More cheap flights: Domestic travel prices up more than 20% from pre-pandemic levels, report says

According to Adobe, US consumers spent $8.8 billion on domestic flight reservations in March, surpassing pre-pandemic spending on reservations.

Total consumer spending for domestic reservations in March rose 28% from the same period in 2019, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, which measures direct consumer transactions from six of the top 10 U.S. airlines.

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In the first three months of the year alone, consumers have already dispensed a total of $21 billion in domestic flights online. Comparatively, consumers spent a total of $56 billion on domestic flights in 2021, the data shows.

Travelers pack a United Airlines check-in area ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday at Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., November 25, 2020. (REUTERS/Mike Segar/Reuters)

The data showed that as demand picked up, ticket prices also increased. The cost of airline tickets rose 20% in March from 2019 levels, according to Adobe. In February, prices were 5% above 2019 levels. In January, however, prices were 3% below 2019 levels, the data showed.

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“Ticket price inflation is now having a greater impact on consumers’ purchasing power,” according to Adobe’s report.

For example, although online spending in March increased by 28% compared to 2019, actual bookings only increased by 12%.

A family checks flight information at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., Friday, Dec. 24, 2021. ((Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

“Consumers have seen online prices for physical goods rise for 22 consecutive months, according to Adobe’s Digital Price Index, and inflation is also becoming more important for services,” said Vivek Pandya, senior analyst at ‘Adobe DigitalInsights.

Pandya said “pent-up demand has been a major driving factor as the desire to travel by air returns more aggressively than expected.”

Meanwhile, domestic reservations from June to August are also resuming. Online spending for this period has already increased by 8% compared to the comparable period of 2019 and reservations have increased by 3%, according to Adobe.

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