Summer vacation has arrived in the United States. After two years of bottled-up pandemic wanderlust, demand for June through August getaways has risen in recent weeks, as have airfares.
Summer airfare prices have been rising, and while there are several factors at play, including fuel prices, staffing and operational factors for airlines, much of it is simply due to high demand. Prices tend to fall only when airlines are unable to fill seats, and travelers are still booking right now. Summer airfares are, in fact, the same or higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019, though destinations and dates play a significant role.
However, budget travelers can still find low-cost flights this summer. August is the cheapest month to fly this summer, with average ticket prices about 10% lower than in July and 5% lower than in June.
The cheapest day to fly this summer is Tuesday, August 23, with August 13 through 29 being "primetime" for better summer fares.
July is the most expensive month to fly, with the most expensive day being July 1, which is the Friday before the Fourth of July. Over that holiday weekend, average airfares are 25% higher than during the rest of the summer.
Generally, the highest airfares are found on Fridays and the lowest on Tuesdays during the summer. Expect to pay a little more if you travel from Friday to Sunday or before a holiday when many people will be off work. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally less expensive because they are less popular days to begin a trip.
Book early and be flexible, no matter where or when travelers plan to spend their summer vacations. Normally, the best time to book domestic travel is 30 to 45 days in advance, but this summer, book at least 60 days in advance.
Set up price alerts for summer travel now as well, so you know what the going rate is.