as Google Flights and Kayak and receive e-mail alerts when prices drop. You may be able to get the best fares for flights near Thanksgiving and Christmas by booking them early in the fall.

Change plans without paying fees (mostly)

If your plans change, you can rest easy knowing that the major U.S. airlines no longer charge ticket-change fees for most fare classes, although you may be charged for same-day requests and some international flights. Basic economy tickets are typically not refundable or changeable.

Note: This item first appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, a monthly, trustworthy source of advice and guidance. Subscribe to help you make more money and keep more of the money you make here.

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Lisa Gerstner
Editor, Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine

Lisa has been the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance since June 2023. Previously, she spent more than a decade reporting and writing for the magazine on a variety of topics, including credit, banking and retirement. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.