(NEXSTAR) – As COVID pandemic restrictions have lifted, the demand for air travel has soared. Flights have been canceled, luggage has been lost, and, amid high fuel costs, airfare has become expensive. That’s especially true at some airports, a new report found.
Analyzing data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, financial planning website SmartAsset ranked which of the nation’s busiest airports have seen the largest increases in airfare compared to this time last year.
While there are thousands of airports in the U.S., SmartAsset reviewed only the 100 busiest and compared them across three metrics: average airfare costs (specifically domestic one-way and round-trip tickets) for the first quarter of 2022, the percentage change compared to the same time last year, and dollar amount change in the average airfare.
SmartAsset found airline fares increased by roughly 26% between the first quarters of 2021 and 2022 – an average price increase of $328. Across nearly two dozen airports, the average flight ticket cost is up by more than 30%.
Westchester County Airport near New York City has seen the highest overall increase in airfare, according to the study. In the first quarter of 2022, the average airfare was $380, a 45.5% change and a $119 increase compared to the same time last year.
Philadelphia International Airport is the only other airport that has seen average airfare rise by more than 40%. The average airfare at Philadelphia International has increased by $96.
Neither airport recorded the highest average fare. Instead, the report’s authors found Ted Stevens Anchorage International had the highest at $456, followed by Dane County Regional in Madison, Wisconsin, at $436.
Here are the 10 airports where airfare has increased the most, and the dollar change in the average airfare:
- Westchester County Airport, New York: $119
- Charlotte Douglas International, North Carolina: $102
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul International, Minnesota: $102
- McGhee Tyson Airport, Tennessee: $102
- Logan International, Massachusetts: $96
- Philadelphia International, Pennsylvania: $96
- Spokane International, Washington: $90
- Palm Springs International, California: $89
- Washington Dulles International, Washington, D.C.: $92
- Newark Liberty International, New Jersey: $93
Airfare isn’t high everywhere. At two airports, Orlando Sanford International and St. Pete-Clearwater International, both in Florida, average airfare is below $200 – $132 and $130, respectively.
At two other airports, both in Hawaii, airfare has gotten slightly cheaper than it was last year. At Ellison Onizuka Kona International at Keahole, the average airfare has decreased by $8, a -3.06% change over 2021. At Kahului Airport, the average ticket is $1 cheaper, a -0.27% change.
Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, had the lowest price increase at $12.
Here’s where SmartAsset found airfare has changed the least:
- Ellison Onizuka Kona International at Keahole, Hawaii: $-8
- Bob Hope Airport, California: $12
- Kahului Airport, Hawaii: $-1
- Myrtle Beach International, South Carolina: $15
- Long Beach Airport, California: $24
- St. Pete Clearwater International, Florida: $18
- Daniel K. Inouye International, Hawaii: $18
- Louisville Muhammad Ali International, Kentucky: $31
- LaGuardia, New York: $38
- Buffalo Niagara International, New York: $31
While some of the price differences between this year and last year may appear stark, some of the change is due to cheaper airfare amid the pandemic. Even current costs of airfare are lower than they were in the years leading up to 2020, SmartAsset determined.
More recently, airfares have been declining. After a nearly 2% dip in June, the latest federal data shows the average price for an airline ticket dropped 7.8% in July. Lower prices for gasoline and travel were big reasons that overall inflation slowed a bit in July, although consumer prices were still up 8.5% from a year ago.
Prices usually fall in late summer and early autumn as vacations end and kids return to school. The drop is expected to be more dramatic than usual this year, however. That is partly because summer prices were so high, and also the cost of jet fuel has dropped about one-fourth since late April.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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