January 10, 2024

Budget Airfares a Bargain to Start the Year

Budget airfares have started the year significantly lower than in 2023, according to a new Hopper analysis.

They'll stay below last year's level for the next few months, before coming close to parity with 2023 during the spring, the booking app forecasts.

"January will be the cheapest month of the year to book travel until the fall shoulder season in September and October, so a great time for travelers to take advantage of low prices and book 2024 trips," wrote Hopper economist Hayley Berg. "Fares will rise into late spring as the spring break and summer travel period heat up."

For January, roundtrip, budget domestic airfares are averaging $253, Berg wrote, down 6% from last January and down 11% from last month. Hopper defines budget fares as ones that are lower than 90% of the fare quotes it tracks.

Airfares will rise as spring approaches

Hopper projects that budget domestic fares will increase to an average of $276 in February, but that would still leave them 8% lower than in February 2023.

Following seasonal patterns, budget domestic fares will continue to increase through May, reaching an average of $302 roundtrip, according to the forecast, which would be just 1% less than May 2023 airfare.

Europe, Canada, Africa airfares are up

The story this month is different for some international markets from the U.S. Budget airfare to Europe is up 5% from a year ago, according to the Hopper analysis. Tickets to Canada are also up 5% year over year, and airfares to Africa are up 3%.

But budget airfares to the Australia/New Zealand region are down 22% from last year. Flights to Mexico and Central America are down 10%. Tickets to South America are down 4%. Travel to the Caribbean is down 3%. And budget airfare to Asia is down 2%.

Budget rental car rates are down

On the rental car front, consumers will also find discounts this month, Berg wrote. The nationwide daily budget rental car average is currently $38 per day, down 4% from this time last year.

Hotels are averaging $214 per night, in line with prices during non-peak times over the course of 2023.

Copyright 2024 Northstar Travel Media, LLC. All rights reserved. From https://www.travelweekly.com. By Robert Silk.

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