Flight prices are up across the U.S. and airfare increases are even greater for those living in smaller cities, according to new data from CheapAir.com.

The study looked at 128 million airfares for 74 departure cities across the United States.

How much more will you pay for a domestic airline ticket in 2023?

Our data shows that the average lowest domestic airfare is up 17% from a year ago, and no city in the U.S. was spared from an increase. Airfares from U.S. cities are up anywhere from 10% to 35% depending on where you live.

Bigger cities are experiencing smaller increases on average, while those living in smaller cities are seeing much larger increases.

Which cities saw the biggest increase in airfare?

All of the top 5 airfare increases were in smaller cities, as were 7 of the top 10. Larger airports also saw airfare increases, just not to the extent of the smaller cities.

The city with the biggest fare increase is Flint, Michigan – up 35%. Flint is serviced by Bishop International Airport, located less than 10 minutes outside of town. If you fly out of the Flint metropolitan area, you can expect to pay 35% more (a difference of $130 per ticket) this year for an average domestic airline ticket. Bishop International Airport is a small airport, offering commercial service on 3 airlines (Allegiant, American and United), and serving a modest 200,000 passengers in an average year. In 2022, according to StratosJets, Flint ranked at #167 on a list of the country’s top 200 busiest airports.

Here are the cities with the 10 biggest increases in airfare:

cities with the 10 biggest increases in airfare

Why do smaller flight markets show larger airfare increases?

This trend continues from last year, when CheapAir.com’s study of U.S. flight prices observed a similar phenomenon. For example, Flint, Akron, Dayton and Greensboro, were also at the top of last year’s list of higher flight prices.

Smaller airports offer fewer flights on fewer airlines than other, bigger cities, and airlines are struggling to meet demand across the board. In some cases, smaller markets have seen their flight schedules contract, and not return to pre-pandemic levels. When the number of flights is severely limited, fares can rise as a consequence of simple supply and demand.

Which cities have seen the smallest increase in their flight prices?

Even cities with the smallest increase in flight prices have seen airfares increase substantially. These cities are seeing the smallest increase in airfare in 2023:

cities with the lowest increase in airfare this year

What can travelers do to get cheap flights or at least keep airfare budget-friendly?

The top 5 tips to keep your flights affordable:

1. Start your search early and look at the best time to buy flights

The best way to get a good fare is to book early. This helps increase your odds of getting one of the lower fares. And if you’re in a smaller market, higher fares are the new normal.

2. Consider alternative airports in nearby major markets, if you live in a small city

This can be a worthwhile alternative if you’re near a larger airport. Sometimes the savings can justify the longer drive if your payoff is to catch a more reasonably-priced flight.

3. Book your flights in the Prime Booking Window to get better-priced airline tickets

CheapAir’s The Best Time to Buy Flights offers a simple, easy-to-understand breakdown on when you should purchase domestic flights this year.

4. Consider managing upfront costs with monthly payments

Monthly payments can help travelers defer up-front travel costs and pay over time.

5. Protect your purchase with Price Drop Payback in case airfares change

Finally, CheapAir.com also protects your airfare with our free Price Drop Payback program. We’ll give you back up to $100 a ticket, should your fare go down after you purchase.

The complete list of cities and how much prices are up:

where flight prices are up



    • Thanks for the question, Jake. No domestic markets in our study saw a decrease in airfare this year.

  1. At the risk of being too nit-picky about semantics, you say, “All of the top 5 airfare increases were in smaller cities, as were 7 of the top 10.”

    However, Tucson (#5 on your list) is the 34th largest city in the US, and is larger than any of the other cities on your top 10 list. (https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities)

Post a Comment