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Flights Are Packed and Pricey This Summer

Your summer U.S. air-travel forecast: It’s going to be crowded. And expensive. A new report from Bloomberg says that domestic tickets are pricier than previously, and planes are flying fuller than ever.  

Compared to last year, airfares are slightly more expensive this summer. A drop in flight frequency, a recovering economy, and a rise in demand are to blame, according to Bloomberg. Data from Travelocity shows that the average price of a domestic roundtrip ticket is about $399.48—up 4.5 percent from last year.

Flight capacity is on the rise, too. On Delta domestic routes, for example, 85.3 percent of seats were filled on average, which is 2.2 points higher than last year. Summer is already the busiest time to travel in the U.S., so the overall higher demand in the air-travel industry will intensify this July and August.

There is, however, some good news for those headed overseas. Although Travelocity reports that international tickets are 2.3 percent more expensive than they were last year, it appears that some overseas flights are cheaper than anticipated this summer. A representative from Delta told Bloomberg that “Increased competition for overseas flights has led to overcapacity, thereby reducing the average fare per mile.” Accordingly, we’ve seen cheaper-than-usual prices for flights to Europe this summer. High-season direct transatlantic tickets can be had for the bargain price of $1,000 roundtrip or less, which is a steal compared to past summer airfares. Turkish, for example, is offering promotional summer fares from Boston to Istanbul starting at $799 roundtrip.

Now is the time, then, to consider booking that summer trip overseas. You still have a few weeks to grab some late-summer flights at reasonable prices.

For those flying domestically, we suggest booking as early as possible if you haven’t already. Go through the seat selection process early too. If you want to sit next to family and friends on a legacy carrier, you may have to pay a little extra for a so-called premium seat such as Cabin Extra (on American), since flights are flying so full. A chat with a gate agent prior to boarding could yield results for those who don’t get the seats they had wanted.

Are you traveling this summer? Where are you headed?

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