In many industries, inflation is driving prices higher in 2022. Inflation hit travel and the airlines as well. The demand for air travel continues to rise, but the airlines don’t have the inventory to support the demand. On top of that, the airlines still struggle to meet staffing needs. Here’s an explainer on what travelers can expect this summer: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Prices are up from last year – but not so much that it’s cost-prohibitive (for the most part)

CheapAir recently published a study that examined the difference between 2021 and 2022 domestic airfare. While prices are definitely up (especially in smaller cities), the bigger cities are seeing a smaller bump in domestic airfare pricing. If you live near a smaller, regional airport, as well as a larger metropolitan area – it may not be a bad idea to compare flight costs from both.

Travelers can count on full flights for the near future

For the airlines to remain profitable, it’s in their best interest to fly full or nearly full airplanes. And right now the airlines are struggling with capacity issues. There are more people who want to fly than there are flights (some markets). There’s no silver bullet for how you can avoid full flights. If you’re still stressed about COVID-19, best to wear a mask and manage expectations. The airlines will not be social distancing.

The airlines are definitely struggling to keep up with demand

At the moment, enthusiasm for travel is keeping travelers motivated, even in the face of rising prices. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The airline industry is still rebuilding after the decimation of the last couple of years. Many airlines still report staff shortages. Until the airlines can fully staff up, there simply aren’t enough planes with employees to meet the traveler demand. So with a limited number of seats even available right now – you guessed it – prices will continue to climb.

What can travelers do so they don’t get hit by inflation

While the airlines recover and staff back up, it’s best to do everything earlier. You’ll want to shop for flights and book early to get the best prices for your vacation. And though recovery is slow, the good news is that the airlines continue to recover. It might be 2023 before they’re back completely to pre-pandemic capacity, but the airlines have recovered somewhere in the vicinity of 75-95% of pre-pandemic capacity, according to some reports.

For more information on how to book cheap summer flights, visit our Summer Flights page, Domestic Airfare and International Airfare studies. All three offer excellent tips and for snagging a flight at a good price.

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