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Airfare surged 20% over pre-pandemic levels as inflation hit vacations

Airfare surged 20% over pre-pandemic levels as inflation hit vacations

Passengers wait in line at the Delta Air Lines check-in area at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, on Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

Elijah Novelj | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Travel prices are skyrocketing as higher fuel prices and strong travel demand drive up the cost of flights.

Consumers spent $8.8 billion on domestic airline tickets in the United States last month, up 28% from March 2019, before the Covid pandemic, while prices rose 20%, according to data from the Adobe Digital Economy Index published Tuesday. Reservations are up only 12%.

High prices are one of the latest examples of inflation, hitting consumers at gas stations, supermarkets and in the housing market.

Airlines executives were confident they could pass the bulk of the increase in jet fuel to travelers, who so far appear ready to pay more for travel two years after the Covid shutdown. Standard jet fuel for the US Gulf Coast settled at $3.2827 a gallon on Monday, up nearly 50% from the start of 2022 and more than doubling a year ago, according to Platts.

Delta Airlines will kick off the airline’s reporting season before the market opens on Wednesday and company executives will provide an overview of travel demand, cost and pricing.

For travel from June to August, online spending is up 8% compared to 2019, and bookings are up 3%, according to data from Adobe, which tracks bookings on the six largest US airline platforms.

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