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Published: May 22, 2024 4 min read
Airplane with airline tickets in the background.
Money; Getty Images

Taking a flight this summer will likely be less expensive than last year, especially for domestic travel.

Flight prices in the U.S. for Memorial Day weekend are 9.5% lower compared to a year ago, according to a new report from Hopper. The average domestic airfare is $260, down from $287 a year ago.

For the summer as a whole, Hopper expects domestic airfare to cost an average of $305, compared to $324 last year, with flight prices peaking around the July 4 and Labor Day holidays.

Airlines are prepared for an increase in the number of travelers flying this Memorial Day, with 6.6% more seat capacity on flights from U.S. airports between Thursday, May 23, and Tuesday, May 28, according to the report.

To find the cheapest flights this summer, Hopper recommends waiting until Saturday to take off. “Travelers looking to save on airfare are departing on Saturday of the long weekend and returning on Tuesday for around $180 per ticket. These travelers will save 32% off peak airfare (for Friday to Monday trips), or about $90 per ticket,” the report said.

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Why flight prices are falling

In the summer of 2022, high jet fuel prices and limited seats led to some of the most expensive airfares in recent history. But last summer, lower fuel prices and improved seat capacity meant more affordable air travel, and a record number of people took advantage.

Flights have gotten less expensive in recent months: According to the latest Consumer Price Index, airline fares in April 2024 were down 5.8% compared to the year before. Lower flight prices in 2024 should drive another increase in summer air travel.

In 2023, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened more than 264 million people from Memorial Day to Labor Day, which was an all-time high. The TSA forecasts that this summer will be another record period for air travel.

The agency expects to screen 18 million people over Memorial Day weekend, which would be a 6.4% increase from last year.

While domestic flight prices are down considerably, international flight prices are closer in line with year-ago levels.

Trips to Europe and Asia are 2% cheaper than a year ago, while Mexico and Central America flight prices are down 4% over a year. Trips to Canada are 5% more expensive and prices for South American destinations are up 1%.

International trips will cost $1,000 or more on many routes. For example, the average cost is $974 for a Europe trip and $1,519 for Asia this summer.

How to save on flights this summer

For cheaper flights this summer, experts recommend:

  • Traveling midweek instead of on the weekend. (You can often save $100 or more.)
  • Booking for travel dates before June 15 or after Aug. 31 if your destination is in Europe.
  • Using a flight search tool like Kayak Explore or Google Flights Explore to review the cheapest options if your travel dates or destination city is flexible.
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